With a pandemic affecting the country, times have become even more uncertain for those who have a disability or other medical condition. You might be a parent of a child receiving special education services, attempting to continue programs remotely with the school. You might be someone who cannot work because you have been laid off or a doctor has required that you self-isolate due to coronavirus symptoms. Maybe you have a chronic illness and are concerned about going to your doctor’s office. Or maybe you have a mental illness with heightened anxiety during this time. No matter how you are affected, these are unprecedented and difficult times to navigate.
To bring some certainty to these uncertain times, the government recently issued a historic piece of legislation. This act attempts to mitigate the negative financial impact of COVID-19 on the lives of Americans. It builds on two other legislative actions that were taken in March, though more will need to be done. We expect that additional legislation will be issued in the coming months and disability advocates are working tirelessly to incorporate more support for the disability community.
In the meantime, here is an overview of how the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act may be able to assist you:
Rebate Checks: Individuals will receive a rebate check up to $1,200 ($2,400 for married couples) and an additional $500 for each dependent, subject to income limitations. This payout will occur automatically and will be paid to those already receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI).
Unemployment: The eligibility requirements have been expanded to allow more people to receive unemployment benefits, including those who freelance or engage in the “gig economy”. Benefits will be increased by $600 until July 31st and the length of time to collect has been extended by 13 weeks.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Emergency Sick Leave Act: Increased paid leave and expanded coverage is now available through these acts. The Emergency Sick Leave Act allows employees to take paid leave to care for an individual over 18, including those who are not able to take care of themselves due to a physical or mental disability.
Hospital Support: If someone with a disability is hospitalized, the act allows direct support professionals (DPSs) to accompany them. State Medicaid programs can now pay DPSs who help those who end up in the hospital.
Health Care: Overall coverage under Medicare, Medicaid, and group and private insurance plans have been expanded. For example, telehealth services are temporarily covered.
Education Support: Emergency Education Relief grants will be issued to help schools transition to online and virtual learning, including special education.
Small Business Loans: Supports have been put in place for small businesses, including nonprofits who participate in Medicaid programs.
Aging and Disability Services Programs: Additional funding will be provided to these programs to aid in food deliveries and provide support to family caregivers.
Our recent publication of CARES Act FAQs: Tax and Financial Relief for Individuals provides more information on many of the topics listed above. It also covers additional benefits that you may be eligible for through the legislation, including penalty free retirement withdrawals and the extension of the 2020 tax filing deadline.
We hope you find this guidance helpful as you navigate this difficult period. Your Modera Wealth Manager can help assist your business in a variety of areas – including connecting you to the right people inside and outside of Modera for specific needs and advice – and be your objective guide through this turbulent time.
Please keep in mind this information is changing rapidly and is based on our current understanding of the new CARES Act programs. It can and likely will change. Although we will be monitoring and updating this as new information becomes available, please do not rely solely on these suggestions for your financial decisions. We recommend you consult with your attorneys, CPAs, insurance agents and other advisors before you take action.
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