On March 25th, the Senate passed the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. On March 27, the House of Representatives passed the CARES Act and it was signed into law by the President.
Below, please find a list of frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 and how the CARES Act seeks to address mant of the problems caused by this pandemic. If you have a question that is not included here, please contact my office, and we will be happy to assist you.
Direct Payments (Stimulus Checks)
How will I know if I am getting a direct payment?
- These payments are available to those with a Social Security Number valid for employment, including those who have no income and retirees.
- The rebates will be paid out in the form of checks or direct deposit based on your 2019 tax return information (or 2018 if you have not filed yet).
- Non-filers may have to file a tax return to qualify
How much will I get and when?
- The full credit is $1,200 per adult, and an additional $500 per dependent child under the age of 17. The income limits for this credit are:
- $75,000 for a single filer, $112,500 for head of household, and $150,000 for joint filers
- The credit amount phases out as incomes increase until the cap is reached. Those income limits are:
- $99,000 for single filer, $136,500 for a head of household, and $198,000 for joint filers
- The IRS is working to distribute the funding as soon as possible, The credit is treated like other refundable tax credits, so it will not be taxed.
If you did not receive the first stimulus check:
- You can claim missing amounts of the payment on your 2020 tax return as the Recovery Rebate Credit.
The IRS has launched a web-based tool so people who don't normally file tax returns can enter their information to receive economic stimulus payments.
Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Emergency Leave
Am I eligible for UI?
- You are eligible if you have been laid off, are working part-time, if you are self-employed, an independent contractor, and if you're working in the gig economy because of COVID-19.
What is the benefit?
- The exact amount you can receive through unemployment depends on your previous earnings and what you receive from the state, but between now and July 13, an additional $600 will be added to every unemployment compensation check, so no one will receive less than $600 per week.
- Eligible workers are entitled to an additional 13 weeks of unemployment compendation benefits.
- To file for unemployment please visit: www.filectui.com
Which employers much provide paid sick leave and family leave?
- Private-sector employers with fewer than 500 full-time and part-time employees within the United States.
- The Department of Labor will have the authority to exempt employwers with fewer than 50 employees.
How much paid sick leave are employees eligible to take?
- Full-time employees are eligible to take up to 80 hours (10 work days) of paid sick leave.
- Full-time employees must take leave over a two week period.
- Depending on the employee's regular schedule, at 100% of the employee's regular rate of pay (capped at $511 per day) due to health-care provider guidance to self-quarantine, or seeking diagnosis for symptoms of COVID-19.
- Sick leave pay is limited to up to $200 per day solely for caring for someone who is isolated/quarantined and for taking care of a child due to school and child care closure.
Support for the State of Connecticut
For the most up to date information from Governor Lamont and how the State of Connecticut is combatting COVID-19 please visit: https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus
What resources are provided for Connecticut to support critical efforts in the state to respond to this crisis?
- The law includes $150 billion for a Coronavirus Relief Fund to send direct payments to states, and local governments to help pay for expenditures related to addressing the COVID-19 crisis.
- The state of Connecticut is expected to receive approximately $1.3 billion from this fund.
- There's also $1.5 billion to support state, local, and tribal public health department activities to be used for medical supplies, surveillance, lab testing, infection control and mitigation.
- Connecticut is estimated to receive almost $8 million from this fund to support state and municipal activites related to the COVID-19 response.
Connecticut's Health Care System
How can we make sure Connecticut is getting the medical supplies and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that our health care workers and first responders need?
- The CARES Act includes $100 billion to ensure that health care providers continue to receive that support they need for COVID-19 related expense and lost revenue that are otherwise unreimbursed.
- The CARES Act also includes $19.57 billion in funding to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has the necessary support services for veterans and the health care workers at facilities nationwide.
How do the laws support community health centers?
- For community health centers on the front lines of testing and treating patients for COVID-19, the CARES Act provides $1.32 billion in new funding nationwide.
- The fist COVID-19 appropriations bill provided $1.2 billion in funding for 16 Federally Qualified Health Centers throughout Connecticut.
- The law also provides flexibility to expand telehealth coverage under Medicare to health centers.
Will I have to pay for a coronavirus test?
- The Families First Coronavirus Act waives cost-sharing for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and related health care services for individuals enrolled in private insurance plans, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Husky/Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE, VA as well as federal civilians, American Indians, and Alaska Natives.
How does this law affect the cost of a vaccine when one becomes availble?
- The CARES Act ensures that once a vaccine is developed and is approved by the U.S. Government as a preventive measure that it will be covered by private insurers, and free to Medicare beneficiaries with Part B.
How does this law increase access to telehealth services for seniors and other Medicare Beneficiaries?
- The CARES Act allows more clinicians to provide telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries including in beneficiaries' homes to avoid potential exposure to COVID-19, and provides more flexibility for health centers, rural health clinics, hospice phsicians and nurse practitioners to utilize telehealth and remote patient monitoring services.
What relief is included for small businesses?
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): The Paycheck Protection Program law includes directing $349 million towards job retention and business operating expenses. This will provide small busineses including eligible non-profits, Veterans organizations, Tribal concerns, sole proprietorships, self-employed individuals, and independent contractors with zero-fee loans of up to $10 million based on average monthly payroll costs.
- Up to eight weeks of average payroll, mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments can be forgiven if the business retains its employees and their salary levels.
- Principal and interest payments can be deferred for up to a year, and all borrower fees are waived.
- This temporary emergency assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Treaury can be used in coordination with other COVID-financing assistance established in the law or any other existing SBA loan program.
- Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans: The law also includes $17 billion to further ease the burden on small businesses that use SBA loan products. Under the law, the SBA will cover all loan payments for exisiting SBA borrowers, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months. The loan amount is based on average total monthly payments for payroll for the 12-week periof beginning February 15, 2019, or at the election of the eligible recipient, March 1, 2019, and ending June 30, 2019.
- Emergency Economic Injury Grants: The law includes $10 billion in funding for a provision to provide an advance of $10,000 to small businesses and nonprofits that apply for an SBA economic injury disaster loan (EIDL) within three days of applying for the loan. EIDLs are loans of up to $2 million that carry interest rates up to 3.75% for companies and up to 2.75% for nonprofits, as well as principal and interest deferment for up to 4 years. The loans may be used to pay for expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred, including payroll and other operating expenses.
- The EIDL grant does not need to be repaid, event if the grantee is subsequently denied an EIDL, and may be used to provide paid sick leave to employees, maintaining payroll, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments.
- Refundable tax credits: IRS will be posting information soon on these credits on its website, including information on how to obtain advance payment of these credits.
- Payroll taxes: The law defers payroll taxes through the end of 2020. Deferred taxes will not become due until end of 2021 and end of 2022, with 50% of the liability being paid at each date.
- Employee retention tax credit: available for stuggling businesses that are not eligible or choose not to participate in the new SBA Paycheck Protection Program.
Is my small business eligible for relief?
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): This relief is available for small businesses, 501(c)(3) nonprofits, 501(c)(19) veterans organizations, or Tribal businesses with not more than 500 employees who were in operation on February 15, 2020. It is also available to sole proprietorships, independent contractors, and eligible self-employed individuals.
- Small Business Administration Loans: This relief will be available to existing SBA loan borrowers and new borrowers who take out an SBA loan within six months after the President signed the law.
- Emergency Economic Injury Grants: The grant is available to small businesses, private nonprofits, sole proprietors and independent contractors, tribal businesses, as well as cooperatives and employee-owned businesses. Eligible grant recipients must have been in operation on January 31, 2020.
- Refundable Tax Credits: The law makes the credits availble for private-sector employers that are required to offer coronavirus related paid leave to employees.
- Payroll Taxes: Any business that does not have a loan forgiven under the new SBA Paycheck Protection Program is eligible for the paytoll tax deferral.
- Employee Retention Tax Credit: The law provudes a refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of wages paif by employwers to furloughed or reduced-hour employees during the COVID-19 crisis.
If I receive a stimulus check from the federal government, will it impact my ability to file for bankruptcy?
- No. Under this law, stimulus checks from the federal government cannot be used to determine whether you are eligible for filing bankruptcy.
Utility and Nutrition Assistance
Is there utility assistance and am I eligible?
- The law provides an additional $900 million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help lower income households heat and cool their homes.
- Connecticut has also ordered our utilities not to terminate service to customers during this crisis.
Is there nutririon assistance and am I eligible?
- The law provides $15.5 billion in additional funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
- Check if you are eligible here.
- The law also expands food delivery service for seniors to ensure that seniors eligible for certain nutrition assistance programs can still receive that assistance if they are practicing social distancing.
What if I can not pay my rent?
- The law provides additional protections from eviction for all renters who live in properties that receive a federal subsidy, such as public housing, Section 8 rental assistance vouchers or subsidies, USDA rental housing assistance, or Low Income Housin Tax Credits. It also covers any renters in properties where the owner has a a federally backed mortgage loan, which includes loans backed by the FHA, USDA, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
- Owners of multifamily rental properties with federally - backed loans will be eligible to recive forbearance on those loans for 90 days, during which period they may not evict or charge late fees or other penalties to tenants for nonpayment of rent.
- Owners of federally-subsidized properties or properties with a federally-backed mortgage loan may not evict or charge penalties or fees to a tenant who cannot pay rent for 120 days following this act.
What if I need assistance with my mortagage?
- The CARES Act provides American homeowners with important protections to help keep their homes. Homeowners with federally-backed mortgages including those guaranteed by Frannie Mae or Freddie Mac may request forbearance on payments for up to 12 months with no fees, penalties, or extra interest.
- Governor Lamont and the Connecticut Department of Banking announced that 62 credit unions and banks have agreed to offer relief for those struggling to afford mortgage payments. To see which credit unions and banks are included, please visit the Department of Banking's website. You should contact and work directly with your mortgage servicer to learn about and apply for available relief.
- This relief includes:
- 90 day grace period for all mortgages
- Relief from fees and charges for 90 days
- No new foreclosures for 60 days
- No credit score changes as a result of these forbearance agreements
- This relief includes:
What funding is provided to K-12 Schools?
- The law provides about $13 billion for local school districts to continue providing educational services to their students, including planning during long-term school closures and purchasing educational technology to support online learning.
Do I get relief from my student loans?
- The CARES Act requires the Secretary of Education to defer loan payments, principal and interest, until September 30, 2020 without penalty for all federally held loans.
Is there additional funding for college students?
- The law provides $14.25 billion for higher education emergency relief for colleges and universities to respong to coronavirus, including providing grants to students to cover their basic needs.
Children and Families
Is there additional addistance for childcare and who is eligible?
- The law provides $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant to provide child care to health care sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and other workers deemed essential during the response to the coronavirus.
- The law also includes $750 million for Head Start to meet emergency staffing needs.
Will the election be impacted?
- The law provides $400 million for states to help prepare for the 2020 elections.
- Funding can be used to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting and online regisration, and increase the safety of voting in-person by providing additional voting facilities and more poll-workers.
- States cannot change the day of the general election in November 2020.
What limits are put on corporations as part of the CARES ACT
- Busineses owned by the President, Vice-President, Members of Congress, and Cabinet Secretaries, and their families cannot receive any loans or investments from Treasury programs.
- The law requires real-time public reporting of transactions under the bill. It sets up a Treasury Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery, a Pandemic Respinse Accountability Committee, and a special Congressional Oversight Commission to ensure that the public's money is bring used wisely.
- The law also requires recipient companies, if they are publicly traded, to give the Treasury an ownership interest; and if they are not publicly traded, the company must give the Treasury senior debt.
- Airlines that recive federal assistance will have limits on executive pay, a prohibition on stock buybacks and dividents, and requirements to keep workers on payroll.