1.3. CARES ACT-COVID-19 Stimulis #3 March 2020
Federal Stimulus Advocacy: After a great deal of advocacy and complex debate, the third COVID-19 stimulus package, known as the CARES Act, was signed into law by President Trump last Friday. Thank YOU to everyone who took action on this bill! The following overview was shared with us by advocates in Washington.
Important Points to Know About the CARES Act:
- SSI and SSDI recipients will receive cash rebates if they receive an annual SSA-1099 or filed taxes. If they do not have either of these forms, they will need to complete a 2019 tax filing or look for a special form from the IRS to complete.
- Money Follows the Person funding and the Spousal Impoverishment protections were extended until November 30, 2020.
- The ability to waive provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act were removed from the draft law.
- $30 billion was allocated to the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Fund, which can be used for IDEA, 504, and other disability instruction and services. It will be critical for state and local advocates to immediately talk with their state Departments of Education and local school districts about how those funds will be used to support students with disabilities.
- $150 billion was allocated to state and local governments. As with the school funds, stakeholders will need to advocate for the use of these funds to provide blind, deaf, developmental disability, vocational rehabilitation, and other disability services.
- Availability of Small Business Administration loans for non-profit agencies.
- $85 million additional funds for Centers for Independent Living and $50 million for Aging and Disability Resource Centers to address the COVID crisis.
The CARES Act Also is Missing a Number of Important Items:
- Lack of dedicated Medicaid funding for home and community based services (HCBS)
- Lack of funding to support direct service professionals and direct service agencies
- Lack of funding to ensure personal protective equipment for home care providers and family care providers
- Lack of funds to support family care providers, family leave, and sick leave to support people with disabilities
- Lack of directives to ensure information about the public health emergency is described in accessible formats
Action Alert: Based on the above, we need to ask for your help contacting Congress again today using this email action alert. We want to thank members of Congress for the work we have done so far, but we also need to let them know that there still remains great need for people with disabilities during this crisis.
DACA Immigration Advocacy: Some of you may know that there is an important case facing immigrants with DACA status (DACA means Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals). The Trump Administration terminated DACA and there are several legal challenges to stop the termination of DACA. See this link for more info about the case and this link for a social media toolkit to support those who have DACA, many of whom have disabilities or support a person with a disability.
Illinois SNAP Benefits Temporary Increase: On Friday, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that Illinois will be receiving funds under the federal Families First legislation that will result in a temporary increase of Illinois SNAP benefits (food stamps). SNAP benefits will see a relatively big jump. For example, a person with a disability who had previously received $16 per month under SNAP would see $194. The amounts will vary. Also, the website to watch for State of Illinois updates on COVID-19 is: https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/. See this link for the Governor's Saturday announcement about expanding and expediting Medicaid coverage.
Healthcare Rationing: A topic that is getting a great deal of attention right now is whether medical systems may discriminate against people with disabilities in life saving situations and/or with ventilator support during the COVID-19 crisis. Across the nation, disability advocates began pushing through media and through federal complaints to fight to save disabled lives. On Saturday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (OCR) put out guidance that stated that disability (and other) discrimination would not be allowed. However, advocates need to work hard to make sure that states and local health providers do not discriminate in emergency situations. This situation is rapidly evolving, including in Illinois. Stay tuned.
- ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR AGING AND DISABILITY RESOURCE CENTERS. $5 million from October 1, 2020 to November 30, 2020. Google your state and the term “Aging and Disability Resource Centers” to find support and information for the disability community.
- Administration for Community Living Funding – AGING AND DISABILITY SERVICES PROGRAMS. $955 million through September 30, 2021 for coronavirus relief – domestic and international. This includes $85 million for Centers for Independent Living.
- Extension of funding for Money Follows the Person and inapplicability of spousal income for eligibility for home and community-based services through November 30, 2020.
- CORONAVIRUS RECOVERY REBATES. Individuals will receive up to $1,200 and married couples who file taxes jointly will receive up to $2,400. There is a $500 supplemental payment per child. To receive these payments, a person must have a Social Security number. Asset and income limits, such as those in place for SSI, do not apply because this payment is being treated like a tax rebate rather than income. People are required to have filed tax returns with the IRS in order to receive payments.
- Rx 90-Day Supply. Medicare can provide an extra 90-day supply of individual’s medications due to COVID-19.
- Social Security Administration Administrative Funding for SSA personnel and related office SUPPORT. $300,000 to ensure continued processing of disability and retirement claims through September 30, 2021.
- Employee retention credit for employers subject to closure due to COVID–19. Credits due to the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund to assist with employee retention during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Delay of payment of employer payroll taxes. Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund, the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund and the Social Security Equivalent Benefit Account will be held harmless regarding any funds that were appropriated due to the COVID-19 crisis.