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CARES Act FAQs

Assistance for Individuals and Families

Income for American Families

The CARES Act establishes a one-time tax rebate for eligible Americans. This money is intended to help low- and middle-income Americans make ends meet during the coronavirus pandemic.

How much will I get?

This tax rebate is equal to $1,200 per individual or $2,400 for couples filing jointly, plus $500 per eligible child. The amount you will receive is based on the adjusted gross income (AGI) in your 2018 or 2019 tax return. The full amount will be sent to anyone with an AGI at or below $75,000 for individuals, $112,500 for head of household, and $150,000 for married couples. The rebate is phased out gradually and individuals with an AGI of $99,000 or $198,000 for married couples will not receive rebates.

I have a low income because I’m retired or disabled or for some other reason. Will I still receive money?

Yes. If a person has a valid Social Security number, they can receive the credit – so this means workers, those receiving welfare benefits, Social Security beneficiaries, and others are all eligible. There is no tax liability requirement and there is no earned income requirement.

Are non-tax filers eligible?

Yes, there are two ways in this bill for non-tax filers to receive a rebate check:

  • By filing a tax return for the 2019 tax year, which they can do until July 15, 2020.
  • For others, the IRS will use the SSA-1099 to identify Social Security beneficiaries who fall below the tax filing requirement.

Does this affect eligibility for means-tested benefits?

No. The Internal Revenue Code already prohibits this type of credit from affecting eligibility for means tested benefits.

Expanded Unemployment Insurance

The CARES Act expands the size and scope of unemployment benefits for laid-off Americans during this unprecedented time. The bill makes benefits more generous by adding a $600/week across-the-board payment increase to existing unemployment insurance amounts through the end of July. In addition, for those who need it, the bill provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits beyond what states typically allow.

The expansion in unemployment benefits expires at the end of 2020 in recognition of the temporary nature of this challenge.

Are self-employed, gig workers, and contractors eligible for unemployment?

Yes, the bill expands unemployment benefits to cover more workers including self-employed and independent contractors, like gig workers and Uber drivers, who do not usually qualify for unemployment. The bill also includes support to state and local governments and nonprofits so they can offer unemployment benefits to their employees. Contact www.getkansasbenefits.gov to file for unemployment. 

Retirement Accounts

Older Americans who are subject to mandatory minimum distributions from their retirement accounts will have the option to suspend mandatory minimum distributions without penalty for 2020.

Additionally, the law also waives the 10% penalty on for early distributions from 401(k)s and IRAs taken in 2020, as long as the withdrawal is due to certain coronavirus-related reasons.

Student Loan Deferment

The CARES Act allows federal student loan borrowers to pause payments for six months – to September 30, 2020 – providing direct relief for millions of Americans who have federal student loans. The Department of Education will also waive all interest that would normally accrue during this period. This provision only applies to federal student loans and not to loans provided by a private lender.

 

 

Investing in Health Care

The CARES Act rushes essential resources to providers during these unprecedented times. The bill includes targeted health measures to fund hospitals and healthcare providers, expand access to care for patients, support the public health response, and remove limitations on using Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

The CARES Act provides funding for healthcare providers through Medicare, including accelerated payments and a 20 percent add-on payment for inpatient treatment. This will help give hospitals, especially facilities in rural and frontier areas, a reliable and stable cash flow the need to help maintain an adequate workforce, buy essential supplies, create additional infrastructure, and keep caring for patients.

The CARES Act provides over $140 billion in appropriations directly aimed at mitigating the coronavirus:

  • $100 billion for a new program to provide grants to hospitals, public entities, not-for-profit entities, and Medicare and Medicaid enrolled suppliers and institutional providers to cover unreimbursed health care related expenses or lost revenues attributable to the public health emergency resulting from the coronavirus.
  • $16 billion to the Strategic National Stockpile to procure personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and other medical supplies for federal and state response efforts. Additionally, the bill adds supplies, like PPE to the Strategic National Stockpile and requires critical supply manufacturers to notify the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of any shortages or discontinuations.
  • $11 billion to support research and development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to prevent or treat the effects of coronavirus.
  • $4.3 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support federal, state, and local public health agencies to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus.
  • $185 million through the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) to support rural critical access hospitals, rural tribal health and telehealth programs.
  • $200 million for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for priorities like assisting nursing homes with infection control and support states’ efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus in nursing homes

The CARES Act provides new resources for public health, education, and emergency preparedness infrastructure, including:

  • Extending the Community Health Center Fund through November 30, 2020;
  • Reauthorizing key rural grant programs to strengthen rural community health; and
  • Appropriating $30 billion for a flexible Education Stabilization Fund to help states, school districts, and institutions of higher education provide online learning for all students.

Health Savings Account and Flexible Spending Account Changes

The CARES Act eliminates red tape for employers and individuals by ensuring that Americans can use tax-favored health care accounts, like HSAs and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), to buy over-the-counter medicines tax-free without a prescription. In addition, high deductible health care plans with HSAs will now be able to provide coverage pre-deductible for telehealth services.

 

State and Local Governments & Distressed Industries

The CARES Act provides emergency relief to distressed businesses as well as state and local governments, including $425 billion for loans, loan guarantees, and investments in support of facilities established by the Federal Reserve for purpose of providing liquidity to businesses, states, or municipalities through purchasing obligations or other interests directly from issuers of such obligations or other interests.

Who is eligible and how are the funds accessed?

All industries and firms are eligible to benefit from the broad financing from the Treasury fund to the extent they don’t receive sufficient assistance from other programs. How to access this support will depend on the size and model of the business and the exact facility used.

Regional airports/airlines – what assistance are they eligible to receive?

Passenger airlines are eligible for $25 billion in loan authority and $25 billion in grants to maintain their operations, employee payroll, and contracts around the country. The bill also includes $4 billion in loan authority and $4 billion in grants for cargo air carriers.

The bill provides $10 billion in grants through the Airport Improvement Program to support projects and operations at airports around the country. It also provides $3 billion in grants for contractors employed by the airlines to ensure that airlines can maintain existing operations contracts. The bill also includes $56 million for the Essential Air Service to maintain existing air service to rural communities.

What does this bill do to put restrictions on the airlines accepting grants and loans?

The loans come with conditions including: restrictions on executive compensation; prohibition on stock buybacks and the prohibition on paying dividends for the duration of the loan plus 12 months; the airline or business must maintain its existing employment levels through September 30, 2020, to the extent practicable, and in no case reduce it by more than 10%.

How does it support airports and affiliated contractors?

The bill provides $10 billion in grants to airports to help them maintain employment, continue operations, clean and sanitize to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and service airport construction debt. The bill also provides $3 billion in payroll support grants to airline contractors, including baggage handlers, wheelchair pushers, and caterers. These grants can only be used for paying employees and contractors that receive grants must maintain current employment levels through September 2020.