News from Representative Larson

Dear Friends –

Right now, we are living through a crisis unlike any other in our lifetimes. Our daily lives have been uprooted and filled with uncertainties. We are worried about our loved ones, our neighbors, and our friends. This is an extraordinarily challenging time for the American people and citizens of the First District, but I want to emphasize that we are in this together.

By taking personal responsibility to stop the spread of the virus, we can protect not only our own health, but the health of those we care for. This means following advice from public health experts, including staying home, limiting social interactions, and washing or sanitizing our hands. By taking these measures, we can help slow the spread of COVID-19, prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed, and save lives.

I know these measures are a lot to ask of our citizens – especially for the many who are unable to telework such as those in the manufacturing or service sectors. That is why the government must step up to help individuals and businesses weather this pandemic. While Congress has taken important initial steps, more must be done.  I am committed to ensuring Congress takes all the steps needed to confront this health crisis head on, provide needed economic relief to the First District, and ultimately, return our lives to normal.

Today, I voted for the third relief package, the CARES Act which:

  • provides direct cash payments to lower-income and middle-class Americans,
  • expands unemployment benefits and eligibility for those who have lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus,
  • provides help for small businesses that have shuttered or severely cut back operations,
  • establishes a Marshall Plan for hospitals and health care providers so they are able to treat patients with COVID-19 and at the same time protect our health care workers on the front lines, and it includes many more provisions to help families, workers, and small businesses.

Additionally, on Sunday, March 29th, I am hosting my fourth telephone town hall at 3 pm. You can register to get a call to your phone or listen to the town hall live here. You can also call 855-962-0972 at 3 PM on March 29th.

Here are some frequently asked questions my office has received on the latest relief bill:

DIRECT PAYMENTS:

What are the eligibility requirements for the direct payments?

  • All legal residents with a Social Security Number who are under the income limit are eligible for the 2020 Recovery Rebate.
    • This includes retirees and individuals who have not filed income taxes.
  • The full credit is $1,200 per adult, $500 per child. 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 reach. Those income limits are:
    • $99,000 for a single filer, $136,500 for a head of household, and $198,000 for joint filers

I didn’t make enough money to file taxes in 2018 or 2019, will I be eligible?

  • Yes, every non-dependent, legal resident within the income range with a Social Security number is eligible. Even if you have not filed income taxes, the IRS may have your information. If you have previously received unemployment compensation or if you receive Social Security Retirement or Social Security Disability payments, the IRS may already have your information.
  • If you have not filed taxes or participated in these programs, the IRS will be announce a process to submit an application.
  • The IRS strongly recommends filing a 2019 tax return as soon as possible, which will give them up to date information.

How will payments be delivered?

  • If you have given the IRS your bank information and permission to deposit funds since January 2018, it will be delivered via direct deposit. You will receive a paper statement a few weeks after transfer, notifying you that the payment has been made and into what account.
  • If the IRS does not have your bank account information, but does have your other information, you will receive a physical payment in the mail.
  • If the IRS does not have your information, the IRS will be announcing a process for you to receive payment.

If I receive a federal benefit that’s limited by income levels, will taking this benefit impact my eligibility?

  • No, this payment is considered a tax refund, and so it will not be considered income for determining eligibility for federal programs.

When will I receive my payment?

  • The goal is to distribute funding as soon as possible. The IRS has not announced their expected timeline, but payments that can be direct deposited will have fastest distribution.

What happens if I have had a loss of income since my last tax returns and am now in the range for payment?

  • You may be eligible for this credit when you submit your 2020 tax returns.

What happens if I have moved since I last filled out my taxes?

  • The IRS will release information on how to update your address with them.

Will I have to pay taxes on these payments?

  • No, they are considered tax refunds and are not subject to tax.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS:

I was recently laid off or had my employer completely cut my hours. What resources are there for me? 

  • Laid off and furloughed workers are likely eligible for unemployment insurance. Visit filectui.com to apply. A fact sheet can be found here
  • As part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Connecticut will be receiving additional resources to support unemployment insurance administration to accommodate for an increase in applicants, as well as funding to shore up each state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. 
  • Under the CARES Act:
    • Eligible workers are entitled to an additional 13 weeks of unemployment compensation benefits.
    • All employees are eligible for unemployment, including self-employed, gig workers, and contract workers.
    • Increases benefit by up $600 per week, for four months giving the average worker a wage replacement rate of 100%.

HEALTH CARE RESPONSE:

What is being done to help hospitals and our health care systems?

  • The CARES Act establishes a $150 billion Marshall Plan for hospitals and other health centers with a cash infusion of $100 billion to cover costs related to COVID-19.  Cash grants will be provided on rolling basis, determined on basis of demonstrated need.
  • Expands tele-health to doctors and nurses including community health centers, hospice and home health providers.

Does this include money for more supplies for our health care professionals on the front lines?

  • The CARES Act replenishes the Strategic National Stockpile with $16 billion toward supplies of pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies, which are distributed to State and local health agencies, hospitals and other healthcare entities facing shortages during emergencies.
  • Hospitals and health centers may apply to purchase more supplies through the $100 billion fund available to all health providers.

Do we have vaccines or treatments?

  • The FDA and private pharmaceutical companies are working to develop vaccines and treatments.  Presently, various vaccines and treatments are in clinical trials. We are hopeful that a treatment for the virus will be available in coming months.
  • The CARES Act Ensures vaccines will be free for insured Americans.
  • The CARES Act directs $3.5 billion for the production of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to help combat this pandemic.

What health care support is there for states and local governments?

  • $4.3 billion in critical aid for public health agencies is directed to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus, including for the purchase of personal protective equipment; laboratory testing to detect positive cases; infection control and mitigation at the local level to prevent the spread of the virus; and other public health preparedness and response activities.
  • These funds can be used to provide personal protective equipment for our first responders.
  • The CARES Act includes $150 billion to assist state, tribal, and local governments with additional resources to address the COVID-19 pandemic. It is estimated Connecticut will get around $1.4 billion from this fund.

What is being done to protect people in nursing homes?

  • The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services is granted funds to assist nursing homes with infection control and support states’ efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus in nursing homes.

Regards,
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John B. Larson
Member of Congress

 

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