On Friday, March 27th, President Trump signed the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law. This is the third piece of legislation that Congress has passed to deal with the impact of COVID-19 on our communities. It was vital that this legislation include important Lowcountry priorities, including much needed relief for South Carolina seniors. The State of South Carolina will also receive nearly $2 billion to boost the state and local response to this pandemic.
The best way to fight this virus is for everyone, regardless of age, to take the necessary steps to keep themselves healthy. It’s on all of us, together, to flatten the curve, protect our vulnerable neighbors, and stop the spread of this virus.
No matter your age and no matter how healthy you feel, you should do the following:
- If you can, stay home. Practice social distancing.
- Wash your hands regularly. Avoid touching your face.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces.
Seniors and those with compromised immune systems are at a greater risk of COVID-19. They should take extra caution to limit their contact with other people.
Frequently Asked Questions
How will stimulus checks work for seniors? Will I get a check if I didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019?
- Everyone, including seniors, is eligible to receive a rebate if they have a Social Security Number and their household income does not exceed the threshold. Rebate payments start to phase out at the thresholds of $75,000 for single filers, $112,500 for head of household, and $150,000 for married filing jointly.
- This includes Social Security beneficiaries (retirement, disability, survivor) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients. Many people will be paid automatically by IRS, if they filed a 2019 or 2018 tax return. Social Security beneficiaries and SSI recipients who did not file a tax return may need to take additional action, such as filing an abbreviated tax return, to receive a rebate. This process is still evolving, and IRS is posting specific guidance at www.irs.gov/coronavirus.
What do I need to know about taxes for using retirement funds and will I be penalized for pulling money out of my IRA?
- The 10% additional tax on early distributions from IRAs and defined contribution plans, like 401(k) plans is waived. A coronavirus-related distribution may be made between January 1 and December 31, 2020, by an individual who is (or whose family) is infected with the coronavirus or who is economically harmed by the coronavirus. Distributions are limited to $100,000 and may be re-contributed to the plan or IRA.
- Additionally, defined contribution plans are permitted to allow plan loans up to $100,000 and repayment of existing plan loans is extended for employees who are affected by the coronavirus.
Will there be any changes to my Social Security or Medicare?
- No, there will be no changes to your Social Security or Medicare as a result of the CARES Act.
Will Medicare cover COVID-19 testing and treatment?
- Medicare will cover testing and treatment costs.
- In addition, the CARES Act increases Medicare telehealth flexibilities during the emergency period, including to federally qualified and rural health centers, expands telehealth to do face to face visits for recertification or eligibility for hospice care and home health services and waiving the requirement for face to face visits for dialysis patients and their doctors.
- This bill also requires Medicare prescription drug plans to allow during the COVID-19 emergency period for fills and refills of covered part D drugs for up to a 3-month supply and will cover vaccination when a COVID-19 vaccine is available.
How do I get a test?
- If you are experiencing symptoms of any kind, you should contact your doctor prior to going in person. If you do not have a regular doctor, there are additional resources that are available.
- If you are in the Charleston area:
- Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)- www.MUSC.care
- Roper St. Francis Healthcare- www.rsfh.com/virtualcare/
- Trident Health- https://tridenthealthsystem.com/covid-19/index.dot
- If you are in the Beaufort area:
- Beaufort Memorial Hospital- https://www.bmhsc.org/news/free-covid-19-related-video-visits-using-bmh-care-anywhere