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Opinion The next stimulus packages should help seniors

21:15  13 april  2020
21:15  13 april  2020 Source:   thehill.com

Coronavirus stimulus checks up to $1,200: Find out if you're eligible for the payment

  Coronavirus stimulus checks up to $1,200: Find out if you're eligible for the payment The first wave of IRS stimulus payments from the coronavirus relief package went out last week. Those receiving federal benefits and have children need to act soon to receive their full payment this year. If you haven't set up direct deposit with the IRS, there's still time to receive your payment straight to your bank account. We'll break down what you need to know if you haven't received your 2020 economic impact payment yet: How to find out if you're eligible and how much money you could get. What to do if you're usually exempt from filing taxes or receive federal benefits.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

a sign on the side of a building: The next stimulus packages should help seniors © Getty Images The next stimulus packages should help seniors

The relief package Congress passed on March 27, was a good start toward mitigating some of the worst impacts of the early stage COVID-19 crisis for seniors. Among other measures, the CARES Act included relief payments for Social Security beneficiaries and gave Medicare and Medicaid new flexibility to cover seniors' health care costs during the pandemic. But the legislation also left some critical gaps unfilled. Congress must act again to close them.

Coronavirus stimulus checks up to $1,200: Calculate your payment amount

  Coronavirus stimulus checks up to $1,200: Calculate your payment amount The first wave of IRS stimulus money from the coronavirus relief package went out last week. Those receiving federal benefits and have children need to act soon to receive their full payment this year. © Provided by CNET As part of the stimulus package, you may be eligible for a payment from the federal government. Angela Lang/CNET © Angela Lang/CNET As part of the stimulus package, you may get payment from the government. If you haven't set up direct deposit with the IRS, there's still time to receive your payment straight to your bank account.

Seniors are the most vulnerable to the ravages of COVID-19. "Older adults seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness," reports the Centers for Disease Control. Not only are they more likely to suffer or die from the disease, but seniors also are more financially susceptible to the economic turmoil the coronavirus has wrought.

Millions of older Americans live on fixed incomes - dependent largely on Social Security to cover their most basic expenses. Many cannot afford the financial shocks of COVID-19 treatment. Contrary to what some Americans may believe, Medicare patients face potentially crushing out-of-pocket costs, especially if they do not have Medigap supplemental insurance.

Coronavirus stimulus checks up to $1,200: See if you meet payment requirements

  Coronavirus stimulus checks up to $1,200: See if you meet payment requirements The first wave of IRS stimulus money went out last week. You'll need to act soon to get the full payment from the coronavirus relief package this year if you receive federal benefits and have children.As part of the stimulus package, you may get payment from the government.

Advocates want to make sure that a fourth relief bill will increase seniors' chances of surviving this crisis - both physically and financially. As lawmakers work to craft new legislation, we urge that Congress adopt several measures to further inoculate older Americans against the worst outcomes of the pandemic.

We must also remember that seniors themselves provide significant economic stimulus when they spend their Social Security checks on essential goods and services. Their Social Security benefits go right back into the community - more than $1.6 trillion worth of annual stimulus, in fact. Struggling communities need that infusion of cash right now.

Like other Americans, most seniors are eligible to receive up to $1,200 in one-time stimulus payments. While helpful, it isn't enough. Too many seniors were already forced to choose between food and medicine before COVID-19. We support proposals from Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to boost Social Security benefits by $250 per month - enough for a few weeks of groceries, a utility payment, or an out-of-pocket medical bill.

Coronavirus stimulus check: Are you getting one? How to find out

  Coronavirus stimulus check: Are you getting one? How to find out The economic relief package includes stimulus payments up to $1,200 from the IRS. Here's what you need to know.A few CNET readers already report they've received notification their checks will post to their bank account April 15. Not everyone will receive the full $1,200 payment amount, but if you meet the requirements for a check, the government will either direct deposit the money into your bank account or mail it to you. Those who don't meet the requirements won't get a stimulus check at all.

Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) has an even more ambitious proposal to boost benefits 2 percent across the board to all 64 million Americans receiving Social Security. Larson's bill, based on his Social Security 2100 Act, would also increase the threshold for the special minimum benefit to 125 percent of the federal poverty level, and improve widow and widower's benefits in the lower and middle-income brackets. "If we can afford to bail out [large corporations], we can also afford to give back to seniors," Larson said.

The agency that administers Social Security benefits will also need some assistance from Congress during the pandemic. The Social Security Administration (SSA) was already reeling from several years of draconian budget cuts that degraded customer service to a painful level for millions of claimants. Congress has recently restored most of that funding. But now SSA likely will be flooded with millions of new claims relating to the coronavirus just as the agency is trying to regain its financial footing. We advocate an immediate $400 million boost to SSA's operating budget to help it cope with a greatly expanded workflow during this national emergency. Otherwise, SSA's customer service issues, including long wait times for assistance with claims and delayed disability hearings will only get worse.

Coronavirus $1,200 stimulus check: Find out if you're eligible, how to get your payment from the IRS

  Coronavirus $1,200 stimulus check: Find out if you're eligible, how to get your payment from the IRS The government's coronavirus economic relief package includes stimulus payments to a majority of US taxpayers. Here's what you need to know.Here's the background: Eligible US taxpayers could receive up to $1,200 from the federal government as part of a $2 trillion relief package intended to ease the economic blow caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The first 2020 stimulus checks should start to arrive shortly, the second or third week of April. If you're eligible, the IRS and Treasury Department will deposit the money directly into your bank account or send you a check. This includes people who regularly receive Social Security payments.

Let's also build upon health care improvements in the previous stimulus package, which began expanding Medicare and Medicaid coverage to help seniors survive the pandemic. Congress should increase federal matching funds for Medicaid to 12 percent to help states deal with the increased burden COVID-19 has placed on long term care services. (Medicaid funds about half of all long-term care services in the United States). Lawmakers should further create a special Medicaid grant for states to boost their home and community-based services, an alternative to nursing homes where seniors may be at greater risk of infection.

Congress also should make permanent the Medicaid Money Follows the Person program, which helps patients transition out of institutional care - as well as spousal impoverishment protections to make it more financially feasible for spouses to care for their loved ones outside of a nursing home.

Prescription drug affordability and accessibility were already an issue for older Americans before the COVID-crisis. The CARES Act gave seniors access to 90-day refills under Medicare Part D. Lawmakers should now ensure that all patients can obtain a three-months' supply of their medications. Medicare Advantage patients, in particular, need relief from some of the program's more restrictive policies - including prior authorization, step therapy, and limited formularies - if they are to obtain the prescription drugs they need.

Coronavirus $1,200 stimulus check: See if you're eligible, how to get your payment from the IRS

  Coronavirus $1,200 stimulus check: See if you're eligible, how to get your payment from the IRS The government's coronavirus economic relief package includes stimulus payments to a majority of US taxpayers. Here's what you need to know.Here's the background: Eligible US taxpayers could receive up to $1,200 from the federal government as part of a $2 trillion relief package intended to ease the economic blow caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The first 2020 stimulus checks should start to arrive around the middle of April. If you're eligible, the IRS and Treasury Department will offer to deposit the money directly into your bank account. This includes people who regularly receive Social Security payments.

We have advocated for many of these improvements long before the pandemic began because they are both fair and necessary to the financial and health security of seniors. COVID-19 throws these needs into sharp relief. Older Americans already were struggling to obtain quality, affordable health care, too often forced to choose between prescriptions and doctor visits or other essentials.

Forty percent of Social Security beneficiaries rely on their modest benefits (averaging $1,500 per month, only a few thousand dollars above the poverty line) to cover all of their living expenses. Everyone needs the federal government's assistance during this crisis - from the unemployed to struggling businesses. But any new relief package must include desperately needed help for older citizens who contribute so much to the economy and to our quality of life.

Max Richtman is president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, a membership organization that promotes the financial security, health and well being of current and future generations of maturing Americans. He also chairs the board of the National Committee's Political Action Committee, a PAC that endorses candidates for federal office.

Trump’s name on coronavirus stimulus checks could become a 2020 campaign issue .
It appears set to become an immediate 2020 issue, especially if any delays materialize. In addition to questions about the appropriateness of the president’s name appearing on the check, Democrats are focused on how any disbursement glitches will play with average voters.

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