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  • Mar 27, 2020 08:12 PM
    Last: 2d

    Due to the effects on the economy from the COVID-19 pandemic, you are no longer required to make any payments whatsoever on your federal student loans until September 30th of 2020. Interest cannot accrue during that time either and not paying will not effect your credit score in any way.

    This only applies to federal student loans that are currently held by the federal government though, which accounts for ~88% of all loans. If you have a private student loan, like a Sallie Mae or even some FFEL Program and Perkins loans, you will still be required to make payments on those loans. Be sure and check with your lender to see if you qualify for this or not.

    The coronavirus stimulus bill that was just signed into law orders all lenders and collection agencies in charge of federal student loan payments to halt any attempt to collect student loan payments for the next 6 months. And when they start up again they have to give you 6 notices when payments are required to start up again. So this isn't something you have to sign up for. It is something agencies and companies are required by law to do.

    You are still allowed to make payments on your loans during this time though, and the good news is anything you do pay for the next 6 months goes purely to your principle balance.

    Also if you were getting your income garnished or your tax refund was being reduced due to student loan collections, that is also being suspended for 6 months.

    All these effects take place immediately. And it's possible Congress will take further action in regards to student loans in the future. Democrats were at first trying to push for various forms of Student Loan Forgiveness but that did not make it into this current stimulus package. However they are expected to meet up again starting April 20th so it is possible for more relief in the future. Or an extension of suspensions.

  • Mar 26, 2020 04:06 PM
    Last: 1d

    Great info. You are 100% right about so many Americans are (or will soon be) applying for food stamps for the first time in their lives. And all these people likely wouldn't have ever applied if not for the coronavirus pandemic completely halting the economy.

    Luckily the stimulus will help this program. Is there any word on if SNAP benefits will increase in any states, or is this new money just going to states in anticipation of greatly increased demand for the program?

  • Mar 17, 2020 06:29 PM
    Last: 3d

    This stimulus bill is very close to passing now. Both parties and the White House are in agreement so its just a matter of finishing writing it up and officially voting.

    Currently its said that all American adults will receive a one-time check of $1200 if you make $75k or less per year. $2400 for couples that make $150k or less per year. And if you have a family of four you should expect $3,400. ($500 per child)

    It's not currently clear what you will get if you make more than that. At first they were saying you would get a little less. But I haven't come across official numbers yet.

    Anyone know of those exactly?

    Also this vid says they are looking to do direct deposits into everyone's accounts... I have zero idea how that is going to work. Please post that info here on the exact logistics if you come across it. I was at first worried of them sending paper checks and everyone scrambling to go to banks and creating massive drive thru lines. Maybe that will still happen because I find it hard to think they can simply drop this money into everyone's bank accounts in an easy and seemless way.

  • Mar 20, 2020 05:35 PM
    Last: 9d
    Thanks for the update. That is good news. One less thing to worry about for a while as I don't expect a return, but will owe from being self-employed. But it is a good point to remind people they can still file now if they are going to get a return.
  • Mar 20, 2020 03:16 PM
    Last: 4d

    I know many states are having their sites crash from the onslaught of new unemployment applications. And I expect delays and many issues for tens of thousands during this uncertain time. Hopefully Congress acts swiftly and makes the whole process much easier and much faster. Tall order though.

    Anyone following this please post updates or useful info and links when you can about this issue. Also your own personal experiences with applying, getting funds, how much they were compared to what you were making, just anything you think of that would be helpful for others.

  • Mar 20, 2020 03:16 PM
    Last: 4d

    This is Senator Chuck Schumer calling for the govt to enact a new form of unemployment insurance as part of the emergency stimulus bill Congress is set to pass in a matter of days. The bill is said to be made up of $1 trillion in emergency funds and currently the Republicans and Democrats are debating on the best ways to disperse the money to have the most lasting impact on the economy, in the short and long term.

    This video is in response to the Republican's proposal which is quite different and can be seen here if interested. While the Democrats don't have an official bill on the table like the Republicans at the moment they want the stimulus to be primarily focused on helping workers, as you will here Chuck say repeatedly. He talks specifically about unemployment starting at 11 minutes and 38 seconds in. But the whole thing is well worth a watch.

  • Mar 18, 2020 01:58 PM
    Last: 10d

    Agreed, I expect him to step back soon. Saw an interesting video on how Sanders could use the gesture to take lead role on handling the coronavirus pandemic. Thought they raised some good points here. I do think he would be a good person in a role like this:

  • Mar 19, 2020 05:51 PM
    Last: 8d

    To combat and mitigate the spread of coronavirus COVID-19 throughout the U.S., Medicare is doing their part to ensure all seniors enrolled are fully taken care of during these extraordinary times. This post is going to cover all the biggest questions seniors are asking regarding Medicare and Coronavirus in detail with a Q&A format. And I encourage anyone reading this to chime in or ask questions as well, speaking to your personal experience or sharing useful info and tips for seniors seeking Medicare assistance in general in regards to COVID-19.

    Testing, Hospital Stay, Vaccine Costs

    1) Will Medicare cover coronavirus test costs?

    Yes. Medicare will cover the entire cost of the test, with zero out of pocket expenses, under Medicare Part B.

    2) Will I be charged for hospital stays if I test positive for COVID-19?

    You won't be charged for the stay if a doctor deems the stay medically necessary, unless your stay is longer than 60 days. Medicare Part A will cover all doctor recommended hospitalization costs of COVID-19 senior patients. So if your doctor tells you self-quarantine at home isn't sufficient and you need to go the hospital for a period of time, Medicare Part A will cover that expense. The only exception for being charged for hospitalization from COVID-19 is if your stay lasts longer than 60 days.

    3) Will Medicare cover costs for COVID-19 vaccines once ready?

    Yes. Medicare will cover the entire cost of any federally approved COVID-19 vaccine, with zero out of pocket expenses under Medicare Part D.

    TeleHealth: Virtual Healthcare from your Home

    What is telehealth and how do I use it?

    Telehealth has been used in the healthcare industry for many years now and its a way to interact with your doctor or healthcare practitioner virtually, without having to psychically go see them. You can talk directly with your doctor using the internet - on the phone, through Skype, FaceTime or some other video or audio application your doctor has arranged. And that is a great stand-in for an in-person visit especially for seniors trying to practice self distancing to not further spread or contract the coronavirus.

    You have to call your doctor's office for exact instructions on the telehealth services they use. It's usually just as simple as setting up a Skype call but sometimes doctors opt for specialized software/applications. In most cases you are talking to your doctor on a video call so they can see you and do their best to diagnose you remotely, or at the very least give you advice on next steps for getting tested, going to an actual hospital or answer any questions you have on dealing with symptoms in general. Anything you would ask if you saw them in-person.

    If you don't have internet access or access to Skype, FaceTime or any of the other apps your doctor office uses, reach out to a family member or friend to see if they can assist in setting up a virtual chat with your doctor. Just be sure and follow the recommended social distancing guidelines set out by the CDC.

    Am I going to be charged extra by my doctor for using telehealth services?

    Here's exactly what Medicare.gov has to say about telehealth coverage:

    • You may be able to communicate with your doctors or certain other practitioners without necessarily going to the doctor’s office in person for a full visit. Medicare pays for “virtual check-ins”—brief, virtual services with your established physician or certain practitioners where the communication isn't related to a medical visit within the previous 7 days and doesn’t lead to a medical visit within the next 24 hours (or soonest appointment available).
    • You need to consent verbally to using virtual check-ins and your doctor must document that consent in your medical record before you use this service. You pay your usual Medicare coinsurance and deductible for these services.
    • Medicare also pays for you to communicate with your doctors using online patient portals without going to the doctor’s office. Like the virtual check-ins, you must initiate these individual communications.
    • If you live in a rural area, you may use communication technology to have full visits with your doctors. The law requires that these visits take place at specified sites of service, known as telehealth originating sites, and get services using a real-time audio and video communication system at the site to communicate with a remotely located doctor or certain other types of practitioners. Medicare pays for many medical visits through this telehealth benefit.

    Going to the Hospital

    Are hospitals and ERs taking extra precautions because of COVID-19 for senior citizens if I have to go?

    Absolutely. Hospitals and ERs are screening patients as soon as they come in, and separating potential COVID-19 patients from all other patients with separate waiting rooms when possible. Hospitals are still aiming to provide as clean and as safe an environment as they can if you must go in. But telehealth options should be your first resource if and when possible to see if a hospital or ER visit is even necessary, as to not overtax their limited resources.

    Contacting Medicare

    Can I call and talk to a Medicare representative with any questions I have?

    Yes you can. 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) is the number for any and all questions you have regarding Medicare coverage. Keep in mind though, massive amounts of people will be calling and wait times will be far longer than normal. So to save time be sure and read through their Medicare & Coronavirus website first, as many times your question will be addressed there.

  • Mar 17, 2020 06:29 PM
    Last: 3d

    A video update:

  • Mar 17, 2020 06:29 PM
    Last: 3d

    Most up to date info: Coronavirus Relief - Direct Cash Payments

    UPDATE (3/29/20): Started this thread before the bill passed. So what's below is info from when they started proposing sending cash to when the bill passed and beyond. This thread should answer most all your questions about getting relief stimulus money, but I wanted to include the link above at the top so you can always see the most updated info on Coronavirus Relief. That page also shows how the bill expands on unemployment benefits, food stamps, housing benefits and more.

    Emergency stimulus to soar above $1 trillion

    That's the headline and there is a lot to breakdown here. But basically because of the economic catastrophe that's been caused by the nationwide shutdown to combat the spread of coronavirus COVID-19, the government is putting together an emergency stimulus package that's wide reaching, in an effort to try and help as many Americans as possible, and soon.

    Here's an important exert from this article, breaking down how the funds might be allocated:

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Senate Republicans behind closed doors on Tuesday to present lawmakers with options for aid to airlines, hotels, casinos and small-to-medium-sized businesses. The White House had been discussing a package of more than $800 billion, POLITICO reported Monday, and by Tuesday the Treasury Department was preparing to unveil a package of $850 billion including more than $50 billion for the airline industry, $250 billion for small-business support and $500 billion for aid to individuals through direct payments or payroll tax cuts. A senior administration official acknowledged the proposal could climb above that level, putting it above $1 trillion.

    So while its uncertain exactly what the emergency stimulus will officially do and when, its clear the government is going to take hundreds of billions of dollars of this effort and send checks directly to most all Americans.

    It's not clear how much and for what ages, etc. But I have heard it floated upwards of $1000/person. If there are 325 million Americans or so, and you have $250 billion to work with, the math is close to a grand a person. If they are working with $500 billion, obviously they can send even more per person. I have seen differing reports.. Though I would imagine anyone under 18 would get less than those 18+.

    Will update here as more details come out. But they are planning to pass this bill and send money out in as soon as 2 weeks from today. Please share any info and thoughts you have on this stimulus plan. Im happy to see action being taken.

    Do you think its enough? Is this the right way to deal with this situation? Do you think this should be a one-time thing or a monthly stimulus?