(KHN Illustration/Getty Images)
by Michelle Andrews
“Looking back, Sam Bloechl knows that when the health insurance broker who was helping him find a plan asked whether he’d ever been diagnosed with a major illness, that should have been a red flag. Preexisting medical conditions don’t matter when you buy a comprehensive individual plan that complies with the Affordable Care Act. Insurers can’t turn people down or charge them more based on their medical history.
“But Bloechl, now 31, didn’t know much about health insurance. So when the broker told him a UnitedHealthcare Golden Rule plan would cover him for a year for less than his marketplace plan — “Unless you like throwing money away, this is the plan you should buy,” he recalls the agent saying — he signed up.
“That was December 2016. A month later Bloechl was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after an MRI showed tumors on his spine.
“To Bloechl’s dismay, he soon learned that none of the expensive care he needed would be covered by his health plan. Instead of a comprehensive plan that complied with the ACA, he had purchased a bundle of four short-term plans with three-month terms that provided only limited benefits and didn’t cover preexisting conditions.”
Read this article in its entirety at Kaiser Health Network, click here.
by Dena Bunis
“Medicare premiums and deductibles for Part A and Part B will increase modestly in 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Friday. Standard monthly premiums for Part B will cost $3.90 more, rising to $148.50 in 2021, up from $144.60 in 2020.
“Part B deductibles will rise $5 next year to $203, up from this year’s $198.
“Medicare Part B covers doctor visits and other outpatient services, such as lab tests and diagnostic screenings. Premiums for some Medicare enrollees will be higher than the standard because these monthly payments are based on income. Part B beneficiaries with annual incomes greater than $88,000 will pay more ($207.90 for individuals with incomes between $88,000 and $111,000, for example).
“The $3.90 monthly Part B premium increase is less than had been expected earlier this year, when analyses by CMS actuaries indicated that the 2021 Part B premium could increase by as much as $50 a month for some beneficiaries.”
Read this article in its entirety at AARP; click here.
Information if you’ve not yet received your Economic Impact Payments ($1200 stimulus payments to individuals administered by the IRS)
Click here to download as a .pdf file.
Check out these upcoming events. The Personal Financial Counselor and Military OneSource State Consultant will bring the information and resources you need for financial success. To join us, download the Zoom app or go to the Zoom website and use the links provided. A Zoom account with password is NOT required. RSVPs appreciated.
Harrisburg, PA – Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today announced an Emergency Assistance Program (EAP) to help low-income families who lost wages experiencing financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Families who qualify will be eligible for a one-time payment to assist them in meeting basic needs and help them secure more stable financial footing in the future.
“The economic disruption caused by this pandemic is affecting families and communities across Pennsylvania in different ways. For many low-income Pennsylvanians, especially those awaiting unemployment compensation, this disruption could be completely destabilizing,” said Secretary Miller. “The Wolf Administration is committed to helping families weather this uncertain period, and the EAP will be another resource to help families avoid reaching even more difficult situations as we recover from this crisis together.”
Continue reading this news release, click here.
News items from the Social Security Administration | Local offices remain closed and Action Needed for People Receiving SSI with Dependents and Who Do Not File Tax Returns to Receive $500 Per Child Payment
Update on Social Security Offices from Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security
“Earlier this week, The White House issued national guidance regarding Opening Up America Again. We are evaluating this information as it relates to our agency and are continuing to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation across the nation. In fulfilling Social Security’s mission, when we reopen offices to the public, we will provide a safe environment for both the people we serve and our employees.
As we continue to develop our plans, our offices will remain closed to the public for face-to-face service, and our employees will continue to work remotely and provide services to the public. We will provide updates moving forward and post updated information on the status of our offices, by state, at www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus. Our agency will provide these updates directly, and please disregard other sources of information regarding the status of our offices.
We will continue to provide the vital service the public relies on. Please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus for more information about our services during the pandemic.”
Actualización de las oficinas del Seguro Social: mensaje de Andrew Saul, Comisionado del Seguro Social
A principios de esta semana, la Casa Blanca emitió directrices sobre la Reapertura de los EE. UU. Estamos evaluando esta información en relación con nuestra agencia y continuamos monitoreando de cerca la situación del COVID-19 a través de la nación. En cumplimiento del deber del Seguro Social, cuando volvamos a abrir las oficinas al público, proveeremos un ambiente seguro tanto para las personas que servimos, como para nuestros empleados.
A medida que desarrollemos nuestros planes, nuestras oficinas permanecerán cerradas al público para servicio en persona, y nuestros empleados continuarán trabajando de forma remota y proveyendo servicio al público. Proveeremos actualizaciones e información al día sobre el estatus de nuestras oficinas, por estado, en www.segurosocial.gov/coronavirus. Nuestra agencia proveerá estas actualizaciones directamente, por favor haga caso omiso a otras fuentes que proveen información sobre el estatus de nuestras oficinas.
Continuaremos proveyendo el servicio vital del cual el público depende. Para informarse mejor sobre nuestros servicios durante la pandemia, por favor visite www.segurosocial.gov/coronavirus.
Special alert for VA, SSI recipients who don’t file a tax return and have dependents
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued a special alert for Supplemental Security Income and Department of Veterans Affairs beneficiaries to act by May 5 if they didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 and have dependents so they can quickly receive the full amount of their Economic Impact Payment.
Their $1,200 payments will be issued soon and, in order to add the $500 per eligible child amount to these payments, the IRS needs the dependent information before the payments are issued. Otherwise, their payment at this time will be $1,200 and, by law, the additional $500 per eligible child amount will be paid in association with a return filing for tax year 2020.
“We want to ‘Plus $500’ these groups so they can get their maximum Economic Impact Payment of $1,200 and their $500 for each eligible child as quickly as possible,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “They’ll get $1,200 automatically, but they need to act quickly and use the Non-Filers tool on IRS.gov to get the extra $500 per child added to their payment. Everyone should share this information widely and help others with the Plus $500 Push, so that more Americans get more money as fast as possible.”
Following extensive work by the IRS and partner government agencies, $1,200 automatic payments will be starting soon for those receiving Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and VA Compensation and Pension (C&P) beneficiaries who didn’t file a tax return in the last two years. No action is needed by these groups; they will automatically receive their $1,200 payment.
For VA and SSI recipients who have a qualifying child and didn’t file a 2018 or 2019 tax return, they have a limited window to register to have $500 per eligible child added automatically to their soon-to-be-received $1,200 Economic Impact Payment. A quick trip to a special Non-Filers tool on IRS.gov by May 5 for these groups may help put all of their eligible Economic Income Payment into a single payment. The Non-Filers tool is available in English and Spanish.
To help spread the word to recipients with children about this special “Plus $500 Push,” the IRS has additional material available on a special partners page that can be shared with friends, family members and community groups.
SSI and VA recipients: Have a child but don’t file a tax return? Visit IRS.gov now
SSI and VA recipients who have children and who weren’t required file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 should visit the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool on IRS.gov. By quickly taking steps to enter information on the IRS website about them and their qualifying children, they can receive the $500 per dependent child payment automatically in addition to their $1,200 individual payment. Otherwise, their payment at this time will be $1,200 and, by law, the additional $500 per eligible child amount would be paid in association with a return filing for tax year 2020.
SSI and VA recipients who receive Compensation and Pension (C&P) benefit payments should receive their automatic payments by mid-May. If they have children and aren’t required to file a tax return, both groups are urged to use the Non-Filers tool as soon as possible before the May 5 deadline. Once the deadline passes and processing begins on the $1,200 payment, they will not be eligible to use the Non-Filers tool to add eligible children. Their payment will be $1,200 and, by law, the additional $500 per eligible child amount would be paid in association with a return filing for tax year 2020.
SSA / Railroad Retirees: Economic Impact Payments arriving next week
For recipients of Social Security retirement, survivors or disability insurance benefits (SSDI) and Railroad Retirement benefits (RRB), automatic payments of $1,200 are scheduled to begin arriving next week. No action is needed on their part. This includes people who don’t normally file a tax return.
For Social Security / RRB beneficiaries who don’t normally file a tax return, have a child and registered using the IRS Non-Filers tool by the April 22 deadline, more payments are scheduled to begin arriving next week as well.
For SSA/RRB beneficiaries who don’t normally file a tax return and have a child but did not register on the IRS Non-Filers tool by April 22, they will still receive their automatic $1,200 beginning next week. Given the deadline has passed, by law, the additional $500 per eligible child amount would be paid in association with filing a tax return for 2020. This group can no longer use the Non-Filers tool to add eligible children.
Note – Direct Express Account Holders: You may use the Non-Filers tool, but you cannot receive your and your children’s payment on your Direct Express account. You may only select a bank account for direct deposit or leave bank information blank and receive the money by mail.
No action needed by most taxpayers
The Treasury Department will make these automatic payments to SSA, SSI, RRB and VA recipients. Recipients will generally receive the automatic $1,200 payments by direct deposit, Direct Express debit card or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their benefits.
For more information related to veterans and their beneficiaries who receive Compensation and Pension (C&P) benefit payments from VA, please visit VA.gov.
General IRS information about the Economic Impact Payments is available on a special section of IRS.gov.
Personas que reciben Seguridad de Ingreso Suplementario, actúe ahora – Vaya a IRS.gov – Un mensaje del Comisionado del Seguro Social, Andrew Saul
Las personas que reciben Seguridad de Ingreso Suplementario que tienen dependientes y no presentan declaraciones de impuestos necesitan tomar acción para recibir un pago de $500 por niño
«Las personas que reciben Seguridad de Ingreso Suplementario (SSI, por sus siglas en inglés) que no presenten declaraciones de impuestos comenzarán a recibir los Pagos automáticos de estímulo económico (también conocido como Pagos de impacto económico), directamente del Departamento del Tesoro a principios de mayo. Sin embargo, las personas que reciben SSI, que no presentaron una declaración de impuestos en el 2018 o 2019, y tienen niños menores de 17 años con derecho, no deben esperar su pago individual automático de $1,200. Deben ir de inmediato a la página del Servicio de Impuestos Internos (IRS, por sus siglas en inglés) en www.irs.gov/es/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here y visitar la sección Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info (solo disponible en inglés), para proveer su información. Las personas que reciben SSI que tienen niños dependientes y no presentaron una declaración de impuestos en el 2018 o 2019 deben actuar antes del martes, 5 de mayo, para recibir pagos adicionales rápidamente para sus niños con derecho.
Al tomar medidas proactivas para ingresar información sobre ellos y sus niños con derecho en el sitio de internet del IRS, también recibirán el pago de $500 por niño dependiente además de su pago individual de $1,200. Si los beneficiarios en este grupo no proveen su información al IRS pronto, su pago en este momento será de $1,200. Luego, se requerirá que las personas presenten una declaración de impuestos del año fiscal 2020 para obtener los $500 adicionales por niño con derecho.
Exhorto a las personas que reciben SSI que tienen niños con derecho y usualmente no presentan impuestos a tomar acción ahora. Vaya inmediatamente a IRS.gov para que
reciba el monto total de los Pagos de estímulo económico a los que usted y su familia tienen derecho.
Por último, una palabra de precaución. Cuidado con las estafas relacionadas con los Pagos de estímulo económico. No se requiere ningún honorario para recibir estos pagos. No se deje engañar.
Visite la página de internet del Seguro Social sobre el COVID-19 en www.segurosocial.gov/coronavirus para obtener información y actualizaciones importantes.
Covid or No Covid, It’s Important to Plan | Now is an excellent time to assess your own situation and choose the best approach should the worst happen.” – The New York Times
New York Times article
“My phone rang with a FaceTime video, and my cousin’s face popped into view. We spent the first few minutes expressing our mutual disbelief and shock over Covid-19, acknowledging the insanity and underlying terror of these unprecedented circumstances. We joked about how our anxious mothers, with their endless reminders of dressing warm and staying indoors, had prepared us for this moment.
“Then my cousin stood up and closed the door to her room. ‘I want to talk to you about something more serious,’ she said. We both burst into laughter: What could be more serious than the end of the world?
“She took a deep breath and I watched her face crumple as she asked if, in the unlikely event that she and her husband both ended up extremely ill — or worse — I would be willing to drive the 300 miles to her house and get her young sons. Around the globe, Covid-19 has made people like my cousin realize their own mortality, bringing about difficult, but necessary, conversations regarding their end-of-life wishes.
“My cousin got her planning done in advance, but a friend of mine wasn’t so lucky.”
Click here to continue reading this New York Times article in its entirety.