Policy Resources

We know that as a family fighting cancer, your financial concerns have become even more complex during the COVID-19 pandemic. To help you navigate the endless information regarding government resources, below is a list of emerging policy solutions that may be of assistance to you.

Apply for the Health Insurance Marketplace (2021 Special Enrollment Period)

The Health Insurance Marketplace is a way to find and buy private health insurance coverage for individuals and families. You can “shop” for different insurance plans and compare your options for coverage. This Special Enrollment Period (SEP) runs until May 15, 2021 in most states. The 2021 SEP was created in response to the pandemic, but you do not have to have been impacted by COVID-19 in order to take advantage of it.

Who is eligible?

  • U.S. citizens, nationals, and noncitizens who are lawfully present
  • Must live in the U.S. and cannot be incarcerated
  • If you receive Medicare coverage, you may not buy a health or dental plan on the Marketplace
What is the benefit?
  • This 2021 Special Enrollment Period (lasting until May 15, 2021) provides an opportunity for you to enroll in Marketplace health insurance coverage or change your existing Marketplace plan if it is not meeting your needs.

  • Keep in mind that any out-of-pocket costs you’ve already paid in 2021 on a Marketplace plan will not transfer to a new plan if you decide to switch coverage.
  • More people than ever before will qualify for help with the cost of their health coverage.
How can I apply? Need help with the application? There are a few options:

Apply for Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment insurance provides cash benefits to eligible workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own. Each state administers a separate unemployment insurance program, but all states follow the same basic guidelines established by federal law.

Who is eligible?

  • Employees will need to meet their state’s thresholds for earned wages or time worked.
  • You don’t need to lose your job to qualify. You may be eligible if you are quarantined, furloughed, or not being paid and expect to return to your job eventually.
  • Typically you do not qualify if you quit your job.
  • Some states have decided to expand unemployment coverage to workers who are self-employed, contractors, seeking part-time employment, or who otherwise would not qualify for regular unemployment compensation.
What is the benefit?
  • Benefits are usually calculated as a percentage of your income over the previous year, up to a maximum amount. The amount varies by state, but the benefit typically covers 45% of lost income.
  • Eligible individuals who are collecting certain unemployment benefits, including regular unemployment compensation, will receive an additional $300 in federal benefits per week through September 6, 2021.
  • Additionally, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program allows those who have exhausted benefits under their state’s regular unemployment compensation or other programs to receive up to 29 additional weeks of benefits through September 6, 2021.
  • Unemployment benefits are subject to federal and state income taxes and must be reported on your income tax return. The first $10,200 of unemployment benefits from 2020 will be federal tax-free for most households earning less than $150,000 last year. The IRS plans to automatically issue refunds for people who have already filed a 2020 federal tax return and paid taxes on their unemployment benefits. You do not need to file an amended tax return at this time.
How can I apply? The following website is sponsored by the US Department of Labor and connects patients to their state application: https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus/unemployment-insurance#find-state-unemployment-insurance-contacts

Receive the Expanded Child Tax Credit

The American Rescue Plan temporarily expands the child tax credit for 2021 through two key changes. It significantly increases the child tax credit amount for one year. The IRS is also required to make advance payments to qualifying families during the second half of 2021.

Who is eligible?

  • Children ages 0-17 who are a U.S. citizen, national, or resident noncitizen.
  • The child must have a Social Security number.
  • You also must claim your child as a dependent on your 2021 tax return, and the child must be related to you and generally live with you for at least six months during the year.
  • Families may qualify for the full expanded tax break with an annual adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $75,000 for single returns, $112,500 for head-of-household returns, and $150,000 for joint returns. The tax credit will phase out for families above these income limits.
  • You don’t need to be employed or have earned income in order to claim the child tax credit for 2021, if you meet all the other rules.
What is the benefit?
  • The child tax credit directly reduces the amount of income tax you owe the IRS.
  • This expansion increases the credit to $3,000 per child ($3,600 per child under age 6) for many families (see the income limits, listed above).
  • The IRS is required to pay half of the tax credit in advance through installment payments to qualifying families.
How can I apply?
  • The IRS plans to send out the advance tax credit payments periodically from July through December 2021 to eligible families. The IRS will base eligibility and the amount of advance payments on your previously filed tax returns.
  • You will be able to claim the remaining half of the tax credit when you file your 2021 taxes next spring.

Reference: https://www.kiplinger.com/taxes/602431/child-tax-credit-2021-who-gets-3600-will-i-get-monthly-payments-and-other-faqs | https://smartasset.com/taxes/all-about-child-tax-credits

Receive an Economic Impact Payment

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service announced that the distribution of the third round of economic impact payments have begun as of mid-March 2021. The payments will be automatically sent to eligible taxpayers to provide economic relief during the pandemic.

Who is eligible?

  • U.S. citizens and qualifying resident noncitizens with a valid Social Security number
  • Cannot be a dependent of another taxpayer
  • Taxpayers may qualify for the full economic impact payment with an annual adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $75,000 for single returns, $112,500 for head-of-household returns, or $150,000 for joint returns.

    • Payments will be phased out – or reduced -- above those AGI amounts. This means taxpayers will not receive a third payment if their AGI exceeds $80,000 for single returns, $120,000 for head-of-household returns, or $160,000 for joint returns.

  • The IRS will automatically determine your eligibility based on available information if:

    • You did not file a 2020 or 2019 tax return but registered for the first Economic Impact Payment using the special Non-Filers portal last year.

    • Are federal benefit recipients as of December 31, 2020, who do not usually file a tax return, and received Social Security and Railroad Retirement Board benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Veteran benefits in 2020.

What is the benefit?
  • Tax filers who meet the income requirements listed above will receive up to the full amount of $1,400 for individuals, $2,800 for married couples, and $1,400 for each dependent.

    • Unlike the first two economic impact payments, families will receive a payment for all their dependents claimed on a tax return, not just their qualifying children under 17.

  • The IRS will use data already in its systems to send the third stimulus payments. Taxpayers with direct deposit information on file will receive the payment that way. Those without current direct deposit information on file will receive the payment as a check or debit card in the mail.
How can I apply?
  • Most eligible taxpayers will automatically receive their economic impact payment. Payments from the IRS began mid-March 2021, with no action required for most people.
  • You can check the status of your third payment by using the Get My Payment tool, available in English and Spanish.
The IRS urges people who don't normally file a tax return and haven't received any of the stimulus payments to look into their filing options here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/recovery-rebate-credit-topic-a-claiming-the-recovery-rebate-credit-if-you-arent-required-to-file-a-tax-return Reference: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/more-details-about-the-third-round-of-economic-impact-payments

Seek Relief from Housing Payments

The federal government has a range of policies to assist homeowners and renters who have experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic. We understand that housing is usually a large piece of your financial obligations, so here are resources that can help guide you to the help that’s currently available.

Who is eligible?

  • Homeowners with a mortgage

    • Most homeowners are protected from foreclosure and can temporarily pause or reduce their mortgage payments if they’re struggling financially. See next section for more information.

  • Renters

    • Federal, state, and local governments are offering legal protections to prevent eviction as well as rental assistance. Eligibility requirements will typically vary from one program to another.

What is the benefit?
  • Homeowners with a mortgage

    • Your mortgage relief options depend on who owns or backs your mortgage, the programs they offer, and the eligibility criteria they set.

      • 1. Figure out who services your mortgage. Get help to find out who owns or services your mortgage, if needed.

      • 2. Contact your servicer to request forbearance

        • Most homeowners are eligible for COVID hardship forbearance and are protected by the temporary halt in foreclosures. This applies if your mortgage is backed by HUD/FHA, USDA, VA, or Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

        • If you have a mortgage loan that is not backed by one of the federal agencies or entities listed here, contact your loan servicer to see what options are available to you.

        • Forbearance is not automatic. To request mortgage forbearance, you’ll need to reach out to your servicer. Tell your servicer you can’t make your monthly payment because of COVID-19 and ask them for help avoiding foreclosure.

        • Keep this list of questions to ask handy, so that you have all the information you need about your mortgage relief options.

        • Remember to follow these steps after you enter forbearance.

      • 3. See if your state offers additional mortgage relief options

        • Many states are implementing or considering various mortgage relief options, including the suspension of foreclosures.

        • Check your state’s government website for details: https://www.usa.gov/states-and-territories

How can I apply?
  • Everyone’s situation is different. See the section above for more information on how to apply for housing relief for your rent or mortgage.

Seek Relief from Student Loans

If you have federal student loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education, payments are currently suspended through at least Sept. 30, 2021. Who is eligible?

  • Students with the following loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education are eligible:

    • Defaulted and nondefaulted Direct Loans

    • Defaulted and nondefaulted FFEL Program loans

    • Defaulted and nondefaulted Federal Perkins Loans

    • Defaulted HEAL loans

What is the benefit?
  • From March 20, 2020 - at least September 30, 2021:

    • Payments are not required on eligible student loans (you can still make payments if you choose).

    • The interest rate is 0% on eligible student loans, which means interest doesn’t accrue.

    • Suspended payments will still count toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and income-driven repayment (IDR) forgiveness if all other qualifications are met.

How can I apply?
  • No action is needed if your loan is eligible - these benefits are granted automatically.
  • If your loan is not owned by the U.S. Department of Education, then contact your servicer to ask about what benefits may be available.

Seek Relief from Personal Income Taxes

The federal government has extended the deadline for filing and paying personal income taxes to May 17, 2021. Some states have also delayed the filing deadline for personal income taxes.

Who is eligible?

  • Anyone who is responsible for filing individual income taxes
What is the benefit?
  • The deadline for filing and paying personal income taxes for 2020 has been extended from April 15 to May 17, 2021.
  • Some states have also delayed the date when your state income tax is due. Information on the personal income tax filing deadlines for your state can be found here: https://www.taxadmin.org/state-tax-agencies
How can I apply?
  • You do not need to apply for the extended filing deadline - it is automatic.
  • If you are going to receive a refund, then you should submit your tax returns as soon as possible.

Reference: Federal tax filing information: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-day-for-individuals-extended-to-may-17-treasury-irs-extend-filing-and-payment-deadline

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