COVID-19 federal stimulus belongs to recipient

The Internal Revenue Service has issued an alert that the federal stimulus payment belongs to the recipient and not to a nursing home or other care facility.  The stimulus payment is intended for the recipient even if a nursing home or other care facility receives the payment.  The stimulus payment is not a resource that must be turned over to a nursing home or other care facility.

The stimulus payment does not count as income Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  The stimulus payment does not count as a resource for 12 months for any of those programs.

Social Security representative payees are not responsible for managing the stimulus because the stimulus money belongs to the recipient.  Representative payees should talk to the recipient about the stimulus money. If the recipient wants to use the stimulus money independently, the representative payee should give the stimulus money to the recipient.  (IR 2020-21, June 16, 2020.)

COVID-19 federal stimulus portal open until October 15

The Internal Revenue Service has announced that the non-filer tool for people who to not need to file a tax return to get the federal stimulus money will be available until October 15, 2020. The non-filer tool is available to people who do not need to file a tax return because their income is under $12,200 for a single person and $24,400 for married couples. (IR 2020-111, June 3, 2020.)

COVID-19 Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants

Disaster Relief for Immigrants will provide $500 per undocumented person with a maximum $1,000 per family to undocumented persons in California.  The program will be administered by nonprofit organizations.  The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has released the list of nonprofit organizations administering the program and the counties each organization will cover.

The nonprofit organizations will accept applications for the program from May 18, 2020 to June 30, 2020 or earlier if funding is exhausted.

To be eligible, a person must be an undocumented adult who is not eligible for federal COVID-19 related assistance and has experienced a hardship because of COVID-19.

CSSS also issued a series of FAQs about the program.  (Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants.)

COVID-19 CDSS waivers of background check requirements

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued a statewide waiver for certain background checks for Adult and Senior Care (ASC) licensees.  ASCs can use the waiver if the licensee experiencing a staff shortage and live scan services are limited because of COVID-19.

Newly hired ASC staff may start working immediately upon submission of a request to transfer a current CDSS criminal records clearance or exemption.  If newly hired staff do not have an existing CDSS criminal records clearance or exemption, they must make every effort to complete live scan within 5 days of starting employment.

If live scan services are available, newly hired staff without an existing CDSS criminal records clearance or exemption may start working immediately upon submitting to the licensee a complete criminal record statement (LIC 508) and request for live scan services (LIC 9163) to the ASC.  Within 5 days of starting work, newly hired staff must complete live scan.

If live scan services are not available, newly hired staff without an existing CDSS criminal records clearance or exemption may start working immediately upon submitting to the licensee a complete criminal record statement (LIC 508) and a complete DOJ Bureau of Criminal Records Information and Analysis Name-Check Form.

If new staff are unable to complete live scan within 5 days because of COVID-19 closures, the licensee can do a Department of Justice background search based on identifying information other than fingerprints.  CDSS has a new background check system call Guardian for name based searches with the Department of Justice.

New staff must complete live scan no later than June 15, 2020 unless that deadline is extended by CDSS.

The background check waiver for Home Care Organization (HCO) licensees and Home Care Aids (HCA) is rescinded and all statutory background check requirements now apply except newly hired HCO staff or applicants for the HCA registry may begin working immediately upon submitting a request to transfer a current CDSS criminal records clearance or exemption.  New HCO staff or HCA applicants without a current CDSS criminal records clearance or exemption can request an individual waiver which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  (PIN 20-12-CCLD, May 8, 2020.)

COVID-19 Pandemic EBT

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has provided information about Pandemic EBT (P-EBT), which will provide families a standalone food benefit amount equal to the value of free or reduced-price (FRP) school means that are no longer available because of school closures caused by COVID-19.  All students eligible for FRP meals statewide are eligible for P-EBT will be eligible, including students in charter schools and private schools so long as the school participates in the federally funded School Breakfast Program and/or the National School Lunch Program, regardless of whether they receive CalFresh benefits.

Students who are directly certified for FRP because they receive certain benefits, including CalFresh, CalWORKs, Medi-Cal and foster care, will be automatically eligible for P-EBT.  Automatically eligible families will receive a P-EBT card in the mail without applying.  For these families, P-EBT card issuance will begin on May 8.  If a family thinks they are eligible but has not received a P-EBT card by May 25, they should apply online.

Students who approved for FRP meals based on a paper application or community eligibility will need to apply for P-EBT online.  CDSS will verify eligibility by checking against a list of all students who were approved to receive FRP during the 2019-20 school year.  If verified eligible, these families will receive a P-EBT card in the mail within 5-10 days of applying. The online application will be open from May 22 to June 30 at https://ca.p-ebt.org.  Families will not be able to apply after June 30 and will not be able to receive the benefit.

The benefit amount will be $365 for most eligible children.  A few children who were directly certified for the first time this school year after school closure will receive a pro-rated amount based on the date they were directly certified.  These families do not need to apply but their P-EBT card may not arrive until as late as the end of June.

P-EBT benefits will be provided on a separate P-EBT card.  It can be used just like regular EBT cards.

P-EBT eligible families can receive P-EBT, CalFresh and to go meals provided by schools at the same time.  P-EBT eligible families do not need to choose between these available resources.  (ACWDL, May 7, 2020.)

COVID-19 individual stimulus payment for dependents of SSI and VA recipients

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a special alert that SSI and VA benefits recipients must register on the IRS portal by May 5, 2020 to get the $500 per dependent payment at the same time as their individual stimulus payment.  After May 5, 2020, Social Security recipients the IRS portal will no longer be available to enter dependent information for SSI and VA benefits recipients.  After May 5, 2020, SSI and VA benefits recipients will only be able to get the $500 per dependent payment by filing a 2020 tax return in 2021.  Note that the IRS did not say when on May 5 the portal would close for SSI and VA benefits recipients registering to get the $500 dependent payment.

For Social Security and Railroad Retirement recipients, the deadline to register on the IRS portal to get the $500 dependent payment was April 22.  Social Security and Railroad Retirement recipients who missed that deadline can only get the $500 dependent payment by filing a 2020 tax return in 2021.  (IR 2020-81, April 24, 2020.)