~From Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA)~
Congress recently passed and President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its effect on individuals, students, families, businesses as well as states and localities. Please find answers below to common questions about direct cash payments, relief for students and graduates, additional assistance for small businesses, and other resources in the CARES Act.
Direct Cash Payments/Tax Rebate
Who is eligible for the $1,200 rebate?
Virtually all adults are eligible to receive the rebate. The payment is $1,200 for each adult individual ($2,400 for joint filers), and $500 per qualifying child under the age of 17.
What are the income limitations for the rebate?
The rebate payment is reduced by $5 for every $100 of income to the extent a taxpayer’s income exceeds $150,000 for a joint filer, $112,500 for a head of household filer, and $75,000 for anyone else (including single filers). Additional information will be posted as it becomes available at: www.IRS.gov/coronavirus.
I am not required to file taxes, am I still eligible?
Yes, there is no earned income requirement and Social Security recipients will also receive a rebate. Non-tax filers including those who receive disability payments through the VA or SSA may need to take additional steps to receive their rebates. Information will be posted as it becomes available at www.IRS.gov/coronavirus.
How will I receive my rebate?
Those who have filed income taxes will either get their payment through direct deposit or paper check. The Social Security Administration is working with the IRS to ensure that those who are on social security will receive their payment. Until the IRS announces further guidance, others may need to take further action. Please check www.IRS.gov/coronavirus as more information becomes available.
What are the requirements for receiving unemployment insurance in Virginia?
The Virginia Employment Commission processes all unemployment claims in the Commonwealth. You can file online at vec.virginia.gov or if you are filing an initial claim you can call 1-866-832-2363.
Should I apply for unemployment?
If you have been laid off or have had your hours reduced, you should apply for unemployment through the Virginia Employment Commission.
I am self-employed, an independent contractor, or gig-economy worker that is not normally eligible for unemployment insurance in Virginia. Will I receive assistance?
Yes, the CARES Act created Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and provides a weekly payment of $600 for qualifying individuals, which will be managed by each state. The Virginia Employment Commission will update its website with information it receives from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Can I receive both state unemployment insurance and federal pandemic unemployment compensation?
Yes, through July 31, 2020, the federal government will provide a temporary Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) of $600 a week for any worker eligible for state or federal unemployment compensation (UC) benefits. The FPUC will be paid in addition to and at the same time (but not necessarily in the same check) as regular state or federal UC benefits. The FPUC, combined with the underlying state unemployment benefit, will replace 100 percent of wages for the average U.S. worker.
Small Business Assistance
I have to close my business to comply with Governor Northam’s executive order during the pandemic. What assistance is available to keep my business running and assist my employees?
There are three programs available through the Small Business Administration to assist your business: the Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury and Disaster Loan Program, Emergency Economic Injury Grants, and the Small Business Debt Relief Program. Please visit www.sba.gov/coronavirus for additional information. You should also contact your local SBA lender. For a full list of SBA lenders in Virginia, please visit: https://www.sba.gov/offices/district/va/richmond/resources/virginia-sba-lenders.
Paycheck Protection Program Loans
- Funds for payroll costs, continuing group health care benefits, salaries, rent and utility payments among several others
- Loan payments will be deferred for six months
- Program are eligible for loan forgiveness if you maintain your workforce, SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first 8 weeks of payroll and certain other expenses, including paying your mortgage, rent, utilities, and interest on pre-existing debt obligations
Economic Injury and Disaster Loans Program and Emergency Economic Injury Grants
- Up to $2 million in assistance that can be used to pay immediate expenses during an emergency
- $10,000 advance payment that does not need to be repaid for businesses and may be used to keep employees on payroll, pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments.
Small Business Debt Relief Program
- Immediate relief to small businesses with non-disaster SBA loans, in particular 7(a), 504, and microloans
- SBA will cover all loan payments on these SBA loans, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months
Student Loans and Education
When do I have to make my student loan payments?
All student loan and interest payments are suspended until September 30th for all federally owned loans without any penalty to the borrower. The CARES Act also halts all involuntary collection of federal student loan debt, including wage garnishment and tax refund offset, through September. Additional guidance is forthcoming from the U.S. Department of Education as they continue implementation of the CARES Act. Borrowers should contact their loan servicer in the interim if their loan payments have not stopped and you need immediate relief.
How do I know if my loan is eligible?
Direct Loans, Department-held FFEL loans, and federally owned Perkins Loans are eligible for interest and payment suspension through September 30, 2020. Loans that the U.S. Department of Education does not own such as commercially-held FFEL Loans, institutionally held Perkins loans, loans from state agencies, or loans from private lenders are ineligible. Those entities may be offering their own assistance programs for borrowers and you should contact your servicer directly regarding possible assistance.
Are there supports for K-12 schools and colleges and universities?
The CARES Act includes $30 billion for education. Our nation’s K-12 schools were given money meant to protect jobs and pay staff while schools are out as well as funding for schools to invest in more technology to advance remote learning. There is also more money to make sure that school meals remain available to students while schools are closed. Institutions of higher education were also allotted funds to continue paying staff while most schools transitioned to online learning as most colleges and universities have been forced to remove students from campus. Many institutions are facing shortages due to refunded tuition and room and board payments.
Where can children get meals?
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act allows child and adult care centers to offer food to-go and gives the Secretary of Agriculture flexibility to grant permission to providers to ensure that meals are distributed in a way that avoids the spread of coronavirus.
Along with the Food Bank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore and the Food Bank of the Virginia Peninsula, school districts in Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District are providing “grab-n-go” bagged meal services on weekdays while schools are closed. Please click the following links to find out more and note that children may need to be present to pick up meals.
- Franklin City Public Schools – Lunches and snacks will be provided at S.P. Morton Elementary School from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon.
- Newport News Public Schools – Lunches and breakfasts for the following day can be picked up at a number of school and mobile locations.
- Portsmouth Public Schools – Breakfasts can be picked up from 8 AM to 9 AM at three school locations. Lunches can be picked up between 12 PM and 1 PM.
- Chesapeake Public Schools – Breakfasts and lunches can be picked up between 10 AM and 11:30 AM at a number of school and mobile locations.
- Hampton City Schools – Children are eligible to pick up two meals on weekdays from 11 AM to 12:30 PM from a number of school locations.
- Norfolk Public Schools – Two meals a day can be picked up each weekday at a number of school and mobile locations.
- Suffolk Public Schools – Breakfasts and lunches can be picked up from 9 AM to noon each weekday at King’s Fork High School and a number of mobile locations.
- Isle of Wight County Schools – Breakfasts and lunches can be picked up each weekday at a number of school and mobile locations.
State and Local Government
Does the CARES Act offer assistance to state and local governments?
The CARES Act designates over $300 billion that will go to states and localities for COVID-19 response efforts, including direct aid for those state and local governments currently strained because of a high number of cases. It also includes $5 billion for Community Development Block Grants.