The Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm wants to wish everyone a happy 2021-2022 holiday season. In light of the world wide pandemic and the difficult challenges this has brought to most everyone around the world, we are also sensitive to the fact that it has also brought financial stress, especially to those who are experiencing a disability. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it has also brought new forms of assistance and relief. If you are dealing with such stress, you have also unfortunately joined the club that no one wants to be in.
In the spring of 2021, 33 percent of adults said they were dealing with severe financial stress. By the summer of 2021, the worst of the pandemic appeared to be over. But the financial stress number had barely moved.
Symptoms of financial stress include trouble sleeping, depression, and inflammation. In other words, as financial stress increases, so does your propensity to catch viruses, like COVID-19.
As we enter 2022, most coronavirus payment forbearances have ended, or will end soon. Furthermore, stimulus payments have ended, or will also end soon. These programs helped many families get through the darkest days of the pandemic. Now, many families are wondering what comes next.
Fortunately, a number of new programs are available, especially for people who are on disability or are disabled and seeking disability. Keep reading to find out more about these programs, and also to find out how the disability lawyers in Memphis at Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm can help you through these trying times if you are wanting to apply for Social Security Disability or have been denied a Social Security Disability claim. We help clients throughout the Memphis Metro-Area and the greater mid-south region extending from Tennessee to Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
As mentioned, these programs have ended, at least for the most part. The 2021 child tax credit is the most notable exception. If you got child tax credit advance payments in 2021, you can expect one more check in the spring of 2022.
The IRS based the 2021 payments on a twelve-month schedule. However, the checks didn’t start coming until July. The government will pay the rest after the IRS processes your 2021 tax return.
Families who opted out of advance payments should receive either $3,000 or $3,600 per child, largely depending on the child’s age. Families who opted for monthly advances should get between $1,500 and $2,000 per child. Factors include the 2021 option date and the age of the children.
Additional unemployment payments ended in September 2021. A few states canceled them even earlier.
Most of our clients are disabled and unable to work. Largely because of illness or injury, they cannot pursue their former occupations and cannot pursue new ones. Other factors, like the state of the job market, also impact a disability decision.
However, if you need some disability employment resources, or know someone who does, start looking here at The National Disability Institute’s Financial Resilience Center’s link where there are several employment and job search link options. If you currently receive Social Security Disability benefits, or have a pending claim, always speak to Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm if you live in the mid-south area of the United States (SSA law firm) before you get a job. Sometimes these moves impact disability benefits and sometimes they do not.
The pandemic had little impact on permanent public benefits. Click here at the National United States Government Benefits website to find out more about these benefits, which could include employment accommodations, housing, income assistance, caregiver assistance, and other programs.
Some programs could affect disability benefits. Before you sign up for anything, click here to do a little research on your own where Cornell University’s Institute on Employment and Disability has released the guidance below on the impact of COVID-19 on public benefits. Or, you can just ask our Heermans lawyers how employment may affect your disability case.
Winters around Memphis are usually mild. But the further east you go, into the higher elevations in Tennessee, the colder it gets. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) could help with utility bills this winter. More traditional programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, or welfare) are available as well.
Financial illiteracy is one of the leading contributing factors to financial stress. Some people simply don’t know about available programs. More to the point, some people have poor money management skills.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau basically has an online crash course that helps families trim expenses and prioritize bills. Frequently, such programs are a little like panning for gold. It might seem like almost all course contents either aren’t relevant to your situations, or it is advice you’ve heard before. But sometimes, you find a life-changing nugget.
On a related note, at the beginning of the pandemic, the government told banks to be flexible in areas like automatic payments and overdraft fees. The National Disability Institute has created a document that includes some program specifics and helps disabled individuals interface with their financial institutions.
Physical and Mental Wellness
Loss of job sponsored insurance and/or access to Medicare/Medicaid are two of the biggest pandemic-related wellness issues.
Through no fault of their own, many people lost their health insurance during the pandemic lockdowns. These families basically have three options:
- Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Insurance: People who lose their insurance have sixty days to apply for ACA coverage, even if the annual enrollment period is closed. Generally, individuals who earn less than $49,000 a year and families who earn less than $103,000 a year are eligible for subsidies.
- COBRA: The traditional go-to for people who suddenly lose their health insurance is frighteningly expensive. These individuals keep their same group health plans. However, they are financially responsible for the entire premium.
- Medicaid/CHIPS: Pregnant women and SSI recipients are automatically eligible for Medicaid. Low income families ($17,000 individual/$38,000 family of four) may also be eligible for free or low-cost healthcare. Slightly higher income limits apply for Tennessee’s Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Speaking of Medicaid, before the pandemic, Medicaid and Medicare usually didn’t cover telehealth services. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an advocacy group, is working to change these rules.
The IRS begins accepting 2021 returns on February 12, 2022. Available tax help resources have dwindled significantly in recent years. In most cases, the IRS doesn’t even mail forms and instructions anymore.
Community-sponsored answer lines are available. Frequently, however, the volunteers who answer the phones don’t know much more about the tax laws than the people they are trying to help.
Taxpayers who earn less than $72,000 are eligible for IRS Free File. If you need help preparing your return, the National Disability Institute recommends the following providers: Get It Back, Get Your Refund, and the United Way.
There are many more local resources that can be researched and accessed at a local level by contacting your local state and county government offices. Additional free resource information can be heard and found on Washington DC’s insider, Matthew Lesko’s, YouTube channel and website links.
Once again, we wish you and those you love, happy holidays from the SSI lawyers near you, at Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm. More value added information can be found at our online website article library. This information is free and can be shared with others. Call (901) 244-0057 or text us 24/7. Contact us about your case here and we will show you how to proceed forward.
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