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COVID-19 Resource Page

The American Rescue Plan takes aggressive action to speed up COVID-19 vaccinations and protect public health, committing $20 billion to establish a national COVID-19 vaccination program and to improve the administration and distribution of vaccinations nationwide. 

Our state has stayed ahead of the curve when it comes to rolling out the vaccine, and this support will help us keep our foot on the gas. Here’s where you can find more information on COVID-19 vaccines in eastern CT:

The American Rescue Plan authorizes a new round of $1,400 direct payments to lower-and middle-income Americans, with a phase out at an annual income of $75,000-$80,000 for those filing single, $112,500-$120,000 for head of household, and $150,000-$160,000 for joint filers. The payment is based on a taxpayers' adjusted gross income (AGI). 

  • Eligible parents may receive up to $1,400 for each of their dependents, including adult dependents and college students. Under the CARES Act, parents with eligible dependents were eligible to receive only $600 per dependent.  

  • The IRS will determine the amount you are owed based on the most recent adjusted gross income that it has in its system. Accordingly, if you haven’t submitted your taxes for 2020, the agency will rely on your 2019 income to ensure payments get out quickly to those who need them. However, if you haven’t filed your 2020 taxes yet and earned less last year, you can claim any additional amount you are owed when you file your 2021 taxes.  

  • Taxpayers who either lost income, welcomed a child, or were college students and claimed as a dependent in 2018 or 2019 but are no longer a dependent in 2020 can claim a credit on their 2020 federal income tax return for the difference between (a) the amount they are entitled to under law and (b) the amount they received as an advanced payment. 

Resources: 

  • To check on the status of your Economic Impact Payment, click here to use the “Get My Payment” tool at irs.gov. 

  • Click here if you are a taxpayer who received the last two stimulus payments but are not eligible for this new round of payments to learn more about the Recovery Rebate Credit to find out if you’re eligible for additional relief. 

  • If you didn't get the full amount of the first or second payment you were eligible for, you may be eligible to claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit and must file a 2020 tax return even if you aren't required to file in order to receive the payment. The third payment will not be used to calculate the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit. 

  • For more assistance, make sure to call my Norwich office at 860-886-0139. 

In 2020, the CARES Act established several forms of pandemic relief for unemployed Americans:   

  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)  

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)  

  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)  

  • In Connecticut, all programs are managed by the CT Department of Labor  

H.R. 133, passed by Congress in December 2020, increased FPUC payments by $300 for 11 weeks, provided an extra $100 a week for “mixed earners” (those with W2 and non-W2 earned income), and authorized 100% federal funding for the Shared Work Program. However, those provisions were set to expire on March 13 2021 without further action from Congress 

Now, the American Rescue Plan extends UI benefits with a $300 increase in weekly benefits through September 6, 2021.  

  • Further, workers receiving UI in 2021 will automatically qualify for the highest possible Premium Tax Credit to buy health insurance on CT’s health insurance exchange, Access Health CT. 

Resources: 

The American Rescue Plan protects health care for Americans who lost jobs, or lost employer-sponsored care.  

  • For workers who lost their jobs or had their hours reduced, the bill provides a 100% subsidy to pay for COBRA employer-sponsored health benefits so workers can continue their coverage and stay connected to their doctors and providers. The 100% COBRA subsidy is available through September 30, 2021. 

  • This provision will ensure that employees who lost their jobs will pay nothing to continue their employer-sponsored plans. 

  • Under the bill, if an individual declined COBRA at the time they lost their job, or if they elected to cancel their COBRA coverage, they can still sign up and receive the 100% subsidy for the duration of their coverage period. 

Resources 

  • For more information, visit CT.gov’s latest announcement on COBRA insurance for laid-off workers: https://portal.ct.gov/CID/News-Releases/Press-Releases/Press-Releases-20210322   

The American Rescue Plan also expands access to quality healthcare, including the House’s provision to significantly increase Premium Tax Credits for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange health plans for two years. It will also extend ACA subsidies to those who do not currently qualify, eliminating the 400% Federal Poverty Line cliff. Under the American Rescue Plan Act: 

  • A family of four with an annual income of $40,000 would save nearly $1,600 annually. 

  • A family of four with an annual income of $65,000 would save $2,800 annually. 

  • A family of four with an annual income of $100,000, who previously did not qualify for premium subsidies, would save $7,000 annually. 

  • Americans of all income levels purchasing health insurance through the ACA Marketplaces would be guaranteed to spend no more than 8.5% of their income coverage. 

  • Individuals who receive federal Unemployment Insurance in 2021 will receive the highest possible premium tax credit regardless of their income that year. 

  • For individuals who had fluctuating incomes throughout 2020, they will be held harmless if they received health insurance premium subsidies and, when reconciling their incomes and filing their taxes, realized their income was too high to receive subsidized ACA coverage. 

  • Following President Biden’s directive, Access Health CT opened up a new Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for Connecticut residents. The SEP began on February 15 and will remain open through April 15, 2021. Access Health is enrolling patients not currently enrolled in health coverage through AHCT. 

  • Eligible enrollees are uninsured, lost coverage, or qualify due to another life event 

Resources 

  • Individuals can learn more at AccessHealthCT.com or by calling 844-805-4325 to talk to an enrollment specialist 

  • For additional questions on navigating health insurance, give my office a call at 860-886-0139 

The American Rescue Plan authorizes $9.961 billion for the creation of a Homeowner Assistance Fund, which will provide grants to states and other housing entities to support homeowners. These funds can be put towards mortgage payment assistance, principal reduction, broadband costs, homeowner’s insurance, flood insurance, mortgage insurance, HOA funds and condo association fees, property taxes, property insurance, utilities, and other housing-related costs. 

The American Rescue Plan also includes $21.55 billion in Emergency Rental Assistance for state and local governments to provide financial assistance to eligible renters, which they can use to cover missed rent payments and unpaid utility and energy bills.  This supplements $25 billion in rental assistance funding from HR 133, passed in December 2020.  

Resources: 

  • Resources for homeowners, authorized by the American Rescue Plan are on their way, and will be made available in the coming weeks through the Connecticut Department of Housing. We’ll continue to provide new updates as they’re available. 

  • The Connecticut Department of Housing launched the UniteCT emergency rental assistance in early March. Qualified applicants can receive up to $10,000 in assistance for past due and prospective rental payments, along with up to $1500 in utility assistance. Learn more about the program and apply now for assistance here. 

The American Rescue Plan increases the Child Tax Credit to $3,000 per eligible child for the 2021 tax year. 

  • The bill increases the credit to $3,600 per child for children under 6  

  • It increases the qualifying age of children by one year for 2021, allowing children to be eligible as long as they are under 18  

  • H.R. 1319 makes the Child Tax Credit fully refundable for 2021 

  • Single-filers making $75,000 a year or less, heads of household making $112,500 and under, and married couples making $150,000 per year or less, would qualify to receive the full value of the new credit, phased out when single filers have an income of $200,000 or married filers have an income of $400,000.  

  • Families will receive some of the credit as an advance on 2021 taxes. The IRS is required to strive to provide half of the tax credit in the form of an advanced periodic payment.  

  • For more information on eligibility and expected timetable, visit the IRS website here

The American Rescue Plan also expands and bolsters the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). 

  • The bill increases the maximum credit for Childless EITC from $532 to $1,502—the largest EITC expansion since 2009. 

  • It increases from $3,650 to $10,000 the amount an individual can earn from investments that is not counted toward income when determining EITC eligibility. 

  • The bill reduces the minimum age to claim the Childless EITC from 25 to 19 (except for full-time students), and eliminates the upper age limit for EITC.  

The American Rescue Plan also expands and strengthens the Child and Dependent Tax Credit (CDTC) to allow families to claim up to half of their childcare expenses.  

  • The bill makes the CDTC fully refundable for the 2021 tax year, meaning that taxpayers can collect the support even if the have zero tax liability.  

  • Increases the amount of child and dependent expenses are eligible for the credit. The bill increases dependent care costs from $3,000 to $8,000 for a single dependent, and from $6,000 to $16,000 for two or more dependents.  

  • These changes are only in effect for the 2021 tax year. 

Resources 

  • The IRS has stated that more information about the expanded Child Tax Credit and other tax provisions will be made available as soon as possible on IRS.gov. My office will continue to provide updates as they become available. [https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-statement-american-rescue-plan-act-of-2021] 

  • For more questions, make sure to call my Norwich office at 860-886-0139. 
    Student Loan Resources

If you have student loan debt, borrowers have several options to help provide relief through September 30, 2021. During this period, federal student loans are: 

  • In a payment pause. This applies to borrowers with federally-owned Direct Loans or Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL), meaning the borrower is not required to make any payments toward outstanding interest or principal balance.   

  • Not accruing any interest, so student loan balances are not growing 

  • Not subject to forced collections such as garnishment of wages, tax refunds, and Social Security benefits.  

  • Not impacting credit reporting.   

Alsoin this period, borrowers will continue to receive credit toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Income-Driven Repayment forgiveness, and loan rehabilitation. 

Governor Ned Lamont and Banking Commissioner Jorge Perez announced that the State of Connecticut has secured relief options with many private student loan servicers whose borrowers are not covered by federal reliefThis initiative will benefit Connecticut residents with privately held student loans. Under this new initiative, Connecticut residents with commercially owned Federal Family Education Loan Programs or privately held student loans who are struggling to make their payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible for expanded relief.  Borrowers in need of assistance should immediately contact their student loan servicer to identify the options that are appropriate to their circumstances. Relief options through the servicers listed below include: 

  • Providing a minimum of 90 days of forbearance; 

  • Waiving late payment fees; 

  • Ensuring that no borrower is subject to negative credit reporting; 

  • Ceasing debt collection lawsuits for 90 days; and 

  • Working with borrower to enroll them in other borrower assistance programs, such as income based repayment. 

Resources 

  • For additional guidance on how to apply and learn about next steps as this critical relief becomes available, please refer to the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Aid Administration click here 

  • If you need assistance contacting your student loan servicer or have additional questions after referring to the Student Aid Administration’s guidance, please contact my Norwich office at 860-886-0139. 

The American Rescue Plan increases Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by 15% for six months, through September 30, 2021, for all program participants 

  • The law allocates $1.1 billion in grants to state to help pay for expenses associated with expanding SNAP benefits 

  • The law also provides funding to support the development of technology improvements that make it easier to use SNAP for online purchases, like remote food delivery 

The law refuels the Commodity Supplemental Food Program with $37 million. This program provides direct food assistance to seniors, and funds will remain available through the end of FY2022 

  • This funding comes on the heels of new support authorized in December through H.R. 133, which included $175 million in support for nutrition programs for seniors through the Older Americans Act, like Meals on Wheels 

H.R. 1319 authorizes increased benefits for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Fruit and Vegetable Benefits, providing USDA with $490 million for states to increase benefits to $35 per-month for a four-month period through September 30, 2021 

Resources: 

  • To find food assistance near you, call the USDA National Hunger Hotline 1-866-3-HUNGRY/1-877-8-HAMBRE 

The American Rescue Plan provides $15 billion in additional funding for Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grants—a highly utilized program in eastern Connecticut.  

  • Specifically, the law provides $10 billion for additional targeted EIDL cash advances to hart-hit businesses that did not receive the full $10,000 EIDL grant  

  • It also provides a total of $5 billion for supplemental EIDL payments of $5,000 to small businesses with fewer than 10 employees that have suffered economic losses greater than 50%, even if they have previously received the full $10,000 EIDL.  

The American Rescue Plan also extends forgivable PPP loan eligibility to certain non-profit organizations, authorizing $7.25 billion in additional support for eligible organizations. 

  • The law expands PPP eligibility to small 501(c) non-profit organizations in our communities 

  • The American Rescue Plan also makes small non-profit organizations eligible for 2nd draw PPP as long as they have suffered a revenue loss of 25% or greater 

  • Additionally, H.R. 1319 expands PPP to cover new categories of essential non-profits, as well as news publications that provide local coverage. 

  • UPDATE: Now that President Biden signed the House’s PPP Extension Act (H.R. 1799) into law, the program has officially been extended to run through May 31st, giving our local small businesses more time to access support. Click here to read more. 

The American Rescue Plan provides $1.25 billion in new support to venues shuttered due to the pandemic, including $500,000 for technical assistance to help qualifying venues apply.  

  • The final law includes a technical fix that allows qualifying venues to apply for both the Shuttered Venue Grants and PPP loans 

The American Rescue Plan authorizes the $28 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund to provide emergency grants to restaurants and other eligible entities through the SBA  

  • The law funds the new program with more than $28 billion, and stipulates that funding is to remain available until expended.  

  • The law sets aside $5 billion specifically for entities with year 2019 gross receipts less than $500,000   

  • Maximum Amount:  

  • The aggregate maximum amount of grants made to an eligible entity must be less than $10 million  

  • Additionally, grants are limited to $5 million per physical location of the business  

  • The grant cannot be greater than pandemic-related revenue loss of the eligible entity  

  • Restaurants and other recipients will be able to put funding towards a wide variety of essential needs, including payroll costs, principal or interest on a mortgage, rent payments, utilities, maintenance expenses (including construction to accommodate outdoor seating), supplies and PPE, food and beverage expenses within the scope of normal business practice, covered supplier costs, paid sick leave, and other expenses SBA deems necessary.  

  • Eligible entities include restaurants, food trucks, food stands and carts, caterers, saloons, taprooms, bars, taverns, inns, and other licensed facilities of a beverage or alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample, or purchase products, or similar businesses who patrons assemble to be served food or drinks.  

  • State- and local government-operated businesses, and businesses with more than 20 locations, are among those ineligible.  

  • In response to inquiries from Rep. Courtney’s office, the SBA—which will distribute this grant funding—has stated that funding will become available within a matter of weeks. 

  • In addition to support through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, local restaurants are also eligible for funding through PPP and EIDL. 

Resources: 

  • For the SBA’s PPP Information page, click here. 

  • To apply for an EIDL loan, click here. 

  • Rep. Courtney’s office will provide updates as the SBA brings the new Restaurant Revitalization Fund online for applications 

  • Eastern Connecticut small business and restaurant owners are encouraged to call Rep. Courtney’s office with any questions at 860-886-0139. 

The American Rescue Plan authorizes $4 billion in renewed funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to continue to purchase and distribute food and agricultural commodities during the pandemic—providing a necessity for families in need, and a boost to farmers and agricultural producers  

  • The USDA is permitted to use the new round of commodity purchase funding for seafood, as well as to make grants and loans to seafood producing facilities and vessels  

  • Funds can also be used to make grants and loans to small and mid-sized farmers, farmers markets, food processers and distributors, and to protect workers from COVID-19 to maintain and improve the agricultural supply chain.  

The new funding comes on the heels of substantial support provided to farmers through H.R. 133, which Rep. Courtney voted to pass in December. H.R. 133 was signed into law, and the assistance it authorized for farmers is beginning to be made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  

H.R. 133 authorized approximately $26 billion total for all agriculture nutrition programs, including:   

  • $11 billion for programs like the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)  

  • $400 million for the Dairy Donation Program  

  • $300 million in Fisheries Assistance  

  • $100 million in block grants for Specialty Crops  

  • $60 million in grants for improvements to Meat and Poultry Facilities  

The final law also contained language Rep. Courtney pressed for that permits schools to continue to provide dairy options to students and to purchase 1% flavored milk. 

Resources: 

  • For the USDA’s CFAP information page, and to find your local service center, click here. 

  • All farmers and agricultural producers with questions are encouraged to call Rep. Courtney’s office at 860-886-0139 

  • UPDATE: USDA provided new information on their work to restart the Dairy Donation Program, to provide new support to specialty crop farmers and ranchers, to re-open the popular CFAP program, and much more following passage of H.R. 1319 and H.R. 133Click here to read more. 

The American Rescue Plan authorizes new financial relief and job training support for veterans, as well as new support for the Veterans Administration and support for their continued rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.  

  • The law provides the VA with $14.5 billion to keep up with COVID-related care, including information technology, enhanced facility requirements, and increased resources for veterans experiencing homelessness, or who are in need of mental health services 

  • The American Rescue Plan authorizes $1 billion in debt forgiveness for veterans who receive health care through the VA, related to copayments, cost sharing or for care and prescriptions provided between April 6, 2020 and September 30, 2021. 

  • The law also authorizes $386 million to provide up to 12 months of job training and employment assistance for veterans who lost their job due to the pandemic. This training would help equip them with skills or certifications needed to enter high-skill, high-pay fields 

  • H.R. 1319 would help veterans obtain money they are owed, authorizing $262 million to reduce the backlog in compensation and pension claims, which stands at 212,000 outstanding claims 

  • The law authorizes $500 million in grants, and $250 million in payments to state homes to improve living conditions for veteran residents 

Additionally, the VA VACCINE Act (P.L. 117-4) passed the House on Tuesday, March 9 under suspension and was signed into law by President Biden on March 24. The law expands the VA’s authority to provide vaccines to: 

  • Veterans who are not currently enrolled in VA’s healthcare system, including veterans without compensable service-connected disabilities and veterans who have incomes above the VA’s threshold; 

  • Caregivers of veterans who are enrolled in various VA home-based and long-term care programs; and 

  • Veterans living abroad who rely on the Foreign Medical Program. 

Resources: 

  • For further guidance as this funding and initiatives are implemented, click here. 

  • Additional Resource:  VA FAQ on COVID-19  

  • Additional Resource: List of all VA Medical Centers      

  • Additional Resource: Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255 

  • UPDATE: Now that President Biden signed the House’s VA Vaccine Act (H.R. 1276) into law, the CT VA Healthcare System can now start vaccinating ALL veterans, even those not currently enrolled in the VA. The law, also enables the VA to vaccinate our veterans’ caregivers. Click here to read more. 

More on COVID-19 Resource Page

April 14, 2021 Press Release
“No amount of money is going to heal the loss of a family member, or a loved one. But this new relief program will help ease the financial strain of so many American families who have suffered so much during the past year," Courtney said.
April 14, 2021 Press Release
"The American Rescue Plan provided new resources not only to help our veterans and their families get vaccinated, but also to help them survive and recover financially," Courtney said.
April 6, 2021 Press Release
“There’s a lot more work ahead to help our farmers and fishermen to get back above water and recover from this pandemic, but this announcement from the Biden Administration that next shot in the arm we’ve all been waiting on,” said Rep. Courtney.
April 1, 2021 Press Release
In their letter, the Representatives highlighted concerns over important regional price differences for shellfish and seafood purchasing programs, and encouraged USDA to strengthen the economic recovery by focusing seafood purchasing [...]"
March 30, 2021 Press Release
“President Biden and Secretary Cardona have taken a weight off the backs of over a million student loan borrowers today, making sure they get the same relief as so many others right now when people need it most,” said Rep. Courtney