The Arc’s COVID-19 Updates: April 2, 2020

In the latest updates from The Arc of Massachusetts, learn more about the upcoming federal stimulus checks, The Arc’s ongoing advocacy work, PPE guidance, congregate care programs, and more.

Federal Stimulus Checks for Individuals and Families

The Treasury announced late Wednesday that Social Security beneficiaries who typically do not file a tax return will automatically receive the $1,200 payment.

The $2.2 trillion aid legislation,

passed in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, directed the Treasury to look at Americans’ 2019 or 2018 tax returns to determine if they are eligible for a payment. But the law also said the Treasury should look at Social Security data for seniors and the disabled.  After pushback from critics on both side of the aisle, the Treasury Department addressed the problem for social security beneficiaries. More than 15 million Americans on Social Security do not file an annual tax return because their income is so low, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

However, millions of people with disabilities who rely on SSI or certain Veterans benefits are eligible for Coronavirus stimulus money, but aren’t going to get that money automatically because the Treasury, Social Security Administration and Veterans Affairs aren’t working together and sharing data. Instead, they’re going to forcing millions of low-income people with disabilities, many of them veterans, to file tax returns to tell the Government that they didn’t make any money. This useless paperwork requirement will delay payments and be a huge burden for people with disabilities, their families, and service providers.

We’re asking you to tell the Administration to #FixtheGlitch and autopay people with disabilities and veterans!

On the last stimulus push, we had over 33,000 points of contact from constituents of The Arc to Washington, DC.  Now we are hoping for more. In all posts on social media, please use the hashtag #WeAreEssential as we continue to advocate for the future.

2020 Census Reminder

Filling out the census today is a good thing to do to protect federal funding for Massachusetts. Don’t let uncertainty and the ongoing healthcare crisis prevent you from engaging. Visit 2020census.gov today.

State News

Over the weekend and reinforced on April 1, Human Service workers including those in our disabilities field became defined as essential health services employees.

Healthcare providers and Caregivers including physicians, dentists, psychologists, mid-level practitioners, nurses and assistants, infection control and quality assurance personnel, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists and assistants, social workers, optometrists, speech pathologists, chiropractors, other providers of mental and behavioral health care, peer support and recovery coach workers, personal care attendants, home health aides and home care workers, and diagnostic and therapeutic technicians and technologists.

Workers in other medical and biomedical facilities (including Ambulatory Health and Surgical, Blood Banks, Medical Clinics, Community Mental Health Centers, Comprehensive Outpatient rehabilitation, Methadone/OBOT  Clinics, 24 hour Diversionary and Residential Behavioral Health Providers, End Stage Renal Disease, Health Departments, Home Health care, Hospices, Hospitals, Rest Homes, Assisted Living Residences, Nursing Care Facilities, Organ Pharmacies, Procurement Organizations, Psychiatric Residential, Residential Treatment Schools, Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers, State Hospitals, licensed medical marijuana retailers, and retail facilities specializing in medical good and supplies).

Advocacy in Process

State agencies continue to be working hard to respond to needs.  The challenge continues at group settings for ALL people in congregate care – disabilities, children, older Americans, etc.  The news from Holyoke Soldiers’ Home was very upsetting – not only the deaths, but the lack of reporting.  This has stirred up concerns for congregate care settings. 

The Arc encourages ALL providers to share news regularly with their own staff, funders, and related authorities, and of course, interested parties such as families.  Some chapters and providers are doing video chats to share updates while others are producing blogs.  These are essential. As this crisis continues, we need to have alternatives for action in congregate care. Some chapters and providers have sought alternative settings.  The nature of the congregate setting will dictate the course of actions. More on our position shortly.

To keep up to date with information on advocacy for Health Care equity (coordinated by 19 organizations) and Special Education (a broad coalition, but The Arc is focusing its outreach efforts with Federation for Children with Special Needs and SPAN): stay tuned to The Arc’s COVID-19 Updates Center and Facebook page.

Information for Individuals, Families, and Providers

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