Resources for Veterans
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act invests more than $19.6 billion in the COVID-19 response at the Department of Veterans Affairs. This bill directs $14.4 billion toward medical services at VA facilities such as telehealth, supplies, testing kits, and personal protective equipment.
Immediate relief for Veterans:
- Full, $1,200 economic assistance payments for American adults, including for the lowest-income taxpayers, and $500 per child under the age of 17.
- All U.S. residents with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 ($150,000 married), who are not a dependent of another taxpayer and have a work-eligible social security number, are eligible for the full $1,200 ($2,400 married) rebate. In addition, they are eligible for an additional $500 per child.
- Payments will be directly deposited into your bank account using information from your 2018 or 2019 tax returns. The IRS expects to direct deposit payments in mid-April.
- The IRS has confirmed that veterans and their beneficiaries who receive Compensation and Pension (C&P) benefit payments from VA will receive a $1,200 Economic Impact Payment with no further action needed on their part. You can read more about this announcement here.
Procedures at VA Loma Linda:
- As of April 1, VA Loma Linda Healthcare System will screen everyone entering the Medical Center or any of its clinics and visitors will be limited to inpatient veterans. Emergency services will still be provided.
- All elective and non-urgent appointments, procedures and groups are being converted to virtual or telephone appointments or being rescheduled for a later time. If you have an upcoming appointment you can do the following:
- For telehealth appointments, your provider will send you an invitation for the VA Video Connect tool. You can learn more here.
Resources for veterans in crisis:
- Call the Veteran Crisis Line at 1 (800) 273-8255 and press 1, visit the VeteransCrisisLine.Net/Chat or by text 838255.
Frequently Asked Questions:
I tried calling my clinic and am unable to get through. What should I do?
- Use Secure Messaging. You can send a secure message to your provider about any health concern or question.
I am a student veteran and my school has switched to online courses. Will I still be able to receive my monthly housing payment?
- Yes. Student veterans will be able to maintain their current monthly housing allowance rate even if their college or university switches to online courses.
I am a caregiver and am concerned about caring for veterans during this time. Who should I contact?
- Visit the Hidden Hero’s website for helpful COVID-19 information.
What should I do if I need to refill my prescription?
- If you currently get your prescription sent to you by mail, you’ll continue to receive your refills as normal.
- If you usually pick up your prescriptions in person, use the VA’s online prescription refill and tracking tool. To make sure you have your medicine in time, request your refill at least 10 days before you’ll run out of your current prescription.
- For questions about your prescriptions, send a secure message to your provider through My HealtheVet.
Information for Student Borrowers
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides more than $13.9 billion for a Higher Education Emergency Relief fund for colleges and universities to directly support students facing urgent needs related to coronavirus and to support colleges and universities as they cope with the effects of school closures. Click here for the Department of Education’s COVID-19 guidance post-secondary education.
Relief for students:
- Students will be eligible for emergency financial aid grants from their institutions to meet unexpected and urgent needs related to the coronavirus, such as expenses related to food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child-care.
- Students who are currently participating in the Federal Work-Study program can continue to receive work-study payments from their institution if they are unable to work due to workplace closures.
- Governor Newsom signed an executive order to support student borrowers by offering 90 days of forbearance, waived late payment fees, negative credit reporting protections, and enrollment in other assistance programs. You can read more about this order here.
Relief for federal student loan borrowers:
- Borrowers do not need to make payments on student loans held by the federal government (Direct Loans and FFEL Loans held by the U.S. Department of Education) through September 30, 2020. Interest will not accrue during this time.
- Student borrowers will continue to receive credit toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Income-Driven Repayment forgiveness, and loan rehabilitation even if they will not be making payments
- Borrowers with commercially held FFEL loans and Perkins Loans are not eligible, and private student loan borrowers are not eligible.
Frequently Asked Questions:
I’m currently enrolled in a foreign institution abroad and am hearing that I might lose my student loans if I take classes online. Does this bill help me?
- Yes. The CARES Act allows the U.S. Secretary of Education to permit a foreign institution to offer any part of its program through distance education if there is a public health emergency or other disaster or emergency declared by the government authorities in the country where the college is located.
Does the six-month suspension of payments and waiver of interest apply to borrowers who have federally guaranteed but commercially held loans through the FFEL and Perkins Loan Programs?
- No. The suspension only applies to all Direct Loans and FFEL loans held by the Department Education.
Does the sixty-day protection from involuntary collections apply to these FFEL and Perkins borrowers?
Will outstanding interest on student loans capitalize during the six-month suspension of payments and waiver of interest?
- During the six-month period until September 30, 2020, when payments are suspended, interest is also not accruing on federally held loans.
Educational Resources for Students, Teachers, and Families
- The Riverside County Office of Education offers remote learning resources, including in Spanish.
- Google Classroom offers resources and tools for teachers to organize assignments for K-12 and higher education.
- The Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert posts free, daily educational resources on its social media pages.
Staying Safe in the Workplace: Resources for Agricultural Employers
Cal/OSHA has developed safety and health guidelines for agricultural employers and employees.
You can access checklists to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace below:
Information for Travelers
The Department of State has issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory recommending that U.S. citizens avoid international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.
Travel information for all U.S. citizens:
- The State Department has advised U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. You can stay up to date on travel advisories by visiting travel.state.gov.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not generally issue travel advisories or restrictions, however, to stay up to date on whether you should travel domestically, travel guidance and advisories, and information on how you can prevent the spread of COVID-19, visit CDC.gov.
For U.S. citizens abroad:
- The Department of State recommends that all U.S. citizens arrange for immediate return to the United States. The State Department is making every effort to assist U.S. citizens overseas who wish to return to the United States.
- Due to the recent reduction of commercial flight schedules and closure of airports and borders in other countries, contact the relevant U.S. embassy or consulate. There, you can also find information on entry restrictions, foreign quarantine policies, and urgent health information provided by local governments.
- You can also call the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate at 1(888) 407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1 (202) 501-4444 from other countries or jurisdictions.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive alerts and stay in contact with the State Department in the event of an emergency.
Don’t see an answer to your question? You can read more here or contact my Palm Desert Office at (760) 424-8888.