There is So Much That Seniors Need to Know About the New Coronavirus Relief Package

Q. You recently published an article about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for businesses. You mentioned that there is a second stimulus check and some new benefits for seniors, but mostly elaborated on benefits for small businesses. Can you expand on some of the benefits of the second Coronavirus Relief Package for seniors? Thanks so much for this information and for your help!

A. The second round of stimulus checks are out for delivery. As long as you meet the requirements for another check, you can expect to receive yours (if you haven’t already) via direct deposit or in the mail as an EIP card or paper check. That is, at least until Jan. 15. After that, your new stimulus check money could arrive after you claim an IRS rebate credit during tax season.

Similar to the first round, the second round of stimulus checks include a one-time $600 payment per eligible adult and child; also similar, income cut-offs are $75,000 for individual taxpayers, and $150,000 for couples, with smaller payments authorized for taxpayers whose income falls just above the cut-off point. As was the case this spring, Social Security recipients, railroad retirees, and those receiving federal veterans benefits should expect to get their payment automatically, whether or not they filed a tax return.  

Those $600 “economic impact payments” are certainly helpful, but they aren’t the only provision seniors should know about and, in fact, only account for only about 18% of the bill’s total cost!

Key Senior Programs Resulting from the Coronavirus Relief Package

Besides the stimulus checks, the coronavirus relief package was included as a part of a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill, which also contained changes to key senior programs. According to Dan Adcock, director of government relations and policy at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, “Aging is challenging in and of itself under pre-pandemic circumstances. Seniors have been the hardest hit group by the pandemic. They, like everyone else, are hoping this bill provides relief.”

You be the judge, but I believe that it does! Here, we break down some of the legislation’s most important provisions for older Americans:

Two Medicaid Programs are Granted an Extension for Seniors to Receive Care at Home

Money for in-home care: In lieu of living in a nursing home or assisted living facility, the Money Follows the Person program provides grants to states so that Americans who receive long-term care assistance can receive the care they need in a home or community setting. Because state Medicaid programs are stretched thin, there aren’t always options for people to receive home or community care, but this will be helpful for seniors and their families choosing to do so while they are still able to be cared for in the home.

Spousal impoverishment protection: The recently renewed provision ensures that married seniors can choose to receive care at home, without putting their spouse in financial hardship. Typically, married persons need to be below the poverty line before they are eligible for Medicaid, but this program preserves some of those assets — such as a home, car and certain amount of money — for the spouse who does not need long-term care.

Both provisions had been set to expire in December, and have now been extended until 2023.

Medicare Program Makes Enrollment Process Easier

A part of a legislative proposal called Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification Act (BENES) also made it into the stimulus package, making the general enrollment process for Medicare easier for individuals so that they can avoid penalty fees. The package also increased funding for various programs that benefit seniors, including those in nutrition, home energy and caregiving services.

Fewer Surprise Medical Bills

Americans are often surprised by the size of their healthcare bills, especially when they are treated by an out-of-network physician at an in-network hospital. When a patient is incapacitated or is receiving emergency-room care, they usually aren’t in a position to choose which doctor will treat them, and surprise bills from out-of-network providers at in-network hospitals can top $100,000. A provision in the stimulus bill, which will take effect in 2022, will require health care providers to settle on a fair price in those situations. Some of the practices covered by the legislation were already banned when providers billed Medicare, but the surprise billing provisions will make a big difference for older adults with private insurance.  


About eight in 10 deaths linked to the coronavirus have been of Americans 65 and older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found. Recently, the CDC recommended Americans age 75 and older be next in line to receive the coronavirus vaccination, after frontline workers. The relief package will include funding for vaccine distribution. Vaccinations are expected to become available to the general public sometime in the spring, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Medicare Reimburses Physicians Assistants

A provision called the Physician Assistant Direct Payment Act will now allow Medicare to directly reimburse physician assistants who provide medical care to older adults, instead of needing to reimburse a supervising physician or employer. This will make it easier for seniors, especially those living in rural areas, to find medical care.

Social Security Payments Protected from Creditors

The bill also states Social Security payments are protected from private creditors, a provision that was not in the CARES Act but was corrected in the HEROES Act.

Eviction moratorium extended

Americans worried about paying their rent get relief for at least another month. The bill extended the eviction moratorium through the end of January. The stimulus package also includes $25 billion in emergency rental assistance.

Payroll tax deferment

The president signed an executive order in August allowing employees to defer payroll taxes for the rest of the year — an attempt to give them more money in their paychecks. Individuals were going to have to repay the amount deferred between Jan. 21 to April 21. The stimulus package extended that deadline until Dec. 21, 2021, giving Americans more time to repay — most notably, federal and military employees, who had to participate in the deferral.

Hopefully the stimulus check along with some of these provisions will benefit you and your family!

Plan for Your Future and Your Loved Ones Today!

With advance planning, you can retain the assets it has taken you a lifetime to accumulate, and provide yourself the peace of mind knowing that you’re prepared and protected should something happen to you.

When you’re ready to plan, contact us for an initial consultation:

Elder Care Fairfax: 703-691-1888
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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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