Understanding How Financially Vulnerable Our Seniors May Be

Everybody understands how physically vulnerable our seniors are, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Seniors are by definition our oldest demographic group. Seniors may have compromised health and pre-existing heart and lung problems. Seniors may already be in a medical treatment plan that mandates personal contact with healthcare workers. Additionally, seniors may be on prescription medications that need refilling every thirty days.

But do we understand how financially vulnerable our seniors are? Seniors are living on a tight budget, with the only source of income Social Security and pension benefits. We acknowledge that our seniors have been working and building our economy long before we were even born. Seniors are veterans. Seniors are low-income taxpayers.

The CARES Act provides that people will receive an economic stimulus payment, up to $1,200 per person. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the government will deposit the relief money directly into the bank account identified in a person’s tax return. But what if a person has been living on Social Security benefits for years and does not file a tax return? How does that person, that senior, receive their stimulus money?

The IRS had offered that seniors who don’t normally file a tax return can file a “simple” tax return immediately, to receive their money. However, it may be challenging for a senior to file a tax return right now because they may not have internet access or skills. Seniors may be confused by the tax return filing process and may become victims of predatory internet scams.  Additionally, the centers providing free tax filing assistance to vulnerable communities are closed because of the pandemic. Resources such as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly are not available to provide assistance.

Fortunately, the IRS has recently reversed course and declared that it will allow coronavirus stimulus payments for seniors who don’t file tax returns. Obviously, filing a tax return to receive their payments is an extra burden that seniors should not have to face. We may have found a way for Social Security beneficiaries to automatically receive their coronavirus relief payments without a tax return and this population desperately needs the stimulus money. Tax experts and senior advocates believe that the government already has the information it can use to get the payments to seniors since people receive their Social Security benefits electronically through debit cards and direct deposit. Seniors would not need to perform a task to claim the money that they’re entitled to.

If you are a senior, and you have questions about government relief during the coronavirus, give us a call and we would be happy to discuss your concerns.

Written by Joan van Oss

Sterk Family Law Group is here to assist you

We are aware that everyone has been affected by the recent response to COVID-19 but we hope that you find some comfort in knowing that we are still operational and here to assist you.

Whether you are a current client or if you are looking for family law or estate planning assistance, our team is here for you and will continue to be available to address your concerns.

To the extent possible, we will offer remote consultations and provide services from a distance.

You may message us here, email our office at info@sterkfamilylaw.com, or call 815-600-8950 and one of our team members will be able to assist you.

This is a legal advertisement from Sterk Family Law Group. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.

 

This is a legal advertisement from Sterk Family Law Group. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.

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