In this guide, New Jersey seniors can find out more about how the CARES Act and the Families First Act—two bills passed by Congress to provide resources and relief for Americans—will help and impact them during this coronavirus health and economic crisis. We’ll answer some of the most important questions related to Medicare services, Social Security, and direct cash payments. And we’ve also included tips to protect seniors from being cheated by greedy scammers.
Medicare will pay for you to get a test for COVID-19—you won't have to pay anything out of pocket. Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, deductibles and copays for people on Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage plans will be waived for medical services related to testing.
If you have Original Medicare and have to be hospitalized because of the coronavirus, you will still have to pay the Medicare Part A deductible, which is $1,408 per hospital visit for 2020. Most Medigap plans will help cover this deductible.
For seniors with Medicare Advantage plans deductibles and copays for hospital stays vary by plan. If you would normally be ready to be discharged from the hospital but have to remain under quarantine because you have COVID-19, you won't be charged extra for being kept in a private room and won't have to pay an additional deductible.
The CARES Act will help Medicare Part D enrollees by requiring the plans to offer up to 90-day prescription refills if that’s what the doctor prescribed, as long as there are no safety concerns. Medicare drug plans will also allow beneficiaries to fill prescription early for refills up to 90 days, depending on the prescription.
Yes but only online. If you are turning 65 or are under 65 and have a disability, you can still go to ssa.gov and apply for Medicare. While the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) operates the program, the Social Security Administration handles Medicare enrollment. The SSA will continue to process applications.
If you are 65 or older and have lost your job and health insurance or were on your spouse's health insurance and she or he lost a job and health coverage, you can go to the SSA website and apply for Medicare.
Yes. If you have questions about your coverage or the services that are covered or have other issues, the 1-800-MEDICARE hotline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The best way to schedule a telehealth visit is to call your doctor or other health care provider. During the pandemic, regulations for telehealth should be relaxed, so patients can get a telehealth consultation from their homes and providers and their patients can use their phones, tablets, computers and other devices. Providers can waive deductibles and copays for these appointments.
In most places, elective surgeries and procedures are being postponed while the coronavirus outbreak is straining hospital resources nationwide. Under current guidance, you would be asked to consider postponing your knee surgery, based on whether your condition could be life-threatening in the future. Your spouse is likely to be asked to postpone cataract surgery.
The guidelines make clear that non-elective, non-coronavirus-related care, such as transplants, cardiac procedures for patients with symptoms, cancer procedures and neurosurgery, would still be provided.
The CARES Act ensures that the vaccine itself and its administration is free to beneficiaries through their Medicare Part B plans or through their Medicare Advantage when they receive the vaccine from an in- network provider.
Additionally, the Families First Coronavirus Act requires all private insurance plans to cover coronavirus testing without deductibles, coinsurance, or co-pays. That bill also prohibits plans from using tools like prior authorization to limit access to testing. And the CARES Act ensures that the policy covers all tests that meet the appropriate standards. Insurers also have to cover fees for visits to the ER, an urgent care center, or a doctor’s office associated with getting a test without cost sharing.
Additionally, the Affordable Care Act requires preventive services and vaccines to be covered by private insurance without cost-sharing.
Under current law, only physicians are able to certify the need for home health services. With the CARES Act, all physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialists are now allowed to order home health services for beneficiaries, reducing delays and increasing beneficiary access to care in the safety of their home.
Note: The IRS is in the process of developing procedures to send stimulus payments to Americans, as called for under the CARES Act. We will update this information as we learn more.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can only enter our offices if you have an appointment. If you believe you qualify for an in-person appointment due to dire circumstances, call your local office. You can look up the phone number for your local office by accessing our office locator. Please note that appointments may not be immediately available, depending on local health and safety conditions and staffing.
You may be able to request a replacement Social Security card online with your personal my Social Security account, which is easy to set up if you do not already have one. Or, you can ask us for a replacement card by completing and mailing the Social Security card application with your original proof of identity, and proof of age and citizenship if we have not previously confirmed this information, to your local office. We will return your proof(s) to you.
To find out what documents we need to issue a replacement Social Security Number card, please read our fact sheet U.S. Citizen/Adult — Replacement Social Security Card. To update the date of birth in our records, applicants must also submit an original or certified copy of a birth certificate showing the correct date of birth. To update the name in our records, applicants must also submit a recent document that identifies them in both their old and new names. For additional information, please read the instructions on the Social Security card application.
Because we are experiencing slight delays processing mail-in SSN card applications, it may take us between two and four weeks to process the application and return the evidence.
Yes. The CARES Act included direct payments to most Americans, including Social Security recipients. As long as your adjusted gross income (AGI) is $75,000 or less ($150,000 or less for married couples), you should be eligible for a $1,200 stimulus check. The amount of the check gradually decreases once your AGI exceeds those thresholds. You won't be eligible for a stimulus payment once your income hits $99,000 for singles ($198,000 for couples).
Social Security recipients will automatically receive a stimulus payment if their income is below the qualifying thresholds (see above) regardless of whether they filed a tax return in recent years.
No. You should get your direct deposit (or, for a small number of beneficiaries, a paper check or a Direct Express debit card) at the same time of the month as usual.
No. On March 17, the Social Security Administration (SSA) suspended face-to-face meetings in field offices and in-person hearings during the outbreak. In-person hearings are being scheduled for future dates, and phone hearings are being offered as an alternative.
Possibly. It normally takes about six weeks for the SSA to process your application and start your benefits. Social Security Disability payments typically take five to six months to process. With field offices closed temporarily and phone services prioritizing the most critical requests, delays can't be ruled out.
Right now, we understand that because of the coronavirus outbreak and temporary closure of field offices, wait times for callers could be 90 minutes or more. We recommend that seniors try to access services online first.
If you want to use the phone, try the local field offices’ general inquiry line. The SSA says local field offices are prioritizing disability and survivor applications for the most severe disabilities, and resolving payment-related issues such as missing payments and suspension of benefits. You can also call 800-772-1213 for help with scheduling application appointments and resolving issues such as change of address, direct deposit change and death reports.
Generally, no. Social Security will usually contact you by mail. Fraudsters, however, will call you and claim there's a problem. They may threaten to sue you or have you arrested. Or demand payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, pre-paid debit cards, internet currency or cash to resolve phantom issues. They often demand secrecy.
Social Security workers won't do any of these things. If you get one of these calls, hang up and report the call to the SSA's Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
Scammers are out there right now, trying to capitalize on anxiety caused by COVID-19 to prey on the public. As the public health crisis continues, beware of products fraudulently marketed as “vaccine” or “cure” for the coronavirus. Be aware of scams through emails impersonating reputable organizations, like the World Health Organization, in an attempt to steal personal identifiable information.
And, with the federal government preparing to send cash payments to help Americans weather the pandemic’s financial effects, con artists may pretend they are representing the government in an attempt to collect a “fee” that they claim is needed prior to receiving a payment.
Here are some tips to help you keep the scammers at bay:
For more information: