According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung, or kidney disease seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. As a result, Rhode Islanders over 60 should take extra precautions to keep themselves safe and avoid contracting the virus. A full list of guidelines from the CDC to prevent the spread of the virus can be found HERE.
The CARES Act benefits every Rhode Islander, but it also allocates significant resources for states to serve older Americans. The following provides information on the resources available to support seniors through the COVID-19 outbreak.
The CARES Act contains several provisions to help seniors practice social distancing while also receiving necessary services during the present crisis. These include:
Yes. The CARES Act ensures that during the COVID-19 public health emergency, people with a Medicare prescription drug plan can receive up to 90 days of a prescription if their doctor prescribed 3 months of medication and there are no safety concerns or coverage restrictions. Medicare prescription drug plans will also allow people to fill prescriptions early for refills up to 90 days, depending on the prescription. Contact your health plan for more information on filling prescriptions early and accessing 90-day supplies.
Furthermore, the RI Office of Healthy Aging details local resources available to Rhode Island seniors, ranging from delivery to early-morning grocery hours for seniors and more. This information can be found HERE.
More details on other nutrition assistance resources are available on my Food Security resource page.
Seniors on Medicare can get tested for COVID-19 at no cost. A future COVID-19 vaccine, when approved, will also be available at no cost to seniors on Medicare.
The IRS has announced that the following groups of people will automatically receive their individual payment:
Any other individual who did not file a 2018 or 2019 return will need to file a simple return through the IRS’ Non-Filers tool to receive their payment. This tool is available HERE.
The CARES Act permits individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or experiencing related economic losses to take loans up to $100,000 – double the original amount – from defined contribution plans. Repayment of existing plan loans is also extended for those affected by the coronavirus.
The CARES Act also waives the 10 percent penalty on early distributions from Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and defined contribution plans in the case of coronavirus-related distributions made in 2020. Distributions are limited to $100,000 and may be re-contributed to the plan or IRA at a later date. Income from these distributions would be subject to tax over three years.
Further, the new law waives required minimum distributions (RMDs) in 2020 from IRAs and defined contribution plans. The waiver includes RMDs due by April 1, 2020.
All of these provisions are intended to give seniors flexibility and resources as they face this pandemic.