What Seniors Need to Know About the December 2020 Stimulus Package

In addition to $600 checks for eligible adults and children, the December 2020 stimulus bill includes several provisions that help older Americans. For one, there’s money for rental assistance, and the eviction moratorium was extended to January 31, 2021. The bill also extends two programs that let seniors receive in-home care instead of living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. And Medicare now can directly reimburse physician assistants who provide medical care to older adults. The change may make it easier for seniors, especially in rural areas, to find medical care. 

To be eligible for protection under the federal moratorium, tenants must sign an affidavit saying that they’ve done what they can to pay their rent on time, including making partial payments if possible, and present their affidavit to the judge presiding over their eviction case. 

The plan will also increase Food Stamps (SNAP) payments by 15% for the first 6 months of 2021.

Seniors can only qualify for Medicaid funding to receive in-home care if they have very little money in the bank: until 2010, married couples had to exhaust nearly all of their cash before either partner could receive in-home care under Medicaid. The asset limits for receiving care at a nursing home weren’t as strict, which means that married seniors who could remained in their homes with a little extra help were instead steered into assisted living facilities. The recently renewed provision makes sure that married seniors can choose to receive care at home, without putting their spouse in financial hardship. The Money Follows the Person Program provides assistance to help seniors currently living in long-term care facilities transition back into living at home. According to the National Council on Independent Living, many states had slowed or ended their MFP programs because of uncertainty about whether the funding would be reauthorized.

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

All this can be a bit confusing. Most town’s Senior Centers have counselors on staff who can help a senior sift through their options.

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