You may be eligible for FREE income tax preparation.

Need help preparing your taxes? Connect with these helpful FREE resources to get started.

VITA: IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

If your household income in 2022 was $60,000 or less, you could qualify to have your taxes prepared and submitted through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

VITA sites are available in all 50 states.

Locations in Mecklenburg County: About Us (communitylinknc.org)

Outside Mecklenburg County: Get Free Tax Prep Help (treasury.gov)

AARP

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide provides in-person and virtual tax assistance to anyone free of charge, with a special focus on taxpayers who are over 50 or have low to moderate income. Tax-Aide volunteers are located nationwide and are trained and IRS-certified every year to ensure they understand the latest changes and additions to the tax code.

Make an appointment: AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Service

GetYourRefund.org

GetYourRefund.org is a non-profit website built in partnership with the IRS-certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites nationally. The service provides tax filing assistance to families earning less than $66,000 a year.

You will have to upload photos of your ID, answer questions about your tax situation, and upload your tax documents. A tax specialists will call you on the phone to discuss your taxes, answer any questions, and complete your filing. Their trained volunteers can also help you file tax returns for previous years and make sure you receive the tax credits you qualify for.

Visit GetYourRefund.org and click “Get Started”.

IRS Free File

If your household income was $72,000 or less, IRS Free File also lets you prepare and file your FEDERAL income tax online using guided tax preparation, at an IRS partner site or Free File Fillable Forms. There are options available in English and Spanish.

Free File: Do your Federal Taxes for Free | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov)

North Carolina Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic

Having trouble with the IRS? Do you need assistance with an audit? Is the IRS taking money from your paycheck even though you disagree with a tax bill it sent you? 

The North Carolina Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy helps taxpayers understand and manage their tax issues.  Learn more about how we can help.

Extra Food Stamps are Ending

What are the Food Stamp Emergency Allotments? 

Since March 2020, households received an extra $95 or more in Food Stamp benefits per month. These temporary pandemic related increases were authorized by Congress to help meet food needs. Due to recent action by the federal government, these extra payments are ending. February will be the last month households will receive this extra payment.  

What should I do? 

Review your current Food Stamp Benefit amount:

You can check your FNS/emergency allotment balance and transaction history three ways:  

  • Visit website www.ebtedge.com. Click on Cardholder Login, create an account, and add your EBT card number. 
  • Download and use the EBT Edge mobile app (can be downloaded on Google Play or Apple Store).  
  • Contact the North Carolina EBT Call Center at 1-888-622-7328 

Regular monthly FNS benefits are issued between the 3rd and 21st of every month. Emergency allotments are issued on or after the 22nd of the month. Starting in March, you will only receive this first payment.  

Compare your information:

If you are not already receiving the maximum monthly benefit for your household, you may be able to increase your benefits amount by updating your information.  

Household SizeMaximum Monthly Benefit
1$281
2$516
3$740
4$939
5$1,116
6$1,339
7$1,480
Each additional person+$211

Report changes that may help you increase your benefits:

  • INCOME: Did you lose work hours or have your pay cut?
  • SHELTER: Did your rent, mortgage, or property taxes increase?
  • DEPENDENT CARE: Are you paying more for child care or care of a disabled adult?
  • MEDICAL EXPENSES: Does anyone in your household who is 60 or older or has a disability have medical costs over $35/month? This includes the cost of medical services, medical supplies, health insurance premiums, copays, prescription and over-the-counter medications, and more.
  • CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS: Are you legally obligated to pay child support?
  • YOUR ADDRESS: This will not impact your benefit level, but you may miss important updates if DSS does not have your current address.

Contact your local DSS to report changes and/or find out if your expense qualifies as a deduction:

Contact your DSS caseworker (if you have one), go to the DSS office in person, or call their customer service number. You can also appeal if you believe your regular, monthly benefits were improperly calculated. 

Local DSS Offices:

  • Mecklenburg County
    • 704-336-3000
    • Wallace H. Kuralt Centre, 301 Billingsley Road, Charlotte, NC 28211
    • Community Resource Center, 3205 Freedom Drive, Charlotte, NC 28208
  • Union County
    • 704-296-4300
    • 2330 Concord Avenue Monroe, NC 28110
  • Cabarrus County
    • 704-920-1400
    • 1303 S. Cannon Blvd. Kannapolis, NC 28083

If something goes wrong, contact an advocate: 

If you have taken the above steps and still think something is wrong with your food stamps case, contact a legal advocate for assistance. 

  • Mecklenburg County:
    • Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy
    • 704-376-1600 English or 800-247-1931 Spanish 
  • All other NC counties  
    • Legal Aid of North Carolina
    • 866-219-5262 

What other food resources are available?  

  • WIC: If you have a child under 5 and/or pregnant or breastfeeding, you may be eligible for WIC. Learn more about WIC and complete a WIC referral online at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/ncwicreferral.  
  • 211: Visit www.nc211.org or dial 211 to be connected to community food resources. 
  • NC Care 360: Request help or find resources by clicking the “For Individuals” tab on https://nccare360.org/  

Protect yourself from holiday scams

‘Tis the season for holiday scams! We share some helpful tips on common scams and how to protect yourself.

Shopping Online

The two most prevalent scams when shopping online: 

  1. Non-delivery scam where a buyer pays for goods or services they find online, but those items are never received, and
  2. Non-payment scam involves goods or services being shipped, but the seller is never paid.

What to Do

  • Call your credit card company or you bank. Dispute any suspicious charges.
  • Report the scam to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at ic3.gov and Contact NC Attorney General’s Office 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or file an online complaint
  • Use good cybersecurity hygiene:  DON’T click on links in emails, websites, or social media.  Go directly to the website yourself from a browser like chrome or edge.

Be Careful How You Pay for Items Online or By Phone

Never wire money directly to seller or load money onto “pre-paid” gift cards.  This is how scammers typically want payment and the money is often not recoverable.  Use a credit card or protected bank debit card if you do not have a credit card, check statements, dispute with your bank.  Gift cards are to give for gifts, not to make payments to another.

Gift Card Scams

Scammers want you to pay with gift cards because they’re like cash: once you use a gift card, the money on it is gone. But what do gift card scams look like?

Someone may call, tell you they’re from a government agency, and say you owe taxes or a fine. Or they may pretend to be a family member or friend in trouble, who needs money right away. Or they may say you’ve won a prize, but first must pay fees or other charges. Here are signs you’re dealing with a scammer:

  • The caller says it’s urgent. They tell you to pay right away or something terrible will happen. They try to pressure you into acting quickly, so you don’t have time to think or talk to someone you trust. Don’t pay. It’s a scam.
  • The caller usually tells you which gift card to buy. They might tell you to put money on a Google Play, Target, or iTunes gift card — or send you to a specific store like Walmart, Target, or CVS. Sometimes they tell you to buy cards at several stores, so cashiers won’t get suspicious. If so, stop. It’s a scam.
  • The caller asks you for the gift card number and PIN. The scammer uses that information to get the money you’ve loaded on the card. Don’t give them those numbers. It’s a scam. You’ll lose your money, and you won’t be able to get it back.

If you paid a scammer with a gift card, tell the company that issued the card right away. Keep the card and find any receipts you have. Then tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

Phony package delivery notices

Scammers know people receive unexpected packages this season and will send realistic-looking delivery failure notifications so you’ll follow up and reveal personal info. Before you hand over information on the internet, head to your local post office or call the delivery service to verify the notification.  These notices can be by fake email or door hangers. 

Avoid Holiday Job Scams

To keep your money and personal information to yourself, follow these steps: 

  • Don’t pay to get the job. Scammers may promise you a job — if you pay them. But no legitimate job will make you pay for expenses or fees to get the job. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  • Never give personal info up front. Some scammers will try to get your credit card, bank account, or Social Security number as soon as you’re in contact.
  • See what others are saying. Search online for the name of the company plus the words “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.” You might find they’ve scammed other people.
  • Talk to someone you trust — before you take a job offer or business opportunity. What do they think?

Fake charities

These crop during major disasters and around the holidays. Leaflets and phone calls from organizations with familiar-sounding names will ask you to open your wallets for a good cause. To be safe, don’t give to any charity with whom you didn’t start the contact.  Check legitimacy through the North Carolina Secretary of StateCharity Watch, or Charity Navigator.

Beware of “person in need” and grandparent scams.

Scammers pose as a grandchild, friend or relative stranded or otherwise in trouble and need money quickly and quietly.  They may ask for money by mail or gift card.  Don’t be pressured, hang up and call another relative or friend if you are still concerned to help you investigate.

Old school pickpocketing

Crowded malls and shopping centers are havens for pickpockets. To combat this threat, it’s best to wear purses across the body and wallets in front pockets or inside a closed jacket. Consider leaving the house with the bare minimum, like your ID and debit or credit card (the latter which offer fraud protection and security features not available with cash).

The more you and loved ones know about scams, the easier it is to spot and avoid them. If you need help, contact the Advocacy Center’s Consumer Protection Team for more information.

Additional Resources

FDIC: Avoid Scams While Shopping Online for Bargains

Federal Trade Commission: Job Scams

Skadden Fellow Joins our Veterans Legal Services Unit

Nevah Jones joined the Advocacy Center as a Skadden Fellow in our Veterans Legal Services Unit in September.  In addition to serving as an attorney for low-income veterans in need of service-related payments and benefits from VA, Nevah will expand our existing medical-legal partnership to include legal training for clinicians providing care to veterans.

Nevah will focus on educating clinicians about what is legally necessary to craft a medical opinion in support of a veteran’s VA claims, as veterans have a higher burden of proof when submitting medical documentation for service-related disability benefits.  She will advocate to address potential systemic issues in the initial stages of medical assessment that may result in payment or benefit denials for those to whom it is lawfully due. In addition, Nevah will also work with clinicians to identify health care barriers for veterans living with racial trauma stemming from military service.  Racial discrimination within the military contributes to mental health conditions that may result in less than honorable discharge characterizations.  Veterans who seek to upgrade their discharge characterization to access treatment or service-related benefits need credible medical evidence of their race-based trauma.

As a 20-year veteran of the Air Force, Nevah feels a unique connection to this work:

“In the military, I saw injured servicemembers pressured to ‘soldier on’ instead of seeking the medical care that they needed. Those same individuals were then disciplined and discharged when their untreated ailments made it difficult to do their jobs. I regret that I could not do more for my airmen then. It is because of them that I am singularly focused on getting veterans access to necessary health care and benefits today.”

Read Nevah’s full bio

If you are a clinician or attorney interested in learning more about these educational and legal efforts, please contact Nevah.

Food and Nutrition Services Change: October 2022

UPDATED: FEBRUARY 2023

Almost all Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) households, known as SNAP nationwide, will see an increase in their FNS benefits on October 1, 2022. These changes will be made automatically; households did not need to take any action. For more information, visit:  SNAP Benefit Changes.

Why will FNS benefits increase in October 2022?

Almost all FNS households will see an increase in their FNS benefits to account for changes in the cost of living.  Maximum FNS benefits, which are tied to food inflation, will increase by about 12% starting October 1, 2022. This increase is about $26-$31 per person per month.

The table below shows maximum FNS benefit amounts for households ending September 30, 2022) and what the new maximum benefit will be starting October 2022:

Household SizeOct 2021-Sept 2022
Maximum FNS Benefit
Oct 2022-Sept 2023
Maximum FNS Benefit
1$250 $281
2$459 $516
3$658 $740
4$835 $939

In addition, North Carolina is still providing monthly pandemic-related Emergency Allotments to FNS households. This is typically a supplement of up to $95 if households are already receiving the maximum or close to the maximum. These supplements are added to households’ EBT cards later in the month than their regular monthly allotment. Households will see a decrease in their total monthly benefits when the temporary pandemic-related Emergency Allotments end in North Carolina. PLEASE NOTE: February 2023 will be the last month households will receive this extra payment.  

What happens after the Emergency Allotments ends?

The total amount of FNS benefits you receive each month will change when North Carolina stops issuing Emergency Allotments.  February 2023 will be the last month households will receive this extra payment.  

In general, your monthly FNS benefit amount may change based on your household’s circumstances, such as your income, the number of people in your household, and certain expenses you pay for.

You should continue reporting changes in your household circumstances to your local Department of Social Services (DSS).  

How can Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy help?

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy fights to help families put food on the table and avoid food insecurity. We can help by:

  • Providing representation in appeals of overpayment claims, including Intentional Program Violations (IPVs), Inadvertent Household Errors (IHEs), and Agency Errors (AEs)
  • Disputing incorrect calculations of overpayment amounts or monthly benefit levels

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy also advocates for policies at the state and federal level that promote equity in and improved access to food support programs and resources.

What you need to know: Tax law changes for North Carolina Veterans

Last November, North Carolina passed a law to allow eligible retired members of the Armed Forces to deduct certain military retirement pay when calculating taxable income in North Carolina. The law also allows eligible beneficiaries of the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) to deduct certain SBP payments.  The deduction applies to the following:

  • Retirement pay for service in the Armed Forces to a retired member that either
    • Served at least 20 years, or
    • Medically retired under 10 U.S.C. Chapter 61. (This deduction does not apply to severance pay received by a member due to separation from the member’s armed forces.)
  • Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) payments to a beneficiary of a retired member who is eligible to deduct retirement pay.

Beginning in tax year 2021, eligible retirees or SBP beneficiaries may deduct military retirement pay or SBP payments on a North Carolina individual income tax return.

If you are eligible for the deduction but have already filed your North Carolina individual income tax return, you should consider filing an amended return with the North Carolina Department of Revenue to deduct the payments.   (For more information on how to amend your 2021 North Carolina Individual Income Tax Return, Form D-400, see the instructions for the return, Form-D401, on the NC Department of Revenue website.)

Frequently Asked Questions

I am a retired member of the Armed Forces. I received retirement pay in 2021. Am I eligible for the deduction?

A retired member of the Armed Forces is eligible for the deduction if the retired member

  1. Served at least 20 years in the Armed Forces; or
  2. Was medically retired from the Armed Forces.  For more information on medical retirement, see Disability Retirement.

I am a beneficiary of a retired member. I received a Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) payment in 2021. Am I eligible to deduct the SBP payment?

If the retired member who purchased SBP coverage served at least 20 years in the Armed Forces or was medically retired from the Armed Forces under 10 U.S.C. Chapter 61, then the beneficiary of the retired member can deduct the SBP payment when calculating North Carolina taxable income.

Where can I claim the deduction?

An Eligible retiree or beneficiary can claim the Deduction on the North Carolina Department of Revenue Form D-400 Schedule S, line 20.

I’m eligible for the deduction but have already filed my North Carolina individual income tax return for tax year 2021 with the military retirement or SBP payments in my calculation of North Carolina taxable income.  How can I claim the deduction?

You should consider filing an amended return with the North Carolina Department of Revenue to deduct the payments.  For more information on how to amend your 2021 North Carolina Individual Income Tax Return, Form D-400, see the instructions for the return, Form-D401, on the NC Department of Revenue website.

I am a retired civilian employee who worked for the Armed Forces. I received retirement pay in 2021. Do I qualify for the deduction?

No. Retirement pay received for work performed by a civilian employee does not qualify for the deduction.

Do retirement payments made to an individual other than the retired member of the Armed Forces qualify for the deduction?

No. North Carolina explicitly limits the deduction to payments made to the retired member of the Armed Forces. For example, the former spouse of the retired member of the Armed Forces may be entitled to receive a court-ordered payment from the retirement pay of the member. Because such payments are made to a person other than the retired member of the Armed Forces, the former spouse does not qualify for the deduction.

No Surprises Act: Protecting patients from surprise medical bills

The No Surprises Act protects people from “surprise medical bills.” These protections apply to anyone enrolled in a private health insurance plan, including employer plans or a plan purchased on or off the marketplace.  New protections were added in 2022 to restrict excessive out-of-pocket costs from emergency and non-emergency services.  If you’re uninsured or you decide not to use your health insurance, these protections allow you to get a good faith estimate of the cost of your care up front, before your visit. If you disagree with your bill, you may be able to dispute the charges.  

Even though surprise bills are now banned in many circumstances, enrollees should monitor their medical bills because they might need to take action to protect their rights. Note: Most of the law’s protections only apply to people with private insurance, and not to people who are uninsured or enrolled in Medicaid, CHIP, or Medicare.  

New protections for insured patients

The new law protects insured people in two major ways: 

  • For emergency care: An insured person can get care at any emergency department, even if the care is out of network. The out-of-network emergency facility, and the doctors and other providers who treat the patient, cannot bill the patient for more than in-network cost-sharing amounts (i.e., deductible, copay, coinsurance). The plan also must apply only in-network cost-sharing.  
  • For non-emergency care: If the insured person goes to an in-network facility, they cannot be billed for more than the in-network cost-sharing amount for their services, even if they receive care from an out-of-network provider.  

Note: Out-of-network ambulance services are not covered by the No Surprises Act and can still lead to high bills.   

Key terms 

  • In-network providers: Facilities and doctors who contract to accept a payment rate with your insurer. In-network care generally costs less than care that is out-of-network. You might still have to meet a deductible before your insurance pays the bill, or you might owe a copayment or coinsurance, depending on the type of service and your health plan.  
  • Out-of-network providers: Providers who do not contract with your insurer and instead charge you separately for their services. Unlike in-network providers, out-of-network providers set their own charges. Your health plan might cover some of the cost but often covers none of the cost of out-of-network services.   
  • Surprise medical bill: An out-of-network medical bill a person receives from an out-of-network provider for emergency services, or for non-emergency care while at an in-network facility.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a surprise medical bill? 

Generally, people enrolled in private insurance are responsible for checking their plan’s network before getting health services to ensure that the medical provider they’ve selected is in-network. In most situations, people who get medical services from an out-of-network provider are responsible for paying the out-of-network medical bills they receive. Most plans pay less for out-of-network care than they would pay for in-network care, and some don’t cover out-of-network bills at all, leaving the enrollee responsible for paying most or all the out-of-network bill. 

There are some situations where a person doesn’t get to choose their medical provider and ends up receiving out-of-network care. This can happen in medical emergencies when people are taken to the closest ER.  It can also happen when people select an in-network hospital for scheduled care but receive care from an out-of-network doctor they did not get to pick (such as the anesthesiologist).  These scenarios are common. An out-of-network medical bill a person receives after getting care from an out-of-network provider they didn’t get to choose is known as a surprise medical bill

What are the new protections if I don’t have health insurance or choose not to use it? 

If you don’t have insurance or choose not to use it, these new rules make sure you get a “good faith estimate” of how much your care will cost, before you get care.  They also allow you to file a dispute if you are charged more than $400 above the estimate. 

What out-of-network providers and services must follow the new law?  

Any health care provider in any emergency department or at the insured person’s in-network facility must follow the new law. A “provider” is defined broadly to include doctors, radiologists, therapists, and others. Services like imaging and lab work, preoperative and postoperative services, telemedicine, and equipment and devices are also covered. “Facilities” are hospitals, hospital outpatient departments, and ambulatory surgery centers. They don’t include other settings, such as urgent care. 

What should I do if I receive a surprise medical bill? 

The first step is to check with the insurance company to see if the provider made a mistake. The out-of-network provider shouldn’t bill for more than the in-network cost-sharing amount for the service(s) indicated on the Explanation of Benefits (EOB). If there is no EOB it might mean that the provider didn’t contact the insurance company as required.  

The second step is to contact the out-of-network provider and ask them to correct the bill. Providers can face fines up to $10,000 per violation for not following the new rules. 

If the provider refuses to resolve the issue by correcting the bill, then it might be necessary to file a complaint by calling the No Surprises Help Desk at 1-800-985-3059. The No Surprises Help Desk is also available for people who have questions or want more information about the new rules. Consumers can also file complaints online at www.cms.gov/nosurprises.  

A mistake made by a person’s insurance company could also result in a surprise medical bill. If that happens, the person should call their insurance company, explain the situation, and ask them to treat the claim as a surprise medical bill. If the insurance company doesn’t correct the issue, the next step is to file an appeal with the insurance company. If this is unsuccessful, the next step is to request an external appeal. 

Note: Every EOB a person receives is required to include instructions for how to file an appeal.  

In North Carolina, the Consumer Services Division of the Department of Insurance can help people file appeals and resolve billing and coverage problems, including surprise medical bills.  

What out-of-network providers and services are not covered by the new law? 

Services that are scheduled in advance directly with an out-of-network provider are not covered under the new law, and the provider can charge patients the full cost for services.  

Are all high medical bills considered surprise bills? 

Cost-sharing charges can vary widely across insurance plans, which means that a person could still receive very high medical bills due to their plan’s standard in-network cost-sharing charges being high. These kinds of bills are not considered surprise medical bills. 

More Resources: 

No Surprises Act, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) 

Overview of rules & fact sheets | CMS 

Consumers: new protections against surprise medical bills |CMS 

How to Manage Medical Debt

Medical bills can be confusing, overwhelming, and often come when you are already in distress. It can be difficult to understand what you owe, to whom, and by when.  It can also seem that you are being pushed to pay amounts you cannot afford or do not owe to protect your credit.  If this sounds like you or a loved one, there is help available.   

Here’s what you need to know: 

  • Under the Affordable Care Act, nonprofit hospitals (like Atrium CMC and Novant Presbyterian) are required to offer financial help to certain people who cannot afford their medical care. Financial assistance is an important part of the nonprofit hospital’s commitment to its community.  
  • Ask for a copy of the Financial Assistance policy and Application up front.  Fill it out as soon as possible and provide all required information.
  • Getting help with medical bills does not jeopardize your immigration status. If you are not a citizen, you can ask for and receive help with medical bills for you and your family, without fear of negative consequences to your immigration status. If you speak a language other than English, you can ask for the information in your preferred language. 
  • Even if your bill is past due and you’re being contacted by a debt collector, you can ask the debt collector to pause collections while you seek financial help through the hospital’s program. 
  • In North Carolina, most past due medical debt cannot be garnished from wages, even after a lawsuit.  (This will vary by case.)  Contact the hospital or medical provider to ask for assistance up front.   
  • If you’re having an issue with debt collection, you can submit a complaint with the CFPB online or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) takes complaints over the phone in Spanish and 180 other languages at 855-411-CFPB (2372).  

How to ask about financial assistance or charity care for medical bills: 

  1. Ask for a copy of the hospital’s Financial Assistance Policy up front. By law, the policy must explain how to apply for help. 
  1. Fill out an application form, if required, and be ready to provide information about your income, including last year’s tax forms or a current pay stub, and your expenses, including your rent or mortgage payment, utilities, credit cards, and other debts. 
  1. Ask your provider how long it takes to process your application for financial assistance, how to get answers to questions about the application, and what happens with your bill in the meantime. 
  1. Notify any debt collectors that you’re seeking financial assistance for the bill and tell them to pause collections while that process plays out—and if they already reported it on your credit, to show the bill as disputed. 
  1. Follow up with your provider about the status of your application as necessary. 

More Resources: 

Are you getting the help with your medical bills you are entitled to? 
Your rights when dealing with debt collectors 
Know your rights and protections when it comes to medical bills and collections 
Submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 

New Extended Coverage for Postpartum Medicaid Beneficiaries

An important change is here for pregnant and postpartum Medicaid beneficiaries.  A provision of the American Rescue Plan gave states the option to extend Medicaid postpartum coverage from 60 days to 12 months.  Extended coverage became effective in North Carolina on April 1, 2022.  Individuals enrolled in Medicaid for Pregnant Women will now see their coverage extended for a 12-month period after their pregnancy ends.

Research has found that 1 in 3 pregnancy-related deaths occur 1 week to 1 year after delivery. Furthermore, Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women are about 3 times as likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause as White women.  By extending coverage, this needed change stands to improve maternal health and stabilize healthcare coverage for postpartum individuals. 

Who is eligible?

As of April 1, 2022, Medicaid for Pregnant Women beneficiaries in North Carolina saw their coverage extended for a 12-month period after the pregnancy ends, regardless of any changes in circumstances or if the pregnancy ends for any reason.

A renewal must be completed at the end of the 12-month postpartum period to determine if beneficiary will be eligible for Medicaid after the postpartum period. If/when Medicaid terminates, individuals may be eligible to enroll in affordable coverage with the Health Insurance Marketplace through a Special Enrollment Period.

Please note, Medicaid eligibility rules have not changed in the state of North Carolina.

What is the postpartum period?

The postpartum period is a full 12-months following the end of pregnancy for any reason. The period begins on the date the pregnancy ends and extends through the end of the month in which the 12-month period ends. For example, if a Medicaid beneficiary gives birth on May 5, 2022, their Medicaid coverage will be extended through May 31, 2023.

How do I enroll?

Individuals may apply for NC Medicaid online at epass.nc.gov, in person or by phone at their local Department of Social Services (DSS) office, or by filling out a paper application and mailing, faxing, or dropping it off at their local DSS office.

Health Insurance Navigators are available to help individuals to learn if they are eligible for Medicaid programs in North Carolina, and to complete a Medicaid application. Visit NCNavigator.net, call 855-733-3711, or 980-256-3782 in Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, or Union counties to schedule a free appointment.

If Medicaid is approved, individuals need to report when the baby is born to their local DSS office. This must be done no matter which Medicaid program/category the beneficiary receives. The case worker will then extend the Medicaid coverage through the postpartum period. A letter will be sent to the beneficiary letting them know of the change and the certification periods.

When does the change start?

The effective date of this policy is April 1, 2022. The extended coverage is currently authorized through March 2027.

What if I have questions or need help?

Health insurance navigators are ready to help!  Visit NCNavigator.net, call 855-733-3711, or 980-256-3782 in Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, or Union counties to schedule a free appointment.

Property Tax Relief Assistance

With soaring property values across the state, many North Carolinians are struggling to keep up with their housing costs, including property taxes.  But there is help.  North Carolina offers property tax relief to low-income elderly, disabled, and/or disabled veterans.   Qualifying owners may receive an exclusion of the taxable value of their residence of either $25,000 or 50% (whichever is greater) but they must apply before June 1, 2022.

Who is eligible?

Qualifying owners must meet the following requirements:

  • The applicant’s name must be on the deed or title to the residence as of January 1, 2021.
  • The residence must be the applicant’s primary residence.
  • The applicant must be a North Carolina resident
  • The applicant must be at least 65 years of age or totally and permanently disabled. (Total and permanent disability is a disability that substantially hinders a person from obtaining gainful employment.)
  • The applicant’s income, including any spouse in the household, must be $31,900 or less for 2021.

What if I am a Veteran?

Property tax relief is also available for Disabled Veterans in Mecklenburg County.  These qualifying homeowners may receive an exclusion of the first $45,000 of the taxable value of their residence. The veteran must be an honorably discharged veteran, the home must be occupied by the disabled veteran, and that veteran must be 100% totally and permanently disabled due to a service-connected related injury.

This exemption is also available to the surviving spouse (who has not remarried) of a Disabled Veteran. This does not apply to combat veterans, unless they have suffered a 100% total and permanent disability, which is service related. There is no age or income limitation.

When do I apply?

Qualifying owners must apply with the Assessor’s Office between January 1st and June 1st.

Where can I find help?

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is available to assist low-income elderly, disabled, and/or disabled veterans prepare their property tax relief applications.  Virtual appointments will be available April 4-May 6, 2022.  For more information, please call 980-256-7952 or 704-376-1600 ext. 545.   

Additional Resources:

Mecklenburg County Property Tax Relief Program

Property Tax Relief Application Form