In early September, the North Carolina legislature passed the most recent coronavirus relief act. According to this act, most North Carolina parents will receive checks for $335 from the state this fall. This payment is meant to offset costs from their children’s virtual learning during the pandemic. Here are answers to frequently asked questions regarding the payments:
What are the conditions to receive the $335 payment?
An individual must meet three requirements to receive the payment:
You or your spouse (if filing jointly) filed or will file your state tax return on or by October 15th, 2020;
You or your spouse (if filing jointly) reported on your 2019 state tax return that you were a resident of North Carolina during the entire calendar year and;
You or your spouse (if filing jointly) reported at least one qualifying child.
If you meet these criteria the state will automatically send you the $335 payment by December 15th.
Can my spouse and I each receive a check if we filed jointly?
No. The grant is for eligible individuals who have at least one qualifying child. That means if you and your spouse filed jointly, you count as one individual.
Do I receive a payment per child?
No. This is a one-time payment per eligible taxpayer or jointly filing taxpayers. If you have more than one child, you will still only receive one $335 payment.
I did not make enough money to file taxes last year. Can I still receive the $335 payment?
Yes, but you have to apply for it by October 15, 2020. The North Carolina Department of Revenue is still working out setting up the online portal for applying. It will be posted online at https://www.ncdor.gov/extracredit “as soon as possible,” and in enough time to apply before the October 15th deadline.
You must still meet the other above conditions to receive the payment if you did not pay 2019 state taxes.
When will I receive my $335 payment?
No later than December 15th. The law also allows the state to send the money as a direct deposit into the same account that your state tax refund went to.
The federal government, through the Center for Disease Control, has announced a temporary halt on evictions through December 31, 2020 to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Under the order, landlords and property owners are prohibited from evicting certain tenants impacted by COVID-19. If you are an immigrant, you may have concerns about claiming protection under the eviction moratorium. While we think the risk is minimal, we provide the information below to help you decide what is best for you and your family.
How do I Qualify?
You qualify for the temporary protection against eviction if one of the following applies in your situation:
You cannot pay your full rent payment because of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, lay-offs, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Your income is below $99,000 annually for an individual/ $198,000 annually for a couple.
You are using your best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as your circumstances permit.
You have used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance available for rent or housing.
If evicted, you will become homeless or will have to move in with others in close quarters.
How do I claim protection under the Temporary Eviction Moratorium?
To claim the protection against eviction, every adult tenant must sign an affidavit that includes an agreement to pay any accumulated rent arrears after December 31, 2020.
Why might I worry about signing the affidavit as an immigrant?
An immigrant may be denied a visa, lawful permanent resident status, or reentry into the US (as a lawful permanent resident) if she or he is likely to become a public charge. Public charge is defined as someone who is primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.
Why I SHOULD NOT worry about signing the affidavit even though I am an immigrant:
Getting help under the Temporary Eviction Moratorium is not considered cash or other financial assistance that could count against you as a federal benefit for the public charge test.
The income limit for the federal moratorium is substantially higher than the income threshold for the public charge test. When you state that your income is not above $99,000/$198,000 annually, you do not admit that your income is below 125% federal poverty guideline ($32,750 annual income for family of 4) and, therefore, you do not jeopardize your immigration application.
Is it conceivable that my immigration application could be denied because I signed the affidavit stating that I cannot afford my rent?
It is conceivable but very unlikely and, certainly, there should be a legal challenge to a finding of public charge on this basis.
Remember that public charge DOES NOT APPLY to:
Asylum or Refugee status
Green Card renewal
TPS, U or T Visa status
DACA status or renewal
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
Immigrants who already have LPR/ a green card
CONTACT CHARLOTTE CENTER FOR LEGAL ADVOCACY TO SPEAK TO SOMEONE ABOUT YOUR OPTIONS.
Línea en español 800-247-1931
Obtenga La Ayuda Que Necesita Bajo La Moratoria Temporal De Desalojo
El gobierno federal, a través del Centro para el Control de Enfermedades, ha anunciado una suspensión temporal de TODOS los desalojos hasta el 31 de diciembre de 2020 para evitar una mayor propagación de COVID-19. Según la orden, los propietarios tienen prohibido desalojar a ciertos inquilinos afectados por COVID-19. Si usted es un inmigrante, es posible que le preocupe reclamar protección bajo la moratoria de desalojo. Mientras creemos que el riesgo es mínimo, la siguiente información puede ayudarle a decidir qué es lo mejor para usted y su familia.
¿Cómo califico para la moratoria?
Usted califica para la protección temporal contra el desalojo si alguna de las siguientes situaciones le aplica:
No puede pagar el pago total del alquiler debido a los ingresos del hogar, la pérdida de horas de trabajo o salarios compensables, despidos o gastos médicos extraordinarios de su bolsillo.
Sus ingresos son menos de $99,000 anuales por persona o $198,000 por pareja.
Está haciendo todo lo posible para realizar pagos parciales puntuales que se acerquen tanto al pago total como lo permitan sus circunstancias.
Ha hecho todo lo posible para obtener toda la asistencia gubernamental disponible para alquiler o vivienda.
Si lo desalojan, se quedará sin hogar o tendrá que mudarse con otras personas cercanas.
¿Cómo reclamo protección bajo la Moratoria Temporal de Desalojo?
Para reclamar la protección contra el desalojo, todos los inquilinos adultos deben firmar una declaración que incluye su acuerdo de pagar los atrasos de alquiler acumulados después del 31 de diciembre de 2020.
¿Por qué podría preocuparme firmar una declaración como inmigrante?
A un inmigrante se le puede negar una visa, el estatus de residente permanente legal o el reingreso a los EE. UU. (como un residente permanente) si es probable que se convierta en una carga pública. La carga pública se define como alguien que depende principalmente del gobierno para su subsistencia.
Porque no DEBO preocuparme por firmar la declaración a pesar de que soy un inmigrante?
Obtener ayuda bajo la Moratoria de Desalojo Temporal no es considerado dinero en efectivo u otra asistencia financiera que pueda contarse en su contra como un beneficio federal para la prueba de carga pública.
El límite de ingresos para la moratoria federal es sustancialmente más alto que el límite de ingresos para la prueba de carga pública. Cuando declara que sus ingresos no superan los $ 99,000 / $ 198,000 anuales, no admite que sus ingresos estén por debajo del 125% de la línea de pobreza federal (Ingresos anuales de $ 32,750 para una familia de 4) y, por lo tanto, no pone en peligro su solicitud de inmigración
¿Es concebible que mi solicitud de inmigración pueda ser negada por firmar una declaración declarando que no puedo pagar el alquiler?
Es concebible pero muy improbable y definitivamentedebería haber una impugnación i legal contra una determinación de carga pública basado en esto.
Recuerde que la carga pública NO APLICA a:
Asilados o refugiados
Renovación de su permiso de residencia
TPS, Visa U o Visa T
Estado de DACA o renovación de DACA
Estado Especial de Inmigrante Juvenil
Ley de Violencia Contra la Mujer (VAWA)
Inmigrantes que ya tienen Residencia Permanente
Comuníquese con Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy para hablar con alguien sobre sus opciones.
Línea en español 800-247-1931
¿Ha Perdido Su Trabajo O Esta Trabajando Menos Horas Por COVID-19?
¡El Centro de Apoyo Legal de Charlotte y Asistencia Legal de Carolina del Norte estan aquí para ayudarle!
Hay 5 formas en que le podemos ayudar a usted y a su familia a mantenerse estable:
1. Beneficios de Desempleo:
Debe aplicar para recibir beneficios de desempleo lo más pronto posible. Puede aplicar por internet en la página web, des.nc.gov o puede llamar a 1-888-737-0259. Si no puede hablar con alguien enseguida, siga intentándolo y documente todos sus intentos.
Recuerde completar las certificaciones semanales en la página web des.nc.gov o llamando todas las semanas al 1-888-737-0259, incluso si su aplicación no ha sido aprobada todavía o si ha sido descalificado para beneficios y ha sometido una apelación.
Si trabaja por su cuenta propia, no ha trabajado recientemente o está aplicando para recibir o ya recibe beneficios por incapacidad, usted puede ser elegible para recibir beneficios de desempleo si no tiene trabajo o esta impedido para trabajar debido al COVID-19. Esto incluye a padres que tienen que quedarse en casa porque los niños no están en la escuela.
Durante esta emergencia, la cantidad de beneficios de desempleo ha aumentado a $600 semanales hasta el 31 de julio del 2020. También puede recibir los beneficios por más semanas.
Inmigrantes con autorización de empleo pueden ser elegibles para recibir beneficios de desempleo. Desafortunadamente, inmigrantes indocumentados no son elegibles.
Llame al Proyecto de Seguro de Desempleo en Respuesta a COVID-19 del Centro de Apoyo Legal de Charlotte al 980-256-3979 si tiene preguntas sobre beneficios de desempleo, ha tenido dificultades aplicando o le ha sido negado los beneficios.
2. Pagos de Estímulo
La mayoría de la gente debe recibir un pago de estímulo del IRS (Servicios de Ingreso Interno) de $1,200 por cada adulto y $500 por cada niño menor de 17 años. Puede recibir este pago incluso si no tiene la obligación de presentar una declaración de sus impuestos.
Tiene que ser autorizado para trabajar en los Estados Unidos para ser elegible para recibir estos pagos. Típicamente, esto significa que usted tiene un número de seguro social que es válido para empleo. Desafortunadamente, esto significa que muchos inmigrantes pueden no ser elegibles para recibir un pago de estímulo.
Si no ha recibido su pago, llame a la línea de impuestos del Centro de Apoyo Legal de Charlotte al 980-202-7329
3. Desalojo, Juicios Hipotecarios, Servicios Cortados y Pagos de Préstamos Estudiantiles
Usted no puede ser desalojado por su propietario o tener su casa embargada hasta que tenga una audiencia en la corte. Estas audiencias están aplazadas por lo menos hasta junio del 2020.
Si usted tiene un préstamo de hipoteca con una entidad del gobierno como Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, VA, USDA, FHA o Home Equity Conversion mortgage (“Hipoteca Inversa”), puede tener derecho a dos periodos de 180 días de gracia para sus pagos hipotecarios sin tarifas por pagos atrasados.
Se prohíbe la desconexión de servicios, incluyendo electricidad, gas y agua para las personas que no pueden pagar durante la pandemia de COVID-19. También está prohibido cobrar tarifas, multas o interés por pagos atrasados hasta junio. Clientes residenciales tienen por lo menos seis meses para pagar facturas pendientes.
Algunos préstamos estudiantiles pueden ser suspendidos hasta septiembre del 2020.
Es posible que el Centro de Apoyo Legal de Charlotte y Asistencia Legal de NC puede ayudarle a prevenir su desalojo, juicios hipotecarios o desconexión de servicios. Llámenos al 704-376-1600.
4. Seguro Médico
Usted y sus hijos pueden ser elegibles para Medicaid.
Si no puede conseguir Medicaid, es posible que pueda inscribirse para cobertura en el Mercado de seguros/Obamacare con ayuda financiera si ha perdido su seguro médico o si ha tenido cambios en circunstancias recientemente. Tiene 60 días después de la pérdida del seguro o cambio en circunstancias para inscribirse.
Si ya está inscrito en el Mercado de seguros/Obamacare y no puede hacer sus pagos mensuales es posible que pueda calificar para primas más bajas.
El proyecto de navegadores de seguro médico del Centrol de Apoyo Legal de Charlotte puede ayudarle encontrar las mejores y más asequibles opciones de cobertura/seguro médico para usted y su familia. Podemos ayudarle a llenar una aplicación, actualizar su cobertura del Mercado de seguros/Obamacare o contestar preguntas que tenga usted o su familia. También podemos ayudarle si le han negado seguro o servicios. ¡Llame al 980-256-3782 para programar una cita gratis por teléfono hoy!
5. Asistencia con Comida
Puede ser elegible para estampillas de comida. La cantidad de beneficios de estampillas de comida ha aumentado y los límites de tiempo/requisitos de empleo han sido eliminados para algunas personas durante la pandemia del coronavirus.
Centrol de Apoyo Legal de Charlotte le puede ayudar a aplicar para estampillas de comida por teléfono. También podemos ayudar si le niegan la aplicación. Nuestra ayuda es gratis. Llámenos al 980-256-3782.
Hasta familias que no son elegibles para estampillas de comida recibirán una tarjeta de EBT por correo que puede ser usada para comprar comida si sus hijos califican para comida gratis o a bajo precio en la escuela. Su estatus inmigratorio no afecta su elegibilidad para recibir este beneficio. Si no recibe esta tarjeta, llámenos a 704-376-1600.
Familias sin ingreso también pueden recibir asistencia en efectivo para sus hijos de Servicios Sociales bajo el programa de Work First. La cantidad de beneficios de Work First han sido aumentados y los requisitos de empleo han sido eliminados durante la pandemia. Puede aplicar por teléfono si llama a Servicios Sociales al 704-336-3000. Si le niegan la aplicación o no puede aplicar, llámenos al 704-376-1600.
COVID-19 Updates: Home Preservation
Rent and Utility Assistance: Charlotte City Council recently approved an additional $8 million dollars of CARE’s Act funding to allow the expansion of the current Rent and Mortgage Assistance Program (RAMP Charlotte). This program includes rent and utility relief for tenants, long-term hotel guests, homeowners with mortgages, and hotel and property managers. Individuals who earn 80 percent or below the Area Media Income (AMI) who face a COVID-19 hardship and cannot make housing payments can apply for rent or mortgage assistance.
The Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) Program is a new statewide initiative that may provide rent and utility assistance to eligible low- and moderate-income renters experiencing financial hardship due to the economic effects of COVID-19. HOPE will provide rent and utility assistance for renters that:
Have been affected by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic
Have a household income that is 80% of the area median income or lower
Occupy the rental property as their primary home, and
Are behind on their rent or utilities when they apply.
General Evictions: (September 10th) Evictions proceedings can and are taking place in Mecklenburg county. However, the federal government, through the Center for Disease Control, has announced a temporary halt on evictions through December 31, 2020 to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Under the order, landlords and property owners are prohibited from evicting certain tenants impacted by COVID-19. Learn more about the order and qualifications here.
Additionally, according to Gov. Cooper’s executive order, your landlord is required to give you six months to pay rent owed between May 30th and June 20th, 2020. During the six-month period, your landlord cannot move to evict you based on non-payment of the June rent. This does not prevent the landlord to for moving to evict a tenant for a reason other than non-payment. Additionally, a landlord may be able to evict a tenant for rent that is owed prior to May 30th.
The Order’s evictions moratorium:
Would prevent landlords from initiating summary ejections or other eviction proceedings against a tenant for nonpayment or late payment of rent;
Prevents landlords from assessing late fees or other penalties for late or nonpayment;
Prevents the accumulation of additional interest, fees, or other penalties for existing late fees while this Order is in effect;
Requires landlords to give tenants a minimum of six months to pay outstanding rent;
Requires leases to be modified to disallow evicting tenants for reasons of late or nonpayments; and
Makes clear that evictions for reasons related to health and safety can take place.
Utilities: (July 30th)Gov. Cooper’s moratorium on utility shutoffs ended July 29th, 2020. Some utility companies can nowbegin the process to shut off your utilities (water, gas, and electric) for non-payment.Phone and internet access were not included in the moratorium against utility shut offs.
Gov. Cooper’s utility shutoff moratorium still:
Prohibits billing or collection of late fees, penalties, and other charges for failure to pay for utility bills owed from March 31st to July 29th, 2020; and
Extends repayment plans at least six months, and sets the default term for repayment to six months for cases when the utility and customer cannot agree on the terms of an extended repayment plan.
Read more about the Gov. Cooper’s moratorium on utility shutoffs.
However, the NC Utility Commission has ordered all utility companies under its jurisdiction to not resume disconnections before September 1st, 2020. This effectively extends the moratorium on utility shut offs for one month for some, but not all, companies and NC residents. This order also extends the grace period for repayment of utilities owed from six to twelve months, doubling Gov. Cooper’s order. This includes utility providers such as Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas but does not include municipal or county systems.
Click here for a list of utility providers under the NC Utility Commission’s jurisdiction. Read more about the NC Utility Commission’s extension.
Evictions from hotels/motels: (April 3) N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein is protecting residents who live in hotels or motels as their primary residence from being evicted by reminding businesses that they need to follow the law by not allowing self-help remedies such as changing the locks in order to evict a tenant. New eviction proceedings are on hold in N.C. courts (see below). Stein reminded businesses that trying to evict guests without a court order is a violation of N.C. landlord-tenant and consumer protection laws.
Eviction and Foreclosure in N.C. Courts: From the Office of the Clerk of Superior Court, Mecklenburg County: “Given ongoing concerns about COVID-19, a soft reopening of Mecklenburg County Courts will begin on June 1, 2020. Mecklenburg County Courts will employ a phased-in-approach in which courtroom operations will expand based on priorities set forth by Chief Justice Beasley.
recently started to conduct foreclosure hearings:
your loan is federally-backed, you should contact the attorney handling the
foreclosure and tell them about the foreclosure protection through August 31,
2020. Plan to attend the hearing
unless you are told it is being continued.
If you have requested a Forbearance and get a hearing
notice, contact the foreclosure attorney and let them know and tell the Court
hearing officer that you have a forbearance.
If you have health issues, contact the Court and
the attorney handling the foreclosure right away about continuing the hearing. You cannot enter the Courthouse with any
Contact CCLA Consumer Protection Program with
questions or concerns at 704-376-1600.
What to Know about
Mortgages and Mortgage Relief: (July 15th)
Pay Your Mortgage if You Can Afford It
Payments skipped will still become due. Depending upon your mortgage, you may not be
happy with the repayment options offered; in some cases you may have to pay a
large lump sum. Also, mortgage companies
will make a mistake when processing repayment plans – these errors can be very
difficult to fix.
If you Cannot Pay your Mortgage, there may be relief
Not all mortgages qualify for the same payment
relief. See below.
Requesting a Forbearance is better than letting your
loan go into default. Once in default,
other fees begin to accumulate on the account.
Under federal law, the foreclosure process
cannot start until you are more than 120 days past due. COVID forbearances/moratoriums may extend
that time for certain mortgages.
“Federally-backed” mortgages have certain rights under
the federal CARES Act
What Loans Are Federally Backed?
FHA/HUD mortgages and HECM Reverse Mortgages
FHA loans, that may be indicated on your
mortgage statement. Or, check the first page of your closing documents from
when you bought the house (HUD-1 statement).
A list of federal loan agencies, their
policies, and contact information is here
What rights do homeowners with “federally-backed”
First, your lender or loan servicer may not
foreclose on you until at least August 31, 2020. The CARES Act
and guidance from Fannie/Freddie, FHA, VA, and USDA, prohibit mortgage
companies from beginning a foreclosure, or from finalizing a foreclosure judgment
or sale. This protection began on March 18, 2020, and extends through at
least August 31, 2020. CFPB
Federally-backed mortgage companies must provide
a Forbearance, if requested, due to financial hardship experienced
during the COVID-19 emergency period.
You should not have to provide additional documents other than the
request affirming your hardship.
Forbearance plans provide borrowers with payment relief for up to
12-months and suspend borrower late charges and penalties. It also suspends
reporting to credit bureaus of past due payments of borrowers who are in a
forbearance plan as a result of COVID-19 hardships..
You are eligible even if your loan was
delinquent before the COVID emergency. If you have experienced a hardship
during the COVID emergency, the forbearance should be granted once requested.
All forbearance payments will have to be paid
back. Do not ask for one if you do not
A forbearance must be granted up to 180
days. Then a borrower can request
another 180 days.
Additional assistance available to homeowners
with “federally backed” mortgages:
Through its Disaster Response Network, Fannie Mae also offers additional
help to homeowners with a Fannie Mae-owned mortgage,, including:
A needs assessment and
personalized recovery plan;
Help requesting financial
relief from insurance, servicers, and other sources; and
Web resources and ongoing
guidance from experienced disaster relief advisors
Homeowners can find out if they have a Fannie Mae-owned mortgage
and access to the Disaster Response Network here.
What if I don’t have a federally-backed mortgage but
still have a financial hardship?
Contact your mortgage company as soon as
possible. Many private mortgage
companies are also granting forbearances.
Try by phone, or on the online website if you cannot get through.
Make sure you ask about and understand the
repayment options at the end of the forbearance. Ask that it be sent to you in writing.
Ask for assistance in writing about the
repayment and loss mitigation options available to you if you do not have a
Contact a free HUD-housing Counselor. Never pay up front for mortgage
assistance. Make sure any housing
counselor is HUD-certified here: HUD free
counselors and info
What about property taxes and homeowner’s insurance?
your account is escrowed (meaning the taxes and insurance are paid through your
mortgage payment, the mortgage company should continue to pay them during the forbearance.
Borrowers who do not
have an escrow account should continue to pay their property taxes,
insurance, HOA fees, and other home-related items directly, if possible.
Problems with COVID Forbearances or other mortgage company
Borrowers who believe they have
been improperly denied a forbearance or have other problems with their
servicer should submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection
Bureau using its complaint portal.
whose mortgage companies are regulated by the North Carolina Commissioner of
Banks can file a complaint here NCCOB
U.S. Census: The U.S. Census count is still underway though the U.S. Census Bureau has adjusted 2020 Census operations to accommodate participation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Changes include:
Self-Response deadline (online, mail, phone) has been moved to October 15.
Door-to-door counts by Census workers has ended.
Respondents are urged to respond to the count online if possible.
Jury trials in Mecklenburg County will resume the week of November 16th. You should have received updated court dates or jury summons if applicable to your situation. (October 21)
N.C. Courts delay cases, will reopen June 1, 2020: (May 21) Chief Justice Cheri Beasley issues an order outlining how courts will expand operations after June 1 and new procedures that will go into effect. Read the order.
(May 20) From the Office of the Clerk of Superior Court, Mecklenburg County: “Given ongoing concerns about COVID-19, a soft reopening of Mecklenburg County Courts will begin on June 1, 2020. Mecklenburg County Courts will employ a phased-approach in which courtroom operations will expand based on priorities set forth by Chief Justice Beasley.
Mecklenburg County Courts will implement safety protocols to restrict the number of courts operating and the number of occupants in the courtrooms. Such protocols are necessary to ensure the safety of court personnel, court partners and the public.
Court docket sizes will be significantly reduced and Court partners and litigants should expect some delay in the scheduling of court matters.”
(April 3) N.C. Chief Justice Cherie Beasley issued an order postponing court cases to June 1.
Domestic violence hearings for protective orders
If the proceeding can be conducted remotely
Cases where there is a constitutional or statutory right to an immediate hearing.
(March 16) North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cherie Beasley directed local courts to postpone most cases in district and superior court for at least 30 days beginning March 17, 2020. Exceptions include:
Domestic violence hearings for protective orders
Cases with trials already in progress
Cases where there is a constitutional or statutory right to an immediate hearing.
Updated Mecklenburg County Courthouse Operations Schedule: (March 26) EnglishEspañol
CATS Service: (March 25) CATS will make modifications to transit service to accommodate the current demand. By operating modified service, CATS will continue providing the community access to essential daily needs, front-line jobs and medical services. All service will be FREE during this time. These changes are effective until further notice. Read more.
Unemployment Insurance Executive Order: (March 17) N.C. Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order to expand unemployment benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19. The order lifts some restrictions on unemployment benefits to help workers unemployed due to COVID-19 and those who are employed but will not receive a paycheck. Additionally, it adds benefit eligibility for those out of work because they have the virus or must care for someone who is sick.
For example, workers who lose income due to tips or scheduled work hours, but are still employed, would be eligible for benefits because of this Executive Order. Among other changes:
It removes the one-week waiting period to apply for unemployment payment for those workers who lose their jobs;
It removes the requirement that a person must be actively looking for another job during this time when many potential employers are closed and social distancing guidelines are in effect.
It allows employees who lose their jobs or, in certain cases have their hours reduced due to Covid-19 to apply for unemployment benefits.
It directs that employers will not be held responsible for benefits paid as a direct result of these COVID-19 claims.
It waives the requirement that people must apply for benefits in person; workers can apply for benefits online or by phone.
Public utilities, internet service will remain available to some customers: (July 29) The N.C. Utilities Commission put out an order suspending service disconnections during COVID-19 outbreak until September 1st, 2020 to ensure residents maintain access to water, power and gas. Click here to read more.
Mecklenburg Clerk of Court Adjusts Hours: (March 16) The Mecklenburg County Clerk of Superior Court’s Office will reduce hours of operation and staff availability. They will be open to the public Monday through Friday, between 9 am and noon. This scheduled change will be in effect for at least the next 30 days. Read more.
COVID-19 Updates: Healthcare Access and Public Benefits
Healthcare Access and Public Benefits
From our Family Support & Health Care team: Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s Family Support and Health Care team is working to ensure family stability through fair access to vital healthcare and public services during this period of uncertainty.
We are particularly focused on the most vulnerable groups in our community who often do not have access to these services: children, seniors, people living with disabilities, immigrants and their families. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is monitoring the situation to make sure residents continue to have uninterrupted access to benefits and healthcare during the COVID-19 outbreak. Anyone experiencing issues should contact us by calling 704-376-1600.
Health Insurance Navigator Services still available by phone: The Advocacy Center’s Health Insurance Navigators are still available for phone appointments to help consumers understand their health coverage options and assist them with the following:
Marketplace applications (Affordable Care Act)
Food Stamp (SNAP) applications
Issues accessing care through private insurance or Medicaid
Navigators can help people complete their applications online by phone.
To schedule a FREE appointment:
go online to ncnavigator.net, Local navigator appointments are available online under zip code 28204 listed as “Phone Appointment with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.”
call the statewide appointments hotline 1-855-733-3711,
call our new Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy Navigator direct line at 980-256-3782.
Navigators are also available to assist clients needing to communicate with Mecklenburg County DSS, specifically with the Office of Consumer Advocacy, to help them address with any barriers they may be experiencing regarding access to healthcare or food stamps.
Qualifying for Health Insurance through Special Enrollment Periods during COVID-19: As a reminder, many individuals may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to enroll in Marketplace health coverage outside of Open Enrollment if they have had recently experienced any of the following: marriage, permanent move, changes in immigration status, release from incarceration, adding a family member (birth, adoption, placement for foster care), increase income (from below 100% to over 100% of the Federal Poverty Level), and loss of coverage,
SEPs are generally life changes that affect your access to health coverage and enrollment must be done within 60 days of the change. However, due to COVID-19, the enrollment period has been expanded to include anyone who has experienced any of the above life changing events since January 1st, 2020. If you lost your employment and healthcare coverage from any time beginning January 1st, 2020, you are eligible to enroll in Marketplace health coverage even if the initial 60 day SEP has passed. Read more.
Individuals interested in applying for Medicaid can do so all year around and do not need an SEP.
While our government and healthcare systems are expanding access to testing for the uninsured, enrollment in a Marketplace plan can cover any additional associated costs such as a hospitalization and provide peace of mind for consumers during this tense time.
Access to Medicaid during COVID-19: (April 1)
During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, states must NOT terminate Medicaid eligibility except for:
if the beneficiary moves out of the state.
if the beneficiary voluntarily requests termination of Medicaid benefits.
North Carolina County Departments of Social Services must accept self-attestation for all eligibility criteria except citizenship and immigration status, when documentation and/or electronic sources are not available.
Individuals who must pay an enrollment fee for NC Health Choice or an enrollment fee and/or premium for Health Care for Workers with Disabilities (HCWD) will be exempt from that requirement until further notice.
N.C. Medicaid Program expands access to telemedicine: (March 23) Medicaid is temporarily modifying its Telemedicine and Telepsychiatry Clinical Coverage Policies to better enable the delivery of remote care to Medicaid beneficiaries. In addition to telephone conversations and secure electronic messaging, the modifications will include the use of two-way real-time interactive audio and video to provide and support physical and behavioral health care when participants are in different physical locations. Read more.
N.C. requests waivers for Medicaid program: (March 23)
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved NC’s 1135 waiver request to allow for more flexibility in providing healthcare access, such as:
providing services in alternative settings;
extending the amount of time individuals have to request a Medicaid fair hearing for fee-for-service eligibility and service appeal requests;
temporarily suspending prior authorization requirements for medically necessary services provided through the fee-for-service delivery system, and
faster application and enrollment processes for health care professionals to provide care to Medicaid beneficiaries.
(March 18) The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has requested waivers from the federal government to ensure uninterrupted services for the state’s Medicaid beneficiaries. The waiver request includes measure to:
– streamline the enrollment process
– waive limits on access to hospital beds and lengths of stay in the hospital
– waive restrictions to expand alternatives to institutionalized care, such as in-home care services
Access to healthcare for immigrants and their families: (March 18)
According to the National Immigration Law Center, our national partner:
The Families First Act provides additional funding to pay for coronavirus testing for anyone who is uninsured. The funding will pay for testing at community health centers, outpatient clinics, and doctors’ offices.
Immigrants can continue to access services at community health centers, regardless of their immigration status, and at a reduced cost or free of charge depending on their income. However, people should call first to find out the availability of COVID-19 screening and testing. Health centers may do patient assessments over the phone or using telehealth.
Eligibility for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces has not changed.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently posted an alert clarifying that it will not consider testing, treatment, or preventive care (including vaccines if a vaccine becomes available) related to COVID-19 in a public charge inadmissibility determination, even if the health care services are covered by Medicaid.
Changes to N.C. food stamp certification periods: (March 18) The N.C. Office Economic and Family Services announced plans to extend the state’s Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) certification periods for all cases that have certification periods ending March 31 or April 30, 2020, with the exception of Simplified Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamp) cases. Automatic extension will alleviate the need for FNS households to leave their homes to mail or deliver their re-certification forms or to retrieve required verification, reducing potential exposure to COVID-19.
Mecklenburg County DSS offices closed to the public: (March 17) Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy just learned that Mecklenburg County is closing its Department of Social Services (DSS) offices to the public as of tomorrow, March 18, and will be conducting all business via telephone and mail.
At Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s urging, DSS has agreed to honor the date of phone calls as date of application for applicants, to not terminate benefits missed deadlines, to allow late appeals, and to post clear signage in front of their buildings outlining this information.
Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is monitoring the situation to make sure residents continue to have uninterrupted access to benefits during the COVID-19 outbreak. Anyone experiencing issues should contact us by calling 704-376-1600.
From our Immigrant Justice Team: Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is open through the COVID-19 crisis and will continue to accept new immigration cases for representation. Our focus continues to be on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and asylum cases, but we will consider other categories of immigration relief on a case-by-case basis. Please call 800-247-1931 to determine whether we can assist you.
Here is what we know about how the COVID-19 crisis will affect immigration matters in the near future:
Charlotte’s immigration court is closed: Unless otherwise specified, hearings in non-detained cases at all other immigration courts, including Charlotte, are postponed through, and including, September 11, 2020. Non-detainee hearings will resume on September 14, 2020 in Charlotte’s immigration court.
Charlotte’s Immigration Court is still only open for filings at this point.
The Executive Office for Immigration Reviews has announced that the 800 toll-free number that individuals can normally can call to check for hearing information may not be updated and should not be relied upon. The Advocacy Center is monitoring this situation and will update this page as soon as information becomes available.
ICE Check-Ins: (March 19) Individuals with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) check-ins should be contacted by an ICE officer to check in by phone—instead of in person—on their next scheduled report date. The phone number to call for the Charlotte Enforcement and Removal Office is 843-746-2857.
USCIS Field Offices: (July 30) USCIS since June 4, 2020, resumed non-emergency face-to-face services to the public USCIS has enacted precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in reopened facilities. Appointment notices will include further instructions for visiting USCIS facilities. USCIS locations are not accepting walk-in visits at this time.
The Charlotte Field Office will send notices to applicants and petitions with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by the closure. USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. USCIS will provide emergency services for limited situations. To schedule an emergency appointment, individuals should contact the USCIS Contact Center. Read more.
El Centro de apoyo estará abierto durante la crisis de COVID-19 y seguirá aceptando nuevos casos de inmigración que requieran de representación. Nuestro enfoque seguirá siendo casos de Estatus de Inmigrante Juvenil Especial y casos de asilo, pero consideraremos otros tipos de casos inmigratorios dependiendo de cada caso. Por favor llame a la línea de español ( 800-247-1931) para determinar si le podemos ayudar.
Esto es lo que sabemos sobre cómo la crisis del COVID-19 afectará asuntos de inmigración en el futuro cercano:
La Corte de Inmigración de Charlotte es cerrada: A menos que se especifique lo contrario, las audiencias en los casos no detenidos en todos los demás tribunales de inmigración, incluido Charlotte, se posponen hasta el viernes 11 de Septiembre de 2020. Las audiencias de no detenidos se reanudarán el 14 de septiembre de 2020 en la corte de inmigración de Charlotte.
La Corte de Inmigración de Charlotte todavía está abierta para presentaciones en este momento.
La Oficina Ejecutiva de Revisión de Casos de Inmigración ha anunciado que el número gratuito, al que normalmente puede llamar para averiguar información sobre su próxima audiencia, no va a estar actualizado y no debe confiar en la información que le dé. El centro de apoyo legal está monitoreando esta situación y vamos a actualizar esta página una vez la información correcta esté disponible.
Si tiene que registrarse con Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) debe ser contactado por un oficial de ICE para registrarse por teléfono – en vez de en persona – en su próxima fecha de reporte agendada. El número al que puede llamar para contactarse con la Oficina de Aplicación y Remoción de Charlotte es 843-746-2857.
Los Servicios de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de Estados Unidos (“USCIS”) USCIS desde el 4 de junio de 2020 reanudó los servicios cara a cara que no son de emergencia para el público. USCIS ha tomado precauciones para evitar la propagación de COVID-19 en las instalaciones reabiertas. Los avisos de citas incluirán más instrucciones para visitar las instalaciones de USCIS. Las ubicaciones de USCIS no aceptan visitas sin cita en este momento.
La oficina de USCIS en Charlotte mandará notificación a todos los solicitantes con citas programadas y ceremonias de ciudadanía impactados por el cierre. Las Oficinas de USCIS de asilo mandarán notificaciones de cancelación de entrevistas y reprogramarán automáticamente las entrevistas de asilo. USCIS proveerá servicios de emergencia para situaciones limitadas. Para programar una cita de emergencia, debe comunicarse con el Centro de Contacto de USCIS. Lee mas
We are living in an unprecedented moment, trying to adjust to a situation that continues to evolve. Life in our community has completely changed in a matter of days—so much so that it’s been hard to keep track of everything that has happened.
We’re here to help.
As a champion for those in need, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is committed to serving our community during this pandemic and beyond. Anyone needing assistance can contact us by calling 704-376-1600 (Mecklenburg County), 800-438-1254 (Outside Meckelenburg County) or 800-247-1931 (Linea de Español).
You can find updates for how our offices are operating during COVID-19 here as well as a community resource guide for Cabarrus, Mecklenburg and Union counties.
From our N.C. Low-Income Tax Clinic team: Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s North Carolina Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic is available to help taxpayers experiencing problems with the IRS, trying to understand changes to tax season and any other developments resulting from COVID-19. We are currently working all tax cases by mail and phone, while monitoring policy changes at the federal and state level. Anyone with questions can contact us by phone (704-376-1600) or online.
Need assistance with paying your property tax? The Charlotte-Mecklenburg HOMES program reduces the total amount of taxes due for a qualifying recipient’s primary residence. The amount granted will be equal to up to 25% of the Mecklenburg County tax amount on the last available tax bill, rounded to the nearest dollar, not to exceed $440. To learn more about eligibility and how to apply, click here.
IRS closes e-service help lines: (March 27) The IRS is closing its e-service help phone lines as well as help desks for filing returns electronically and Affordable Care Act information returns until further notice. The IRS is also unable to answer questions about stimulus payments currently. Taxpayers with questions can still call 1-800-829-1040 to get tax questions answered between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. local time.
This announcement does not affect taxpayers’ ability to file their taxes by mail or online, and collections from the IRS are still mostly suspended.
IRS announces People First Initiative: (March 25) The IRS announced it will be adjusting procedures to “ease the burden on people facing tax issues” during the COVID-19 outbreak. These new changes include issues ranging from postponing certain payments related to Installment Agreements and Offers in Compromise to collection and limiting certain enforcement actions. The IRS will be temporarily modifying procedures as soon as possible; the projected start date will be April 1, and the effort will initially run through July 15. During this period, to the maximum extent possible, the IRS will avoid in-person contacts. However, the IRS will continue to take steps where necessary to protect all applicable statutes of limitations. Read more.
Tax Day deadline pushed back 90 days to July 15 for Federal and State Taxes: (March 20) The U.S. Treasury has moved the deadline to file federal income taxes from April 15 to July 15. Now taxpayers have until July 15 to file and pay.
North Carolina has since announced that it will also move its deadline to July 15. However, due to the state’s tax statute, people who do not pay their taxes by April 15 will begin to accrue interest on their taxes. This interest will not apply if taxpayers make payments by the July 15 deadline. Read more.
Free Filing for Taxes is still available: (March 20) Taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is $69,000 or less with access to a computer, cell phone, and internet can go to the IRS Free File site, choose a third-party preparer and file their taxes for free: apps.irs.gov/app/freeFile/
From our Consumer Protection team: Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy has been working with our state, local and national partners to help the most vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Advocacy Center continues to fight for vulnerable consumers to protect them from financial exploitation. In these uncertain times, our attorneys and paralegals can help protect you and your loved ones from scammers who want to make a quick buck.
People are understandably worried about losing their jobs, income, health care and the problems that will cause with every aspect of their financial lives from their ability to pay bills to the effect the crisis will have on their health and credit. There are several bills working their way through Congress now to provide relief to consumers. As we get new information about new consumer legislation protecting and providing for consumers, we’ll post it here.
In the meantime, be cautious when dealing with people who promise something that sounds too good to be true. Some things to watch out for:
Price gouging: From bare shelves to outrageous prices for basic products, people are trying to make a quick buck from the coronavirus crisis. If you think a merchant is price gouging, report the business to the N.C. Attorney General’s office. They can investigate and shut down any scammers, if necessary.
Phony cures: Scammers promise to sell you a product or service that will prevent or cure the coronavirus, or, offer to sell you a product they don’t have.
Fake charities: Say they will donate to affected communities, but will pocket the money instead.
Door-to-door sales: Be cautious of anyone who comes to your door offering to sell you something. Don’t sign anything presented to you by someone that contacts you first. Take your time to read any paperwork and let someone else review any document before you sign it.
Bogus “official communications” emails from government agencies: These emails could say they are from federal and state governments, Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). These emails will have the look and feel of an official memo, and purport to contain “important information” or maps relating to the COVID-19 outbreak, in an attachment; or other calls to action that involve opening a file or clicking on a link. Instead, the files or links lead to key-loggers, bogus web sites that try to capture personal information, or ransomware.
“Coronavirus Tracker” Apps: These appear as an ad or link for a free download of a mobile app that claims to provide real-time updates of COVID-19 outbreaks, mapped against your location. But instead of an app, the download contains a ransomware payload.
And, remember, if you fall behind on your mortgage, rent or other bills, there may be some relief available to you. To learn more, view our Home Preservation updates page. Contact Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s Consumer Protection Program if you think you are being taken advantage of or need information about a consumer matter.
Student Loan Payments Deferred: (August 24) The Trump administration announced that student loan payments can be paused until December 31st, 2020 with no accrued interest if the borrower will call and make a request from their loan servicer. Those who still want to make their payments can do so. These payments would apply directly to the principal balance, which may allow some borrowers to pay off their loan more quickly. Read more.