Covid-19 Frequently Asked Legal Questions & Resources
During these rapidly changing times, we offer the following Covid-related resources from our staff and from our community partners throughout Ohio. Additional topics of interest are available on our Resources page. This is general information and not legal advice. The law is complex and changes frequently. Before you apply any information to a particular situation, call Pro Seniors’ Free Legal Helpline or consult an attorney. Call 513-345-4160, 800-488-6070, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Pro Seniors’ Legal Helpline:
If you’re 60 or over and live in Ohio, please call Pro Seniors’ Legal Helpline for advice and information on your specific situation. If you are not eligible for Pro Seniors’ helpline, you may find help from one of our Legal Aid partners around Ohio.
Are you a Hamilton County resident in Ohio? If you meet the income eligibility, you may qualify for water debt forgiveness. CLICK here for application form. Learn more about this program at: www.cincinnati-oh.gov
Stimulus Payments Cannot Be Garnished:
Are you eligible to receive the second stimulus payment? Learn the status of your payment on the IRS.gov website.
Debt collectors, creditors, or financial institutions cannot take your stimulus check to settle a debt. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost issued a statement that stimulus payments are protected under Ohio law. If your stimulus payment is seized, call Pro Seniors or your local Legal Aid for information on how to appeal.
This “Economic Impact Payment” will NOT be counted as income for benefit eligibility for 12 months from the date it is received.
“Section 2201 of the CARES Act allows a refundable tax credit for 2020 to eligible individuals. It also directs the Internal Revenue Service to provide payments in 2020 as an advance refund of the credit to eligible individuals, called “Recovery Rebates.” The payments are not taxable income, and are therefore not countable in MAGI-based eligibility determinations. Separately, 26 U.S.C. § 6409 prohibits the counting of federal tax rebates or advance payments with respect to refundable tax credits as income, and, for 12 months following receipt, resources, in the eligibility determination of any federal needs-based program (such as Medicaid). Thus, the Recovery Rebates may not be counted as income, and, for 12 months, as resources, in non-MAGI financial eligibility determinations.“
If you receive notice that the stimulus payment makes you ineligible for your benefits, call Pro Seniors or your local Legal Aid for information on how to appeal.
If you are on Medicaid and living in a nursing home or assisted living community, the facility can’t take your stimulus payments.
This new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) blog explains why and includes links to supporting law, and tells how to report to your state attorney general and the FTC. Learn more.
Consumers can receive free weekly credit reports
Due to the anxiety consumers are facing with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, you can now choose to receive free weekly credit reports online through www.annualcreditreport.com. You may choose to receive the reports from one, two or all three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The weekly reports will be free for all consumers through April 2021.
Nursing Home & Assisted Living Visits
Recent updates for visitation requirements for nursing homes and assisted living facilities continue to include that visitors (1) schedule appointments in advance, (2) are screened at the door, and (3) wear masks.
Changes to the visitation orders from the Ohio Department of Health include:
- Ohio is requiring that visitation be permitted whenever safety protocols can be met. Previously, visitation was permitted, not required.
- Vaccinated residents may have physical touch with their visitor while wearing a mask. Previously, touch was discouraged.
- Visits may occur in a resident’s private room, as opposed to the previous requirement of a separate visitation area.
- 30 minutes should serve as the minimum amount of time for a visit. Previously, 30 minutes was the maximum time to visit.
Read the latest amended orders here:
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently issued a fact sheet about visits – you can read it here. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has also published a helpful fact sheet. When you visit, consider these tips from the National Consumer Voice. If you have questions about visiting a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living in southwest Ohio, contact the ombudsman.
Prepare for a Medical Emergency – Your Legal Documents
Why Are these Documents Important? (Informational videos from Ohio Legal Help Line / Legal Aid of Western Ohio)
Court Changes and Contact Information
Housing & Consumer Protection
News: Temporary Halt on Evictions – extends the current order temporarily halting residential evictions until at least March 31, 2021.
Utility Disconnection – when can medical certification provide a waiver for disconnection?
I’m under age 60. Who can help me?
If you have a disabling condition, regardless of your age or your income you may contact Disability Rights Ohio which acts for the human, civil, and legal rights of people with disabilities in Ohio.
If you are low-income, you may find help from one of our Legal Aid partners around Ohio who advocate for low-income individuals and families. Find My Local Legal Aid
Community Legal Aid serves low-income individuals and families in central northeast Ohio, including Columbiana, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull and Wayne counties.
Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati & Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio serve low-income individuals and families in Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton, Highland and Warren counties in Southwest Ohio.
Legal Aid Society of Cleveland serves low-income individuals and families in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Lorain counties.
Legal Aid Society of Columbus serves low-income individuals and families living in living in Columbus and Central Ohio.
Southeastern Ohio Legal Aid Services serves low-income individuals and families in Adams, Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Coshocton, Fairfield, Fayette, Galia, Guernsey, Harrison, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Knox, Lawrence, Licking, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Tuscarawas, Vinton and Washington counties.