As our country continues to navigate the impact of coronavirus, more and more people are directly affected. This is putting many in a position where they are unable to work or need to be home to take care of someone who is sick. Many are quickly depleting their financial resources, sick leave, and vacation time to take time off to overcome this virus. If you are a federal employee, you may be wondering what your financial support options are if you or your family become impacted by the COVID-19 illness. This article outlines a few options you can utilize to weather the storm.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
The Department of Labor (DOL) has enacted The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which is an expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This expansion provides paid sick leave for eligible employees that have been impacted by COVID-19.
What does it pay?
FFCRA will pay up to two weeks (80 hours, or a part-time employee’s two-week equivalent) of paid sick leave based on the higher of their regular rate of pay.
- 100% for qualifying reasons #1-3 below (up to $511 daily and $5,110 total)
- 2/3 for qualifying reasons #4 and #6 below (up to $200 daily and $2,000 total)
Who is eligible?
All Federal employees are eligible for up to two weeks of fully or partially paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons. Additionally, federal employees who are covered under Title I of the FMLA and have been employed for at least 30 days prior to their leave request are eligible for additional partially paid leave.
Do I qualify?
The following reasons may qualify you for additional FFCRA paid leave, and each can affect the rate of pay. You qualify for this leave if you are unable to work (including telework) because you:
- are subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
- are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis;
- are caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
- are caring for your child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons
- are experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Full details can be found here.
Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund (FEEA)
Since 1986, this independent, nonproﬁt 501c3 organization has supported federal employees and their families by providing emergency hardship loans, disaster relief grants, scholarships, and childcare subsidies.
With the current impact of the coronavirus, the FEEA has turned its attention to supporting those directly impacted by the virus. In fact, we believe in their mission so much, our office recently donated to their organization to help them continue their valuable assistance to federal employees. We have outlined the benefits of their program below:
What does it provide?
The FEEA is providing $500 $1,000* prioritized NO-fee, NO-interest hardship loans to qualifying federal employees. These funds will be available based on funding, prioritized to lower-income families, and prioritized to serious COVID-19 illness first.
Do I qualify?
To qualify, the federal employee must have already exhausted all annual, sick, advanced, FFCRA leave and currently show leave without pay on their most recent pay stub. Furthermore, they must:
- be hospitalized with COVID-19
- or severely ill at home with COVID-19 (unable to work)
- or serving as the primary caregiver for a family member, living in the employee’s home, who is seriously ill with COVID-19
Additionally, if you are the spouse or child of a federal employee who has passed away due to COVID-19, you may also receive assistance.
Get the details here.
*Updated from $500 to $1,000 on April 20, 2020
Other FEEA Options
As stated previously, the FEEA has been supporting federal employees for over 30 years. They will continue to provide assistance to federal employees hit by tragedy and misfortune, to protect them from debt spiraling during financial hardship.
These confidential, no interest, no-fee loans provide up to $1,500 and are typically paid back over a 10-month period.
For more details on this program download their PDF here.
Federal Disability Retirement (FDR)
Written into every federal employee’s benefits package is a retirement benefit called Federal Disability Retirement (FDR). This retirement benefit’s purpose is to provide long-term financial support to disabled or injured federal employees.
These benefits include:
- An early retirement annuity
- Sustained Health and Life insurance
- Additional Creditable Years of Service
- Allowable private sector income
While most people impacted by the coronavirus will not be affected long-term, those that are unable to fully return to work due to the coronavirus may find that Federal Disability Retirement is the solution they need to protect their future and supplement their income.
You can learn more about the Federal Disability Retirement benefit here.
While you are most likely aware that Congress has passed the economic stimulus package, don’t forget that this can be a valuable resource for you during these difficult times. Depending on the longevity and severity of the economic impact of coronavirus, there may be more stimulus checks to come. However, we suggest utilizing the current payments to secure the most long-term financial benefit for you and your family.
The U.S. Treasury Department and IRS released a portal to help you track your payment.
View the portal here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment
See how much you will get: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/e-poster_payments.pdf
While we hope that you and your family are not impacted by the coronavirus, we trust this information gives you some peace of mind if you should need assistance. Our team of Federal Employee Benefits Specialists is standing by to assist you should you need help.