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Unemployment insurance, tax assistance and other resources designed to help those affected by multiple sclerosis facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis, job loss and other unforeseen circumstances.

If you've experienced job loss, an income reduction or other financial impacts due to COVID-19, please contact an MS Navigator at 1-800-344-4867 or complete the contact form to receive helpful resources.

Employment Options and Loss of Income

  • There is expanded eligibility for unemployment insurance for those who have lost or are at risk of losing income. Please contact your state’s unemployment office directly for information on your options. This Unemployment Benefits Finder from Career One Stop can help you find local contact information and any relevant updates from your state regarding benefits.
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has been expanded to offer additional protections for those staying home due to illness or caring for someone who is. Visit the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division or call 1-866-487-9243 for additional information on FMLA.
  • If requesting reasonable accommodations from your employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) would assist you in continuing to work and perform the essential functions of your job, learn more about your rights and responsibilities by contacting the Job Accommodation Network at 1-800-526-7234.
  • Learn more about the economic security relief payments most American households will receive. If you didn’t get the full Economic Impact Payment, you may be eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit. See Recovery Rebate Credit for more information.
  • National Association of State Workforce Agencies – State resources including unemployment benefits.
  • U.S. Small Business Association – Small business owner resources 

Health Insurance Protections and Choices

  • If you lose job-based health coverage, you and your dependents have options. Learn if you qualify for a 60 day Special Enrollment Period or COBRA.
  • Temporary COBRA premium assistance is now available for eligible individuals to pay 100% of their COBRA continuation coverage premiums. This applies to periods of health coverage on or after April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021.  Talk to your employer about eligibility or find more information here.
  • See if you or others in your household qualify for Medicaid or the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) any time through Healthcare.gov.
  • To help address the COVID crisis, a new Open Enrollment period for health insurance coverage available through Healthcare.gov is scheduled from February 15 to August 15, 2021. Many state-based marketplaces are also offering special enrollment opportunities. Contact your state’s marketplace directly to find out more information.
  • Expanded tax credit subsidies are now available for those purchasing coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces. This expansion increases both the number of subsidies available for people at all income levels, and for the first time extends subsidies to those above 400% of the federal poverty level.  No one enrolled in marketplace coverage will pay more than 8.5% of their income.
  • Finding Coverage and Care Without Health Insurance - Explore the health insurance options below to see what works best for you.
  • Guide to Prescription Financial Assistance - If you need help paying for your medication, please access our guides that were created by MS Navigators on the Benefits & Employment Support Team for assistance.

Tax Assistance

  • The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. To locate an open VITA site near you, use the VITA Locator Tool or call 800-906-9887.

Financial Assistance

For assistance with everyday expenses, view Financial Resources. For help addressing financial impacts due to COVID-19, view the following resources.

HealthWell Foundation
  • Through a new fund to assist at risk or quarantined patients with COVID-19 costs, HealthWell will provide up to $250 in financial assistance for a 12-month grant period to eligible patients who have annual household incomes up to 500 percent of the federal poverty level. Grants awarded will provide reimbursement assistance for delivered food and medication and transportation costs to managing COVID-19. In addition, eligible copayment and incidental costs associated with tele-health treatments and diagnostics related to COVID-19 will also be covered under the fund.
  • COVID-19 Insurance Premium Payment Assistance - Covers up to $6,000 for eligible patients to assist with: A) COBRA premium costs related to COVID-19 layoffs/unemployment, or B) the employee portion of insurance premium cost, related to COVID-19 furlough.

National Organization of Rare Disorders
The NORD COVID-19 Critical Relief Program is designed to provide eligible rare disease patients with assistance for non-medical essential expenses, and the NORD COVID-19 Premium & Medical Relief Program is designed to provide eligible rare disease patients assistance with insurance premiums and limited medical expenses. Both programs are specifically for rare disease patients who have been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic through job loss, reduced work hours, quarantine, etc.

NeedyMeds COVID-19 Resource Center
NeedyMeds is a national non-profit which connects people to programs that will help them afford their healthcare costs. Visit the COVID-19 Resource Center to view programs for those experiencing financial hardships and struggling with healthcare expenses due to the coronavirus.

PAN Foundation Covid-19 Fund
To help affected patients cope with unprecedented financial stress relating to the COVID-19 outbreak, also known as coronavirus, the PAN Foundation is providing direct assistance of $300 on a pre-paid debit card for eligible individuals who have annual household incomes up to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level and who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or directed to self-quarantine due to COVID-19. Eligible patients can use the financial support for treatment expenses for COVID-19, over-the-counter and prescription medications, medical equipment and supplies, and groceries and meals, including delivery services. Visit website for eligibility qualifications. To apply, call PAN Foundation at 1-866-316-7263.

Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) COVID Care Recovery Fund will deliver $500 in direct financial aid to eligible patients who need non-medical, cost-of-living support as a result of their diagnosis of COVID-19. Patients can access the fund and complete an application for assistance via a secure portal 24x7, or through the toll-free hotline at 1-855-824-7941, option 1.

State Department of Human Services/Health and Human Services
Offers financial assistance to support individuals & families, such as food stamps, housing vouchers and other cash assistance.

MS Navigators provide people affected by multiple sclerosis with information, resources and support to address the challenges of MS. We are a partner in your MS journey.  We encourage you to contact an MS Navigator at 1-800-344-4867 during normal business hours or complete the contact form.

Housing

Visit the website for the U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development to get up to date on all COVID-19 information related to HUD programs.

On September 1, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an eviction moratorium for nonpayment of rent. On March 29, 2021, the CDC Director extended the eviction moratorium through June 30, 2021. The moratorium applies to all tenants who meet certain eligibility requirements and applies to all rental properties. It prohibits residential landlords nationwide from evicting eligible tenants. Renters must meet certain requirements and sign a declaration to their landlord to be covered, and all rent amounts would still be owed. 

In response to COVID-19 and its economic impacts, many cities and states are creating or expanding rental assistance programs to help individuals and families impacted by the pandemic. To determine if rental assistance is available in your area, view the National Low Income Housing Coalition's COVID-19 Rental Assistance Database.

Additional resources:

Utilities

Many companies are suspending shut-offs at this time. Contact your utility providers or go to utility provider’s website, which may note if shut-offs have been suspended.

Funeral Expenses

With the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, FEMA will provide financial assistance for COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020. It will pay up to $9,000 in funeral expenses or up to $35,000 for multiple family members. For more information, visit FEMA's website.

Cell Phone and Internet

Some providers are suspending termination of services or offering affordable internet for families with children now doing online learning. Contact your service provider for information. Also, check with local public schools as they may be sharing free/low cost internet resources to help students achieve online learning.

FCC Launches Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has launched an Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to help households struggling to pay for internet service during the pandemic. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, and virtual classrooms.
 
The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute $10-$50 toward the purchase price.

MS Navigators

MS Navigators provide people affected by multiple sclerosis with information, resources and support to address the challenges of MS. We are a partner in your MS journey.  We encourage you to contact an MS Navigator who can identify relevant community resources to help mitigate the financial impact of MS.

To obtain a list of community resources for a need listed below, contact an MS Navigator at 1-800-344-4867 during normal business hours or complete the contact form.
  • Air Conditioners
  • Children’s Expenses (including pediatric MS expenses)
  • Computers/Internet Service
  • Durable Medical Equipment (ex. walkers, wheelchairs, scooters)
  • Employment Supports (ex. job training)
  • Health Care Costs (ex., dental care, mental health treatment, physical/occupational therapy, primary care, vision care)
  • Health Insurance Co-Pays, Deductibles, Premiums
  • Home Accessibility, including Home Modifications and Repairs
  • Home Health Care
  • Housing (ex. rent, mortgage, foreclosure prevention)
  • Long-Term Care (ex. assisted living/skilled living/adult day programs)
  • Seasonal Giving (ex. back to school supply programs, Thanksgiving meals, children’s holiday gifts)
  • Service Dogs
  • Student Loans (incl., forgiveness and cancellation due to disability)
  • Transportation
  • Utility Assistance (Electricity, Gas, Water/Sewer, Landline/Cell Phone, etc.)
  • Vehicle Accessibility, including Accessible Vehicle Purchase and Vehicle Modifications
  • Wellness Programs/Recreation Activities

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