The Rules Keep Changing – COVID-19 brings Dizzying Changes to Law

Medical documents under a gavel.

We are being bombarded, inundated, swamped and over-run with changes in the law – some temporary, some permanent and some yet-to-be-determined.   

There are two biggies on the Federal level: CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act) and FFCRA (Families First Coronavirus Response Act). States and municipalities are churning out directives daily if not hourly.

If it was not so mind-boggling, it would almost be funny. Anyway, here are a few select highlights of interest to seniors:

For most holders of IRAs and 401(k)s (there seems to be a tad bit of confusion over whether it applies to all), your required minimum distribution (RMD) is not required for 2020.  You get a year free of the onerous requirement to pull your RMD from your qualified savings account, no questions asked and no penalty assessed. If you have already taken your 2020 RMD, then you have 60 days from the date it was distributed to you to redeposit it.

If you need a quick loan for a coronavirus reason, then you can take up to $100,000 out of your 401(k) and IRA account during 2020 without the usual 10% penalty.  Now we get to the rule of 3s. You have 3 years to pay the loan back into your account. If you choose not to do so, you still have to pay the income taxes but you can spread that payment out over 3 years.

If you are on SNAP or Medicaid and up for renewal, your benefits have been extended until further notice.  You do not have to call or complete your renewal application to receive continuous coverage. It appears as if the auto-renewals are for a full year; check your account at yourtexasbenefits.com to make sure. If you are in the middle of completing a renewal application, all is not for naught – just save your work and you will be that much further along for the next time.

The courthouse is not closed: it is merely resting. Most of the judges are conducting hearings via video or audio conferencing, and have prioritized emergency matters to be heard first.  As attorneys and judges become more conversant on video-conferencing (ZOOM is the choice du jour), this option should be extended to uncontested matters and, eventually, contested matters.  No word on when jury trials will resume. In the meantime, the courts have made it crystal clear that, unless someone is verifiably ill, COVID-19 is not a good reason to cancel or even postpone depositions, mediations, or discovery deadlines.

On a related note, lawyers and their staff have been deemed an essential business. Who knew?

It seems that Insurance companies are extremely reluctant to approve any claims that classify COVID-19 as a business interruption, although a bigger business interruption is difficult to imagine.

HUD has authorized the use of exterior-only or desktop-only appraisals for HECM reverse mortgage applications, for the duration of the COVID-19 event.  The eliminates the need for an appraiser to go into a private home. For now.

To be continued………