Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Friday, October 23, 2020
On 10/21/20 the Governor announced that West Virginians whose utilities went unpaid because of COVID-19 may be eligible for CARES Act funding to pay them.
According to the press release: "Customers of electric, natural gas, water, and sewer utility companies who have experienced economic hardship and/or uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, causing them to have unpaid utility bills from the period of March 1 – July 31 of this year, may receive financial assistance to pay those bills."
The utility companies will receive the funds, and are sending out letters to potentially eligible customers with the application for help.
Even if you're not sure you qualify, might as well apply. Even if it doesn't cover your entire arrearage, might as well apply.
If you have unpaid utilities from this time be on the lookout for a letter from your utility company that will include the application. Your completed application must be returned by NOVEMBER 12, 2020.
It's a very short deadline. Tell your friends about it, they may know someone who needs to know. Some folks just throw out mail from the utility company when they think it's just another bill they can't pay, so it's important for folks who need it to know this letter is coming.
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
It might say it's a renewal of your Windows Defender subscription, or some other subscription service. It might say the fee for renewal is $299 and it will be charged from your checking account. It will probably say something about 24 hours and create some urgency for you, a hallmark of scams. It will likely have a phone number that it says to call if you don't want the subscription.
DON'T CALL the number. Don't reply in any form.
This is a phishing scam, and these kinds are rampant right now.
If you've been scammed you are not alone. No one is immune from this kind of victimization, no matter how educated, how smart, or how wealthy you are.
Hearing about the details of these scams before you get the email increases your likelihood you'll recognize and avoid when it lands in your inbox. So tell your friends! Pass it on.
Friday, October 02, 2020
Any registered West Virginia voter can vote absentee in the upcoming November election. Many already have. In order to get an absentee ballot you must complete an application for absentee ballot. You can get a printable application for absentee ballot here https://sos.wv.gov/FormSearch/Elections/Voter/Absentee%20Ballot%20Application.pdf or you can apply online at https://sites.omniballot.us/54/absentee/app/home. Though you must have a reason to vote absentee, anyone can check the first box claiming health concerns because of COVID-19 and that will be accepted by the Clerk as a valid reason to absentee vote for this election.
The last day to request an absentee ballot is October 28. After your absentee ballot application is received by your County Clerk, you will be mailed an absentee ballot.
Then once you fill out your absentee ballot you can either mail it in or hand deliver it to your County Clerk.
The last day to mail your completed absentee ballot is election day, November 3, 2020.
You can find answers to questions about voting in this election at the WV Secretary of State's website at https://sos.wv.gov/elections/Pages/FAQs.aspx
Thursday, September 03, 2020
The US Census Bureau has moved up the final deadline for getting counted in the 2020 census to September 30, 2020. That means you have one month less than previously announced to complete your census.
Seniors are among the most important West Virginians to get counted because so many of our programs and services for seniors are funded in part by federal dollars. Federal funding is distributed across the country through formulas that are based on these census figures.
So the more seniors who get counted in West Virginia the higher our share of federal funding for many programs for seniors like home delivered meals, transportation, and home care.
It's a crime to refuse to participate in the census, though we have never heard of anyone actually being prosecuted for it.
If you haven't completed your census yet for whatever reason, you still have time, but not much. You can submit your information online or find out how to submit it by phone or mail by going to https://my2020census.gov/
Wednesday, September 02, 2020
The general election is November 3, 2020, not so far away. Like in the primary election this year, you can choose to vote absentee in the general election in WV if you want to avoid the possibility of getting exposed to the coronavirus at the polls.
Unlike in the primary election, however, you will not automatically get a postcard with the application for you to complete to request an absentee ballot. This time you will have to get your own WV Absentee Ballot Application. You can either enter your request online at https://sites.omniballot.us/54/absentee/app/home or you can download at https://sos.wv.gov/FormSearch/Elections/Voter/Absentee%20Ballot%20Application.pdf If you are at least 60 yrs old and need help downloading or printing an application for absentee ballot you can call WV Senior Legal Aid at 1.800.229.5068.
The official deadline for you to get your application for absentee ballot submitted is October 28, 2020.
But there are practical concerns about the time it may take for your mailed application to arrive, so you risk missing that deadline if you cut it too close. According to the WV Secretary of State's office "Absentee applications received after October 28, even if postmarked, cannot be accepted by law."
Your completed absentee ballot must be postmarked no later than November 3, 2020 to count. If you change your mind after receiving your absentee ballot and want to go vote in person, YOU SHOULD BRING YOUR ABSENTEE BALLOT WITH YOU to the polls. It must be destroyed there before you vote in person, or you'll have to vote a challenge ballot. It's complicated.
Another option to avoid crowds on election day is to early-vote in person. Early voting in person can be done from October 21 through October 31, check with your county courthouse for locations and times.
Older West Virginians, your vote is important. Your need to protect yourself from infection is important, too. Contact WV Senior Legal Aid at 1.800.229.5068 if you are at least 60 yrs old and have concerns or questions about election procedures or your rights.
Tuesday, September 01, 2020
WV DMV: drivers licenses expiration extended to end of 2020, but license plates extension ends 9/30/20
Because of the pandemic the WV Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) had allowed that drivers licenses and vehicle registrations that were to expire after March 1, 2020 were extended through September, 2020.
They have continued that extension for drivers licenses now through the end of the year. So if your drivers license (or drivers permit or commercial drivers license) says it expires anytime after March 1, 2020, you now have until December 31, 2020 to renew it.
The new extension, however, does not apply to vehicle registrations. So if your license plate expiration date is between March 2020 and September 2020, it must be renewed by September 30, 2020.
For more information and ways you can renew your licenses and registrations safely see the WV DMV website at https://transportation.wv.gov/DMV/News/Pages/Driver%27s-license-expiration-dates-extended-through-the-end-of-the-year.aspx
Thursday, August 13, 2020
Click here to read https://library.nclc.org/sd/0102
Thursday, June 25, 2020
In order to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus our county health departments are conducting contract tracing to track down and isolate infected people, and to alert people who may have been exposed. Contact tracers do their work by contacting individuals and asking them questions designed to help determine who has been exposed and who may be infected.
This creates an opportunity for imposters to try to get our personal information for identity theft.
We have a duty to the community to cooperate with legitimate contact tracers, and our health departments have the authority to legally order us to cooperate. So if you are contacted by someone claiming to be a coronovirus contact tracer you should carefully determine if the person asking for our personal information is legitimate or an imposter.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says legitimate contact tracers may call, email, text, or visit your home to collect information. They may ask you for:
- your name and address
- health information
- the names of places and people you have visited
Scammers will ask you to do more. Here are some things to do to protect yourself from fake contact tracers.
- Don’t pay a contact tracer. Anyone who says you need to pay is a scammer, plain and simple.
- Don’t give your Social Security number or financial information. There’s no reason for a legit contact tracer to need your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number.
- Don’t share your immigration status. Legit contact tracers don’t need — and won’t ask for — this information.
- Don’t click on links or download anything sent from a contact tracer. Real tracers will only send you texts or emails that say they’ll be calling you — not ask you to click or download anything.
What should you do if you think you’re dealing with a fake contact tracer? Check with your state health department to see if they have a way to make sure the person contacting you is a real contact tracer. Otherwise, hang up, close the door, or don’t respond to, click on, or download anything that may be in an email or text. Then, report it to your state and tell the FTC about it at FTC.gov/complaint.
Any West Virginia senior age 60 or over can call WV Senior Legal Aid and talk to a lawyer about contact tracing or other legal issues. 1.800.229.5068.
Monday, June 15, 2020
Monday, June 08, 2020
Friday, May 22, 2020
Thursday, May 14, 2020
Significant changes relating to tax-deferred retirement account distributions have occurred in recent months.
First and foremost, for 2020, the CARES Act suspended the requirement for older account owners to make mandatory distributions from their retirement accounts during the year because of the economic downturn. Of course, voluntary distributions are still permitted.
Further, for over 30 years, those with retirement accounts knew that voluntary withdrawals, subject to federal income taxes, could begin at age 59 1/2 and that required minimum distributions, based on an age/rate chart, had to start at age 70 1/2 (with certain exceptions).
Now, because of the SECURE Act, the magic age for required withdrawals (other than during the 2020 suspension) is 72.
This federal law became effective in December 2019 and has permanently extended the starting time for future mandatory distributions from retirement accounts to age 72. In these roller coaster stock market times, being able to wait that extra time could allow the account balance to recover.
Many people earmark their retirement accounts as possible inheritance funds for their family. Delaying distributions on these tax-deferred funds as long as the law allows can mean larger future balances.
The new law also changes the after-death rules for distributions to heirs. The full account balance must be paid out within 10 years, with exceptions for spouses and certain other individuals. Previously, many heirs could stretch out distributions over their lifetimes to reduce the income taxes owed from receiving such distributions.
Charitable use of Individual Retirement Account (IRA) funds can also be a way to avoid income taxes. Starting at age 70 1/2, amounts up to $100,000 from an IRA (but not from other types of retirement accounts) can be used each year for charitable purposes and escape federal and West Virginia taxation. These charitable gifts satisfy the required minimum distribution rules, when applicable, as well.
For assistance dealing with tax and other legal issues, contact West Virginia Senior Legal Aid at 800-229–5068. Those age 60 and over living in the state are eligible for this free help.
Friday, May 08, 2020
Too many debts to deal with these days?
Unfortunately, many Americans are finding that to be true as we endure the novel coronavirus pandemic and its far-reaching economic impact.
While there are programs to freeze or defer some debts and expenses temporarily, such as credit card payments and rent, that relief is just for the short term.
As many struggle to keep up with their bills in these uncertain times, the suggestion of contacting your creditors to work out terms to handle these debts probably should not be the first step taken.
Instead, looking at the big picture and listing which debts are past due, currently due, and will be owed in the near future may be the most beneficial starting point.
Of course, being able to pay for the necessities of food, shelter, utilities and transportation is at the top of the list for your budget. If one or more of those bills is past due, they are crucial to focus on immediately.
The staff attorneys at West Virginia Senior Legal Aid can help state residents, age 60 and over, review their current financial situation and work out a listing of which bills need to be given top priority, secondary priority, and so on.
The WVSLA attorneys have experience working with the laws, programs and regulations dealing with mortgages, rent, utilities, car loans, credit cards, etc. and can assist with recommending how to put your financial house in order. There is no charge for their guidance.
Remember also that some debt collectors will use predatory practices. They will attempt to persuade you to pay the debt they are trying to collect and will have no concern about any others that won’t be paid.
Finding the right combination of satisfying current living expenses and handling debt can take some thought and effort. Calling West Virginia Senior Legal Aid at 800-229-5068 can help seniors avoid painful mistakes and get going in the right direction.
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
Don't panic if your WV driver's license, driver's permit, car registration expired in March 2020 or April 2020 you have a three month extension to get those renewed. Vehicle inspections that expire from April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2020 will have a 3 month grace period, and the vehicle inspection program will be suspended during this time.
WV DMV is currently closed to the public in accordance with Governor's stay-at-home order to prevent COVID-19 exposure to customers and employees.
You can still use the DMV's online services and mail-in services if you wish to do things like driver's license renewal with no changes, registration renewals, obtaining duplicate driver's licenses, registration cards, decals, and plates, obtaining driving records, request a personalized plate, etc.
Tuesday, April 07, 2020
To help alleviate some of the economic fallout from the Covid-19 crisis, the US government has issued new federal stimulus legislation, called the CARES Act. As part of this stimulus package, the government is preparing to send out direct payments to help individuals amid the pandemic. Many seniors may be wondering if they are eligible to receive a stimulus payment; if so, for how much; and what, if anything, they need to do in order to get the funds.
Who is eligible?
The legislation will give single adults with adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less on their 2019 tax returns a one-time check for $1,200. Married couples who filed jointly with incomes under $150,000 will receive $2,400. Families will get an additional $500 for each child.
For individuals with income above this amount, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000 threshold. Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible for the stimulus payment.
Individuals who are collecting Social Security benefits for retirement, disability, or Supplemental Security Income are eligible for the stimulus payments.
I am not typically required to file a tax return because my income is low, so I didn't for 2018 or 2019. Can I still receive my payment?
Yes. For the many low-income seniors who are not required to file a federal tax return the CARES Act provides that the IRS to get information from the Social Security Administration about where to send your check. Folks who receive Social Security retirement benefits, Social Security Disability benefits, and/or SSI benefits will not have to take any action to receive their stimulus payment.
How Will I Receive My Payment?
The IRS will send the payments either electronically through direct deposit into people's bank accounts if that is how they receive their tax refunds or their Social Security or SSI benefits. If you receive refunds or benefits by paper check, you will receive your stimulus money by paper check. If you receive benefits on a Direct Express card it is not yet clear whether you will receive your stimulus money on the card or through a paper check.
For those who do not already have their bank account information on record with the IRS or SSA, the IRS says it is planning to develop “in the coming weeks” a web-based portal where individuals could provide their banking information to the IRS online, so that individuals can receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail.
When will I receive the stimulus money?
Direct deposits should begin within the next few weeks, and checks will be mailed later.
I have a tax filing obligation but have not filed my tax return for 2018 or 2019. Can I still receive an economic impact payment?
Yes. The IRS urges anyone with a tax filing obligation who has not yet filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 to file as soon as they can to receive an economic impact payment. Taxpayers should include direct deposit banking information on the return in order to receive the payment more quickly.
Will this stimulus money knock me off my other federal benefits like SNAP or Medicaid or HUD?
No. The CARES Act provides that this money is not countable income for 12 months after you receive it for any federal, state, or local programs that are funded in whole or in part with federal funds.
For the more info regarding stimulus payments visit: http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus https://www.aarp.org/politics-society/advocacy/info-2020/coronavirus-stimulus-checks.html
Thursday, March 26, 2020
In response to the COVID_19 pandemic the WVSCA has issued 2 orders and a plan document. You can access all these and future COVID-19 related court administration documents at http://www.courtswv.gov/covid19/COVID19.html.
Pursuant to those orders all civil and criminal proceedings in our state courts, except emergency proceedings and certain criminal proceedings, are currently stayed through 4/10/2020. All deadlines that fall between 3/23/2020 and 4/10/2020 are extended to 4/11/2020. All statutes of limitation that fall within those dates are extended to 4/11/2020. Statutes of limitation that do not expire between those dates ARE NOT extended.
Emergency proceedings include:
- domestic violence
- child abuse and neglect where there is imminent threat
- infant guardianship
- custody cases involving threat to cbild
- juvenile detention/placement in state custody
Proceedings should continue utilize technology to limit physical contact when possible.
Note that eviction is not on the emergency civil proceedings list, so there should be no ordinary eviction proceedings at least through 4/10/2020.
If you are at least 60 and a West Virginia resident with a civil legal question or problem, or concerns about the status of our state courts you can call WV Senior Legal Aid at 1-800-229-5068 for help.
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
NOTE: As of March 25, 2020, West Virginia’s personal income tax filing deadline is July 15, 2020.
When it’s tax time, everybody appreciates a little help, especially when tax credits are available. Each dollar of a credit eliminates a dollar of tax.
West Virginia’s Senior Citizens Tax Credit helps certain older residents pay lower income taxes, as does the Homestead Excess Property Tax Credit.
To claim either or both credits, a person does not have to itemize expenses on their return.
Both income tax credits are tied to owning residential property. The Homestead Exemption program reduces property taxes on owner-occupied property for those age 65 and older or disabled who sign up at their county assessor’s office for the exemption.
Under the state program, the first $20,000 of the home‘s assessed value is exempt, or non-taxable, for property tax purposes.
For annual income tax purposes, those who are eligible for the Senior Citizens Tax Credit receive Form SCTC-1 in the mail from the West Virginia State Tax Department each January.
The form lists the amount of the tax credit that can be claimed when preparing the West Virginia tax return. Be sure to save it for tax return preparation purposes.
There is also a low income requirement for Senior Citizens Tax Credit eligibility that is determined when calculating the numbers for the tax return.
Further, for those receiving the Homestead Exemption on their residential property taxes, there is the Homestead Excess Property Tax Credit to reduce income taxes.
When a person’s residential property taxes exceed 4% of their income, he or she may receive a state income tax credit for the excess amount. The maximum credit is $1000.
If a person is eligible for both of these state income tax credits, the amount of the Senior Citizens Tax Credit will reduce the amount of the Homestead Excess Property Tax Credit that can be claimed.
Neither of these state tax credits affect or reduce the federal taxes owed.
More information is available on the https://tax.wv.gov/Individuals/SeniorCitizens/Pages/SeniorCitizensTaxCredit.aspx page.
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
We hear the government is planning to send out money to everyone. The details are still being worked out, there's not much known about how.
But one thing we know for certain: scammers want your money. They will creatively try many ways to get that money from you, perhaps before you even get it.
Here are a few important things to remember as we await the details of our government cash:
1. The government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. No fees. No charges. No nothing.
2. The government will not call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer
3. These reports of checks aren’t yet a reality. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
Friday, March 13, 2020
The 2020 census will tell us many things about the United States and its population.
Participating in the census is very important for West Virginians because of how multiple federal benefits are allocated and controlled.
Many federal programs focus on funding for those with low income or living in rural areas. Under-counting would also mean under-funding.
A George Washington University study revealed that West Virginia relies the most of any U. S. state on federal money that is guided through census results.
On both state and local government levels, federal funding is crucial, making accurate census results just as crucial.
Currently, information is being collected online, through phone calls from legitimate census takers and by mail. To expedite the process, the online process is the easiest.
The Federal Trade Commission wants everyone to be aware that fraudulent schemes to get an individual’s personal information are occurring, using the false pretense that the person is calling on behalf of the federal census.
If fraud is suspected in any contact that is census-related, call 800-923-8282 to speak with a representative at the nearest Census Bureau or go online to FTC.gov/Complaint to file a complaint.