Frontline Worker Resources
 
Last updated
June 4, 2020 @3:47 PM

Frontline Resources

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Official MH Seal 3 1 COVID-19 RESOURCES FROM THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE

The Attorney General’s Health Care Division’s Helpline assists people in sorting out problems with their health insurance or medical bills.

If you have a problem with health insurance claims or medical bills or think you might be the victim of a health insurance scam, our Health Care Division may be able to help.

phone
1-888-830-6277

The Governor has ordered health insurers to expand coverage of telehealth services and to cover services relating to COVID-19 testing and treatment without cost-sharing by patients.

The Attorney General's Office (AGO) is monitoring retailers very closely for inflated prices on products, particularly personal protective equipment (PPE). The AGO has also filed an emergency regulation expanding the definition of price gouging to goods and services necessary for public health during a declared statewide or national emergency.

Help by reporting unreasonably high prices of consumer goods and PPE to the AG’s Office by phone or online.

phone
617-727-8400

The Attorney General’s Office filed an emergency regulation to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive debt collection practices during the COVID-19 crisis. This regulation prohibits creditors from engaging in methods of debt collection that can require people to leave their homes or have in-person contact, including filing any new collection lawsuit; garnishing wages, earnings, properties, or funds; and repossessing vehicles. The emergency regulation also prohibits debt collection agencies and debt buyers from making unsolicited debt collection telephone calls to consumers.

If you are being harassed by a debt collector, contact our office by phone or online.

phone
617-727-8400

The recently signed CARES Act suspends payments and waives interest for federal student loans held by the U.S. Department of Education through September 30, 2020. The U.S. Department of Education began waiving interest on federal loans on March 13, 2020.

For borrowers with defaulted federal student loans, the CARES Act is also stopping involuntary collection activities through September 30, 2020, including wage garnishments, social security benefits, and tax refund interceptions. Additionally, payments are suspended for borrowers enrolled in rehabilitation plans.

Borrowers should receive information about these changes from their servicers by the middle of April.

You can learn more about the COVID-19 interest waiver, what loans qualify, how to manage repayment, and the stoppage of involuntary collection here.

The Attorney General’s Student Loan Assistance Unit assists residents who are having difficulty affording their student loans or are having problems with their servicer. The Student Loan Assistance Unit helps borrowers: explore payment options; apply for federal income-driven repayment plans; avoid default or get out of default; end wage garnishments, tax refund interceptions, or benefit offsets; resolve billing disputes with loan servicers; obtain loan details and information; stop harassing collection calls; or, apply for discharges.

phone
1-888-830-6277

Ensuring that essential workers do not have to go to work when they are sick is crucial to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many options to consider if you are quarantined or have tested positive and are in self-isolation due to COVID-19. You may use sick time under the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time law. You may qualify for time off under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Or, you may want to pursue your options applying for unemployment or workers’ compensation.

To find out more about these and other options, visit the Attorney General's page on rights for quarantined essential employees.

Employees have a right to apply for unemployment insurance benefits if they are laid off, furloughed or fired or if they are partially unemployed (meaning if an employee’s hours or earnings have been reduced by more than one-third, they may be eligible to collect unemployment benefits). They cannot be forced to use all of their earned sick time before applying for unemployment. Most employees who are out of work due to COVID-19 should be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. There is no waiting period for persons filing a claim for unemployment benefits where they have been separated from employment due to COVID-19.

You can read employee frequently asked questions about unemployment here.

Contact the Division of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) for more information or to apply for benefits.

phone
(617) 626-6800

Utilities and municipal light companies will not shut off your electric, gas, or water service during this crisis. They should not threaten to shut off your service. If your household uses electricity or gas for heat, you’ll be able to keep your lights on, house warm, and hot water running. But you should try to pay your utilities bills for as long as you are able to avoid having to make up more payments later. If you are struggling to pay your utility bills and think you will fall behind, reach out to your utility company before you miss a payment.

For more details on your rights as a utility customer and the resources available to help residents pay their utility bills, visit the Attorney General’s webpage on FAQs about Utilities during COVID-19.

If you are having difficulty contacting your utility company or need additional assistance, please contact the AG’s Office by phone.

phone
617-727-8400

Most telecommunications companies will not shut off your telephone or broadband (internet) service through mid-May and many companies have extended these protections through June. By signing the “Keep Americans Connected Pledge,” telecommunications companies have made certain commitments to keep residents connected. Service providers are not shutting off service, may forgo late fees, and established or expanded payment plans to help customers stay connected with less debt. The Pledge covers telephone and broadband service but does not cover cable service, so you should contact your provider about protections for cable service. Each company may implement the Pledge differently, so you can contact your provider proactively for more information.

For more information about your rights as a customer and the resources available to help residents pay their telecommunications bills, visit the Attorney General’s webpage on FAQs about Telephone, Broadband, and Cable Service during COVID-19.

If you are having difficulty contacting your service provider or need additional assistance, please contact the AG’s Office by phone.

phone
617-727-8400

Effective immediately, Massachusetts has placed a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. This means landlords can’t evict or threaten to evict their tenants. Mortgage companies can’t foreclose on homeowners. This moratorium will last for 120 days or until 45 days after the state of emergency is lifted.

While rent and mortgage payments are still required to be made under this new law, late penalties cannot be assessed if delay in payment was due to the pandemic.

If you are having an issue with your landlord or mortgage company, file a complaint with our office.

Through the CARES Act, qualifying residents should soon begin to receive stimulus checks from the IRS. Individuals who earn up to $75,000 will receive checks of $1,200. Individuals who make between $75,000 - $98,999 will receive a lesser amount, and the checks phase out entirely at $99,000. For couples who file jointly, those earning up to $150,000 will receive a check of $2,400, with lesser amounts for couples earning more, before the checks phase out entirely at $198,000. In addition, a $500 payment is given per dependent child. Checks will be direct deposited if the IRS has your information on file from:
  •  your 2019 tax returns; or,
  •  your 2018 tax returns if you have not yet filed 2019.
If you did not provide your direct deposit information to the IRS, you will be mailed a paper check or a reloadable prepaid VISA debit card. The debit cards are sent in an unmarked envelope from Money Network Cardholder Services, with instructions on how to activate the card.

This is your money. Do not turn your debit card over to anyone that you don’t know and trust.
Visit the IRS website and the Economic Impact Payment (EIP) Card website for more details.