In times of crisis, Americans pull together and work to support at-risk communities. The COVID-19 outbreak and the corresponding shutdown have changed the lives of nearly every American, but the disabilities and special needs community is particularly affected. Through its Voya Cares® program, Voya is here to help with some specific ideas, resources and solutions that you can take action on today.
Below are just a few of the ways in which the lives of those in the special needs community are being disrupted — and tips on how to address them.
Work and income related disruptions
Those who are employed may be experiencing a cut in hours, layoffs or furloughs as businesses, including those that employ people with disabilities, are forced to cut back. Individuals who are still employed are facing the challenges of working remotely. For those who are self-employed or are business owners, there may be lost or delayed revenue as customers are staying home and reducing spending. For caregivers who are balancing working from home with caring for loved ones, it may be a particularly stressful time. If they have lost wages, it can be an even bigger challenge because of additional expenses often related to caregiving.
Voya Cares tips:
- Take inventory of available resources and ways to access cash. Stay informed about potential assistance that may be coming from federal, state and local government entities, including potential grants, unemployment benefits and small business (SBA) loans (opens new window).
- Touch base with a trusted financial professional, to address short-term cash needs with as little disruption to long-term plans as possible, and use available strategies around tax efficiency and market volatility.
- Current market conditions make it a difficult time to sell, so consider alternatives to completely cashing out your investment accounts. Options may include securities-based lending, 401(k) loans and IRA rollover distributions that allow you to replace the funds and put them back to work as soon as you can.
- The IRS has delayed the tax filing deadline, which allows additional time to pay owed taxes; however, if a refund is expected, it may be better to file right away.
- Call your creditors to inquire about suspending payments or arranging other payment options that can reduce your cash outflow. Also, review your budget for subscriptions and other non-essential expenses that could be reduced.
Interruptions in vital care services
As many service providers are forced to close, and in-home professional service providers may limit or cancel visits, many in the disabilities community who rely on personal attendants, nurses, social workers, respite providers and public transportation may struggle to get the day-to-day help they need.
Voya Cares tips:
- Reach out and ask for (or offer) help. Times like this bring out the best in communities, and people are looking for ways to get involved and help their neighbors.
- Some essential service providers are still operating, so take precautions to avoid the spread of the virus when in contact with workers.
- Ask your medical professionals for direction on at-home care that can be done by a caregiver (physical or occupational therapy exercises, basic wound care and video conferencing).
- Try community forums like Nextdoor (opens new window), Facebook (opens new window) and non-profit organizations that are providing digital resources. (Additional links are listed below.)
- For those who aren’t technology savvy, resources may be harder to find. But be sure to check county alert systems, local news and cable providers. Or you can call your local senior services, centers for independent living (opens new window) and community-based social service agencies.
Quality of life
So many of the things we enjoy in life are being interrupted, from cancelled sporting events and social gatherings to closed movie theaters and restaurants. It’s easy to see how people’s quality of life is at risk or on hold.
Voya Cares tips:
- Stay connected. There are many ways we can reach out to our loved ones from home. Just a phone call, video chat or a letter can make a big difference for someone who feels isolated or bored.
- Leverage technology to stay connected by playing games online with friends, or try other services like Netflix Party (opens new window).
- Staying active while social-distancing can be a challenge, so consider trying the “School of Strength (opens new window)” from Special Olympics.
- Caregivers may find continued support in peer groups on Facebook, Nextdoor and other social platforms.
Below are some useful links from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Social Security Administration and other resources for your reference:
- Follow the recommendations from the CDC’s Checklist for individuals and households (opens new window).
- If over age 65, follow the recommendations from the CDC’s Checklist for aging population (opens new window) and resources from AARP (opens new window), including its series of Tele-Town Hall meetings about COVID-19.
- Learn more about How to manage stress and anxiety (opens new window).
- Find contacts at state and local health departments (opens new window).
- Follow the updates from the Social Security Administration (opens new window).
- Review guidance from the U.S. Department of Education (opens new window) on Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), including recently updated questions and answers (opens new window) about services.
- Visit non-profit groups like the Arc (opens new window) and Autism Speaks (opens new window) for condition-specific information.
- Check out the National Disability Institute (opens new window) for resources like its Financial Resiliency (opens new window) guide.
- Browse through other organizations like those found on our Voya Cares website to find additional resources.
Products and services offered through the Voya® family of companies. Neither Voya Financial nor its representatives offer tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax and legal advisors regarding your individual situation.