Non-filers now have until Nov. 21 to register for an Economic Impact Payment (Stimulus Payment)

The deadline to register for an Economic Impact Payment using the Non-filers tool is extended to November 21, 2020.

If you don’t typically file a tax return – and haven’t received an Economic Impact Payment – register soon using the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool on IRS.gov.

This extension is only for those who haven’t received their Economic Impact Payment and don’t normally file a tax return.

The IRS’s Non-Filers tool is secure. You can use it if you’re married with income below $24,400or single with income below $12,200 and can’t be claimed as a dependent by someone else. This includes couples and individuals who are experiencing homelessness. Social Security Benefits and VA recipients, whose only source of income are social security retirement, social security disability, Supplemental security income or SSI, or if you receive Veterans benefits the IRS will automatically issue your economic impact payment to the account in which you receive your benefits. The economic impact payment will be sent to you even if you have a federal income tax debt that is not paid off.

If you began receiving Social Security Income or VA Benefits in 2020 and did not file a tax return for Tax Years 2018 or 2019 you may not automatically receive the economic impact payment. As long as you are not required to file a 2019 Federal Income Tax Return you can apply for the economic impact payment on the IRS website by November 21, 2020 using the Non-Filer Tool. The link to register is called Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info here. The link to the IRS website is on our website and can also be found on IRS.gov. You will be able to provide your bank account information if you would like your economic stimulus payment directly deposited into your bank account. If you have filed a 2018- or 2019-income tax return do not register on the non-filer link.

You can speed the arrival of your payment by choosing to receive it by direct deposit. Otherwise, you’ll receive a check or prepaid debit card.

After two weeks, you can track the status of your payment using the Get My Payment tool.

HUD Extends to December 31st the Deadline for Requesting Certain Mortgage Assistance

On April 1, 2020, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced programs for borrowers who had suffered a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Borrowers with regular mortgage payments can ask their mortgage company for a forbearance of their mortgage payments.  A forbearance is a program that allows a borrower to delay making a mortgage payment.  In other words, a borrower will forbear making payments for a number of months.  However, the payments usually come due all at once at the end of the forbearance period. 

HUD calls this forbearance program the “Forbearance for Borrowers Affected by the COVID-19 National Emergency” or the “COVID-19 Forbearance.”  On October 20, 2020, HUD extended the deadline for borrowers to request a COVID-19 Forbearance to December 31, 2020.  The initial forbearance period for a COVID-19 Forbearance is six months.  This period can be lengthened, up to another 6 months, or shortened at the borrower’s request.

            HUD created a separate program for borrowers with reverse mortgages.  HUD calls reverse mortgages “Home Equity Conversion Mortgages” (“HECM”).  When a HECM borrower defaults on the mortgage, such as by not paying taxes or insurance, HUD requires the mortgage company to call the HECM loan due in full and then to file a foreclosure.  HUD has strict time frames for calling a loan due in full and filing foreclosure.  Due to the pandemic, HUD has said that HECM borrowers who have defaulted on the mortgage can ask their mortgage company for an additional six months before the mortgage company calls in the loan.  The key is that borrowers must make this request to the mortgage company by December 31, 2020.

            If you are concerned about losing your home to foreclosure, and you need assistance understanding your options, please do not hesitate to call SC Legal Services at 888-346-5592 or to apply online at www.sclegal.org.       

Social Security Benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) released a statement on October 13, 2020 that benefits will increase by 1.3% in 2021. The maximum monthly SSI benefit will be $794 for a single person and $1,191 for a married couple. Retirement, survivor and disability benefits will go up about $20 a month for the average beneficiary. The federal government has not released the 2021 premium amounts for Medicare.

The Open Enrollment period for Medicare started on October 15, 2020 and will remain open until December 7, 2020. Medicare beneficiaries should use this time to review their health and drug plans and make any changes based on their current healthcare needs. There are tools available to help a person choose the right healthcare and prescription drug plans. If you are comfortable with computers and have internet access, go to https://www.medicare.gov/plan-compare/#/?lang=en&year=2020 to compare plans and costs. The SC State Health Insurance Assistance Program provides free counselors who can help you find plans. It can be reached at 800-868-9095 and just ask for a SHIP coordinator. It is important to know that you should never pay anyone to help you choose a plan. Remember to look for hidden costs when comparing plans and not just the monthly premium. You should verify that your doctors are included in the plan you choose.

Medicare is offering new health plans that will cap your out-of-pocket cost at $35 or less for a month’s supply of insulin. To find one of these plans, look for the “filter plan” button in the upper right-hand corner of your computer screen and check the insulin savings box. Or tell the coordinator at the SHIP that you need one of these plans.

There are lots of scams that target Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries during this time of year. You should never give your Medicare or Social Security number to a random person who calls you. The government will not call you and ask for either of these numbers. It will not threaten you with jail if you do not provide personal information to the caller. The government will not call you to cancel or verify your Medicare coverage. Scammers can use your Medicare number to file false claims or obtain treatment under your name or they can try to sell you a bogus insurance policy or genetic or COVID testing. Finally, the government will not show up at your door to sell you a Medicare plan, medical equipment, medication, or supplements. You should register your phone number(s) with the federal “Do Not Call List” if you are getting a lot of unwanted calls or text messages. You can register your phone numbers on line at https://www.donotcall.gov/ or you can call 888-382-1222.

Eviction Dismissal

A couple came in in mid-September. They had been behind in their rent for a few months because the wife lost her job due to COVID-19. They thought everything was going to be fine when they secured enough rental assistance to get current on their rent, but the landlord refused to accept it. Additionally, the landlord also refused to accept the partial payments the clients offered. The couple recently heard that the landlords wanted to cut the current leases so they can start charging much higher rent. The clients believe that’s why the landlord decided seemingly out of nowhere to file for an eviction for nonpayment of rent while simultaneously refusing to accept their money.

Our office tried to mail the landlord the couples’ signed CDC Declaration forms certified, but we didn’t get any confirmation of receipt before the hearing. At the hearing, however, the judge asked if the landlord got the signed CDC Declaration forms. I said they are in the mail and had the postage receipt, but I also had copies with me that I could give everyone now. The judge asked to see them, and so I gave the signed copies to the landlord and to the judge during the proceeding. The judge said since the forms have now been signed and the landlord has now received them, he would dismiss the case and allow the landlord to file for an eviction after December 31.

This unfortunately isn’t the case for everyone protected by the CDC Order, but the delay until Jan 1 was all my clients needed. The week before the hearing the husband got a better job outside of Nashville, and they were planning on giving the landlord their 30-days’ notice the day after the hearing. The dismissal got them more time to pack and get their affairs in order, but more importantly to them, the dismissal kept an eviction off their record and allowed them to open the next chapter of their lives scot-free.   

Behaviors of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.[1] Nationally, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of domestic violence within their lifetimes, and 1 in 4 women have reported that they have experienced severe physical violence in an intimate relationship.[2]

However, South Carolina has exceedingly high rates of domestic violence against women. More than 2 in 5 women will experience either physical violence, sexual violence, or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes.[3] South Carolina also ranks in the top 10 worst states for the rate of women murdered by men.[4]

            Domestic violence is not just physical violence against a partner. It is also sexual and psychological violence, as well as emotional abuse. It can also look quite different depending on the relationship and depending on the abuser.

            Those who use domestic violence to create power and control over their partner can use a variety of tactics. This includes, but is not limited to, using intimidation, emotional abuse, and isolation. The abuser can also minimize, deny, and blame the victim in a way to manipulate and shift responsibility. This abuse can also look like the use of threats, including economic threats, and the use of children.  

            It is important to remember that if you find yourself in an abusive relationship as the victim, you are not the one to be blamed and you do not need to be ashamed. It is a powerful and strong move to come forth and protect yourself. You deserve to be treated with respect and to live a safe and happy life. It is also important to remember that you are not alone and that there are plenty of people and organizations that are ready and waiting to help.

            In South Carolina, help is just a phone call away, and there are domestic violence shelters throughout the state that will provide you with a safe space away from your abuser. Our website has a thorough listing of shelters across South Carolina, including phone numbers for you to call.

If you do not know who to call, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has a 24/7 hotline. Their phone number is 1.800.799.7233. You can also text “LOVEIS” to 1.866.331.9474.         

South Carolina Legal Services may also offer free legal assistance to domestic violence victims, including obtaining Orders of Protection, divorces, and custody. To apply, you can call 1.888.346.5592 or apply online at www.sclegal.org.


[1] What is Domestic Violence?, National Domestic Violence Hotline, https://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse-defined/ (viewed June 15, 2020).

[2] National Statistics, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, https://ncadv.org/learn-more/statistics (viewed June 15, 2020).

[3] Domestic Violence in South Carolina, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, https://assets.speakcdn.com/assets/2497/south_carolina_2019.pdf (viewed June 15, 2020).

[4] Nearly 2,000 Women Murdered by Men in One Year, New VPC Study Finds, Violence Policy Center, https://vpc.org/press/nearly-2000-women-murdered-by-men-in-one-year-new-study-finds/ (viewed June 15, 2020).