Advanced Premium Tax Credits (APTC) can lower the cost of health care for individuals and families who enroll in a Covered California health plan and meet certain income requirements. The amount of APTC you receive is based on how much money you make, your tax household size and where you live. To qualify, individuals must not also have an offer of affordable, minimum value health insurance from an employer or a government-sponsored health coverage.
- Employer insurance is considered affordable under the health care law if the employee’s share of the premium for the lowest priced plan available that would cover the employee only — not the employee’s family — is 9.56 percent or less of their household income. Employer insurance provides minimum value if it pays for at least 60 percent of the covered benefits provided to the employee. Applicants offered job-based coverage that is affordable and provides minimum value aren’t eligible for APTC if they purchase a plan through Covered California.
Because APTC is based on information that can change during the year, like income, family size, or where you live, it’s important to keep Covered California updated about these changes so that your APTC can be adjusted if needed.
To learn more about how changes in circumstances can affect your premium tax credit, click to read more about this on the IRS website.
What do I do if I have a change in my income or application information at renewal or during the year?
You can log on to your Covered California online account to safely and securely report your changes. If you don’t already have an online account, we recommend that you create a Covered California online account.
You can also contact your Certified Insurance Agent or Certified Enrollment Counselor, or call Covered California at (800) 300-1506 (TTY: 889-4500) and a Service Center Representative will assist you to make the change in your account.
It is possible that you will qualify for more premium assistance than you received because at the end of the year your income was lower or your tax household size was larger than what you reported to Covered California. If this happens, you may get money back when you file your taxes.
It is also possible that you qualify for less premium assistance than you received because at the end of the year your income was higher or your tax household size was smaller than what you reported to Covered California. If this happens, when you file taxes you will have to repay the extra amount you received.
Every year, Covered California will send enrollees a tax form called a Form 1095-A, which you will need when filing your taxes. Your 1095-A shows the amount the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) paid to your insurance company during the previous year to help you with the cost of your health coverage. The amount paid was based on the income information and household size you provided. If your income changed, you may have paid too much or too little for your health coverage. Read more about this form here.
What can I do to avoid owing money when I file my taxes?
- If you have a change in your application information, you must report the change to Covered California within 30 days. Also, if Covered California asks you to provide documents that verify your income, you must do so by the date listed on your notice.
- If you are worried about owing money at tax time, you can choose to take less of the APTC each month. Your monthly premiums will still be lower, but not as much. By taking less credit during the year, there is less chance you will owe back money at tax time.
- You can also choose to pay the full premium amount each month. If you choose this option, when you file your taxes you would subtract your tax credit from the tax you owe — or get a bigger refund if you didn’t owe anything.
If those are the words you’ve recently uttered, you are certainly not alone. Although the governments keep reminding us that the so-called ‘Great Recession’ is over, it certainly does not feel that way to many many people. The rich are growing richer and the poorer, poorer.
Where does that leave you today, in 2017? Are there actually some legit help programs out there, both in the private sector and the government?
The answer is both good and bad. Yes, there are some government aid programs that SOME of you, depending on your circumstances, might be able to take advantage of. The bad news is that a lot of you won’t qualify or the programs are so backlogged that you won’t be able to get a spot.
It’s worth trying, but you should have a back up plan. The phrase ‘God helps those who help themselves’ is really the truth. At the end of the day, the government or some magical public works program is not going to extract you from your situation. YOU WILL HAVE TO DO SO YOURSELF.
FINANCIAL HELP THROUGH EMPLOYMENT
This is by far the BEST way to actually get financial help. By getting a job, you are fixing your own problems. Now, it’s easy for me to write this. But the reality is, finding a job can be a huge ordeal.
Step 1: Create that Resume
The first thing you need to do is make sure you have an UP TO DATE resume. There are plenty of resume resources online that will tell you how to craft a resume. You can also hire a professional resume writer if you have the cash. Either way, you need a resume.
Step 2: Submit Resume to Job Listings
The next step is to actually find a job.
You can use various job finding searches to apply for jobs and submit your resume online:
I recommend these as the best job sites:
- Beyond – one of the leading job sites in the world.
You should also use sites like craigslist.org to do a job search (I’ve gotten several jobs myself) AND walk into places of interest and ask to apply directly for the job.
Don’t forget to look at potential employers on Linkedin and making contact — more and more tech-savvy types are landing jobs through social connections on Linkedin.
There is something to be said about walking into a business and asking for a job direction — you don’t see that done too much these days and by doing so, you stand out.
Step 3: Go to the interview and land the job
The dreaded job interview is where you put the pedal to the medal and make it all happen. It’s a bit beyond the scope of this article to give that sort of advice. Do your research online about how to pass an interview and what sort of questions to expect and PRACTICE what you are going to say. Show up and bring your A game.
FINANCIAL HELP FOR THE UNEMPLOYED
If you are unemployed by no fault of your own, there may be some governmental assistance. You will have to apply for unemployment benefits through your local state unemployment services.
FINANCIAL HELP THOUGH EDUCATION
Without a doubt, education is one of the keys to getting yourself out of financial problems. By going back to school and learning a new employable skill, you give yourself access to NEW job opportunities that would not be available before your schooling.
Now, the bad news is that you have to pay for that schooling. And you have to potentially juggle supporting a family at the same time. Not an easy process. But there is help for schooling available.
Read this: Federal Student Loans to Pay for School
First off, you can apply for Federal Student Loans. Go to the government website about student loans here. If you qualify, you are usually given a grant with the student loan (grant = non-repayable funding). Mind you, the grants given by the government won’t pay for your schooling, but they will cover a portion of the costs. The rest will be loan money (which you have to repay).
Federal Student Loans, which are given to you after you apply with the FAFSA, assuming you qualify of course, basically grant you acceptance for a certain amount of money. Once you are accepted into the program and qualify, you then will take those documents to a BANK that accepts federal student loans and the bank institution gives you the money.
Get Private Student Loans to Pay for School
Quite often, depending on the school you go to and what program you enter and the length of your study period, Federal Student Loans and Grants don’t bring enough cash to pay for your entire school costs. There other option here then is to
1) Come up with the rest on your own
2) Seek out Private Student Loans.
You’ll have to apply for private loan funding at a banking institution. There are a couple well known private student loans such the Stafford Loan and the Chase Loan.
Get Private Scholarship Funding
There are a number of private scholarships and grants you can apply for. And you absolutely should. The bad news with scholarships are that they are merit based — meaning you usually have to have good grades or some other superlative attribute to win one. Grants, on the other hand, are given as funding for special reasons. Perhaps you are a Native American and there are grant programs offering money to Native Americans who go to school. These are the sort of grant programs you might find.
Online Programs That Might Help…
There are a number of online services that you might register for that may offer you some financial help. These often put you in a drawing for a scholarship several times a year. It’s worth the couple minutes to sign up. These are businesses, advertising companies, and other for-profit companies. By registering and filling out their questionnaires, they will, in turn, provide you with some benefit — information, entering into a scholarship draw, etc.
FINANCIAL HELP FOR CREDIT AND DEBIT ISSUES
If your financial problems have caused you credit problems, debt problems, or other issues that affect your financial future because you owed someone money, you need to address these NOW.
First off, you should know exactly what your credit history is. Why? Because one of the first steps to helping yourself is to make sure your credit score is good. It can take a few years to do so and if your credit score is in the dumps, you won’t be able to:
Apply for a Credit Card
Get a mortgage or ANY OTHER TYPE OF LOAN (at least one that doesn’t bankrupt you with super high-interest rates)
Open (some) bank accounts
Basically, if you don’t have a good credit score, you are kind of screwed out of a lot of services that most people consider pretty essential to achieving the ‘American Dream’.
Make sure you use the new free credit check websites like Credit Sesame — you don’t need to pay anything to check your credit score when you sign up
Too Much Debt
If you have debt problems, here are two potential solutions to help you get your finances in order. Note you should contact a financial adviser first before considering a specific strategy.
Solution 1: Debt Consolidation
If your source of problems relates to debt issues, then you need to seek some debt counseling. Depending on HOW bad your debt is, you may want to look some sort of Debt Consolidation service. The way this works is you have a company that will contact your creditors and ‘take over’ your debt.
By combining all your different debts into a single debt under one company, a lower interest rate can be negotiated. You can try calling your creditors yourself, you can talk to your bank about it, or you can contact an online company that manages loan consolidations services and get it done online.
If you are in a pickle because you owe student loans and can’t pay, consider debt consolidation.The process helps consolidate different loans you have to get a better interest rate.
Solution 2: Bankruptcy
If your debt is so much that you can NOT in fact pay it off in a reasonable time, then you need to consider filing for Bankruptcy. Now there are a number of different types of Bankruptcy. This is a serious issue that will affect your credit and your future for years to come so I highly recommend you do your research. You should also contact a bankruptcy specialist.
I NEED FINANCIAL HELP THROUGH LOANS
Loans are usually not a solution to financial issues UNLESS you are looking at either reducing the interest rate on a loan, filing for bankruptcy to get away from loan debt, or using loans to fund your education so you CAN get a job, or using a loan to create a business.
I Need a Payday Loan
N you don’t. Really. The interest rates are sky high.
But IF you can pay one back right away, they do have their uses for emergencies.
Payday Loans are known as short term loans. Basically, there are loans that are usually for a couple weeks to a month. What usually happens is you show proof of employment then post date a check for after your payday. In return, you are given a short term loan for that amount. Mind you, there are different types of payday loans. IF you don’t pay back a payday loan, the interest rates are huge, however.
ONLY take out a payday loan if you absolutely need some quick cash and are 100 percent sure you can repay it within the period before the interest is due!
I Need a Student Loan
We’ve already talked about student loans in detail. But as a recap you have
- Federal Student Loans
- Private Student Loans
You apply for Federal Student Loans via the FAFSA. For private student loans, you will need to consult a bank such as Sallie Mae.
I Need a Business Loan
There are loans that are given out for you to start a business. They come in two types, secured and unsecured.
Secured loans are where you put down some collateral — your car, your house, or something to ‘back’ the loan.
Unsecured Loans are where you don’t put anything down. Business loans are highly dependent on your credit history and for most individuals, will be secured loans.
You can check Lending Club which is an online P2P lender that specializes in helping people get business loans.
I Need a Personal Loan
These are loans given out by the bank or some other lender. They are to finance something like renovating your house, going on a trip, or to fund something specific. Personal loans are highly dependent on your credit history. You should NOT use a personal loan to solve another loan debt or financial crisis!
Check out Lending Club if you want to apply for a personal loan online — they have a good reputation.
I Need an Auto Loan
These are also called Car Loans and are given out to buy a vehicle. You can apply for an auto loan here.
GENERAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE RESOURCES
If you are looking for specific assistance resources from the government:
Medicaid is a health insurance program for certain low-income and needy people paid with Federal, state, and county dollars. It is the largest program providing medical and health-related services to Alabama’s poorest people–including children, the …
Go here to look at the state MEDICAD pages: Assistance
Look at the disability assistance programs here: Development Assistance
There is actually very few real grants given out by the government. These are called personal grants. Most grants are for businesses and other organizations that meet specific criteria. As USA.GOV states “Most grants are awarded to universities, researchers, cities, states, counties, and non-profit organizations.
You can find grants for organizations at Grants.gov. — yes, there are some government grant programs, but it’s not just free money handed out. Assistance
- Subsidized Housing Program (HUD): Assistance
There is a real program offered by the government that can give you free food. It’s called SNAP (aka food stamps).
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