COVID-19 Updates Important Covid-19 Resources Find Local Child Support Contact Information To get information on coronavirus and COVID-19, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention For information on COVID-19 in California, visit the Governor’s COVID-19 information page or the California Department of Public Health For COVID-19 information for veterans, visit the Veterans Administration Covid-19 page. For information on programs available to help businesses impacted by the shutdowns, visit the US Small Business Administration For information on enhanced unemployment benefits related to COVID-19, visit the Employment Development Department With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, California Child Support Services realizes the impact this is likely to have on case participants. We know that for some of you, the need for financial support for your children will continue or increase. Paying parents may be experiencing the financial hardship of lost wages and worrying about the penalties for missed payments. OUR ONLINE CASE SERVICE PLATFORM, CUSTOMER CONNECT, IS YOUR BEST OPTION TO CONTACT US AT THIS TIME. Communication Options: Email: You can email your caseworker directly through Customer Connect. Log in now. Text: You can enable texting options through your Customer Connect account. Log in now. Automated Phone Line (access in your area may depend on county closures) 1-866-901-3212 Please do not communicate through social media as this does not protect your privacy. Below please find answers to some of the Frequently Asked Questions relevant to the coronavirus epidemic effects and child support. Bookmark this page and we will continue to update it throughout this emergency with the best information we have from our partners and other agencies. For the latest information on local office closures, visit our Find A Local Office page and select your county. Stimulus Payment FAQs – IRS “Injured Spouse” UPDATE September 11, 2020 Recently the IRS announced it will be mailing reimbursement checks to those who filed joint income tax returns for 2019 who had their stimulus payments intercepted to pay back child support owed by their spouse. Normally these joint filers must file an “injured spouse” claim with the IRS to receive their portion of these funds, but now payments will be sent whether or not a claim has been filed. Please see below for changes to the process caused by this decision that may affect you. 1. How do I know if I might get one of these payments? If you received a letter from the IRS notifying you that funds were held to pay back child support owed by your spouse, you may be receiving one of these checks. 2. Is the IRS currently processing Injured Spouse claims? Yes. If you have already filed an Injured Spouse claim, there is no action to take. 3. Who will receive payments from the IRS? ALL joint filers who have not received their portion of the Economic Impact Stimulus Payments, regardless of whether or not they have filed an Injured Spouse claim. Payments are planned to begin in October. 4. Do those applying for Injured Spouse claims still need to submit Form 8379? No. If you have not submitted a Form 8379, the IRS will still automatically issue your portion of the stimulus payment. Do NOT file Form 8379. 5. When will the IRS send Injured Spouse payments to joint filers? The IRS will begin issuing these payments in October. The FAQ on the IRS website will be updated when a specific date is determined. 6. How much will the payment be? The amount is determined by the IRS. If contacting the IRS on this topic, be sure to tell them you are calling about an Injured Spouse payment. 7. If California Child Support Services is currently holding a joint tax refund payment, how long can it be held back? By law it may be held up to six months after the collection is received. Due to COVID-19 this time frame will be extended until after December 31, 2020. 8. What if I WANT my payment to help pay off my spouse’s case? This is easy – once you receive your IRS check, simply make a payment on the California Child Support Services website and it will be applied to your spouse’s case. CARES Act Stimulus Payment FAQs On April 16, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-52-20, which affects the interception of federal stimulus checks. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Support (CARES) Act requires states to intercept federal stimulus payments to apply to overdue child support, but the Governor’s action provides that stimulus intercepts must apply to families first, and government owed arrears only after the family is paid. 1. What are the Stimulus Payments? The Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) provides economic stimulus payments to American families who meet certain financial thresholds. The act provides payments of up to $1,200.00 for adults who file a single tax return with an annual income of $75,000.00 or less and $2,400 for families filing joint returns who have a combined income of $150,000.00 or less. The payments are reduced for parents who make more than these amounts and are completely phased out for single filers who make about $99,000.00 and joint filers who make above $198,000.00. 2. Are the Payments subject to offset for past due child support? The stimulus payments are subject to interception for past-due child support. The CARES legislation specifically left in place the same language that applies to IRS offset payments that child support programs are required to intercept and apply to past due child support. Unfortunately, there is no way for the Child Support Program to differentiate between a normal tax offset payment and the stimulus payment. The state has requested additional information from the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) and has not received any information that would allow us to treat these payments in a different manner. 3. When will the Stimulus Payments be intercepted? According to the federal government, the stimulus checks will start being directly deposited into the accounts of citizens sometime around mid-April. Payments that are subject to interception for past-due child support will be sent to California Child Support Services State Disbursement Unit who will distribute them. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the agency handling your case. 4. How will I know if my Stimulus Payment is intercepted? If your stimulus payment has been taken, the IRS will send you a letter notifying you that the payment will be sent to the California Child Support Services. 5. Will my California state tax refund be intercepted? As of March 27, 2020, California Child Support Services stopped referring information regarding individuals owing unpaid child support to the Interagency Intercept Collection Program operated by the Franchise Tax Board (FTB). On the same date, FTB announced that the Intercept Program will be temporarily suspended due to the widespread health and economic issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, the suspension is scheduled until 07/15/2020, however this date may change based on the evolving nature of this unprecedented event. UPDATE: As of April 21, the Franchise Tax Board notified California Child Support Services that processing would begin on state tax refund intercepts for overdue child support. This is a reversal of the notification received on March 27. Until further notice, state tax refunds WILL be intercepted to pay down unpaid child support. 6. If I owe back child support and am married filing jointly, will they take my spouse's Stimulus Payment? For the most up to date information on stimulus checks and the IRS, visit their website here. 7. I am experiencing a hardship due to COVID-19. Can I request a refund of my Stimulus funds? No, the CARES Act did not grant states any authority to reduce or eliminate the intercept due to hardship. 8. Will the additional $500 Stimulus Payment for each child in my household also be intercepted? Yes, as with other tax refunds, any amount due to you is intercepted. 9. I'm receiving child support. How does the change in the Governor’s Executive Order N-52-20 affect me? If you have never received cash assistance from the state, there is no change for you. All of the stimulus funds, up to the amount of past-due support that was reported to the IRS, may be passed through to you. If you are currently receiving assistance from the state, the stimulus will apply to this month’s child support up to the amount of past-due support that was reported to the IRS, and you may receive a disregard payment of up to $50. If you previously received cash assistance, the Order provides for California Child Support Services to pass the stimulus funds through to you up to the amount of past due support that was reported to the IRS, before repaying the government for the periods of time you received assistance. 10. I'm receiving child support for more than one child with different parents. How does the change in the Governor's Executive Order affect me? If you have more than one child in the household with differing cash assistance status, there are many variables. If you have questions on stimulus payments in these circumstances, contact the caseworker handling your case. Unemployment Benefit FAQs 1. I’m self-employed and COVID-19 has shut me down, can I get help? Yes. If you are self-employed, you may have benefits available from the Employment Development Department employment insurance programs that you may have paid into over the past 5 to 18 months. The new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, effective April 28, will provide federally funded benefits distinct from the Unemployment Insurance program for certain individuals out of work or partially unemployed due to COVID-19. This includes the self-employed, individuals who may be employees but who lack sufficient work history and independent contractors. 2. Will there be additional assistance for unemployed? As of April 11, the Employment Development Department (EDD) will begin paying an additional $600 on top of your current weekly benefit amount as part of the federal CARES Act. Claimants do not need to do anything to receive this extra funding, the EDD will automatically add the full $600 to each week of current benefits that are paid every two weeks, as long you are eligible for at least $1 in a regular payment each week. For someone receiving the average Unemployment Insurance payment of $340 a week, the usual biweekly payment would equal $680. With the extra payment, that payment would increase to $1,880. 3. Is there help for workers in the gig economy? Federal guidelines include gig workers, and California’s gig workers will continue to be protected by strong laws against misclassification in the administration of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Gig workers are eligible for PUA benefits. 4. I need help now, how long will all these new programs take to set up? PUA benefits will be issued within 24-48 hours, instead of the traditional 21 days for regular Unemployment Insurance claims. 5. Am I eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits? If you are self-employed, an independent contractor or gig worker and are unable to work or have had your hours reduced due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits under a few different scenarios: You chose to contribute to UI Elective Coverage and paid the required contributions to be considered potentially eligible for benefits. Your past employer made contributions on your behalf over the past 5 to 18 months. You may have been misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee. 6. How does a self-employed person file for unemployment? When filing for your UI claim, you will be asked for your last employer. If you own your business or are self-employed, you should list yourself as your last employer. If you are an independent contractor, you should list yourself as your last employer. If you believe you are misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee, you should list the business you contract with as your last employer. Be sure to include: The employer name, phone number, and address. Type of work performed. Dates worked. Your gross wages and how you were paid (such as hourly or weekly). If you are a gig worker, you should list your gig employer as your last employer. 7. How do I contact the Employment Development Department? Effective April 20, the Employment Development Department (EDD) will launch a new call center on Monday that will operate 7 days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Call (833) 978-2511 to reach the call center. To contact the EDD’s general line, call (866) 333-4606. 8. Do unemployment payments get taken to pay child support? When a parent who pays child support receives unemployment benefits, California Child Support Services collects support directly from that benefit. California law requires 25 percent (25%) of the payment or what is legally ordered, whichever is less, to be withheld and distributed in accordance with Administrative Rules. The law has not changed to allow for unemployment benefits to be exempt from this process at this time. If you have questions, contact your caseworker. 9. If I am not receiving a paycheck, how do I know how much I need to pay for child support? If you are unemployed and not receiving a paycheck, there are multiple options to find your child support case information. Visit Customer Connect to access your account and details of your payment due. If you think you may be unable to pay the full amount, contact your local child support agency immediately. Please note that all court orders for child support remain unchanged unless modified by the court. General COVID-19 FAQs 1. Will my child support payments be delayed? Due to mailroom safety measures, there may be delays in the processing of any child support payments received during the coronavirus-related shelter-in-place order. Our State Disbursement Unit and payment processing teams will continue to do their utmost to ensure that payments continue to be processed and disbursed promptly. If you haven’t already, now is a good time to sign up for Customer Connect, our online Self Service option to view case information, make payments, and obtain payment records – all from the comfort of your home. Now is also a good time to sign up for direct deposit or an Electronic Payment Card if you are a parent receiving child support. Both are faster, more secure options for receiving child support payments. To learn more visit our Payment Options page, or call our automated phone line at 866-901-3212. 2. Why are child support offices closed? The health and safety of our staff and customers are always our highest priority, and we want to be sure we are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe. While some physical child support offices are currently closed to customers and visitors during this time, services will continue to be provided over the automated phone line at 866-901-3212 and through Customer Connect. We remain committed to continuing to support those we serve during this pandemic. 3. How do I find out if my office is closed? Please visit our FInd a Local Office page for updates regarding your local office and any temporary changes to normal operations. 4. What if I have a question about my case? Customer Connect offers the option of emailing your caseworker directly or opting in to text messaging. Phone lines are still operating, although you may experience long wait times on our automated phone system at 866-901-3212. 5. Will deadlines for responding to notices or request court hearings be postponed? At this time, deadlines to request hearings or respond to notices have not been extended. However, if you need an extension due to reasons outside of your control, contact your caseworker as soon as possible to discuss available options. 6. Can I still take a paternity test? For the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, child support offices will not be conducting genetic testing at their locations as staff do not have the appropriate equipment to protect their health and that of customers. Thank you for your patience during this difficult time. 7. I’m the parent who pays support. If I’m laid off due to COVID-19, what happens to my child support obligation? A court order for child support continues until it is modified or terminated. That means your child support is still due. Contact us to discuss your circumstances and start the process for a modification. Use Customer Connect to contact your caseworker or call 1-866-901-3212. If you receive unemployment compensation, your child support may be withheld from the benefits. 8. Because of COVID-19 I’m unable to pay my full support amount. Am I at risk for a levy on my bank account? Effective March 17, 2020 the automated action for Bank Levies has been shut down. If you receive notification of this action, please contact the child support agency handling your case right away. Your best communication options are listed above. 9. My income has been reduced because of layoffs/closures/quarantines. Can I request a modification due to a change of circumstances? If you are unable to pay child support due to quarantine, self-isolation or layoffs, your first step is to request a “review and adjustment,” also called a “modification.” We can get you the paperwork right away, so reach out to your local office – see above for communications options during county closures. If you and the other parent can agree, we can help you stipulate to change your child support order for the duration of this emergency. Although your order remains in place unless modified, we can work with you not only to modify, but on how we would collect the order. PLEASE reach out to your caseworker with the details of your situation – California Child Support Services continues to work hard to ensure business moves forward even if local offices close. 10. If my employer temporarily closes, will they still send in my child support payment? If you are experiencing unpaid time off, we recommend you make other arrangements to pay your support obligation. Visit our Payments Options page to review all your options for making child support payments. Coronavirus Safety 1. What do I do if I’m afraid for my safety, or the safety of my child, during a quarantine for Covid-19? There are resources available to help families facing domestic violence, including: The California Partnership To End Domestic Violence: https://www.cpedv.org/ The National Domestic Violence Hotline (24/7, free, confidential, in over 200 languages) is 800-799-7233. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has resources on preparing your family for the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Employer COVID-19 FAQs 1. My employee is not working enough hours to continue medical insurance, but they have a National Medical Support Notice. What do I do? If an employee isn’t working enough hours to qualify for health insurance, we do not require you to continue providing insurance pursuant to the National Medical Support Notice. If the children are unenrolled, notify us so the case can be updated. 2. My business has temporarily closed due to Covid-19. Will we be sanctioned if we don’t respond within a required time? No, but you need to respond as soon as possible.