Question:   How can I manage my bills from home, and will I be eligible to receive money from the economic stimulus bill?

Learning to manage your bills and finances from home can be a challenge if you are used to going in person to the bank. Right now, it is important to stay safe at home and that means adapting to new ways of doing things. I can provide some tips on how to make sure you are still able to pay all your bills.

I’ll start, however, by addressing the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relied, and Economic Security) Act that was passed by congress on March 27th. The main component of this Act that people are eager about is the Economic Impact Payment. This will provide people whose income is $75,000 a year or less, or for a couple $150,000 or less, to receive a payment of $1,200 ($2,400 for a couple). For people who file taxes that show income above those amounts, the payment is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds. People with a single income of $99,000 or more or couples with joint income of $198,000 or more are not eligible.

When this was first announced, the Act stated that people who receive only Social Security or SSI and who do not file taxes would have to file a form to be able to collect this money. However, this was revised and now you no longer need to file any form to receive the payment. This includes senior citizens, Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who are not otherwise required to file a tax return. For these groups, you already have your direct deposit information on file and should expect the payment to be directly deposited into the same account where you receive these benefits. Payments are expected to begin mid-April, so check your accounts. For more information visit:

Now, let’s talk about how you can manage your bill payment at home.

If you have access to the internet you can check your accounts and even pay your bills online. If you have never done this before just go to your bank’s official website and create an account. Create a strong password and keep this safe. Now you can log in to view your account status at any time or even set up bill pay from your bank directly to pay your bills. You can also go to the website listed on your bill and pay that specific bill online with a credit card.

If you do not have access to the internet you can still pay bills over the phone. Look on your bill for the phone number. Some will allow you to pay with a credit card and some may ask for your checking account information. This may be a good time to set up automatic payments. This will ease your worry about paying bills on time as they will automatically be charged to the card you provide every month.

You may prefer to continue paying your bills with a written check, but have run out of stamps. You can order stamps to be delivered to your home at Unfortunately, you cannot call to order stamps on the phone. If you don’t have access to the internet you may want to ask a friend to order them to be shipped to you, if needed.

As with most things now, we must adjust the way we did things to adapt to the current climate. Staying safe at home is the first priority and I wish you all a safe and healthy home.

Martha Shapiro can reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at

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