Current Issues

Coronavirus

The CDC recommends that organizers cancel or postpone social events of 10 people or more. Examples of events include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, etc. until April 30, 2020. For health-related information from the CDC about the virus, CLICK HERE.

CLICK HERE for the President’s Guidelines on 30 Days to Slow the Spread, which has now been extended to April 30, 2020.

Senator Lankford has released several documents to answer Oklahomans' questions regarding the programs enacted by the CARES Act: 

  • CLICK HERE for information on direct access payments to individuals and families.
  • CLICK HERE for information on unemployment insurance. 
  • CLICK HERE for information on the Employee Retention Tax Credit. 
  • CLICK HERE for information on the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • CLICK HERE for information on the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. 

UPDATES: 

On April 3, SBA started accepting application for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). With a new program, Lenders had many questions regarding the Paycheck Protection Program. For more information on the program for small business owners, please check below under resources for Oklahoma businesses.

  • Lenders who need assistance accessing SBA's E-Tran system to process loan guarantee request may call the Lender Customer Service Line at 1-833-572-0502. CLICK HERE to download the Paycheck Protection Program Lender Application Form.
  • CLICK HERE to view the Lender Agreement and enroll as a participating SBA Lender to make Paycheck Protection Program financing available to your customers. 

April 2, Governor Stitt issued an Executive Order to delcare a health emergency for all 77 counties in Oklahoma for the next 30 days.  He encourages all Oklahomans that we are safer at home and to follow CDC guidelines to stay at home. CLICK HERE to learn more.

March 30, Oklahoma received its full resupply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPD) from the Strategic National Stockpile. 

Saturday, March 28, the CDC issued a domestic travel advisory for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. CLICK HERE to read the advisory. 

March 27, President Trump signed into law phase three emergency relief funding, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This is the law that passed to provide small businesses, individuals, and families with the support they need during this health pandemic. Federal agencies are now working on implementation of the CARES Act and my office remains very engaged to ensure the assistance is getting to Oklahomans. To learn more about how the CARES Act provides assistance to Oklahomans, visit the tabs below.

Check @SenatorLankford on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for additional information. Don't forget to turn on notifications for @SenatorLankford for the various platforms so you are alerted about resources and updates Senator Lankford shares on social media.

Resources

Assistance for Oklahoma Small Businesses

The CARES Act unleased unprecedented eligibility criteria for small business loans. With these provisions, employers are able to stay closely engaged with their employees by keeping them on the payroll and keeping their lights on. 

Many Oklahoma businesses have been forced to temporarily or permanently close their doors as our nation manages the response to COVID-19. With the recently passed law, businesses are eligible for loan products to keep employees on the payroll, even if they shut down between February 15, 2020, and June 30, 2020. 

In addition, these loans are available to businesses that have not qualified for SBA loans in the past. Any business with less than 500 employees is eligible. The standard SB revenue-based standards do not apply. 

My office will continue to work closely with SBA to get these programs up to speed as soon as possible. While some questions still remain, we are engaged with getting you the answers you need as quickly as we can.

CLICK HERE for information on the Employee Retention Tax Credit. 

Paycheck Protection Program

Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses CLICK HERE to visit the Department of Treasury website for information if you are a lender or borrower. Self-employed and independent contractors are eligible for the program if they meet the size standards. 

CARES Act creates the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) under SBA's existing 7(a) program. PPP accomplishes several important goals for small businesses, nonprofits, and houses of worship, their employees, and our overall communities and economy:

  • Provides loan guarantees to cover payroll costs, including paid sick leave, mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments. 
  • Forgives the loan amount spent on the above activities for a period of eight weeks following loan origination, if the borrower does not lay off employees. Keeping employees on the payroll will turn the loan into a grant for eight weeks--borrowers will not have to pay it back. 

The CARES Act also works to increase the number of approved lenders, as well as cut out the red tape to ensure quick loan disbursal. The lender is able to make decisions on the spot, without SBA approval. 

CLICK HERE to find an eligible lender. 

CLICK HERE for a printable document with details on the PPP program. *Update: Ag Coops are eligible for PPP

CLICK HERE to access the Small Business Administration's website on how you can apply for PPP.

CLICK HERE for the Paycheck Protection Program Borrower Application form. 

Resources for Lenders Participating in PPP

  • CLICK HERE for a PPP Lender information sheet from the US Department of Treasury. 
  • CLICK HERE for the PPP Lender application form (Updated 4/2/2020)
  • CLICK HERE for the PPP New Lender Application Form (Federally Insured Depository Institutions, Federal Insured Credit Unions, Farm Credit System Institutions)
    • As indicated in the information sheet for lenders, email the form to DelegatedAuthority@sba.gov. 

Small Business Administration:

  • Click here to download the Paycheck Protection Program Lender Application Form. Lenders who need assistance accessing SBA's E-Tran system to process loan guarantee requests may call our Lender Customer Service Line at 1-833-572-0502.
  • Click here to view the Lender Agreement and enroll as a participating SBA Lender to make Paycheck Protection Program financing available to your customers.

State SBA Contact: Oklahoma_DO@sba.gov

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program

The Small Business Administration also administers the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. On March 20, SBA Administrator approved Oklahoma's eligibility for small businesses to apply for EIDL. The CARES Act approved $10 billion for an "emergency" EIDL program. Eligible entities will now be able to apply for the loan directly through SBA.  

For more information, CLICK HERE for a one-page document on the EIDL program. *Update: Ag Coops are eligible for EIDL. 

To apply for the program, visit SBA's website


Assistance for businesses

The CARES Act was designed to encourage eligible employers to keep employees on their payroll despite experiencing economic hardship related to COVID-19 with an employee retention tax credit (Employee Retention Credit). The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act requires certain employers to pay sick of family leave wages to employees who are unable to work or telework due to COVID-19. Employers are entitled toa refundable tax credit for the required leave paid, up to specified limits. The same wages cannot be counted for both credits.

CLICK HERE for more information from the IRS. 

The IRS is extending payroll tax credits to eligible small and midsize businesses. CLICK HERE for information from the IRS. 

CLICK HERE for information on the Employee Retention Tax Credit. 

Economic Recovery Payment

All US residents with adjusted gross income under $75,000 ($112,500 for head of household and $150,000 married), who are not the dependent of another taxpayer and have a work-eligible Social Security Number, are eligible for the full $1,200 ($2,400 married) rebate. They are also eligible for an additional $500 per child. A typical family of four is eligible for a $3,400 recovery rebate. You did not have to file taxes the previous year to receive a check.

For all of your questions regarding rebate or direct checks, CLICK HERE.

The IRS is working to set up a web-based portal where you can submit your direct deposit information. The IRS will send recovery rebate checks to eligible Americans. You can visit irs.gov/coronavirus for more information.


Unemployment Insurance

The CARES Act created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. It allows self-employed individuals to apply for unemployment. The work search requirement for unemployment claims has been waived and the one week waiting period before UI benefits begin as been waived. 

To apply for UI insurance

  • Visit the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission website to submit a claim, https://www.ok.gov/oesc/Claimants/
  • Or call the UI Service Center
    • OKC area call 405-525-1500
    • Outside of OKC 1-800-555-1554
  • If you have questions while filling out a claim, email OESC Helps at oesc.helps@oesc.state.ok.us
  • You will need to provide proof of identification to file a claim. During COVID-19 guidelines, you are able to email, mail or fax your ID documents
    • email: idverification@oesc.state.ok.us
    • mail: OESC, PO Box 52006, Oklahoma City, OK 73152-2006
    • fax: 405-962-7524

For a printable one page document with UI questions, CLICK HERE


New federal paid leave requirements related to COVID-19

  • US Department of Labor has a fact sheet for employees, which you can access HERE
  • FAQ sheet on paid leave can be accessed HERE.

The VA has expanded virtual services to continue support to Veterans during COVID-19. Many in-person services are already available via the phone or online through virtual options like VA Video Connect. Veterans Benefits Administration has ensured the following resources are available: 

  • Uninterrupted GI Bill payments so students continue to receive their benefits unaffected by any change from in-person to online learning 
  • Supporting students for educational counseling through online and telephone services. 
  • Connecting Veterans to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Services through teleconferencing; providing case management and general counseling virtually through VA Video Connect. 
  • Conducting appeal hearings by telephone or video conference when needed. 
  • Collection information to process fiduciary claims by phone. When necessary other accommodations will be arranged. 
  • Collecting information remotely via phone or teleconference when possible to process grant requests for special adaptive housing. 
  • Conducting examinations for disability benefits using tele-compensation and pension or "tele-C&P" exams. If an in-person examination is required, Veterans will be notified of scheduling. 

For more information on benefits and services, the VA will still provide while offices are closed, visit the VA's website for more information and updates. 


The OKC VA facility and clinics are open and continue to care for Veterans. New visitor restrictions are in place. For additional information, please visit the VA's Public Health website. CLICK HERE for more information.

    • Due to the COVID-19 emergency, the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System recommends all Veteran patients refill or renew their routine medications for mail delivery to reduce the risk of community spread. Please order refills at least 14 days in advance using either option below:
      • MyHealtheVet - www.myhealth.va.gov
      • Automated Refill Line- 1- 888-397-8387, press 1 for pharmacy, press 2 for pharmacy staff.
      • Mail Refill Slip
      • Call Center- 1- 888-397-8387, press 1 for pharmacy, press 2 for pharmacy staff.
      • If you have a prescription from a community provider or you are out of a critical medication such as Insulin, Blood Pressure, Mental Health, and Anti-Coagulation medications, you should go to the VA Outpatient Pharmacy in person in either Muskogee or Tulsa. 

With the potential increase in stress and anxiety due to COVID-19, OKC VAHCS is encouraging Veterans to use the Veteran's, Crisis Line.

Veteran's Crisis Line

If you or a Veteran or Armed Service Member is in crisis trained responders are available to assist 24-7. To speak to someone, please: 

  • Dial 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 to talk to someone. 
  • Send a text message to 838255 to connect with a VA responder.
  • Start a confidential online chat session at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.

Behavioral health and mental health hotline information 

The OKC VA Health Care System has a local hotline available 24/7. To talk to an OKC VAHCS employee about behavior health during COVID-19, dial 405-456-4488.

COVID-19 Hotline

OKC VAHCS has also set up a local hotline to answer general questions regarding COVID-19. The hotline is available from 6 am CT-8 pm CT. Dial 405-456-7119 to ask a question.  

On April 3 the Small Business Administration issued new guidance on the eligibility for faith-based organizations to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). CLICK HERE for the policy guidance issued by SBA. 

For an FAQ from SBA on faith-based organizations participating in PPP and EIDL programs, CLICK HERE.

Paycheck Protection Program

Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses CLICK HERE to visit the Department of Treasury website for information if you are a lender or borrower. Self-employed and independent contractors are eligible for the program if they meet the size standards. 

CARES Act creates the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) under SBA's existing 7(a) program. PPP accomplishes several important goals for small businesses, nonprofits, and houses of worship, their employees, and our overall communities and economy:

  • Provides loan guarantees to cover payroll costs, including paid sick leave, mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments. 
  • Forgives the loan amount spent on the above activities for a period of eight weeks following loan origination, if the borrower does not lay off employees. Keeping employees on the payroll will turn the loan into a grant for eight weeks--borrowers will not have to pay it back. 

The CARES Act also works to increase the number of approved lenders, as well as cut out the red tape to ensure quick loan disbursal. The lender is able to make decisions on the spot, without SBA approval. 

CLICK HERE to find an eligible lender. 

CLICK HERE for a printable document with details on the PPP program.

CLICK HERE to access the Small Business Administration's website on how you can apply for PPP.

CLICK HERE for the Paycheck Protection Program Borrower Application form. 

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program

The Small Business Administration also administers the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. On March 20, SBA Administrator approved Oklahoma's eligibility for small businesses to apply for EIDL. The CARES Act approved $10 billion for an "emergency" EIDL program. Eligible entities will now be able to apply for the loan directly through SBA.  

For more information, CLICK HERE for a one-page document on the EIDL program. 

To apply for the program, visit SBA's website

  • FEMA has a number of great resources including fact sheets and a FAQ page regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. CLICK HERE to learn more. CLICK HERE for FEMA's efforts to control rumors about the coronavirus outbreak.
  • 2020 Census: For an operational update about the 2020 Census amid the coronavirus outbreak, CLICK HERE.
  • Federal Tax Relief:
    • For information on deferred tax year 2019 payments and filing until July 15, 2020, without penalty or late fees, CLICK HERE.
    • For general federal tax relief information regarding coronavirus, CLICK HERE.
  • Community Banks:  For information on what the Federal Reserve is doing to help community banks amid coronavirus, CLICK HERE.
  • Community Health Centers: On March 23, the federal government announced 21 health centers in Oklahoma would receive $1.36 million to help fight against COVID-19. CLICK HERE for information on funding available to Oklahoma community health centers from HRSA to fight coronavirus. 
  • Communications and Connectivity:  For resources from the FCC regarding coronavirus, CLICK HERE.
    • For information on consumer warnings and current scams regarding coronavirus, CLICK HERE.
    • For information on the FCC's efforts to keep Americans connected during the coronavirus outbreak, CLICK HERE.
  • Credit Card Companies: For information on steps Discover Card is taking to ensure they can continue to serve customers during the outbreak, CLICK HERE.
  • Medicare/Medicaid: For questions on Medicare and Medicaid Services, CLICK HERE to view CMS's resources. 
    • For information on Medicare’s expansion of telemedicine services to help during the outbreak, CLICK HERE.
  • Social Security: For answers to frequently asked questions regarding Social Security benefits from the Social Security Administration, CLICK HERE.
  • Defense: For response information from the Department of Defense, CLICK HERE

Oklahoma received its full resupply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). 

  • If you are uninsured call 2-1-1 for information on community resources. 
  • CLICK HERE to find locations for children to receive free meals during the outbreak period's school closures.
  • Oklahoma Department of Health Women Infants and Children (WIC) Program now is serving new and existing clients online. Visit  http://wic.health.ok.gov/ for more information. 
  • CLICK HERE for clarification from Oklahoma Attorney General on Church Services amid recommendations on canceling events larger than 50 people.
  • CLICK HERE for information from the Oklahoma Department of Education on Coronavirus guidance.
  • The Oklahoma Regional Food Banks are still in need of volunteers to help distribute food. For more information, CLICK HERE
  • CLICK HERE for information from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) on where and how to file Unemployment Insurance claims online.
  • Your mental health is important. CLICK HERE for information from the Oklahoma Department of Health on how to respond during COVID-19. 
    • 24/7 Contacts

Oklahoma COVID-19 Call Center: 877-215-8336

Heartline: 2-1-1

The Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741

For information on Oklahoma Public Schools & distancing resources, visit the Oklahoma State Department of Education. For OSDE COVID-19 FAQ, CLICK HERE

  • Schools and Students: For information for schools and school personnel from the US Department of Education, CLICK HERE.
    • PBS Daily Email for Parents: PBS is sending a daily email to families with resources for how to engage the nation’s youngest learners. Just yesterday, the American Pediatric Academy listed PBS as a valuable resource for families during these challenging times. PBS was the only media company mentioned in the article.
    • PBS KIDS Video: Available on mobile, tablet and connected TV devices, PBS KIDS offers on-demand educational videos and a live stream of the PBS KIDS 24/7 channel. No subscription is required.
    • PBS KIDS Games APP: Includes nearly 200 educational games, which can be downloaded for offline play anytime, anywhere. Learn more about this and PBS KIDS’ other apps at pbskids.org/apps.
    • PBS KIDS for Parents: A robust website with information, activities, and tips for parents, including resources for talking with kids about coronavirus, encouraging healthy habits, managing worried feelings and supporting playful learning at home.
    • OETA is working with the State Department of Education to provide PBS LearningMedia and other distance learning resources to educators and parents statewide, together with information on the coronavirus and steps to mitigate infection.
  • NASA has provided NASA STEM @ Home for students K-8 grades. To access NASA STEM @ Home, CLICK HERE
    • Currently, the Department of State has issued an international travel advisory at Level 4 "Do Not Travel." For more information, CLICK HERE.
    • For up-to-date information on travel from the US State Department, including travel advisories, CLICK HERE.
    • After the virus was named a public health crisis by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Department of State bumped the travel advisory for China to a Level 4 of 4 (Do Not Travel). CLICK HERE for more information on the travel advisory and what to do if you are planning to travel to China soon.
    • For a fact sheet from the Department of Homeland Security on arrival restrictions on China, Iran, and parts of Europe, CLICK HERE
    • The Oklahoma State Department of Health strongly advises Oklahomans who are returning from spring break from a country or a region with widespread ongoing transmission of COVID-19 (Level 3 Travel Heath Notice) to take the following steps to protect yourself and others:
      • Stay at home. Do not go to work, school, or leave your house for 14 days. Discuss your work situation with your employer.
      • Monitor your health. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever (temperature of 100.4°F/38°C or higher). Also, watch for a cough or trouble breathing.
      • Practice social distancing within the home. Avoid contact with other people for 14 days. Maintain distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from family members and others in the home when possible.
  • March 27 – President Trump signed into law the CARES Act which is an emergency relief package to provide support to family and to hospitals, researchers, and health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. CLICK HERE to read Senator Lankford’s statement on the Senate passing COVID-19.
  • March 20 - The US Senate began consideration of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, a $1 trillion economic stimulus and assistance for workers package. 
  • March 18 - The US Senate approved an $850 billion second coronavirus-related funding bill. CLICK HERE to read more on Senator Lankford's vote. CLICK HERE to watch his floor speech on the coronavirus and the bill.
  • March 16 - Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Oklahoma to ensure health officials, state agencies & small businesses have the tools available to respond to the Coronavirus. CLICK HERE to view his video message. 
  • March 14 - USDA granted a request from the Oklahoma Department of Education to continue meal service while Oklahoma schools are closed. CLICK HERE for guidance from USDA. 
  • March 13 – President Trump declared a national state of emergency. CLICK HERE to read the emergency declaration. CLICK HERE to access a fact sheet on resources mobilized by President Trump.
  • March 13 – President Trump sent a letter to Secretary Wolf, Secretary Mnuchin, Secretary Azar and Administrator Gaynor to direct them on the Emergency Determination under the Stafford Act. CLICK HERE to access the letter.
  • March 5 – Congress passed the first phase of funding--$8.3 billion in total—focused for prevention and treatment efforts.  Oklahoma later received $6,925,000 directly.
  • February 26 – the President appointed Vice President Pence to oversee the coronavirus preparedness, prevention, and research for the US government. Then, on February 27, Vice President Pence appointed US Ambassador Debbie Birx, who leads US efforts to fight HIV/AIDS globally, to serve as the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator.
  • February 24 – President Trump requested an emergency supplemental funding package of $2.5 billion, $1.25 billion of which is new funding. The supplemental funding is primarily intended for the CDC’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) fund, the continued work on the production of a vaccine, as well as additional diagnostic tools for health professionals.
  • January 29 – President Trump announced the creation of the President’s task force on coronavirus. The task force is led by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Azar and includes 11 other government officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of State, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Department of Transportation (DOT), and more.

FICTION: There is a national quarantine.

FACT: There have been false rumors sent by text message that we are in a national quarantine. The National Security Council has deemed these fake. There is no national lockdown. CDC.gov will continue to post the latest guidance on coronavirus. 

FICTION: The Administration cut funding for important CDC programs to combat outbreaks like the coronavirus.

FACT: The President has proposed cuts to CDC programs, it’s Congress’ responsibility to determine funding levels and no cuts have been enacted. Each of the three bills passed by Congress has provided additional funding to CDC to address this critical health crisis including funding for a vaccine.

FICTION: Coronavirus is made in a lab and was intentionally spread.

FACT: Despite a circulating social media rumor, the coronavirus was not made in a lab. All coronaviruses are genetic mutations mostly found in animals. Facebook has begun banning ads spreading false information.

The Oklahoma Department of Health provides a fact or fiction blog on COVID-19.

FICTION: Members of Congress received a pay raise in the CARES Act.

FACT: No, the CARES Act did not include a pay raise for Members of Congress or do they qualify for the rebate check. 

FICTION: Oklahoma hospitals do not have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

FACT: Oklahoma has received 100% of our PPE from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and hospitals are also receiving orders of PPE. My office is working closely with Oklahoma hospitals to ensure they have what they need.

FAQ for Employers

Q: As an employer when am I responsible for sick leave payment to employees? 

A: Employers of businesses over 50 employees are required to pay sick leave for 2 weeks (or 80 hours) to full-time employees and the equivalent of a part-time employee’s average work hours wages for 2 weeks. Employers will receive a 100 percent tax credit for qualified sick leave wages paid.

Q: In order to qualify, must a business keep its doors open to the public?

A: As long as a business was operational on March 1, 2020, it can be temporarily closed any time up until the coverage period ends on June 30, 2020. But businesses should get their applications submitted during that time frame as soon as possible. 

Q: I own a small business. How do I get help? 

A: The Small Business Administration (SBA) has 7(a) loans available through the normally certified lenders for coronavirus loss.

  • Oklahoma has applied for and awaits SBA approval on specially designated loans for coronavirus, Economic Injury Disaster loans, as well. 
  • CLICK HERE for SBA’s guide to who is eligible for loans, the size of loans available for given business sizes, and the process to apply and receive the funds.
  • CLICK HERE to read SBA’s fact sheet for businesses on how and where to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
  • CLICK HERE to apply for an SBA loan for small businesses.

Q: What types of businesses are considered "essential" in terms of those that should remain open during the coronavirus outbreak?

A: According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), if business owners believe their businesses are essential or part of a "critical infrastructure industry," business owners should consider the following guidance about whether businesses should remain open during the coronavirus outbreak: “If you work in the critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.”  CLICK HERE to visit CISA's page for additional guidance.

Q: If my business receives a loan through the PPP program, does that mean laid-off employees are ineligible for unemployment insurance? 

A: The borrower cannot get forgiveness for an employee not on the payroll. Therefore, if they laid off an employee and that employee is getting unemployment insurance, the borrower would not be able to get forgiveness for that salary.

If the employer does not hire the employee back, or the employee chooses not to return to the payroll, then yes, the forgiveness would be reduced. 


FAQ for Workers

Q: I’ve heard Congress passed a bill (the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) that would authorize economic stimulus checks for American individuals and families. How much is being proposed to send to individuals and families and how do they determine eligibility? 

A: Under the most recently released draft legislative text, checks would be sent to taxpayers of up to $1200.  Married couples who file a joint return would be eligible for up to $2,400. Those amounts increase by $500 for every child. These checks are reduced for higher-income taxpayers and begin phasing out after a single taxpayer has $75,000 in adjusted gross income, head of household with at least one child has $112,500 and $150,000 for joint filers. The IRS will base these amounts on the taxpayer’s 2019 tax return is filed or in the alternative their 2018 return. The rebate amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 a taxpayer’s income exceeds the phase-out threshold. The amount is completely phased-out for single taxpayers with incomes exceeding $99,000, $146,500 for the head of household filers with one child and $198,000 for joint filers.  

Q: When will economic stimulus checks be sent to individuals and families?

A: Checks for individuals and families would be issued from the US Treasury. The timeframe for issuing checks is still under consideration, but Treasury would work to get checks in the mail as soon as possible. 

Q: Do I need to apply to receive the check? 

A: Individuals and families will not have to apply to receive checks. 

Q: Will individuals whose only income is Social Security receive checks and do not file taxes be eligible for checks? If so, how much? 

A: Taxpayers with little or no income tax liability, but at least $2,500 of qualifying income, would be eligible for a minimum rebate check of $600 ($1,200 married). Qualifying income includes earned income, as well as Social Security retirement benefits and certain compensation and pension benefits paid to veterans. This ensures relief gets to low-income seniors and disabled veterans.

Q: I lost my job (temporarily or permanently) due to coronavirus. What do I do? 

A: CLICK HERE for information from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) on where and how to file Unemployment Insurance claims online, if being unemployed has caused you to lose your health insurance. 

Q: Do workers who are self-employed, independent contractors, freelancers, gig workers, and anyone who would typically not qualify for unemployment benefits now qualify if it relates to the coronavirus?

A: The US Senate's Phase II aid package included provisions for self-employed individuals, including gig workers, that make them eligible for tax credits. If individuals are unable to perform services in their trade or business for sick-leave purposes, the individual may qualify for an income tax credit equal to 100% of average daily self-employment income. Like the employer credits, this credit is limited to $511 per day for certain qualifying sick leave purposes, and $200 for other sick and qualified family leave purposes. The sick-leave credit is limited to a maximum of 10 days. The family-leave credit is limited to 50 days. For self-employed individuals, the income tax credit is refundable (meaning that if the tax credit amount exceeds the individual's income tax liability, the excess is received as a refund, or payment, from the Treasury). Like the employer tax credit, the tax credits for self-employed taxpayers can be claimed for a period to begin within 15 days of enactment and ending December 31, 2020. CLICK HERE for information from the Department of Labor. 

Q: What about taxpayers with adjusted gross income over $75,000 ($112,500 for the head of household and $150,000 married)? Are they eligible to receive any rebate?

A: The rebate amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 that a taxpayer’s income exceeds the phase-out threshold. The amount is completely phased-out for single filers with incomes exceeding $99,000, $146,500 for the head of household filers with one child, and $198,000 for joint filers with no children. For a typical family of four, the amount is completely phased out for those with adjusted gross incomes exceeding $218,000.

Q: What if my income was above the threshold in 2019, but I’ve lost my job due to the COVID-19? Can I still get a rebate check?

A: If your income in 2019 was in the phase-out range you would still receive a partial rebate based on your 2019 tax return. However, the rebate is actually an advance on a tax credit that you may claim on your 2020 tax return. If your income is lower in 2020 than in 2019, any additional credit you are eligible for will be refunded or reduce your tax liability when you file your 2020 tax return next year.

Q: Is the rebate taxable or will I have to pay back any amount if the rebate based on my 2019 return is larger than what it would be based on my 2020 tax return?

A: No, the rebate is treated like other refundable tax credits, such as the child tax credit and earned income tax credit, and not considered income. Moreover, if the credit amount you qualify based on 2020 income is less than what you qualify for based on your 2019 tax return, it does not have to be paid back.

Q: Who qualifies as a child for purposes of the rebate?

A: Any child who is a qualifying child for the purposes of the Child Tax Credit is also a qualifying child for the purposes of the recovery rebate. In general, a child is any dependent of a taxpayer under the age of 17.

Q: Do dependents, other than children under 17, qualify a taxpayer for an additional $500 per dependent?

A: No, the additional $500 per child is limited to children under 17.

Q: Are individuals with little to no income or those on means-tested federal benefits, such as SSI, eligible for a recovery rebate? 

A: Yes, there is no qualifying income requirement. Even individuals with $0 of income are eligible for a rebate so long as they are not the dependent of another taxpayer and have a work-eligible SSN. 

Q: Are college students eligible for a recovery rebate? 

A: Only if they are not considered a dependent of their parents. Generally, a full-time college student under the age of 24 is considered a dependent if their parent(s) provide more than half of their support.

Q: I am eligible for a rebate, what do I have to do to receive it? 

A: For the vast majority of Americans, no action on their part will be required to receive a rebate check since the IRS will use a taxpayer’s 2019 tax return if filed or their 2018 return if they haven’t filed their 2019 return. This includes many individuals with very low income who file a tax return despite not owing to any tax in order to take advantage of the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

Q: What should I do if I did not file a tax return for 2019 or 2018? 

A: The best way to ensure you receive a recovery rebate is to file a 2019 tax return if you have not already done so. This could be accomplished for free online from home using the IRS Free File program (https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free). The bill also instructs the IRS to engage in a public campaign to alert all individuals of their eligibility for the rebate and how to receive it if they have not filed either a 2019 or 2018 tax return.

Q: If I have a past-due debt to a federal or state agency, or owe back taxes, will my rebate be reduced?

A: No, the bill turns off nearly all administrative offsets that ordinarily may reduce tax refunds for individuals who have past tax debts, or who are behind on other payments to federal or state governments, including student loan payments. The only administrative offset that will be enforced applies to those who have past due child support payments that the states have reported to the Treasury Department.


FAQ if you are sick

Q: How do I get tested for coronavirus?

A: Contact your health provider, and if you still have questions, please contact the Oklahoma State Department of Health coronavirus hotline at (877) 215-8336 or 2-1-1. On March 20, Oklahoma entered into a public-private partnership to expand testing availability. CLICK HERE to learn more.

Q: What is the status of a vaccine? 

A: There is currently no FDA-approved vaccine to treat COVID-19. However, both public- and private-sector scientists are working diligently in cooperation toward a vaccine and treatment options.

Q: What do I do if I have symptoms?

A: Contact your local healthcare provider. 


FAQ for Seniors 

Q: Will I receive my social security benefits? 

A: Yes, Social Security benefits will be paid on time. For all updates from the Social Security Administration, CLICK HERE

Q: Are seniors whose only income is from Social Security or a veteran whose only income is a veterans’ disability payment eligible?

A: Yes, as long as they are not the dependent of another taxpayer. The bill also provides IRS with additional tools to locate and provide rebates to low-income seniors who normally do not file a tax return by allowing them to base a rebate on Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement or Form RRB-1099, which is the equivalent of the Social Security statement for Railroad Employees. However, seniors are still encouraged to file their 2019 tax returns to ensure they receive their recovery rebates as quickly as possible.

Test available in Oklahoma

  • On April 1, 2020, Oklahoma has 13,000 COVID-19 test kits available. 
  • Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is working to open more drive through COVID-19 testing locations. To find a currently open COVID-19 drive through testing location, CLICK HERE
  • How do I get tested? Call your primary care physician if you have symptoms of COVID-19. CLICK HERE for more information. 
  • The coronavirus—also called Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19—is similar to MERS or SARS you might remember hearing about.
    • The most recent MERS outbreak lasted from May 2015-July 2015
    • The SARS outbreak lasted from November 2002-July 2003.
  • Coronavirus symptoms include mild-to-severe respiratory illness with fever and cough with the worst cases transitioning to pneumonia.
  • CLICK HERE to listen to the most recent episode of Senator Lankford's podcast, The Breakdown with James Lankford, in which Senator Lankford breaks down the US prevention and preparedness plans for the coronavirus.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, a fever, cough, shortness of breath, here is what the Oklahoma Department of Health recommends: 

CLICK HERE to check your symptoms through the Oklahoma Department of Health symptom checker or CLICK HERE to use the CDC's COVID-19 screening tool developed by Apple. 

  • For opportunities in your community to serve your neighbor, visit BeANeighbor.ok.gov. 
  • Give blood. If you are healthy, blood donations are in high demand. Visit Oklahoma Blood institution for information on how to donate and the precautions they are taking during this time. 
  • Offer to go to the grocery store for a neighbor, friend, or family member who is high-risk. 
  • Call a neighbor, friend, or family member who are isolated during the stay at home guidelines. 
  • If you're not assisting someone in need, staying home is the best way to help our community. 

To protect the health and safety of Oklahomans, the operations of the Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Washington, DC, offices will move to full-time telework until further notice. James's office will continue to respond to telephone calls, casework assistance, email, and mail correspondence, and he will still meet virtually with Oklahomans. Visit the contact page for information on how to reach James or his staff. 

If you are experience symptoms or have questions regarding COVID-19 you can call the Oklahoma State Department of Health COVID-19 call center at 877-215-8336 or 2-1-1. The call lines are open 24-7.