Joyce Kiskis, a Fort Collins insurance agent, recently alerted me that some displaced workers may not know all of the benefits they qualify for when they lose their jobs due to increased imports or shifts in production to foreign countries. In particular, they may not be aware of the Health Care Tax Credit, or HCTC.
The Trade Adjustment Assistance and Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance are federal laws to help trade-affected workers return to suitable employment as quickly as possible. In order for displaced workers to apply for these benefits, a group of workers must apply and be certified as workers adversely affected by foreign trade. If they are certified, each worker in the group may apply for individual services and benefits through their local Workforce Centers. Workers age 50 and older may apply for either TAA or ATAA, but not both.
Benefits could include income support, relocation allowances, job search allowances and the HCTC.
Three groups of workers are eligible for the HCTC: those who receive a Trade Readjustment Allowance under the TAA; those who are qualified as ATAA benefit recipients; and people who are at least 55 years of age and receive pension benefits from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation plus their family members, survivors, and individuals with qualified domestic relations orders.
The HCTC will pay for almost two-thirds of an eligible individual’s health plan premiums or can be taken as a tax credit on a federal tax return. To claim the HCTC, a worker must have a health plan that is qualified. Qualified plans include COBRA continuation coverage (as long as less than 50 percent of the premiums are paid by the employer), state-qualified health plans, a spouse’s health insurance from work (if the employer pays less than 50 percent of the total cost), and specified individual coverage.
Check the IRA Web site for specific information: http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=109915,00.html. You can call the HCTC Customer Contact Center toll-free at 1-866-628-4282.
Some of the certified companies in Fort Collins include Agilent Technologies, Celestica Corporation and National Semiconductor. There are many other companies in other Colorado locations that have also been certified. To see the entire list of certified Colorado companies, go to http://www.doleta.gov/tradeact/taa/taa_search.cfm.
For more information, visit the Larimer County Workforce Center at 200 W. Oak St., Suite 5000, in Fort Collins. The telephone number is 498-6600. You can also check the U.S. Department of Labor Web site at www.doleta.gov/tradeact.
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Judy McKenna, Ph.D., CFP, Family Economics Specialist, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, firstname.lastname@example.org