Know Your Rights During COVID-19
GLAD has compiled the following information and resources to help members of our New England LGBTQ communities navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 public health crisis and resulting economic instability. We know that many in our community who were already vulnerable are being hardest hit in this situation.
This is a challenging and uncertain time, and there may not be clear answers to how things are working in all cases. We hope these resources will provide you with guidance, and we will update them and provide additional information as we are able and things evolve.
Regardless of the specific circumstances, you should never experience discrimination in any of these situations because you are LGBTQ or living with HIV. If you do experience discrimination or other barriers, if you have specific questions, or if you need a referral, please reach out to us at www.GLADAnswers.org.
Our legal information line, GLAD Answers, is available to answer your questions and provide resources and referrals regarding your rights as a member of the LGBTQ and HIV communities.
So that we can keep our volunteers safe, we are not able to answer phone calls live at this time, but are available online at GLADAnswers.org for the fastest response. You can also leave a voicemail at 800-455-GLAD with your name and contact information and we will return your call within two business days.
Due to the current COVID-19 public health crisis, many courts and government offices are temporarily closed or operating for emergency business only. You may unfortunately experience delays in getting a response from state or federal government agencies or in the processing of your name or gender marker change requests as a result. For your safety and the safety of others you should not travel to any government office at this time. You should keep dated copies of any materials you submit by mail or electronically.
If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to GLAD Answers. To be matched with an attorney to assist you at no cost with a name and or gender marker change, visit the ID Project at www.GLAD.org/ID.
New England Legal Aid Organizations
The following organizations may be able to offer low income individuals direct assistance with legal issues, such as employment, (including filing for unemployment benefits) and housing matters.
- Greater Hartford Legal Aid (Connecticut)
- Pine Street Legal (Maine)
- Greater Boston Legal Aid
- New Hampshire Legal Aid
- Rhode Island Legal Services
- Vermont Legal Aid
Filing for Unemployment
Many people are out of work due to businesses shutting down for social distancing. State governments are responding to this by expanding access to unemployment benefits. Below you can find information on what is available in each state and some information about navigating the process.
- File for Unemployment Benefits | Connecticut Department of Labor
- FAQ about COVID-19 for Workers and Employers (PDF) | Connecticut Department of Labor
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) information | Connecticut Law Help
- Information About COVID-19 | Maine Department of Labor
- Employee Unemployment FAQ: COVID-19 | Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance and Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development
- How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits | Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance
- Updates on COVID-19 | New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
- Worker and Employee Information | New Hampshire Employment Security Office
- COVID-19 Workplace Fact Sheet (PDF) | Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training
- What you need to know about unemployment insurance | Providence Journal
- COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for Employees and Employers | Vermont Department of Labor
The federal government has passed legislation to provide some initial relief to people and businesses impacted by current shutdowns. The most immediate relief is in the form of direct payments to individuals and families with annual incomes under a certain amount. The basic guidelines are:
- Single adults with an annual income of up to $75,000 should receive $1,200
- Married couples with a combined annual income of up to $150,000 should receive a payout of $2,400
- Households with children under age 18 in the home should receive additional support of $500 for each child
Note: Even if you did not earn enough to file a tax return in 2018/2019 or are living on Social Security benefits (including retirement and disability), you are still eligible to receive one of the $1,200 checks from the relief bill. If you are living on Social Security and haven’t filed taxes since 2018, you should do so immediately if your income would qualify you for a check.
The bill also includes provisions for additional unemployment benefits to supplement those offered by individual states.
You can read more about the eligibility for direct payouts, expanded unemployment benefits, and more at the links below.
- IRS Operations During COVID-19: Mission-Critical Functions Continue | IRS
- F.A.Q. on Stimulus Checks, Unemployment and the Coronavirus Plan | New York Times
- Impact of the CARES Act on LGBT People | UCLA Williams Institute
In May, the House passed the HEROES Act calling for extension of unemployment insurance, the eviction moratorium, and funding for state and local governments. On July 20, the Senate GOP proposed the HEALS Act- their version of the HEROES Act. Congress must now negotiate and find a balance between the two Acts. Find more information about how the bills compare in this article by CNET.
We have an FAQ page for LGBTQ parents to understand their legal rights during the public health crisis.
Click here for more information on your rights and how to assert them.
Visit our COVID-19 page for health resources, ways to find support, actions you can take, activities to stay busy during quarantine, and more.