Our CFS Commitment to Change

Recent events – including the coronavirus pandemic, its economic fall-out, and the outrage over the killings of Black citizens across our country – highlight the ongoing pattern of racial injustices that have been perpetuated for generations.

The goal of the Center for Financial Security (CFS) is to develop evidence–high quality, rigorous research–that can guide policies, programs and financial systems that reduce inequities, and that include and support economically vulnerable people. We are driven by serious concerns about racial injustice, and its attendant economic insecurity. Our research often highlights the harmful impacts of programs, as well as the institutional rules and unequal access to services that impact families, resulting in systemic racism. We know we can do more, and be more supportive of research that challenges our understanding of inequality in household finances, especially related to the social safety net. Our commitment to this work includes supporting a new generation of researchers, especially those who have been historically marginalized, and focusing on racial disparities in our studies.

Please let us know if you have suggestions for outreach, policy analysis or research ideas that help to shine a light on economic inequities and better ways to support financial security for all. You can reach us by emailing cfs@mailplus.wisc.edu.

COVID-19 Crisis Q&A

Federal / State Assistance Programs

How do I assist individuals to use technology to access resources?

Where can I find FoodShare, SNAP, Section 8, utility assistance, SSDI eligibility & information?
FoodShare Wisconsin Eligibility
SNAP Eligibility FAQ
Section 8 Income Limits Wisconsin
Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program
SSA Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool

What programs are supporting families with children?
DCF COVID-19 Child Care Portal
DCF Childcare Info for Families
DCF Childcare Info for Essential Workers
COVID-19 Child Care Request Form for Workforce Families

How quickly are applications being processed?
Department of Workforce Development requests that claimants allow 30 day for processing

What programs & resources are available for the immobile?

How will DHS handle continuation of Medicaid coverage for individuals who become ineligible during the crisis?

Retirement & Disability

What resources are there for low-income seniors?
DHS Programs & Services for Older Adults

What is available for the ageing and disabled in regards to transportation?

Rural / Farm

What resources are available for rural communities?
COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide
Managing a Farm During COVID-19

What are the program eligibility & funds for farmers & small businesses?
Managing a Farm During COVID-19
Coronavirus Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources

Do any of the WHEDA resources apply to farmers and their family home?

Childcare

What financial support is there for small business in regards to childcare?

What support is available to family child care providers who make up a vast amount of the early childhood workforce?

What is being done for non-center-based, family childcare?

How does this work for the children who are eligible to receive free and reduced meals but their parents currently don’t receive foodshare benefits?
Child Nutrition Program COVID-19 Information

Criminal Justice System

Are there plans to assist people just coming out of the criminal justice system?
DOC Pamphlet: COVID-19 and Health Insurance

For programs not available to those under probation or parole, will qualifications change?

Digital Accessibility

How should one proceed if unable to access (online or phone) unemployment when eligible?

What resources (or alternatives) are available for those on the other side of the digital divide?
Wisconsin DPI Connectivity Programs

How can families with multiple children share a computer for both school and adult work?

Are there scholarships available for students that need a laptop?
Laptop distribution / rentals are occurring on a school-by-school basis. Please consult your institution to see what your options are.

Bill Payment

What resources are there for rent and utility assistance / bill payment?
Temporary ban on evictions and foreclosures
Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program
Extension Pamphlet: Dealing with a drop in income

Is there any cushion for clients in the process of eviction after the “stay at home orders” are lifted?

Will the deferment for rent, mortgage, and utilities just postpone a financial crisis for many low to moderate income families?

CARES Act

What is the difference between PPP and PUA?
PPP Loans vs Unemployment Benefits: How to Choose

Do you have to apply for UI first before applying for PUA?
If you have not worked for an employer in the last 18 months, who pays into UI, you can apply for PUA immediately.

Are those on SSDI eligible for PUA?
An individual cannot receive Social Security Disability (SSDI) payments and unemployment benefits concurrently (See s. 108.04(12)(f), Wis. Stats.) If an individual is receiving SSDI, they must report this information on their initial claim and weekly claim certifications. State law is applicable for PUA as well.

Will the CARES Act payments be counted as income and affect assistance program / subsidy eligibility?
Yes, those payments are considered income for federal and state tax purposes. You can ask to have state and federal taxes withheld from your unemployment payments. If you decide to have taxes withheld, we will deduct 10% for federal taxes and/or 5% for state taxes from your weekly benefit payment. You can opt to have taxes withheld at https://my.unemployment.wisconsin.gov.

How will the UI payments affect means-tested benefits?

Are sole proprietors without employees eligible for PPP and EIDL on the same terms as those with employees?

What local organizations are available to help people understand relief packages?
UW Extension Financial Educator Contact Page

Are those individuals who work for employers with self-funded unemployment funds, eligible for any additional benefits?

Post-Pandemic

How to help people get back on track after COVID-19?

When do FIs start to re-open their lobbies? And what does that look like?

Are there tax implications for the future with the special checks being sent and increases to monthly payments?
You will not owe income taxes on your stimulus check, however, unemployment benefits and your state insurance benefits are considered taxable income.

Miscellaneous

What resources are there for the homeless?

What resources are there for undocumented & mixed status families?
Voces de La Frontera COVID-19 Resource Page

What financial resources are there for families with COVID-19 infection?

What is the response of DCF?
DCF COVID-19 Response Page

What happens if a person with a high risk of COVID-19 complications is forced to quit their job or take a leave of absence to shelter in place?
DWD Wisconsin Exceptions to the Standard Quit Disqualification

Atheendar Venkataramani

Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy
University of Pennsylvania

atheenv@pennmedicine.upenn.edu


Areas of Research Interest: The life-course origins of health and socioeconomic inequality. His work examines (1) the effect of economic opportunities – and the policies that influence them – on health behaviors and outcomes, (2) the effects of early life interventions on adult health and well-being, and the mechanisms underlying these links; and (3) the role of social policies and structural factors in shaping population health

More information


CFS RDRC Fall 2019 Newsletter Now Available

e University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Financial Security Retirement and Disability Research Center (CFS RDRC) is an applied research program which develops evidence that can assist policymakers, the public, and the media in understanding issues in Social Security, retirement, and disability policy, especially related to economically vulnerable populations. The CFS RDRC incorporates diversity of viewpoints and disciplines, develops diverse emerging scholars and generates research findings that are used in policy and practice. To this end, CFS has released a call for applications for the JSIT 2020 Summer Workshop and the IRP Extramural Small Grant.

Read more about the CFS RDRC in our newly released newsletter and subscribe to our CFS RDRC updates: