Widow: 25-year-old special needs daughter not eligible for CARES Act assistance

House proposed Heroes Act would include adult dependents in plan

Donna Demarco is a widow and parent on a mission: Find out why her 25-year-old daughter was not included in the list of eligible dependents for a $500 credit under the CARES Act.

Donna Demarco is a widow and parent on a mission: Find out why her 25-year-old daughter was not included in the list of eligible dependents for a $500 credit under the CARES Act.

“You get no answers,” Donna Demarco said. ”It (the IRS website) is not very user friendly.”

Donna Demarco turned to the IRS.Gov website to review her daughter Danielle Demarco’s eligibility for an economic stimulus check.

Danielle Demarco was just two and half years old when doctors diagnosed her with Fragile-X Syndrome, a form of autism that impacts cognitive skills.

“She has a 50% learning deficit,” Donna Demarco explained.

Fragile-X Syndrome is a rare disease that impacts an estimated 200,000 Americans each year.

Danielle Demarco is a legal dependent and is listed on her mother’s past tax returns.

But her mother did not receive a $500 check for her daughter so she contacted News 6 to help her get answers.

Donna Demarco said the IRS website was difficult to navigate and offered a high-tech trail of hits and misses.

“They say you can do it, but then they make you go all over the place,” she said.

News 6 found the IRS site for stimulus check updates under, “Get My Payment.”

We asked Donna Demarco to fill in the needed data, which included her daughter’s birthday, Social Security number and home zip code.

The screen result showed, “Payment status not available”

The next line offered two possible reasons: “We don’t have enough information yet or you’re not eligible for a payment.”

Demarco said an IRS staffer indicated that “it appeared” as if her daughter was eligible for a $500 credit but that the check would probably not arrive until the end of the year.

Her daughter receives a monthly death benefit from her father’s Social Security account.

Her father passed away 12 years ago.

It turns out under the CARES Act, Washington lawmakers did not provide a benefit for senior adults and special needs adults who are listed as dependents.

“This was an unfortunate exclusion,” U.S. Rep. Darren Soto (D) said this week. “I think it’s absolutely critical that we help out these families, too.”

The Florida Democrat said the rush to get a bi-partisan bill passed for the first economic stimulus package left many deserving groups behind in the CARES Act formula.

Soto’s staff presented a short summary of the two potential options currently under consideration and still subject to change for this session.

Heroes Act: The Heroes Act, put together by the Democratic-led House and which has never been taken up or nixed by the Senate, would place a cap of $6,000 for households of five or more. Essentially, it proposes $1,200 for each adult and dependent, with a maximum of three dependents per family.

HEALS Act: Similar to the CARES Act, the HEALS Act put forth by Republicans doesn't mention a cap on the amount a family may receive. The difference is that it doesn't limit dependents to those under 17 to qualify for the $500 payment.

“When we’re talking about adults with disabilities they have more needs, not less needs,” Soto said. “Because many of them could have pre-existing conditions, it makes all the more sense that we’re helping out families who are caring for their loved ones who are in a situation like that.”

If you would like to check the status of your economic impact payment go to: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment

If you have an IRS or unemployment benefits issue, email us: makendsmeet@wkmg.com.

About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.