As the COVID pandemic begins to fade from public consciousness, the places where healthcare workers can turn to find free money diminish.
Bonus payments introduced during the lockdowns are temporary, but a few state-level programs may continue longer.
Discounts and free stuff offered by private companies are a marketing fad sure to dissipate as things return to normal.
Meanwhile, two government programs should continue indefinitely.
Government grants represent free money you do not have to repay. But you must adopt an alternate strategy to qualify. IRS tax deductions equate to free money for specific purchases. But only the self-employed can take advantage.
Grants for HealthCare Workers
Frontline healthcare workers can get free money through government grants available in 2022 and beyond. Essential personnel should be open-minded to alternatives and keep critical caveats in mind.
- Individuals in specific occupations cannot get government grants
- Grant money flows to large organizations to foster a public good
- Low-income families can apply for benefits at the grant recipients
- Grants for HealthCare Workers
- Bonus Payments for Healthcare Workers
- Discounts for Healthcare Workers
Personal grants for healthcare workers require some poetic license because the government tells us it does not provide free money to individuals as they do to institutions or providers.
A list of government grants for individuals grows when you redefine terms. For instance, tax credits and benefits that reduce personal expenses can combine to stretch family budgets further.
Home grants for healthcare workers offer free money to make buying and repairing a primary residence more affordable. However, most programs target low-income families rather than nurses, aides, pharmacy techs, etc.
Healthcare workers might qualify for home repair grants provided by several government initiatives designed to save energy and protect the environment.
Free home repair grants go to families and households meeting low-income criteria. Nurses and first responders might qualify if they apply for one or more government benefits.
- Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Section 504 Home Repair Program
Healthcare workers should approach specialized home-buying grants with a healthy dose of skepticism. The government offers down payment assistance programs that clever marketers can easily repackage to appeal to specific groups such as nurses, teachers, firefighters, etc.
You might qualify for one of these down payment benefits.
- Forgivable Loans: 0% second mortgages you do not have to repay provided you stay in the home for a specified period or longer
- Deferred Payment Loans: 0% interest second mortgages without payback until you sell the property or refinance
Start with an online list of down payment assistance programs broken down by state. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development oversees this resource without using search engine optimization tricks to generate traffic.
Dental grants for healthcare workers follow a similar pattern. You are unlikely to find free money set aside exclusively for nurses and other direct care professionals.
Dental grants for low-income adults go primarily to people enrolled in Medicaid in states that support benefits for oral care. Secondarily, charitable organizations run sliding-scale clinics offering low-cost care to families living in poverty.
Childcare grants for healthcare workers are critical because nurses, physicians, and patient advocates cannot do their job from home. They must be present at the hospital or medical clinic.
Childcare financial assistance programs benefit low-income families through vouchers, certificates, and subsidies so parents can work or attend school. Apply for this help at the relevant state agency.
Be wary of other online resources touting grants for healthcare workers that send free government money to large providers. You do not want to waste your time chasing dead ends.
For example, the $178 billion Provider Relief Fund supports hospitals and other healthcare organizations on the front lines of the coronavirus response. The funding helps with lost revenue and extra expenses connected with the pandemic.
Nurses, doctors, first responders, and other essential workers do not qualify to receive the funding directly.
Most education grants for healthcare workers flow primarily to providers seeking to train employees rather than individuals furthering their skills and career opportunities.
However, nursing school students could still qualify for education grants aimed at low-income earners.
Federal Pell grants are awarded to undergraduate students with exceptional financial needs. You do not have to repay a Pell grant except under certain circumstances, such as withdrawing from the program without graduating.
Bonus Payments for Healthcare Workers
A few healthcare workers might still get free money through bonus payments associated with the COVID pandemic. However, the public emergency is beginning to wane, so these recruiting and retention incentives for frontline personnel may disappear soon or may already have.
Hero pay for healthcare workers never got off the ground, but would have established a fund to award grants for employers to provide pandemic premium pay for essential employees.
The HEROES Act (HR 6800) passed through the House of Representatives but died in a Senate Committee and never became law.
In other words, remove hero pay off your list.
Hazard pay for healthcare workers varies across the country as each state made different choices when responding to staffing stressors during the COVID pandemic.
Hazard pay and sick leave policies for long-term care employees differed in every state. A recent study summarizes the data as follows.
- 17 states implemented a hazard pay policy
- 6 utilized a one-time bonus
- 11 enacted hourly wage increases
- Six lasted three months or less
- Four continued for one year
- One made the increase permanent (Michigan)
- 4 states established a new paid sick leave policy
In other words, hazard pay has already dissipated for most people.
Pay increases for healthcare workers may continue longer because the industry faces persistent staffing shortages. In many cases, states have allocated extra funding to recruit and retain essential personnel.
Specific healthcare workers in New York State may be eligible for a COVID-related bonus which continues into the next year as of the publication date of this article.
The NYS Healthcare Worker Bonus (HWB) allocates $1.2 billion in funding to attract talented people into the profession at a time of significant strain. Qualified employers must submit claims for their eligible employees.
In other words, you cannot apply for this bonus of up to $3,000 as an individual.
Specific healthcare workers in California might qualify for a one-time bonus of up to $1,500 to help stabilize staffing at hospitals, nursing homes, and medical groups.
The California Healthcare Staffing Stabilization Bonus was signed into law by Governor Newsom. Employers submit claims to the state on behalf of eligible employees.
In other words, you cannot apply for this bonus of up to $1,500 as an individual, and the free money dries up after the one-time payment.
Texas is offering up to a $5,000 hiring bonus for specific healthcare positions at state-supported living centers and hospitals to recruit qualified, motivated professionals to the industry.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission funds the bonus and specifies the positions that qualify and the amount.
- Registered Nurses (RN): $5,000
- Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN): $3,500
- Psychiatric Nursing Assistants (PNA): $2,500
- Direct Support Professionals (DSP): $2,500
Discounts for Healthcare Workers
Healthcare workers can always count on getting free money through discounts because these programs will endure beyond 2022 when the pandemic-induced national emergency ends. A penny saved is a penny earned.
This article focuses on the first two primary sources because private companies’ promotions come and go as winds change.
- Government benefits for low-income families
- IRS-sponsored tax savings for self-employed
- Private companies seeking sales increases
- Discounts for special groups
- Free stuff through contests
Government food discounts for low-income healthcare workers are meaningful because you get a debit card loaded with free cash to spend at the grocery store, which could cover a significant portion of monthly expenses.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) augments the food budget of needy families so they can purchase healthy meals and move towards self-sufficiency.
Many nurses and direct support professionals meet the SNAP eligibility criteria and can apply for these benefits through their local state agency.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers free money to self-employed healthcare workers who keep receipts to justify various deductible business expenses.
- Per diem nurses often classify as a contract or 1099 employee
- Private practice doctors qualify as small business owners
Self-employed healthcare workers can get IRS discounts when buying rubber shoes, scrubs, white coats, and other work-related apparel. Schedule C allows you to deduct specific clothing expenses from business income.
Tax-deductible work clothing must meet two strict criteria.
- Mandatory for your job
- Unsuitable for everyday wear
Self-employed healthcare workers can also get IRS discounts to offset hotel, rental car, and airfare costs necessary to perform their jobs. For example, travel nurses and doctors should include pertinent expenses on Schedule C to get these discounts.
Tax-deductible travel expenses must meet several rules.
- Necessary for your business
- Not extravagant or lavish
- Not for personal pleasure
Self-employed healthcare workers can also take advantage of IRS discounts on computers, mobile phones, internet service, software, and other technology investments needed to perform their jobs.
Tax-deductible technology expenses should follow these parameters.
- Usual, customary, and reasonable to your line of work
- Depreciate the asset or write off the entire cost in one year
- Claim a percentage you used the device for business