PORTLAND — The current deadline for open enrollment in 2014 for healthcare insurance coverage in Oregon was extended through April 30. However, for survivors of domestic violence who are also married, this open enrollment period is extending to May 31, in recognition by the Department of Health and Human Services of the unique difficulties that these survivors of domestic violence face when attempting to file taxes (http://1.usa.gov/1hwkHwV).
In addition to extending this deadline, the IRS and Treasury Department has issued new guidance for married survivors so they do not need to file jointly with their abusive partner (http://1.usa.gov/PeKqzF).
This means that survivors of domestic violence may file their taxes separately and still be eligible to receive the tax credit to help pay for their premiums under the ACA, or to apply for the hardship exemption.
For those survivors who are still in an abusive relationship and are married, or have separated but have not yet been able to divorce their partner, attempting to jointly file and claim this exemption with their abuser could be a serious safety concern. The abusive partner might also still hold control of records or information that could delay or prevent the survivor from filing.
“This is a fantastic win for survivors,” says Vanessa Timmons, executive director of the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. “It is often a complex and difficult challenge to separate from an abusive relationship, especially if you are married and have children.
“It is greatly encouraging that the federal government understands the seriousness of this issue, and has created these new rulings to help survivors access the care they need to live safe and healthy lives, regardless of their marital status.”
Access to healthcare for survivors of domestic violence not only has unique challenges, but also has devastating costs which underscore the need for increased access. A U.S. Department of Justice study found that 37 percent of all women who sought care in hospital emergency rooms for violence-related injuries were injured by their partner.
For more information contact the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence at 503-230-1951 or visit ocadsv.org.