Converter box coupons 2015

Wal-Mart Now Ready with TV Converter Boxes and Promised Low Price for Digital Transition

Attention Journalists:

BENTONVILLE, Ark., February 11, 2008 –One week before U.S. households receive the first of thousands of $40 digital converter box coupons, Wal-Mart is stocked and ready with these small converter box units designed to keep home analog TVs receiving a digital signal. Today 3,400 Wal-Mart stores carry a new Magnavox digital converter box, with a retail price of $49.87.

The Nielsen Company estimates that 13 million households (12 percent) will be impacted by the switch to digital broadcast, so the nation’s largest retailer has made specific plans to help customers from all cities and towns make an informed decision.

“Due to our many locations, we expect the majority of customers will come to us for making their digital transition plan, both for convenience and price,” said Gary Severson, senior vice president of Home Entertainment, Wal-Mart Stores, U.S. “We’ve prepared for many months to ensure the coupon process will go smoothly, and will work with suppliers to continue to have available, affordable options in our stores for all customers.”

In addition to close counsel and preparations with the NTIA (National Telecomunications and Information Association), Wal-Mart developed additional training for its associates and created a new platform for registers, so the $40 coupon card will work as easily as a gift card.

Wal-Mart now has the following digital television transition options available today in it stores:

• Purchase a digital converter box for $49.87 (with coupon, $9.87*)
Digital converter boxes receive over-the-air digital TV broadcasts for viewing on TVs that do not have built-in digital tuners. Those looking to keep watching on their current analog TV sets must purchase a digital converter box. Wal-Mart stores nationwide will offer a Magnavox unit and add a new brand in the coming months.
• Sign up for cable or satellite service, right in the store
Customers can sign up for cable or satellite service at Wal-Mart stores for their current home TV or with the purchase of a new TV through in-store “kiosks” with the help of a Wal-Mart associate. Shoppers are able to view local service provider packages, with next day service available in most locations.
• Purchase a digital or HDTV television
Wal-Mart carries more than 40 types of digital TV and HDTVs across its stores, from $150 to $2,100* if customers choose to replace their TV. Over the last year, Wal-Mart has continued to increase its assortments and carries brands as well as training and in-store communication about digital TV selection and options.

Consumers can apply for digital converter box coupons online at www.dtv2009.gov, or via phone at
1-888-DTV-2009. Additional information is also available on www.walmart.com.

*Prices may vary with tax. Converter boxes available while supplies last.

About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT)
Every week, millions of customers visit Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Club locations across America or log on to its online store at www.walmart.com. The company and its Foundation are committed to a philosophy of giving back locally. Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) is proud to support the causes that are important to customers and associates right in their own neighborhoods, and last year gave more than $270 million to local communities in the United States. To learn more, visit www.walmartfacts.com, www.walmartstores.com, or www.walmartfoundation.org.

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Get a free digital converter box and HDMI cable

You supply the government coupon; Meritline serves up the converter box and a free HDMI cable to boot. Airlink101

Still haven’t picked up a converter box for your old non-digital TV? Meritline has a deal that’s hard to beat: if you’ve got your coupon from Uncle Sam, you can get an AirLink ATVC102 digital-to-analog converter box for free. Really!

Also free: shipping. Also also free: a 6-foot HDMI cable. And if all that’s not good enough, you can double up on this deal: two boxes, two cables, and still free shipping.

I haven’t found any reviews of this particular box, which is one of the few that’s actually priced under $40 (which is the redeemable value of each coupon–how else did you think Meritline was swinging this deal?).

But it looks like it has everything you need to bring an analog TV into the Digital Age: an electronic program guide, an analog pass-through, a remote, and a one-year warranty.

To get the deal, you simply need to enter the 16-digit DTV coupon number(s) and supply your credit card info. I’m not sure when the deal expires, but I have a sneaking suspicion Meritline will sell out quickly. So if you’ve been sitting on your coupon(s), now’s the time to act!

Converter Boxes

If your TV does not have a built-in digital tuner, you will probably need a converter box. If you receive free over-the-air television through an antenna, you will need a converter box. Subscribers to cable, satellite or other pay television service should not need one. A digital converter box hooks into your analog television and your antennae. The box converts digital signals so that your analog TV can receive them. A digital converter box may also be called a set-top converter box, a digital-to-analog converter, a digital TV adapter or a digital set-top box. They are available anywhere that sells electronics and usually cost between $40 and $80, however government coupons are available that cover the cost of a standard converter box.

Government Coupons for Converter Boxes

Each household is eligible to obtain two coupons for converter boxes, valued at $40 each. To apply for these coupons, visit www.DTV2009.gov or call 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009). Converter boxes are available wherever electronics are sold; national chains include: Best Buy, Circuit City, Kmart, Radio Shack, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart. Coupons are only redeemable for converter boxes and cannot be combined.

TV Converter Box Coupon Program

Please note: the last day to apply for a coupon or file an appeal was July 31, 2009.

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) administers the TV Converter Box Coupon Program (Coupon Program), as authorized in the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005.

Between January 1, 2008, and July 31, 2009, all U.S. households were eligible to request up to two coupons, worth $40 each, to be used toward the purchase of up to two digital-to-analog converter boxes. For more details on the federal regulations, please see the TV Converter Box Coupon Program Rules.

All weekly status reports for the TV Converter Box Coupon Program are available online, which include the number of applications and coupons requested to date. Also see TV Converter Box Coupon Program: Background and Statistics.

Outside the Box – The Digital TV Converter Box Coupon Program: This report describes the challenges NTIA faced in administering the TV Converter Coupon Program and the solutions developed to address those issues. (Acrobat PDF 2.8 MB)

Low Power, Class A and Translator TV stations are not required to transition to digital broadcasting on June 12, 2009.
• Frequently-Asked Questions for Viewers of Translators and Low Power Stations
• FCC Consumer Advisory on the DTV Transition and LPTV/Class A/Translator Stations

For details on the rulemaking process, see the program’s Rules.

How to Get a Free Digital Converter Box for a Senior Citizen Without a Coupon

In the United States, all full-powered television stations had to switch from analog broadcasting to digital by June 1, 2009. Because of the high number of analog TVs in use, the government provided citizens with two $40 coupons at the time as reimbursement for digital television adapters, also known as digital converter boxes, which convert digital signals back into an analog format. With these coupons, people could typically acquire digital-to-analog boxes at little to no cost. Although that program is no longer available, several other options exist to help seniors using analog TVs procure free DTA boxes.

Seniors can watch certain stations without cable using a digital converter box. credit: Dynamic Graphics/Creatas/Getty Images

Step

Use an online sharing or bartering website, such as Freecycle, FreeSharing, Freegle, vSkips, Tradeaway or U-Exchange (see Resources), to find someone that has a digital converter box, or even a used digital TV, that they no longer need. Review current listings for offers. Additionally, post a request describing your situation and that you’re interested in free aid or a trade.

Check the free or give away sections, or make a request for assistance, in the classified ads published in offline and online newspapers local to your region. Additionally, check classified ad websites that offer regional listings, such as Craigslist or Backpage (see Resources).

Video of the Day

Explain your situation, or the situation of a senior citizen you’re helping, to the representative of a local nonprofit organization, such as a church or senior center. Ask if the organization has access to a donated digital-to-analog converter box or can connect you with someone willing to part with one.

Contact your cable provider if you have service, but need a DTA box for an analog TV you added to another area of your home for yourself or a senior living with you. Ask if the company has a different cable package that includes the extra box at no additional cost. If you don’t currently have cable, contact local providers and ask for information about limited or expanded basic service packages bundled with a free box.

Get Ready for Digital TV!

Digital Converter Boxes

What is a digital converter box?

A digital converter box connects to your existing TV and allows it to receive free over-the-air digital TV signals. A digital converter box is a one-time purchase with no monthly fees. One converter box is necessary for every TV that doesn’t have a built-in digital tuner and that receives its signal over the air with an antenna.

How will TV be different with a digital converter box?

A digital converter box will enable you to experience several benefits of digital television on your existing TV set: higher quality picture and sound, more free channel choices and additional features such as on-screen program information.

How do I get a digital converter box?

Converter boxes are available from many retailers. There are a few things to consider before making a purchase

  • You can apply for up to two $40 government coupons to reduce the cost of approved converter boxes. Note: If you already received a coupon and let it expire, you can now reapply for a new coupon. Coupon applications are accepted through July 31, 2009 or until supplies run out.

    • Call 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009) or visit www.dtv2009.gov to apply for a coupon.
  • There are many converter box models on the market, so research what kind of box is best for you.

    • Coupons will be sent with a list of eligible converter boxes as well as a list of participating local retailers. This information is also available from the coupon Web site.
    • Many major retailers including Best Buy, Circuit City, Kmart, Sears, RadioShack, Target and Wal-Mart are selling the boxes.
    • You can use your coupons to purchase boxes at a local retailer or through online retailers.
    • Price (ranges from $40 – $80)
    • If your market has low-power TV stations or translators you will need a box with the “analog pass-through” function.
    • Some boxes have additional features such as enhanced Closed Captioning or detailed on-screen program guide.
    • Options vary depending on where you live, so ask friends, family or a neighbor for recommendations.
    • Consumer Reports online, www.consumerreports.org, has conducted a review of the different converter box models.

Remember to ask the retailer about their return policy. Some boxes may perform better in different markets and you may find that one model works better than another in yours.

Will I need a new antenna when I install my converter box?

If your TV currently receives good quality reception with your antenna, it should be able to receive DTV signals through the converter box with the same antenna. However, you may find an amplified indoor antenna with both UHF and VHF capability is necessary to receive all signals. For more information about reception issues, what kind of antenna to use or antenna troubleshooting tips visit www.antennaweb.org

Can I watch high-definition TV signals with my current TV and a converter box?

To watch DTV in high-definition, you need either an HDTV set or an “HD ready” TV that is connected to an HD-capable digital converter box. These boxes cost around $200 and are not eligible for purchase with a government coupon.

How do I connect my converter box?

Follow the instructions that come with your converter box. The instructions likely will walk you through these steps:

  1. Unplug your television.
  2. Unpack the contents of the digital converter box package.
  3. Unplug the existing coaxial wire from the “antenna in” jack on your TV.
  4. Plug that same cable into the “antenna in” jack on the converter box.
  5. Plug the coaxial wire that came with the converter box into the “antenna out” jack on the converter box.
  6. Plug the other end of that same cable into the “antenna in” jack on your TV.
  7. Plug in the converter box power cord.
  8. Put the batteries in the converter box remote.
  9. Turn on the converter box. Check the instructions to see how to set the output of the converter box to either channel 3 or 4, depending on your community. This selection likely will be the same as you may have made in the past with your VHS player.
  10. Plug the TV back in and turn it on. Tune it to channel 3 or 4, depending on what you have set on the converter box.
  11. Use set-up instructions to scan for channels.

Contact the manufacturer of your converter box for troubleshooting help. For a helpful digital converter box set-up diagram visit the FCC DTV Web site.

Check out a DTV troubleshooting guide to get basic advice on a range of DTV reception issues from Norm Abram and visiting DTV expert Dennis Wallace.

To see this video, download the latest Flash player.
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Tv Converter Box Coupon Program

After February 17, 2009, all full-power television stations will broadcast only in digital. If you use “rabbit ears” or a rooftop antenna with your analog television set, you must take some action to continue receiving television broadcasts. The Federal Government is offering US households up to two $40 coupons to help with the cost of certified TV converter boxes. A converter box is a one-time purchase that will allow your analog TV to work after February 17, 2009. Coupons are free but supply is limited. Coupons will be mailed by the Federal Government. Applications will be accepted from January 1, 2008 until March 31, 2009. Coupons expire after 90 days and cannot be re-issued.

General information about this opportunity Last Known Status Deleted 10/11/2010 (Archived.) Program Number 11.556 Federal Agency/Office Agency: Department of Commerce

Office: National Telecommunications and Information Administration Type(s) of Assistance Offered Direct Payments for Specified Use. Program Accomplishments None. Authorization Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C.309(j)(8)(E) as amended, Public Law 109-171 Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Title III – Digital Television Transition and Public Safety, February 8, 2006. Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance? Applicant Eligibility All consumers in the 50 U.S. States and territories are eligible for the first 22.25 million coupons. Only households who rely on over-the-air broadcasts are eligible for the additional 11.25 million coupons. Beneficiary Eligibility General public. Credentials/Documentation None. What is the process for applying and being award this assistance? Pre-Application Procedure Program contractor maintains telephone and website 24/7. Telephone operations can accommodate English, Spanish, French, Russian, simple Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372. Application Procedure The Application can be retrieved from the website at www.DTV2009.gov; or consumers may call (1-888) 388-2009 (24 hour hot-line), TTY – (English) (1-877)530-2634, or TTY (Spanish) (1-866) 495-1161. Applicants may also mail requests to DTV Coupon Program, P.O. Box 9000, Portland, OR 97208-2000; or Fax to (1-877)388-4632. Applicants must request coupon(s) by March 31, 2009. Award Procedure Applications are reviewed for completeness. Coupons are mailed directly to applicant’s home. Deadlines Consumers must request coupons on or before March 31, 2009. Approval/Disapproval Decision Time Coupons are generally mailed within 14 TO 21 days after the application is accepted. Appeals Yes. Appeals can be made through a mail-in process. Renewals None. How are proposals selected? None. How may assistance be used? Provides financial assistance to off-set the cost of a certified digital-to-analog converter box. What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity? Reporting None. Auditing Audits may be conducted in accordance with the terms and conditions of the award and Department of Commerce Financial Assistance Standard Terms and Conditions. Records None. Other Assistance Considerations Formula and Matching Requirements None. Length and Time Phasing of Assistance Coupons expire 90 days after they are mailed. Each coupon has an expiration date printed on it. Who do I contact about this opportunity? Regional or Local Office None. Headquarters Office Anthony Wilhelm, Consumer Education Director, Office of Telecommunications and Information Applications/NTIA, Room 4812, Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20230. Telephone: (202) 482-2048. Website Address www.dtv2009.gov. Financial Information Account Identification 13-5396-0-1-503. Obligations FY 07 $0; FY 08 est $429,424,000; and FY 09 est $471,870,000. Range and Average of Financial Assistance $40 – $80. Regulations, Guidelines and Literature Available from www.ntia.doc.gov/dtvcoupon. Examples of Funded Projects None.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke put out a statment Monday assuring viewers that there were stil converter box coupons available.

Actually, there are plenty of them.

“We made tremendous gains in the last four months in preparing Americans for the transition to digital broadcasting,” said Locke, “but our work is not done. We will continue to inform unprepared Americans that $40 coupons for TV converter boxes are still available so they have access to the news and emergency broadcast information they need.”

Consumers have until July 31 to apply for the boxes.

While Congress appropriated $650 billion more than the original $1.34 billion for the boxes, NTIA has yet to dip into that extra funding for coupons, despite a rush of orders last week (1.7 million), including 428,000 on Friday, June 12, alone. More than 1 million converter boxes were purchased last week, according to NTIA.

So far, 30.9 million coupons have been redeemed at $40 apiece, according to NTIA, which means the organization has spent $1.2 billion on them so far, with another 6 million still active, but as-yet unredeemed.

The FCC is encouraging converter box users who still may be having trouble receiving a digital channel to double-scan, which means clear out the converter box’s memory by unplugging the antenna, re-scanning it without the antenna attached, which clears out the memory, unplugging the box, then plugging it back in and re-scanning.

Digital-TV converter-box-coupon orders are already growing like those McDonald’s hamburger tallies.

More than 500,000 people requested more than 1 million $40 coupons toward the purchase of DTV-to-analog converters in the first 40 or so hours of the program, according to National Telecommunications & Information Administration spokesman Todd Sedmak.

The requests were coming from every state in the union, according to Sedmak, and almost all were applying for the maximum two coupons per household. Owners of analog-only TVs receiving over-the-air signals will need converter boxes to receive a TV picture starting Feb. 18, 2009.

With the NTIA given enough money by Congress to subsidize a total of 33.5 million coupons, this means that if the furious pace were maintained, all of the coupons could be spoken for almost before the first ones hit viewers’ mailboxes at the end of February.

But once the number exceeds 22.25 million coupons, the NTIA will have to dip into a second pool of money for the rest and limit them to only households that do not subscribe to multichannel-video services like cable or satellite.

That million-plus total was from online and phone orders. No requests have been received via snail mail yet, Sedmak said, and there were no figures on any faxed orders to date.

There is a message at the end of the ordering process informing viewers that the coupons will not be mailed until Feb. 17. That is one year before the DTV switch date and a date on which acting NTIA chief Meredith Atwell Baker told B&C she is confident that there will be converter boxes on store shelves (retailer participation is encouraged, but not mandatory).

Commerce’s TV Converter Box Coupon Program Now Accepting Requests to Replace Expired Coupons to Assist More Americans with Transition to Digital TV

WASHINGTON – As the June 12 deadline for the nationwide conversion to digital TV approaches, the TV Converter Box Coupon Program has begun to accept replacement requests from eligible households whose coupons expired without being redeemed. Meanwhile, money allocated to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has allowed NTIA to clear the digital converter box coupon waiting list.

“This is very good news for Americans who were unable to redeem their coupons before they expired,” Acting NTIA Administrator Anna Gomez said. “With the backlog of applications now eliminated, consumers can apply for coupons and get assistance right away, allowing them to continue to receive important local television news and emergency information by purchasing a converter box at a reduced cost.”

If an eligible household has redeemed one coupon toward the purchase of a TV converter box and the other coupon has expired, then it will be approved for a single replacement coupon. Consumers may apply for replacement coupons in accordance with existing program application rules by visiting www.DTV2009.gov, calling 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009), mailing an application to P.O. Box 2000, Portland, OR 97208 or faxing an application to 1-877-DTV-4ME2 (1-877-388-4632). Deaf or hard of hearing callers may use 1-877-530-2634 (TTY).

NTIA also announced that the Coupon Program has eliminated its waiting list and is processing all coupon requests as they come in with a maximum 9 business day turnaround time.

On January 4, 2009, the Coupon Program reached its funding ceiling and placed incoming coupon requests on a waiting list, to be fulfilled as previously issued coupons expired. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided NTIA $650 million to issue at least 12.25 million more coupons, to start mailing coupons via first class mail and to ensure vulnerable populations are prepared for the transition from analog-to-digital television transmission. Applications are now being processed on a first come, first served basis while supplies last.
“I urge all consumers who are still unprepared for the transition to act today to get their converter boxes and resolve any technical issues well ahead of the June 12 deadline,” Gomez added. “Americans can start experiencing the benefits of digital television with more programming choices and clearer reception as soon as they hook up their converter box.”

Consumers can receive digital television today by purchasing and connecting a TV converter box (with or without a government coupon); buying a digital TV; or subscribing to cable, satellite or another pay service. Consumers who currently have coupons in hand should use them immediately. The coupons may not be used as a rebate and must be presented to the retailer at the time of purchase.

The DTV Delay Act established June 12, 2009, as the final date by which all full-power television stations in the country will be required to shut down analog broadcasts. However, some stations and entire markets may choose to switch before then. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that, of the nation’s nearly 1,800 full-power televisions stations, a total of 641 stations (36%) terminated their analog signals as of February 17, 2009. More information on the digital television transition is available by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) or by going on-line to the Web site www.DTV.gov.

About the TV Converter Box Coupon Program:

The Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 Act originally required full-power television stations to cease analog broadcasts and switch to digital by February 17, 2009. The Act authorized NTIA to create the TV Converter Box Coupon Program, which was funded initially by airwaves auction proceeds. The Act originally funded the Program at $1.5 billion, which included a limit of $1.34 billion for ordered and redeemed coupons, with the remaining $160 million covering administrative costs. Funds are obligated as coupons are issued. If coupons are not used and expire, those funds are returned to the Program to fill requests.

On January 4, 2009, the Coupon Program reached its initial $1.34 billion obligation limit for active and redeemed coupons and established a waiting list of coupon requests. On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which provides funding to implement DTV Delay Act’s extension of the Coupon Program. Specifically, the ARRA authorizes $650 million for additional coupons and related activities.

The transition to digital broadcast television will free up the airwaves for better communications among emergency first responders and for new telecommunications services and offers consumers a clearer picture and more programming choices.

The TV Converter Box Coupon Program permits all households to request up to two coupons – each worth $40 – toward the purchase of certified converter boxes. Coupons may be requested while supplies last, and only one coupon can be used for each coupon-eligible converter box. Consumers can purchase a converter box at one of the more than 32,000 participating local, phone or online retailer locations. Consumers will receive a list of eligible converter boxes and participating retailers with their coupons and may search for a local retailer on-line at https://www.dtv2009.gov/VendorSearch.aspx. Consumers should call stores before shopping to ensure the desired converter box is available. Converter boxes generally cost between $40 and $80 without a coupon, and coupons expire 90 days from the date they are mailed.

When consumers receive their coupons in the mail, they should buy a converter box as soon as possible, and try the box with their television to address any potential technical issues. Some viewers watch programs over translators or other low-power stations, which may continue broadcasting analog signals after the digital television transition deadline. Those viewers may wish to select a converter box that will pass through analog signals.

About the National Telecommunications and Information Administration

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is an agency in the U.S. Department of Commerce that serves as the executive branch agency principally responsible for advising the President on telecommunications and information policies. For more information about the NTIA, visit www.ntia.doc.gov .

About the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) was signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009. It is an unprecedented effort to jumpstart our economy, create or save millions of jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century. The Act is an extraordinary response to promote economic recovery and growth, and includes measures to modernize our nation’s infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need.

For more information about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, visit Recovery.gov.

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Available at: www.dtv.2009.gov, 1.888.388.2009

What I think:
I’m sure you’ve seen all those commercials about TV going digital by February
17th and that we need to be prepared if we want to be able to watch TV after
that.

So just in case you’re still on the fence about how to
handle this, here are some options:

  1. Keep
    your existing analog TV and purchase a TV converter box that plugs into
    your TV and will keep it working after February 17, 2009.
  2. Connect
    to cable (if you don’t already subscribe), satellite or other pay service,
  3. Buy a
    new TV with a digital tuner.

If you choose option 1, you can take advantage of the
government program that lets US
households get up to two coupons, each worth $40 that can be applied to the
purchase of eligible converter boxes.

You can go to their website and download an application, or
call 1.888.388.2009 or fax a coupon application to 877.388.4632.

For most people who don’t subscribe to a cable service, that’s
probably the best option, considering that converter boxes are available all
over the place – Target, Kmart, Best Buy and various online websites for $40 to
$60 each. (Coupons expire 90 days after
they’re sent.)

If you’re planning to buy a new TV, just be sure it was
manufactured after March 1, 2007 when the law required them to include digital
tuners.

We subscribe to FIOS cable service, so the TVs in our house
are ready, except for a small, old one we almost never use. I’ve sent for a converter box coupon – just in
case — so you may want to double check your house to be sure you’ve accounted for
all your TVs.

Economic Stimulus Payments and TV Converter Box Coupons

Introduction

Starting last month the Treasury began sending economic stimulus payments to more than 130 million households. Eligible people will receive up to $600 ($1,200 for married couples), and parents will receive an additional $300 for each eligible child younger than 17. You must have filed a tax return in order to receive a stimulus check.

Additionally, at midnight on February 17, 2009, all full-power television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting in analog and switch to 100% digital broadcasting. A converter box will be required to receive broadcasts unless you have cable or satellite. Congress created the TV Converter Box Coupon Program for households wishing to keep using their analog TV sets after February 17, 2009. The Program allows U.S. households to obtain up to two coupons, each worth $40, that can be applied toward the cost of eligible converter boxes.

How will receiving a stimulus check or coupon for a converter box affect your Medicaid or SSI Benefits?

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently issued guidance concerning the economic stimulus tax rebates and the digital television convert box coupons.

The economic stimulus tax rebates are not counted as income or resources under Medicaid, although the amount of time the rebates are not counted as resources is limited. The legislation (P.L. 110-185) provides that credits or refunds issued under the bill are not to be counted as income or resources in the month of receipt, and for the following two (2) months, for purposes of determining eligibility for or the amount of benefits under any federal program, or under any state or local program financed in whole or in part with federal funds, such as Medicaid and SSI.

With regard to transfers of assets for less than fair market value, rebates given away during the three month period in which they are not countable as income or resources would be subject to a transfer penalty. However, if given away after the three month exempt period expires, the rebates would be subject to penalty.

What about the converter box coupons?

The Department of Commerce is planning to send “coupons” worth $40 each to households for the purpose of helping to defray the cost of purchasing television digital converter boxes. The boxes will be needed by people who do not have digital television receivers when television signals are no long broadcast in analog format beginning in 2009.

The coupon the Department of Commerce is distributing is actually a form of credit card, each worth $40. A person would take his or her coupon to a retailer and exchange it for a converter box. If the converter box costs more than $40, the person would pay only the difference.

According to Commerce, there is nothing else a person can do with this coupon except buy a converter box. The coupon cannot be converted to cash at a bank, for example, or used to buy anything else. That means the $40 coupons would not be considered income under Medicaid. For Medicaid, income is broadly defined as anything a person receives that can be used to purchase food or shelter. Since the coupons can only be used to purchase a converter box, the coupons do not meet the Medicaid definition of income. Since Medicaid uses the SSI definition of income, the coupons would not count as income for SSI purposes, either.

About this Newsletter

We hope you find this newsletter useful and informative, but it is not the same as legal counsel. A free newsletter is ultimately worth everything it costs you; you rely on it at your own risk. Good legal advice includes a review of all of the facts of your situation, including many that may at first blush seem to you not to matter. The plan it generates is sensitive to your goals and wishes while taking into account a whole panoply of laws, rules and practices, many not published. That is what The Special Needs Alliance is all about. Contact information for a member in your state may be obtained by calling toll-free (877) 572-8472, or by visiting www.specialneedsalliance.com