The devastating Blue Cut wildfire in San Bernardino County’s Cajon Pass is the latest in a series of Southern California fires that have harmed the region’s residents as well as Kaiser Permanente’s members and our health care operations. We also know that some of our employees and physicians who live in communities that have been affected by this fire now face uncertainty concerning how they’ll cope with the unexpected expenses that will occur because of this event. Kaiser Permanente, working in partnership with our unions and with the Southern California Permanente Medical Group is offering several disaster relief programs to assist affected employees and physicians. Here is a brief description of each program.
- Short Term Emergency Support provides small monetary grants (up to $500.00 net) for urgent and immediate needs such as food, clothing, or temporary shelter. These grants are available to employees who were displaced from their primary residences for a minimum of 48 hours under a mandatory evacuation as a result of the severe fires. Employee grant requests should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, H.R. Compliance at Walnut Center. Requests for physicians should be emailed to: email@example.com, Permanente Total Compensation at Walnut Center.
- Emergency Assistance Loans are available for employees and physicians who are awaiting other forms of emergency financial aid such as federal programs and insurance claims as a result of full or significant loss of their primary residence. Employees and physicians may apply for an interest-free loan of up to a maximum of $10,000 (the IRS permissible amount). Request forms are available in Hospital and Medical Group Administration, Human Resources, union leaders and senior manager offices. Employees will be required to sign a promissory note of repayment.
- Financial Hardship Cash Outs of Vacation, Life Balance Days, and/or Earned Time Off Account Hours may be available for those who suffer sudden and unexpected loss of property due to these extraordinary and unforeseeable circumstances. The policy and forms for employees can be obtained from Human Resources consultants or through the My HR Web site. (Click on Find a Form and select the Financial Hardship Request Form #2140). Physicians may obtain forms from Permanente Total Compensation by calling 1-877-608-0044.
- Retirement Plan Withdrawals. Employees who meet eligibility requirements may withdraw a portion of their Kaiser Permanente 401k Plan, Tax Savings Retirement, or Supplemental Retirement Plan – Plan B. Employees should contact Vanguard at 1-800-523-1188 to obtain withdrawal and/or loan information. Hardship withdrawals require documentation. Withdrawals may be subject to taxes and penalties. Employees should consider contacting a financial advisor or a tax professional regarding the tax and retirement implications of distributions from their plans.
Physicians, under the age of 59 ½ may be eligible for a hardship withdrawal from the TSR Plan as defined by the IRS. Hardship withdrawals require documentation and are subject to ordinary income tax as well as early withdrawal penalty. Physicians should consider contacting a financial advisor or a tax professional regarding the tax and retirement implications of distributions from their plans. Physicians should contact Permanente Total Compensation at 1-877-608-0044.