FAQs during COVID-19 and increased market volatility

COVID-19 and increased market volatility have led to many new questions from our clients. We care about how this is impacting you—and how we can help. We will continue to be here to provide up-to-date information and answers for what's on your mind.

Visit the COVID-19 Resource Center for Investor Center updates, market insights, and to watch a weekly webinar. Last updated February 18, 2021.

COVID-19 related distributions (CRDs)

CARES Act and COVID-19 Bills

  • What is the CARES Act?

    On March 27, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law, the third in a series of economic relief bills in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The more than $2 trillion package seeks to address financial pressures facing individuals, businesses, and state and local governments due to the pandemic. The law also provides emergency funding for hospitals, testing, and vaccine development. Find out more about the stimulus and the CARES Act and what it may mean for you.

  • Are there any stipulations or requirements for how I use my CARES Act money?

    There are no stipulations on how you spend your CARES Act payment. You may use any money you receive however you choose.

  • How does the CARES Act impact qualified and non-qualified deferred annuities?

    Like IRAs, the CARES Act temporarily waives required minimum distributions (RMDs) for qualified deferred annuities. This includes the first RMD, which individuals may have delayed from 2019 until April 1, 2020. The CARES Act does not apply to non-qualified deferred annuities.

  • How does the CARES Act extension (and executive orders) impact student loan payments?

    The CARES Act extension suspends payments and interest on federal student loans through September 30, 2021. The act waives interest on the loans as well. For borrowers participating in a loan forgiveness program, the missed months of payments will be recorded as if the borrower had made the payments. Borrowers who are unsure if their loans qualify should contact their loan servicer. Many student loan servicers are putting recurring payments on hold, so borrowers should contact their loan servicer for details on how payments are impacted.

Health savings accounts (HSA)

  • Can I use my health savings account (HSA) to pay insurance premiums if I lose my job?

    You can use your health savings account (HSA) to pay health insurance premiums if you're currently collecting federal or state unemployment benefits, or to pay premiums for COBRA health insurance that you receive because your job status changed.

  • What changes did the CARES Act make to the list of eligible expenses for health savings account (HSA) spending?

    The list of eligible expenses for health savings account (HSA) spending has been permanently expanded to include over-the-counter medications, including antacids, pain relievers, and treatments for cold, flu, and allergy symptoms (without a prescription), and menstrual care products.

  • What COVID 19-related expenses are covered through my health savings account (HSA)-eligible health plan?

    Testing: The recent COVID-19 relief legislation requires that diagnostic testing of COVID-19 be covered at no cost to participants enrolled in health savings account (HSA)-eligible health plans. Diagnostic testing coverage will be available until the public health emergency related to COVID-19 has passed. The legislation also requires that coronavirus preventive services and vaccines be covered without co-payment. Coverage for the vaccine will be available within 15 business days after being recommended by the government.

    Treatment: Guidance from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also allows HSA-eligible health plans to cover treatment for COVID-19 before the deductible is met. This guidance allows full coverage for treatment, but does not require it. Check with your health insurance provider for details on your coverage.

Workplace savings plans (such as 401(k), 403(b), etc.)

  • What is the difference between a workplace savings plan loan vs. a withdrawal?

    Loans and withdrawals from workplace savings plans (such as 401(k), 403(b), etc) are different ways to take money out of your plan. A loan lets you borrow money from your retirement savings and pay it back to yourself over time, with interest—the loan payments and interest go back into your account. A withdrawal permanently removes money from your retirement savings, and you'll have to pay extra taxes and possible penalties. If your plan allows, you might be able to take money out of your retirement savings.

    If your retirement plan is with Fidelity, log in to NetBenefits® to view your options.

  • Can I take a withdrawal from my workplace savings plan due to COVID-19?
    The option to take a CARES Act (Coronavirus) withdrawal from your retirement plan expired on December 30, 2020. If you still have a financial need, your plan may offer loan and withdrawal options. If you have a workplace savings plan with Fidelity and want to learn about your options, log in to NetBenefits® to view your options.

    If you took a CARES Act withdrawal from your workplace savings plan from January 1, 2020 through December 30, 2020, you'll need to fill out IRS Form 8915-E, complete it, and submit it with your tax return. The form includes the 10% early withdrawal waiver, the option to spread the taxable amount over 3 years, and the option to repay CARES Act withdrawals.

  • Can I take a loan from my workplace savings plan due to COVID-19?

    If your plan allows, you might be able to borrow from your workplace savings plan (such as 401(k), 403(b), etc). There might be limits based on regulations and your plan's rules.

    If your retirement plan is with Fidelity, log in to NetBenefits® to view your options.

Cash, savings, and investments

  • I'm wondering what I should do with my cash. What should I consider?

    As you think about whether to stay in cash or to invest, think about the role cash plays in your overall financial plan. How much do you need to pay for your expenses, both planned and unexpected? Holding significant amounts of cash may provide reassurance amid market volatility, but leaving overly large amounts of cash uninvested in your portfolio can be a drawback over the long term.

    To learn more, read our article about understanding how to manage your cash.

  • How do I stop automatic contributions to my retirement account?

    You can change or delete an automatic contribution at any time. First, visit our automatic transfers and investments page, then select the retirement account you'd like to edit and save your changes.

    To get started, visit automatic transfers and investmentsLog In Required.

  • Should people who are retired or very close to retirement do anything special with their investments?

    For clients who are retired or near retirement with a diversified investment plan, staying partially or fully invested (and not moving to cash) is often the right decision, especially for those planning to enjoy a healthy and long retirement which could last 20 to 30+ years.

    Consider working with a financial professional who can help you create a disciplined investment and income plan that suits your individual goals, risk tolerance, and life situation.

  • Should I stop contributing to my retirement accounts?

    Even when the stock market ride gets bumpy, Fidelity reminds long-term investors to stick to their plan—to maintain a well-diversified portfolio (which reflects an asset mix appropriate for your financial circumstances) and continue to save and to invest those additional savings.

    Consider working with a financial professional who can help you create a disciplined investment plan that suits your individual goals, risk tolerance, and life situation.

Personal finance and estate planning

  • How can I access legal and other resources to help protect my family in case I get sick?

    Fidelity offers access to tools and resources that can help with your estate planning needs, such as creating a will, choosing a health care proxy, or establishing a power of attorney. You can get started by using the Fidelity Estate Planner®, our free online service for Fidelity customers that helps guide you through the estate planning process and, if needed, connect you with an attorney. Or, for simple family situations (with less than $2 million in assets), another option you may want to consider is LegalZoom®, where Fidelity customers can save on online estate planning services.

  • Should I consider refinancing my student loans to lower monthly payments?

    Refinancing involves taking out a private loan to pay off all or a portion of your student loans, typically at a lower interest rate (if you qualify), which could result in significant savings. It also lets you extend the term from, say, 10 to 20 years. Keep in mind, though, you could end up paying more over a longer term. And, your new private loan disqualifies you from federal benefits such as a broad choice of repayment plans. Our student debt tool can help you explore options to pay off your debt. If you decide refinancing fits your situation, an option that lets you easily compare rates from multiple lenders is Credible, through which Fidelity customers can save on refinancing student loans.

  • What resources are available to help my family deal with changes to the college admissions process?

    One useful resource to consider is Collegewise, including its COVID-19 Resource Center, where you'll find an up-to-date listing of all closed campuses, affected campus visit programs, and schools extending their deposit deadlines, as well as updates on entrance exam testing dates, and other useful information. Fidelity customers can save on services from Collegewise, including personal support from professional college admissions counselors.

  • What resources can I use to help protect myself and my loved ones from COVID-19 scams?

    The Federal Trade Commission and IRS have reported a wide range of financial fraud schemes related to COVID-19. To help protect yourself, you may want to consider an online account monitoring service. One option available is EverSafe, which sends suspicious-activity alerts for unusual withdrawals, missing deposits, odd charges, and changes in spending patterns. This may be particularly useful if you're caring for elders, as older adults may be prime targets for financial fraud. Another option to consider is IDnotifyTM from Experian, which offers monitoring services to help protect you from identity theft. Fidelity customers can save on services from EverSafe and IDnotify.