Frequently Asked Questions
What is EASE?
EASE is the acronym for Employee Assistance for Seattle Employees. EASE is a non-profit, 501(3)(c) organization.
Are donations tax deductible?
Yes. EASE gratefully accepts donations of any amount from you and those interested in supporting our cause. Because we are a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization, your donations are tax deductible.
Is EASE part of the City of Seattle?
No. EASE is a separate non-profit corporation that is administered and run by a volunteer board of directors who are City of Seattle employees and retired employees.
If I receive assistance from EASE, do I have to return the funds?
No. Our hope is that you will support EASE by making a donation to help a fellow employee in their time of need.
However, per IRS rules, the money you receive from EASE must be considered income for income tax purposes and must declared as such.
What is the purpose of the EASE Fund?
The EASE Fund is for use by City of Seattle regular employees with one major purpose: To provide employees with funds to help them get through an EMERGENCY that causes financial stress or crisis. The EASE Fund Committee will only consider emergency situations and award decisions will be made based on funding availability. The Fund is designed to provide emergency grants of money to pay for services for qualifying employees. Loans to employees are not available at any time.
What is the definition of an emergency?
Please note that EASE will not fund requests that are results of ongoing financial difficulties that are not a result of an emergency.
For the EASE Fund, an emergency is defined as a sudden, catastrophic and unexpected event, the occurrence of which was totally unforeseen by the employee. Examples of emergencies that would likely be funded, include fire, accident, death in family, etc.
Need may also be determined by undue hardship, which is defined as circumstances, not deliberately caused by the employee, and of such magnitude or severity that it is unlikely that the employee has sufficient resources to reasonably expect a favorable outcome. Examples of undue hardship include, a delay in receiving disability insurance, a domestic violence situation, the cessation of child support, or a prolonged illness.
What are allowable uses of the EASE Fund?
Financial assistance may be applied to but are not limited to:
- Loss or need of shelter.
- Medical costs that are excluded from regular insurance policies.
- Emergencies which cause loss of pay.
- Other severe hardship, at the discretion of the EASE Funding Committee.
Who is eligible to apply for funding?
- Persons eligible for aid are regular employees.
- Regular employees must be employed for at least 12-months before making requests for grants/funding.
- The spouse, partner, child, and/or parents of the regular employee are the only immediate family members who are eligible for EASE assistance. Other family members are ineligible.
- Temporary and/or retired City employees are ineligible.
- At this time, EASE will not solicit funds for any specific individual. Donations made will go to the general pool of funding available for all City employees.
How do I apply for assistance?
Requesting emergency assistance from the EASE FUND is simple. Obtain a completely confidential application for assistance from our website at www.seattle.gov/ease or request an application via email to email@example.com.
An employee or employee's relative must complete the application form and submit to EASE. The form must include an original signature. All requests are confidential.
What are the financial limits?
- Maximum amount award per lifetime per employee is $3,000.
- Decisions are dependent upon sufficient availability of funds.
How will I receive the funds?
- EASE pays funds directly to billing agents. Copies of invoices/statements should be submitted with your application. For instance, if you are asking for assistance with a rent or mortgage payment, please be sure to include a copy of your rental agreement, eviction notice, mortgage statement, or other documentation as applicable.
- Funding, by IRS requirements, is treated as taxable income.
- In the event the employee has paid a bill and is asking for reimbursement, sufficient documentation must be provided at the time of the application proving payment (invoices marked paid, etc). In this case, the employee will be the recipient of the funds. This is a requirement for EASE to maintain its 50(c)(3) non-profit status by the IRS. Again, funding received must be treated as taxable income.
How are requests reviewed?
All requests will be reviewed on the availability of funds and a case-by-case and need basis, and not on a first-come, first-served basis. A request for funds does not guarantee approval of payment or sufficient funds to meet the employees' needs. Each individual case will be unique and will not necessarily set a precedent for future cases. The EASE Fund Committee will strive to provide proper assistance at the proper time. In the event of a dispute, EASE Fund Committee and the full Board will meet to discuss and render a decision based on review of the facts. Their decision shall be final.
How often are applications reviewed?
EASE funding applications will be reviewed monthly.
If the request is a qualifying emergency, the employee will be notified and assistance will be provided as early as possible. If a request is denied, the employee requesting assistance may be encouraged to re-apply.
A request for funds does not guarantee approval of payment or sufficient funds to meet the employees' needs.
How are Fund donations received and managed?
The EASE fund is self-supporting and receives its funds through voluntary contributions from employees (i.e., payroll deductions, direct contributions, and proceeds from fundraising) or other individuals and organizations. These contributions may qualify as tax-deductible donations. The EASE fund shall have its own account into which all funds will be deposited and from which all emergency funds distributed will be drawn. Any interest the account earns will be kept in the account to help it grow.
- Employees may contribute via payroll deductions. Sign up through Employee Self-Service (ESS) – inweb link: http://selfservice.ci.seattle.wa.us/
- The EASE Fund will accept direct contributions at any time, for any amount and from any individual(s) and/or agency via checks, on-line donation through Employee Self Service, or direct deposit at the Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union.
What is the Sympathy Fund?
- An employee’s family is eligible for Sympathy fund money if they die during the course of their regular shift hours of work (to include lunch time coverage, but not travel to/from work).
- Distribution of Sympathy fund money shall be limited to a set amount of $500/employee.
- A family member may apply on behalf of the late employee for these funds, providing they provide proof of relationship.
- The Sympathy Fund shall be a separate pot of money, where an active balance of $3,000 is maintained if possible.
A caring community giving to its employees in times of need.