The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all aspects of our lives. The unemployment rate grew, paying bills became difficult, and our financial security got affected. However, there are many helpful resources to assist you during this uncertain time.
The Coronavirus Response Act provided $1 billion to help in unemployment benefits and paid sick leave programs at the state level. Check your state website to learn how your state is handling unemployment benefits and how to apply for or extend your benefits.
As noted below in the Government Relief Check, the President has ordered the extension of the weekly federal benefit (on top of state benefits) of $400 a week. At this time, it is uncertain how each state will handle these payments since the state must pay 25% of the benefit amount.
In response to the coronavirus, the federal government passed laws to allow for free diagnostic testing, and urgent care or ER visits where COVID-19 testing takes place. This coverage is provided at no cost to the patient. If you have questions about coverage or testing, contact your insurance provider or your state health department.
Government Relief Checks
These are now called “stimulus” checks that ended on July 31, 2020. The President just ordered an extension of these checks in the amount of $400, with each state having to pay for 25% of the payments. At this time, it is uncertain what each state will do or whether they will pay their portion. Check with your state website to learn more about what your state is going to do in order for you to receive your checks.
Delayed Tax Filing and Payment Deadlines
The deadline to file taxes and pay federal taxes was deferred to July 15, 2020. This deadline may be extended, but be sure you are aware of any changes to the deadline and that you file in time to avoid penalties and interest.
With most schools nationwide planning to work virtually for the coming school year, there are many people who need food program support.
Many school systems are still providing breakfast and lunch for school-age children who would normally be in a classroom. Check with your local school to see if you qualify and what programs are available. Many schools have meal pick-up plans, and a few even deliver meals.
Another program available to most families is SNAP.
You can visit your state’s SNAP website or call their toll free number to learn more.
In general, for SNAP, your household must meet certain income limits/work requirements. There are special rules for the elderly and disabled.
There are also many local food banks helping people across the country, including Feed America. There are also local churches and charities providing food programs. Check your local community services to learn more.
Student Loan Payment Deferrals
The US government is providing some relief for student loan payments. President Trump just ordered an extension for student loan payments until the end of the year 2020. You can still make payments if you are able to do so.
Insurance Refunds or Payment Deferrals
Many auto insurance companies are already providing discounts due to the lower number of vehicles on the road and fewer accidents. Many of the biggest companies are already discounting premiums for their customers. Contact your insurance company to see if they are offering discounts, giving refunds, providing payment deferrals. Some of the companies already cutting your premium or offering a discount include:
- State Farm
- Liberty Mutual
- And many more
Housing Foreclosures and Evictions
Delays in evictions and foreclosures are extensive but do not cover everyone. Be sure to check your local city and state guidelines as well as contact your mortgage provider directly to learn what programs you may be eligible for.
FHA mortgages, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac postponed evictions and foreclosures for single-family mortgages, and President Trump just issued a new mandate to extend these postponements. Some are providing up to a 1 year grace period.
There are banks that are offering 1 year grace periods as well. Contact your bank if they are your mortgage provider. Keep in mind you will have to show proof you are out of work or earning much less due to the pandemic situation.
Credit Card Payment Assistance
There are credit card companies that offer assistance or postponements of payments. You can contact your credit card company directly and ask about the programs or deferments of payments. Some companies have already offered special terms:
Citi is currently suspending minimum payment due requirements and late fees for two statement terms (typically 2 months). You can check directly with them if you wish to defer your payments.
U.S. Bank has offered some special terms for certain financial products. Contact them directly if you use their services.
Discover is offering to assist some customers for adjusting payment due dates, late payments, and fees. Contact Discover directly if you are a customer to learn more.
Utilities are an essential part of our everyday life. Many people are currently unable to pay some or all of their utility bills. Consider visiting your utility company websites or call them directly and ask what special programs they offer. Some companies have already started to assist customers; they include:
Southern California Edison. They are waving some late fees and postponing disconnections.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. They offer flexible payment plans and are postponing disconnections.
Georgia Power. They are offering discounts and are postponing home disconnections.
In summary, there are a lot of ways to defer or postpone payments as well as many support services available. Check your local and state services to find out what programs may assist you and for how long and how much!