Over 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the past couple of months. In this unique and stressful pandemic time, it is imperative that you understand what benefits may be available to you and how to get them.
Here are some key action steps to consider for financial assistance due to the COVID- 19 crisis as you navigate your way through these tough times.
Apply for Extended Unemployment Benefits
If you are a contract employee, you will likely not be able to get unemployment. But most workers can get it and receive from $100 to $500+ per week, depending on previous earnings as well as the state you live in. The federal government is adding an additional $600 a week for up to 4 months. There are some exceptions allowing those who do not qualify for unemployment to receive benefits.
Most people who qualify for the $1,200 stimulus check from the government have already replied and received the check.
Get Your Bank and Credit Card Fees Waived Temporarily
Many of the larger banks and credit unions are working with customers to allow them to temporarily waive their bank and credit card fees. Other credit card companies, like Capital One, are also doing so.
Contact all your financial institutions where you owe money and ask them what they can offer you. This includes your mortgage company if you own your home. All federally backed home loans are automatically providing a 60 day relief period where you will not have to make your mortgage payment. Although it may be extended for 30 days (more than one time), you should not count on that happening.
No fees, interest, or penalties may be charged for federally backed loans.
Landlords with federally backed mortgages are not allowed to evict tenants for failure to pay rent for a 120-day period. If you are a renter, you should contact your landlord as many are allowing for short, penalty-free periods of no rent.
Stop Making Your Student Loan Payments
The government has stopped requiring payments on federal student loans until the end of September 2020. There will be no penalties or interest added to your account. Be sure you are not set up for automatic payments from your bank account unless you can afford to continue to make them. The pause in federal loans does not affect private student loans.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program
This program is providing lower-income Americans with free emergency food assistance. Almost $500 million has been allocated to provide meals to needy families. In addition, Feed America has received massive donations to assist families in need. Do not hesitate to ask for help if your family needs it.
Even in these tough times, there are companies who are thriving and hiring!
Several companies have announced they are hiring over 100,000 new employees. These include Amazon, Walmart, and Instacart (300,000 full-time employees). There are numerous other companies adding 10,000 or more jobs in the near future. Most of them are retail or service companies.
If you need some extra work that comes with a very flexible schedule, you can also consider companies like Uber, Lyft, Door Dash, and others. There are also many flex jobs in the senior care industry, including helping with appointments, shopping, etc.
No matter your situation, review all your options in this financial crisis. Financial assistance is available in a variety of forms; do not hesitate to ask for it.