Roundup: What Benefits Can I Take Advantage of Due To Coronavirus?

by Kristin Hoppe

Dollars and pennies

Note: This page has been updated as of May 5, 2020.

It’s a topic that is all-encompassing these days — the coronavirus pandemic has derailed just about every facet of daily life, with no end in sight.

And for an increasing number of Americans, the economic impact is equally unavoidable. It can be scary and confusing how to navigate these times, financially and otherwise.

Here at My Financial Counsel, we want to make sure you have access to all the resources that could help soften the blow and give you just a little more security.

Below, we have rounded up various benefits that you and your family can take advantage of if needed. These lists are quick and scannable, with options to read more from the source.

Coronavirus Benefits

Stimulus Check

The Federal Government is sending Americans stimulus checks based on tax filing status.

If your adjusted gross income (AGI) is $75,000 or less…

  • Individuals and heads of household can expect $1200
  • Plus $500 per child claimed as a dependent
  • Married couples can expect $2400.

If your income is higher, the check amount decreases by $5 for every $100 above the income threshold.

When will I receive my check?

It’s complicated. The first electronic stimulus check payments were sent out on April 11. As of April 20, the first paper stimulus checks have been sent in the mail and were expected to arrive by April 24.

If you’re still waiting for your check, you can sign up for the Postal Service’s Informed Delivery page which may help you track it. There’s a more in-depth explainer here.

Where to read more:

Paid Leave

More workers now qualify for paid leave than ever in the history of the United States. That said, 50% of people in the US still don’t qualify. Here’s the rundown:

What benefits cover:

  • Two weeks of paid leave if they are ill, quarantined, seeking diagnosis or care for coronavirus, or caring for sick family members.
  • 12 weeks of paid leave to care for children whose schools or childcare providers are closed.

Who qualifies:

  • Most workers at small and midsize companies and nonprofits
  • Government employees employed for at least 30 days

Who doesn’t qualify:

  • Those at companies with more than 500 people
  • Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees who apply for exemption
  • Frontline workers, such as healthcare providers and emergency responders, may not qualify

Where to read more:

Unemployment Benefits

Federal law has increased flexibility for unemployment claims in states related to COVID-19. State unemployment laws vary widely, but the information below covers general federal policy.

What benefits cover:

  • An additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance, funded by federal government (partial wage replacement)
  • Federal benefits of $600 a week for up to four months
  • Jobless benefits offered by the states
  • Extended benefits last through December 2020

You may qualify if:

  • You’re unemployed through no fault of your own
  • You meet work and wage requirements
  • Your employer temporarily ceases operations due to coronavirus
  • You’re quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over
  • You leave employment due to a risk of exposure or infection to care for a family member
  • You meet additional requirements based on the state’s program

Where to read more:

Small Business and Freelancer Loans

The Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, is a loan designed to keep small business workers (including freelancers and independent contractors) on payroll. The Small Business Administration (SBA) will forgive loans if all employees are kept on payroll for 8 weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.

As seen in the news, some larger corporations have been abusing this program, and funds go fast. As of May 4, the SBA says PPP funding is still available. Congress is currently discussing a third round as demand soars.

Who may qualify:

  • Any small business that meets SBA’s size standards
  • Any business, nonprofit organization, or tribal business concern with the greater of 500 employees, or that meets SBA industry size standard
  • Any business that has more than one physical location and employs less than 500 per location
  • Sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed people

Where to read more:

Student Loan Relief

Federal student loan borrowers are automatically being put in administrative forbearance. That means you can temporarily stop making monthly loan payments on federal loans until September 30, 2020. You can still choose to make payments if you want to.

Those loans include:

  • Defaulted and non-defaulted Direct Loans
  • Defaulted and non-defaulted FFEL Program loans
  • Federal Perkins loans

This relief currently does not exist for private student loans. However, you can take the steps to reach out to your private lender and see how they could help.

Where to read more:

Rent and Mortgage Relief

Struggling to pay rent or mortgage if you lose your wages during coronavirus is currently a reality for many Americans right now. Thankfully, there are some federal, state, and local programs that have suspended evictions. You may also be able to get rent assistance, forbearance, or mortgage relief through various social service agencies and state and local programs.

The coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a new federal law that protects homeowners with federally backed mortgages, including:

  • A moratorium on foreclosures
  • A right to forbearance for homeowners who experience financial hardship due to the coronavirus

Check this page to see if you still have relief options even without a federally backed mortgage. While rent currently doesn’t enjoy the same level of federal protections, the resources below may help guide you towards help.

Additional resources:

Grants for Nonprofits, Artists, Etc.

Individuals, artists, small businesses, and nonprofits all may be eligible for a variety of grants that can continue to help them going. This resource provides a comprehensive roundup of various grants currently available.

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