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In response to COVID-19, a lot of lenders—including us—are offering options to help struggling homeowners with their mortgage payments. You might have heard this referred to as a forbearance plan or as deferred payments. Each plan is a little different, but basically it means temporarily suspending your mortgage payment and paying the amount back later when you’re in a better financial situation.

Whether you have your mortgage with Navy Federal Credit Union or with another lender, you might be wondering if this makes sense for you. Here are some things to keep in mind.

If you’re struggling, the most important thing to do is reach out to your lender. I can’t stress that enough. Let them know about your situation and ask how they can work with you.

Even if you’re still employed, suspending your mortgage payment with approval from your lender could be a good opportunity to build your emergency fund. If you think you’re in danger of losing your job or your household income is likely to go down, having that safety net is an important reassurance for your mental health, too.

Understand Payback Expectations

Make sure you understand how you’ll be expected to pay the suspended payments back. If your lender requires you to make a lump-sum payment, it may not be a good idea to participate in the program unless absolutely necessary. But you may be able to negotiate with them.

Ask if you can pay extra each month until the suspended payments are repaid or if you can add the missed payments to the end of your loan.

You might also be able to apply for a loan modification where you add the suspended payments to your loan balance and increase the length of your loan. Refinancing to a lower interest rate could be another option.

Navy Federal’s Plan

Our Forbearance Plan temporarily suspends your mortgage payment requirements. During forbearance, you won’t be required to make a payment unless you choose to, and your mortgage account will remain “current” as long as it was current before forbearance started.

If you’re ready to resume mortgage payments at the end of the initial 180-day Forbearance Plan period, you can spread the missed payments throughout the remaining term of your loan or add the amount to your last scheduled mortgage payment. If you’re still struggling, we may be able to extend forbearance for a longer time.

We Want to Help

If you’re a Navy Federal member, we want you to know that if you’re struggling financially, making your mortgage payment is one less thing you need to worry about right now.

Contact us right away. You can send us a secure message or call us at 1-800-258-5948. We’ve brought in extra member service representatives to answer you as fast as possible.

Right now, we’re all facing uncertainty. Eventually, things will get back to normal, and the economy will start to rebound. In the meantime, the most important thing to remember is that you have options. Reach out to us—we want to help you.

Janelle Allison is the Vice President, Mortgage Default Management at Navy Federal Credit Union.

This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.