We’re all feeling the impact of COVID-19 on our lives, but many government agencies, financial institutions and others have stepped up to help. If your finances have taken a hit because of the coronavirus, there’s support available. In this article, we’ll discuss several types of assistance.
Direct Relief Payments
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides for the payment of up to $1,200 plus an extra $500 per child for qualifying individuals. Married couples can receive up to $2,400. These relief payments, commonly called stimulus checks, are lower for individuals who earn more than $75,000 and married couples who earn more than $150,000. The amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the threshold. According to the IRS, some payments could be delayed until September. If you haven’t yet received your payment, you can check the IRS’ Get My Payment page to check the status. Keep in mind, the IRS will send your check to the address it has on file if you haven’t provided direct deposit information. And, if you’ve moved since you last filed and haven’t notified them, your payment may be delayed even longer.
If you haven’t filed your 2018 or 2019 federal income tax return, you may still be eligible for a payment. You have until July 15 to file. For those not required to file a tax return, you can check the Non-Filers page for eligibility information and instructions. You can find more details on the IRS Tax Relief and Economic Impact Payments page.
Tax, Retirement and Education Savings Relief
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is providing several relief options.
Filing Extension. Since the IRS extended the deadline to file federal income tax returns until July 15, taxpayers who owe money can defer their payments until then, without penalties and interest. Not sure you’ll be ready by July 15? You can request an extension on Form 4868 through your tax professional, tax software or the IRS Free File page.
Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and Educational Savings Account (ESA) changes. Since the deadline for filing your tax return is now July 15, that means you now have until then to make IRA and ESA contributions for 2019.
And, you may be able to withdraw up to $100,000 from your IRA or ESA between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 without paying a 10 percent penalty, even if you’re not 59½. You qualify if:
- you or your spouse is diagnosed with COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 in an approved test; or
- you’ve suffered financially (e.g., can’t work because of no childcare, had work hours reduced, furloughed, lost your job, business closed)
Income taxes for these distributions will still be due, but you can pay them over 3 years.
The coronavirus relief package expanded unemployment insurance for laid-off workers and those with reduced hours due to COVID-19. Benefits were also extended to self-employed and gig workers, who were previously ineligible. Eligible workers will receive an additional $600 per week on top of the standard unemployment payments until July 31, 2020. You can start the process by filing a claim with your state’s unemployment insurance program.
The U.S. Department of Labor administers the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to help families financially.
The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) requires some employers to provide employees paid sick leave (2 weeks or up to 80 hours) or expanded family and medical sick leave (up to an additional 10 weeks) for reasons related to COVID-19. If you have COVID-19 or are subject to a quarantine or isolation order, you may be eligible. The maximum payout is $511 per day and $5,110 over the 2-week period. Employees who take paid sick leave for another qualifying reason are entitled to two-thirds of that amount.
The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA). Another component of the FFCRA is the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA). The EFMLEA allows certain employees to take up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave related to COVID-19, with 10 weeks paid at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay. Employees who take this leave can still qualify for the EPSLA to receive pay during the first 2 weeks. You may qualify for the EFMLEA if you must stay home to care for a child whose school or day care is closed.
You can find more details on the Federal Register’s FFCRA page.
Student Loan Help
Having trouble keeping up with student loan payments? If you have federal student loans, your student loan payments will be automatically stopped through Sept. 30, 2020. Private student loans from Navy Federal Credit Union are eligible for a 3-month forbearance for borrowers impacted by COVID-19, which means you can temporarily suspend your payments for 3 months. Reach out to our Student Loan Center Monday through Friday at 1-877-304-9302 (8 am to 8 pm, ET) to discuss your options.
If you’ve lost income due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for emergency mortgage assistance or a forbearance plan to suspend mortgage payments. Federally backed mortgages are protected from foreclosures for as long as 180 days if you’ve lost income due to COVID-19. If you have a mortgage through Navy Federal, we offer forbearance for eligible members. You can contact us at 1-800-258-5948 for more information.
Assistance for Paying Rent
If you’re unable to pay your rent, it’s important to communicate with your landlord about what’s going on before you fall too far behind. There are some programs to help landlords and renters. City and state programs also may be available to prevent eviction and provide help for those affected by COVID-19 through the federal government, states and local social services agencies. Nolo has published a list of resources for renters and landlords affected by COVID-19, and Fannie Mae published a guide for renters. The Fannie Mae Disaster Response Network™ is also offering free HUD-approved housing advisor support by calling 877-542-9723.
A Break from Utility and Communication Bills
A number of large electric and gas utility companies have taken steps to suspend late fee accruals and disconnection of services. Communications companies have also stepped up to help residential and small business customers who are unable to pay their phone and internet bills due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. Some companies are waiving late fees and not terminating service to customers for at least 60 days.
Health Insurance Coverage
If you lose your job-based health insurance, you may be able to keep your health plan through COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) continuation coverage. Or, you may be eligible to sign up for a health insurance plan through the health insurance marketplace. Visit your state’s health insurance Marketplace website or go to healthcare.gov to learn more.
Auto and Homeowners Insurance Assistance
Fewer people on the roads means fewer claims for insurance companies. As a result, many auto insurers are giving customers rebates, credits and discounts. In most cases, this is automatic, with companies providing a credit of 15-20% on policies for April and May. But, some insurers may require you to take action to receive a discount, so be sure to check your insurer’s website.
If you’re struggling to pay your premiums, your insurer may extend your grace period or defer payments until a later date. Contact them to see what they’re offering.
Payments for auto loans, personal loans, credit cards and other debt can be a challenge if you’re living on a reduced income. If you’re struggling to keep up with your debt payments, contact your loan servicers right away. At Navy Federal Credit Union, we’re offering a variety of relief options and will work with you to find solutions.
Assistance for Your Small Business
As part of the CARES Act, the Small Business Administration created temporary programs to help businesses. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a loan intended to keep workers employed and, if employers follow the guidelines, may be forgiven.
Businesses that qualify can apply for up to $10 million (based on the SBA’s PPP formula) to be used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest and utilities. However, they must spend at least 75% of the loan on payroll-related expenses and keep all employees on the payroll for the 8 weeks following loan funding to have their loans forgiven. Check the SBA’s website for more details and to see if funding is still available.
The Economic Injury Disaster Loan is a loan for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees. It’s an emergency advance of up to $10,000 for businesses experiencing a temporary loss of revenue related to COVID-19, and doesn’t have to be repaid. Although only applications for agricultural businesses are being accepted currently, applications that were already submitted are being processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
The SBA is also providing other debt relief for small businesses. Those with 7(a), 504 and microloans may qualify for payment deferment or having the SBA automatically pay principal, interest and fees of current loans for 6 months, and for new loans issued prior to Sept. 27, 2020. In addition, the SBA Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program allows small businesses who already have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to get up to $25,000 while they await their EIDL loan funding.
We’re Here to Help
Times have changed, but our commitment to helping our members hasn’t. Learn how we’re helping members with options like loan extensions, deferred payments, increases on credit card limits and penalty-free certificate withdrawals. You can also find answers to the questions we’re asked most frequently.