The coronavirus pandemic has caused hardship. There are financial resources for the unemployed as well as underemployed as well as millions of other Americans who are struggling. People have been impacted by furloughs to temporary or permanent job losses, reduced hours or income and more. COVID has forced millions of workers out of jobs and who are now unemployed, but there is emergency assistance for them listed below by category. There is also help for who are people facing reduced hours or reduction in their income.
Past surveys have indicated that many people work paycheck to paycheck and do not have the financial resources to cover even one month’s usual expenses without a steady income. The Coronavirus pandemic is highlighting that issue. Although states are reopening their economies, many people are currently in dire financial straits and wondering how to pay rent and put food on the table.
To help cope in this difficult time, federal, state and local governments have instituted measures to provide financial relief to both the underemployed and unemployed. Banks and credit unions are providing emergency loans, deferring payments and waiving fees. Charities and food pantries have stepped up to the late to help people whose income or health has been impacted by Coronavirus. There are many other financial resources for people impacted by COVID.
These and other efforts are providing needed hope to people struggling through this crisis. Here are some of the ways the unemployed as well as other may be able to obtain financial relief that can help to bridge the gap until businesses reopen and employees return to work.
Assistance programs that help the unemployed from Coronavirus
1. Economic Impact Payments. The federal government has sent payments of up to $1200 to eligible individuals, whether they are unemployed or still working. Families may also receive up to $500 for each eligible child. Payments are being sent automatically to persons who have filed their 2018 or 2019 federal income tax returns. Individuals who receive Social Security Benefits, Veteran’s Benefits and Railroad Retirement Benefits will also receive payments without needing to take any action.
For those who have not recently filed tax returns, you can provide your address and banking information necessary for direct deposit via the internet at IRS.gov. People who provided banking information in past tax returns have been receiving payments by direct deposit. Payments by paper check are expected to take up to several months to be fully distributed. You can check the status of your payment at IRS.gov, but the government advises you to have patience since new information is being added daily.
Economic impact payments are not taxable, and receipt of funds will not impact any federal tax refund you may be due. Payments will not affect eligibility for federal assistance programs.
2. Expanded unemployment benefits. In March 2020, the federal government provided funding to expand and increase unemployment benefits as the result of the Coronavirus epidemic. Payments are now available to many who would not normally qualify, including self-employed, freelance and gig workers such as Uber Drivers or small business owners.
Benefits as well as public assistance is not just available for employees who have permanently or temporarily lost jobs to due COVID reasons or other economic impacts. Payments are now being provided for persons who have had work hours reduced or who have been quarantined or who can’t work because they are required to care for a family member due to the coronavirus.
Persons eligible for benefits can now get an extra $600 per week for as long as 6 months. Unemployment benefits have also been extended for an additional 13 weeks beyond what states normally provide. Although the federal government funded the expanded benefits, each state has its own unemployment benefit program and policies. Application for benefits should be made through your state’s unemployment insurance program. There is also additional public aid, including emergency food stamps or free health insurance, that can often be combined with unemployment. More on public assistance by state near you.
3. Charities for the unemployed. Charities generally help the lowest income families that are also in a crisis due to COVID or other reasons. As they do have limited resources. There are literally thousands of local and national organizations including the Salvation Army, Feeding America, Catholic Charities, Community Action Agencies, thousands of free food pantries, local churches and others. There is are even free charitable community clinics near you.
The unemployed or those facing a loss of income due to the Coronavirus often take priority. As do the vulnerable, including sick, elderly, or disabled. There are financial resources, free stuff and more. Find a list charity organizations.
4. Emergency personal loans. Numerous financial institutions are offering low or no-interest loans, even to people that are unemployed or that had a reduction in income to due COVID impact. Some of the best offers come from credit unions. CBC Federal Credit Union is offering members short-term emergency loans at 5% interest which can be used to pay bills. ORNL Federal Credit Union has created an emergency assistance loan program for members to obtain unsecured loans at 0% for the first six months followed by 3% for the remainder of the term.
Washington State Employees Credit Union is offering emergency personal loans at 3% interest with no repayment due for 90 days. Gesa Credit union is offering low and 0% interest personal loans to members. Contact your financial institution to learn what forms of financial assistance may be available. Or locate additional 0% interest free loans.
5. Home loan forbearance. The Federal National Mortgage Association, commonly known as Fannie Mae, and The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, commonly known as Freddie Mac are major sources of financing for mortgage lenders as well as banks. Both are providing mortgage assistance and relief. The financial resources are for underemployed, furloughed workers, gig economy workers and others.
Forbearance plans to reduce or suspend mortgage payments for up to 12 months are available. It will in effect allow a homeowner more time to pay their loans as the nation battles the Coronavirus pandemic. Qualified homeowners, even those without a job, must contact their mortgage servicer to work out a permanent plan to reduce monthly payments. Or find other ways to get mortgage help.
Additionally, foreclosures and evictions involving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac properties have been suspended for up to 60 days. This is for the under as well as unemployed. The rent help is for anyone with a reduction in income or who is on leave from their work. and the reporting of delinquent payment to credit bureaus has also been suspended. Homeowners can learn if they have a Fannie Mae-owned mortgage at KnowYourOptions.com/loanlookup. Freddie Mac information is available at freddiemac.com/loanlookup.
6. Refinance your home mortgage. The Federal Reserve’s slashing of interest rates as a result of the pandemic has made this an excellent time to refinance home loans and reduce monthly payments. Rates on both fixed-rate mortgage and home equity lines of credit have fallen dramatically. As a result, home refinance applications have soared.
Banking experts expect 30-year mortgage interest rates to remain low through 2020. To find the best deal for refinancing, get information from several lenders. Call your current bank or mortgage service as well for their resources. Each will provide you with a written Loan Estimate form, and you can select the best offer after reviewing them.
7. Use your home equity. Rather than refinancing your mortgage, another option is to take advantage of low-interest rates by obtaining a home equity loan to help you pay the bills during the Coronavirus pandemic. If you don’t need to use the money immediately to pay any emergency bills, set the funds aside so they will be available when needed to get through this financially difficult period. Alternatively, you can open a home equity line of credit and reserve use until a future date or use the funds now to pay off higher-interest debts.
8. Make money. The job market is in turmoil due to COVID. Millions of people have lost their jobs or had their hours or income reduced. But there are also millions of people being hired into other jobs or freelance positions. While the net job loss is higher than net gains (leading to higher unemployment), the fact is there are jobs and ways to make money out there.
There are work from home jobs, freelance jobs like tutoring or customer service, android or iPhone smart phone apps to make a few extra dollars, survey companies, and hundreds of other ways to make some extra money in this COVID crisis. The extra funds or income can be its own form of financial relief. Even time this time to learn a new skills, such as coding. Read more on free money for an emergency.
9. Seek auto loan relief. Following mortgage payments, monthly auto loan obligations are among the largest items in many people’s budgets. Numerous auto loan lenders are now providing relief by deferring or reducing payments and/or by waiving late fees. These financial resources are available for almost all customers, whether unemployed due to Coronavirus or just struggling. For new vehicle purchasers, many companies are also delaying the first payment for 90 days
For example, Ford Motor Credit has established a hotline at 1-800-723-4016 for customers experiencing financial problems due to the coronavirus. Special payment arrangements are being made on a case-by-case basis. Ally Financial is allowing auto loan holders to defer payments up to 120 days.
Honda Financial Services and Acura Financial Services are providing payment extensions, deferrals and fee waivers. In many cases, although payments are deferred, interest will continue to accrue. To obtain relief you should contact the auto loan servicer to learn what specific programs are available. More on refinancing car loans from all banks.
10. Request to skip credit card payments. Surveys suggest that tens of millions of Americans will have difficulty paying credit card bills due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is assistance given not only to the unemployed but anyone who is impacted by the COViD economic slowdown. Many credit card companies are allowing cardholders to skip one or more monthly payments as part of a credit card hardship program. This can be done without penalty and without reporting missed payments to credit bureaus.
Bank of America cardholders can submit an online request for deferral. Chase also provides an online form to request a delay of three monthly payments. Citi is offering deferrals for two consecutive payments and late-fee waivers. American Express and Capital One are allowing eligible cardholders, including the unemployed, to skip payments without interest accruing. Barclays offers a variety of options that include skipping payments, waiving fees and increasing credit limits.
Other card issuers providing relief or deferrals to the unemployed or furloughed workers include Discover, Synchrony Bank, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo. You usually need to request permission to skip payments to avoid penalties. To learn what options are available from your card issuers, call the number on the back of your credit card and explain your circumstances. Find help from credit card deferrals.
11. Free stuff for the unemployed during Coronavirus. Personal finance involves saving money too. So there are ways to get resources to pay bills as well as ways to cut back on expenses and save money. Both financial aid and saving are often critical to anyone who has employment challenges from the coronavirus pandemic. Such as free food or clothes from charities, grants from the government, prescription drugs and more – getting free stuff involves saving money to pay other bills.
While the free items are generally material goods, some of them may be cash or financial aid. These are generally reserved for those most impacted from COVID, such as the unemployed or people with a large reduction in hours. Find how to get free stuff.
12. Auto insurance refunds and discounts. Many auto insurance companies are currently providing refunds or credits to policyholders and offering discounts for future coverage. In most cases, you don’t need to take any action. You will either receive the refund by mail or see a credit applied to an upcoming insurance bill. Everyone is eligible, whether you are working or lost your job due to Coronavirus.
Among companies providing relief are AAA which is giving a 20% refund for policyholders with insurance in effect from March 16-May 15. Allstate, Kemper, Travelers, Safeco and The Hartford are giving 15% discounts on April and May premiums. Chubb is giving a 35% discount for the same period. Geico is providing a 15% credit for auto and motorcycle customers with policies that renew before October 7. Nationwide is refunding $50 per policy to be credited to the payment method on record. Most State Farm customers will receive, on average, a 25% credit.
Drivers can expect to see refunds, credits or one- time payments between April and August. More than 80% of insurance companies are offering financial relief. Check with your insurer to obtain specific details.
You may also be able to reduce your future auto insurance costs by changing coverage or shopping around. Eliminating comprehensive and collision insurance on older cars can reduce annual rates by several hundred dollars. Compare rates for comparable insurance coverage from several companies. Check for eligible discounts that may be based on vehicle usage, driving history or by bundling home or renter and auto coverage through one insurer. However, if you plan to change insurers, it may be wise to wait until after you receive a refund or credit from your current company.
13. Delay filing local, state and federal taxes if you owe. Many local and state governments have extended deadlines for payment of property and business taxes due to the Coronavirus pandemic. For example, several counties have delayed deadlines for property tax. Many businesses that usually file quarterly state tax returns by April 30 now have until July 30 or later. Check with your local or state government’s revenue or tax division to learn what relief may be available due to COVID. Or find property tax financial assistance programs.
For anyone who has not yet filed a 2019 federal income tax return, the due date for both filing and payment of any tax owed has been extended until July 15. This is the new IRS deadline for all Americans, whether they are unemployed due to the Coronavirus pandemic or whether they are still working. If you are unable to pay the amount owed at that time, you should pay what you can and request a payment plan for the balance.
Financial resources for the mid to long term to deal with the pandemic
No one knows for certain when life may return to something approaching normal or when the Coronavirus pandemic will truly abate. Or when the job market will start to “heal”, those provide relief to the unemployed. As a result, the relief outlined above may be extended or expanded to deal with the crisis as it evolves. There has been discussion at the federal level of issuing additional economic impact payments, but specific details have not been announced. Or extending unemployment benefits. Banks, lenders and businesses may extend assistance programs if economic recovery efforts are slow to take hold.
Navigating through this crisis will be difficult for many, no matter their income or employment status. Taking positive steps to reduce monthly expenses and obtain financial assistance wherever possible may be necessary for the near future. Also be sure to review the primary need help paying bills website.
Financial resources are available from numerous sources to help everyone, including the unemployed, deal with the Coronavirus pandemic. In many cases, all you have to do is ask. With the goodwill and combined efforts of people, businesses, charities and organizations across the country, financial survival during this Coronavirus crisis can be accomplished.