Due to the impact of the economy in the U.S this year of 2020, many people have lost their jobs and are concerned about bills and payments such as the rent, the mortgage, etc. It is good to know that regulatory U.S agencies have encouraged banks and lenders to work with customers affected by COVID-19 and many state and local governments are also implementing programs to help citizens and businesses that have been affected.
We have compiled a list of suggestions and recommendations based in the United States that will hopefully help with your situation. And just a heads-up, there is a lot of information below! Our intent isn’t to overwhelm you but to provide you with information and ideas that can help you. There is a lot going on, and taking care of yourself and your family is the most important thing right now. Make a goal for how you want to tackle this and break it into manageable pieces.
Each case is a case but in general sounds like it would be worth looking into unemployment insurance. The federal government is currently allowing states to amend their requirements around unemployment benefits so that people affected by COVID-19 will be covered. Find out if you qualify and apply for benefits if you can.
Homeowners: Many mortgage lenders have already put things in place to help their customers, like delaying payments for 120 days or waiving late fees. The CFPB has provided detailed information on how to handle this type of situation. You’ll want to contact your service provider and explain your situation and see if they will work with you. You can also contact a HUD-approved housing counselor in your state to find additional resources. If you have an FHA-insured mortgage, the Department of Housing and Urban Development recently directed mortgage servicers to cease foreclosure and eviction procedures through the end of April. That should give you some breathing room, but only if you have that type of mortgage loan.
Renters: In many cities, residential evictions have been stopped for the time being. Not every city in the U.S has implemented eviction moratoriums, so research what is being done in your area. If your city or state has placed a ban on evictions, you should still contact your landlord and tell them your situation.
If there isn’t an eviction ban in your area, definitely contact your landlord. In this situation, they should work with you. I don’t think many people, if any, are moving right now. It’s in your landlord’s best interest to get a payment plan worked out with current tenants.
Many banks, lenders and other businesses are working with customers on payment plans. Lenders don’t want customers to default since it’s an expensive process and can ruin a relationship between the lender and customer. The suggestion here is to call your creditors and let them know of your situation as soon as possible. They may be able to change your payment due date, allow you to skip a payment or waive late fees. It does not hurt to ask.
If you have student loans there is a good chance that you qualify for a deferred payment or reduced payment based on your situation. The Department of Education recently suspended federal loan payments and waived interest for at least 60 days. Private student loans don’t qualify, but you should contact your service provider to find out what your options are.
First, rest assured that there are no nationwide food shortages due to COVID 19. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act has expanded food assistance, including suspending the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and allowing states to provide emergency SNAP benefits. While many grocery stores have altered their hours during this time, many are offering voucher programs and other resources to help their communities. Check with your local grocery store to see if it has implemented any emergency assistance programs at this time. If you have a child, your area may be providing school lunches that you can pick up. Some restaurants, like Burger King, are also offering free lunches for children.
When requesting help from any of these services bellow, be sure to mention coronavirus specifically if relevant to your situation.
Many car companies have implemented assistance programs for buyers. GM activated OnStar for all customers and is offering free Wi-Fi connection for three months. Ford Motors is offering customers some customers the chance to delay payments. This doesn’t sound like a guarantee for all customers so be sure to call them if you are a customer and this is something you are interested in. Hertz Rental has waived the young renter’s fee for renters under 25 until the end of May to allow students to travel home to their families.
The IRS has extended the deadline for filing and paying taxes to July 15. This relief is automatic and you do not need to apply for an extension. If you already have a payment plan with the IRS and you cannot afford to pay, contact the IRS directly.
Many health insurance providers are waiving fees for testing related to COVID-19. Many have also expanded telehealth options so you do not need to leave your house to receive virtual care.
Besides the CDC that offers guidelines for preparing your household for COVID-19, the United Way 2-1-1 service offers resources and help finding food, paying bills and taking care of other essential services.