We talked a bit last week about communicating with your kids during a coronavirus quarantine. That’s important for every parent out there, but what about handling all the other stressors related to COVID-19? Millions of people are out of work. Certain sectors of the gig economy have fallen apart. What resources do you have available?
Stimulus Payments and Child Support
Congress recently passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. This includes stimulus payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child to age 16. An oversite has excluded dependents over age 17. People earning up to $75,000 a year, or $150,000 for couples, will receive the maximum amounts. Stimulus checks will gradually phase out for people earning up to $99,000 per year, or couples earning $198,000.
It could take months to get checks to some people as the government figures out how to identify and deliver money to those who don’t normally file tax returns. However, an estimated 3 million non-custodial parents risk losing their stimulus payments to back child support payments. Stimulus checks will not be affected by tax debts or defaulted student loans.
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When checks will be delivered is also in the air. Payments could start rolling out as soon as next week or as far away as June.
Mortgage, Rent, Car Payment, and Loan Payment Postponement
Many, if, at this point, not most, banks, mortgage companies, and loan companies are allowing borrowers to defer up to three months (90 days) of payment, meaning that for the next three months you will not have to worry about making those payments. Note that you will still have to make up those payments – in most cases they will be tacked on to the end of your loan, extending it by 3 months. For some loans you will continue to accrue interest during the three month abatement, while that is not so for others – it varies from institution to institution.
In most cases, in order to receive this payment deferral, all you need to do is call the bank, mortgage company, or other loan institution, and request a coronavirus deferral. We have not heard of anyone not being offered this. Do this as soon as possible, and expect to be on hold for hours, as many, many people are in the same situation and making the same telephone calls.
Expanded Unemployment Benefits
Workers – even part-timers and those who are self-employed – can file for unemployment if their hours have been cut, if they’re sick, quarantined or caring for someone who is ill, or if they’re unable to work because their kids are home from school because of the coronavirus pandemic. Students and people who have been unemployed for more than six months can also apply.
Payments are based on your income and include your unemployment payment plus an additional $600 per week.
Unfortunately, each state must institute these changes in their own ways. Some states are expediting applications with payments starting as soon as next week. Those with more restrictive unemployment programs may create unnecessary obstacles and hold up or deny expanded payments.
Pandemic Unemployment Insurance
Like state unemployment benefits, Pandemic Unemployment Insurance, or PUI, payments include an additional $600 per week above the typical unemployment payment.
If you don’t qualify for unemployment in your state or if you reach the end of available benefits in the coming weeks, you can apply for a federal program called Pandemic Unemployment Insurance. The process starts with your state agency for unemployment. Contact them for more information – but be prepared to wait to talk with someone. Agencies are experiencing an unprecedented number of applications.
In addition, an endless number of people have come together to provide food, transportation, shopping assistance, childcare, lessons and free entertainment to people whose lives have been disrupted by coronavirus-related closures.
What have been the most impressive programs in your communities? Please comment below with any opportunities you find especially helpful to single parents.