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The world is in upheaval, and you're not alone if you're feeling overwhelmed and stressed. With the coronavirus outbreak officially declared a pandemic and most of the country (nay, the world) being asked to shut down, individuals are concerned about a multitude of things, not just their temperatures. Unemployment figures have skyrocketed—3 million in one week alone—and many individuals are worried about their dwindling bank accounts and how to keep a roof over their heads.
For survivors, especially those who are still with an abuser who may or may not be controlling the finances, affording the fallout of a pandemic can seem an impossible task. Luckily, there is relief on the way—a $2 trillion stimulus bill swiftly signed into law in March that’ll help many Americans, businesses and nonprofits. Here’s how it may help you.
Money in Your Pocket
For individuals who make up to $75,000 a year, a one-time payment of $1,200 will soon be directly deposited to you (as long as the IRS has your bank account information from your last tax return), and married couples will receive $2,400. Parents will receive an additional $500 for each child. Those who make between $75,000 and $99,000 will see less, and those who make more won’t qualify.
Worried an abuser will take control of those funds? Consider reaching out to a domestic violence advocate near you to talk resources and custom safety planning, and peruse the articles in our Financial section to learn more about recognizing financial abuse, stashing cash and finding your financial independence.
If you don’t see the money deposited, just wait for a letter to arrive in the mail a few weeks later with more information about following up on where your payment is and how to access it.
Additional Money for Those Out of Work
Unfortunately, many will find themselves out of work due to coronavirus and the CDC’s recommendation to shut non-essential businesses down. The government’s stimulus package will expand unemployment benefits, allowing those who can’t find work or who’ve been laid off due to the pandemic to receive larger unemployment checks for a longer duration. For the first time, this will also include freelancers, independent contractors and gig workers (think: Uber drivers). According to Forbes, the new bill will give these individuals an additional $600 a week in addition to their unemployment check and allow them to collect until the end of 2020.
Benefits can vary by state—some will allow individuals to apply for partial unemployment if they are still employed but have had their hours cut. Make sure to search your state on this U.S. Department of Labor website for details.
If you have to take leave or quit your job because of COVID-19—either you’re sick, you have to care for someone who’s sick or you have to stay home with children who are out of school—talk to your employer about options like PTO, telecommuting or Paid Family Leave (or FMLA). Your state’s unemployment benefits during this time may also cover those who are forced to leave their job, but again, this varies by state.
Your Job May Be Saved
A $500 billion lending allotment for businesses and nonprofits means that, hopefully, some businesses on the brink of collapse because of the pandemic will be able to keep their doors open. This means your job, or a new one if you’re job-seeking, may still be there. If you own a small business or nonprofit and want to apply for a disaster loan, visit the Small Business Association website, or sba.gov.
You Shouldn’t Be Evicted
Can’t make your mortgage or rent? The legislation allows for a forbearance of up to 60 days on federally backed mortgage loans while canceling fees, penalties or additional interest on delayed payments. Landlords or property managers with federally backed mortgage loans are also restricted from evicting tenants who are unable to pay rent for a 120-day period and nixes those tenants’ fees and penalties, too. To find out if your mortgage qualifies, contact your mortgage provider (where you send your monthly payments).
Food Banks Will Have More Food
Another $450 million in the stimulus package is being allotted for the Emergency Food Assistance Program which helps supply food banks with emergency food relief. So if you’re worried about how you’ll afford groceries, it’s OK to consider visiting your local food bank—that’s what they’re there for.
You Can Worry About Your Taxes Later
The deadline for filing and paying your federal income taxes has been extended to July 15, 2020. For more information about COVID-19-related tax relief, visit the IRS website.
Free COVID-19 Tests
Another piece of legislation, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act signed into law just prior to the stimulus bill, makes sure coronavirus tests are free for all Americans. This includes the other tests that might be needed to diagnose COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by coronavirus. However, if your screening doesn’t result in a coronavirus test—your doctor doesn’t feel like your symptoms warrant it—you may end having to pay your copay or deductible.
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Unfortunately, treatment for COVID-19 isn’t free. If you need to be admitted to the hospital, you’ll likely see a bill. Luckily, a small percentage of individuals with COVID-19 need to go to the hospital—the last CDC estimates showed about 12 percent of patients ended up hospitalized. The CDC recommends treating COVID-19 by quarantining at home, away from others if possible, so you don’t spread the virus. Rest, drink fluids and monitor your symptoms—if you have trouble breathing, chest pain or bluish lips, seek medical attention immediately. You can end quarantine when you’ve been fever-free for 72 hours, or three days, and it’s been at least seven days since symptoms showed up.
It’s Time to Make a Budget
If you don’t have one already, this time of financial uncertainty calls for some creative home budgeting in order to stay afloat. In “Ask Amanda: How Do I Make a Household Budget?,” experts help walk you through the basics.
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