By Vera Wilson
The travesty of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc around the world. Not only do we worry about the well-being of our loved ones, but many of us have had the added stress of worrying about our finances.
Although servicemembers continue to receive their pay and veterans their benefits, that doesn’t mean other wage earners in your family haven’t been negatively impacted by a job loss or reduction in pay. Now that your stimulus check’s been spent, what else can you do?
If you’ve lost your job, it’s obvious you should apply for unemployment immediately. Understand the rules going in. As strange as it sounds, it might be best to stay unemployed until your benefit period ends. Most states are waiving the requirement that you have to look for work while receiving benefits and even minimal income can make you ineligible; a colleague learned that she couldn’t collect unemployment if she earned more than a mere $78 a week from any source.
And don’t assume that just because you’re unemployed, you’ll receive it! Take other action to protect your finances just in case you’re denied.
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Military aid societies have expanded their support during the pandemic to address issues such as spousal loss of pay, DoD travel bans, PCS stop movement orders, and quarantines. The DoD has also authorized specific pay and allowances in some circumstances such as self-isolation.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress “strongly encourages” loan holders and landlords to hold off on foreclosures and evictions, so don’t assume the worst if you can’t make a payment. The CARES Act specifically grants forbearance for federally backed mortgages; even if your loan is not federally backed, there’s a good chance your lender will allow you to either pause your payments for a time or extend the term of your mortgage so that you can skip a payment or two during the crisis.
Tenants should reach out to their landlords. They may be willing to consider options, like partial payment for a time.
No business is too small for the payroll protection loan program. That means a spouse can apply for a loan for their home-based event planning business, even if there aren't any employees.
If you’re a business owner and were denied a PPP loan, you can possibly take advantage of the generous employer payroll tax credit and deferral programs described in the CARES Act.
Vera Wilson is freelance writer based in North Carolina. She frequently writes on financial topics.