Stimulus, unemployment, financial help for those impacted by coronavirus

SBA, student loans, rent, utilities, taxes and more
LOS ANGELES -- As the impact of the coronavirus continues to grow across the United States, the financial implications also continue to grow. People are losing work as businesses close and many consumers say they are struggling to make ends meet, but many financial institutions are offering relief and there are other resources available for people facing financial hardship.

We've compiled the following list to help you navigate these uncertain times:

UNEMPLOYMENT



California's Employment Development Department (EDD) provides a variety of support services to individuals affected by COVID-19 in California.

"If you lost your job or your hours are reduced through no fault of your own, and that's certainly happening with a lot of people in this particular situation, you could be eligible for benefits," said Loree Levy, a spokesperson for the Employment Development Department.

Your employer must have contributed to the unemployment insurance program. Gig workers could still be eligible through a prior job since benefits are based on 12-18 months of your earnings.

You'll have to wait a minimum of two to three weeks for your first check. If you choose the payment through a debit card option, it can speed up your payment. Payments sent through the mail will be delayed by the time it takes to mail.

File an Unemployment Insurance Claim here.

Attorney answers your questions about coronavirus unemployment

Disability Insurance: "If you're unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you can file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim. DI provides short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50-$1,300 a week. How to file a disability claim

Paid Family Leave: If you're unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you can file a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim. PFL provides up to six weeks of benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages because they need time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50-$1,300 a week. How to file a PFL claim

Federal Unemployment Assistance: The Department of Labor gave states leeway to amend their laws so people impacted by COVID-19 could get unemployment insurance: "Under the guidance, federal law permits significant flexibility for states to amend their laws to provide UI benefits in multiple scenarios related to COVID-19. For example, federal law allows states to pay benefits where: (1) An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work; (2) An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; and (3) An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member. In addition, federal law does not require an employee to quit in order to receive benefits due to the impact of COVID-19." More details on the Department of Labor's website.

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GIG WORKERS RELIEF



Uber: The company is offering 14 days of financial assistance to any driver who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is quarantined: "Any driver or delivery person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is individually asked to self-isolate by a public health authority will receive financial assistance for up to 14 days while their account is on hold. We've already helped drivers in some affected areas, and we're working to quickly implement this worldwide."

Lyft: The company also said it would provide financial help for drivers impacted by the virus: "We will provide funds to drivers should they be diagnosed with COVID-19 or put under individual quarantine by a public health agency. This helps support drivers financially when they can't drive, while also protecting our riders' health." The company said it would also temporarily suspend drivers and riders who are diagnosed with COVID-19 from using Lyft until they are medically cleared.

Postmates: For delivery workers, Postmates created a fund that will credit Postmates for the costs of doctors appointments and medical expenses related to COVID-19's impact in over 22 states. They are also waiving restaurant commission fees for new merchants that want to use the service to make up for people not coming into their restaurants.

Doordash: The delivery company is offering up to "two weeks of assistance to Dashers and Caviar couriers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are subject to quarantine at the direction of public health officials."

Instacart: The company announced an expanded sick-time policy in light of COVID-19: "In addition to sick pay for all in-store shoppers nationally, we're also offering additional support for all part-time employees and full-service shoppers affected by COVID-19. We will offer up to 14 days of pay for any part-time employee or full-service shopper who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed in mandatory isolation or quarantine, as directed by a local, state, or public health authority. This assistance will be available for 30 days to ensure our community is supported during this rapidly evolving situation, and we'll be sending more information to shoppers in the coming days."



RENTERS


Renter eviction moratoriums have been issued statewide as well as for individual counties and cities.

Evictions coronavirus: Renters, homeowners worried about making payments amid coronavirus outbreak

BANK AND CREDIT CARD RELIEF



No late fees: List of companies, services addressing economic burden of coronavirus crisis

American Express: American Express customers can apply for their Financial Hardship program for relief, which can potentially take the form of lowered monthly payments, waived fees, and lower interest rates.

Bank of America: Bank of America is offering relief through its Client Assistance Program. BofA says that they will assess relief on a case-by-case basis but that banking customers could have waived fees, and credit cardholders could have deferred payments and refunded late fees.

Capital One: According to a Capital One spokesperson, "The specific provisions offered really depend on the individual customer's needs, but can include fee suppression, minimum payment assistance and deferred loan payments."

Chase: If Chase customers are having difficulty making their payments, they should contact customer service.

Citi Bank: Bank customers can apply for fee waivers on monthly service fees and waived penalties for early CD withdrawal. Credit card customers can request credit line increases and collection forbearance.

U.S. Bank: U.S. Bank is waiving many fees and working on its payment-skipping program.

PNC Bank: They released the following statement: "We stand ready to work with those experiencing financial difficulty as a result, and we are taking the necessary steps to avoid potential disruptions of service to our customers. PNC is prepared to offer assistance, as needed, to impacted customers through a range of measures." They are urging customers to call them at 1-888-762-2265 (7 a.m. - 10 p.m. ET Monday - Friday; 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. ET Saturday & Sunday).

Wells Fargo: The bank says they will help customers experiencing financial hardships as a result of COVID-19: "If in need of assistance, we encourage customers to call us at 1-800-219-9739 to speak with a trained specialist to discuss options available for their consumer lending, small business and deposit products."

STUDENT LOANS


On March 27, President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act into law, which, among other things, provides broad relief for federal student loan borrowers.

Your payments will automatically stop from March 13, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2020.

To provide relief to student loan borrowers during the COVID-19 national emergency, federal student loan borrowers are automatically being placed in an administrative forbearance, which allows you to temporarily stop making your monthly loan payment. This suspension of payments will last until Sept. 30, 2020, but you can still make payments if you choose. Read the borrower Q&As to learn more.

TAXES



The deadline for filing federal income taxes and for paying those taxes has been moved back three months, to July 15. If you're expecting to get a refund, experts recommend you file as soon as possible.

California filing and payment deadlines are now June 15.

Accountants and tax preparers are considered essential businesses and do not have to close.

However, many have chosen to close.

AARP's free tax prep program, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, has been suspended until further notice.

You can still file for free with options like the IRS's Free File Program.



UTILITIES



Many Southern Californians are discovering that staying at home amid the coronavirus pandemic can come with a perhaps unexpected cost: a spike in utility costs due to higher usage. Southern California Edison's Robert Villegas said the utility knows times are tough and the economic fallout will affect millions.

"We're asking that they reach out to us directly because because we do have the ability to help them with their bills, and to make payment arrangements, and to have other sorts of assistance," Villegas said of the utility's customers.

STIMULUS CHECKS


Stimulus check calculator: How much money to expect from COVID-19 bill

Click here to launch the calculator in a new window.

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SMALL BUSINESS LOANS



Paycheck Protection Program: Government small business lending program on hold after reaching lending limit

Paycheck Protection Program Stimulus bill: What small businesses need to know about getting loans during coronavirus crisis

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