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Update On Pandemic Relief Efforts

 

Over the last few months, we have shared articles focusing on different pandemic relief options available. As we reach the beginning of August, but not the end of the pandemic, many Americans are wondering when these relief options might end. Below is a summary of what we know now so that you can properly plan for the months ahead.

Unemployment
With many Americans out of work because of the Pandemic, the CARES Act authorized an additional $600 a week for 13 weeks to unemployment benefits for those impacted by the Coronavirus. These benefits are also available to those who do not normally qualify for unemployment, such as independent contractors and freelance workers. However, the deadline to apply for these benefits expires on July 31, 2020. That means that unemployed workers must file a claim by that date.

Housing and Utilities
Also under the CARES Act, evictions on federally-backed properties were frozen until July 25, 2020. This means that anyone renting or leasing a property that is backed by a federal mortgage could not be evicted for non-payment of rent up until July 25, 2020.

Additionally, homeowners with mortgages through federal lenders are protected from foreclosure until at least August 31, 2020. Homeowners can also request up to a 12-month forbearance on their mortgage payments.

If your property is not federally-backed, you should contact your landlord or mortgage company to find out what assistance is available to you.

Many utility providers, as well as some internet and cell phone service providers, have suspended shutoffs of service for non-payment. However, each provider will differ on when shutoffs may resume, as well as how long a customer has to pay back any overdue charges. If you have not been making utility payments, you should contact your utility provider as soon as possible to avoid future discontinuation of services.

Credit Card Payments And Reporting
If you haven’t been making your credit card payments, you should contact your creditors to work out a payment plan or forbearance. Many credit card companies are suspending payments and/or collections for a limited amount of time, but those options will vary by your financial institution.

Additionally, the CARES Act stipulates guidance around credit reporting until 120 days after the pandemic ends. If you were current before entering into a payment plan, your payments should be marked as on-time with the credit reporting bureaus during the arrangement. However, if you were not current on your payments before making the arrangement, your credit report will reflect the account as behind until you make up the suspended or lowered amounts. If you were current before entering the plan and payments are being reported as late on your credit report, you can dispute the information with the credit reporting bureaus to have it removed. In pre-Pandemic times, consumers had access to a free credit report from each of the credit reporting bureaus once per year, however consumers are now able to access a free credit report each week through April 2021 by going to www.annualcreditreport.com.

Student Loans
The CARES Act also temporarily suspended federal student loan payments through September 30, 2020, as well as collection activity. Interest on your federal student loans will also be frozen during this time.

If you have private student loans, some lenders are agreeing to match the CARES protections, but you must contact your lenders for options and more information. Be prepared to provide information about hardship and expenses during the pandemic.

Summary
As the pandemic continues, relief efforts may be extended or otherwise modified. We will continue to keep you updated on the latest relief available.

We want to ensure that you have the most up to date information regarding these resources, so if additional legislation is passed, we will update this guide and send out a new communication.

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