With COVID-19 (coronavirus) and the economic uncertainties ahead, it’s beneficial to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. To help our customers through these difficult times, we’ve compiled a list of resources and topics for financial support including:
Here at Possible in Seattle, we continue to support our customers during the COVID-19 pandemic and are giving more loans out than ever before. If you need money fast and need to build credit history, a Possible installment loan may be exactly what you need. For our neighbors in Seattle, we've found the resources at the Office of the Mayor helpful in discovering local financial assistance.
News on Federal Aid - the latest $2.2 trillion government stimulus package approved by Congress and signed by President Trump (the CARES Act) include $1,200 checks to every individual ($2,400 for couples) with an additional $500 per child. Our COVID $1,200+ stimulus check article has all the details on how much, when, how, and all the qualifications. Unemployment insurance is for 4 months at an additional $600 per week. It would include gig economy workers and others that don't normally qualify. Stimulus checks are arriving in bank accounts but in the meantime, watch out for scams that try to get you to pay a fee or get your SSN. The government will never call to ask you for your SSN or ask you to pay a fee to get a stimulus check. Track the status of your stimulus check directly on the IRS website.
News and information about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) can be all over the place and rapidly changing. Google, social media, and news outlets report on a variety of topics related to coronavirus (COVID-19), but these topics may not be the most relevant to you.
For international news and updates, the World Health Organization website has a rolling daily update as things happen around the world. The website also includes a country by country breakdown, research, travel advice, and FAQs.
For health-related resources and what to do if you’re sick here in the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website is a good resource.
For news and what the federal government and specific government agencies are doing, visit the USA.gov website page on the coronavirus. States like Washington, California, and Ohio have state-specific news and resources you can access as well.
The CDC and the White House have also partnered together on a Coronavirus website for general news, updates, and resources.
With COVID-19, the federal government is allowing states to amend laws to provide unemployment benefits related to COVID-19 such as an employer temporarily shutting down the business due to the virus and to take into account quarantine and family member exposure situations.
In addition, with the recent $2.2 trillion stimulus package approved by Congress, unemployment benefits are expanded by 13 weeks with an additional $600 per week on top of what normal state programs pay. The benefits also extend to those who typically do not qualify such as gig economy workers, furloughed employees, and freelancers.
Here's an example for a freelancer in California (let's call her "Sally") who made $1,000 a week previously: California's unemployment program provides approximately 46% of working wages, up to a limit with the maximum at $450 per week. Sally will get $450 per week (or $1,800 per month) in unemployment benefits from the state of California. In addition to that due to the CARES Act, Sally will get a federal payment of $600 per week (or $2,400 per month). Her total unemployment benefits would be $1,050 per week, actually higher than what she previously made in her job. Expert differ in their views on whether Sally can actually receive benefits higher than her previous wage but in either case, the benefits will end July 31. What if Sally lost her job back in January? Federal benefits are retroactive back to January 27th so rest assured!
Each state operates its own unemployment insurance program and many states allow you to file for unemployment benefits online. If you need additional assistance, some states provide a toll-free number to call in. The CareerOneStop.org website has a central depository for finding unemployment benefits for all U.S. states.
Below are specific guides we've written about getting unemployment benefits in some of the major states we operate:
We've heard state unemployment benefit sites have 10X the volume than it normally does so try accessing websites during off-peak hours if possible. With initial jobless claims at over 3 million the last week of March and over 6 million the first week of April and over 5 million the following week, high website traffic and slower website speeds may continue to persist in the near term. Local and state governments are doing their best in hiring more people and call centers to serve the rising demand for unemployment benefit claims.
What if your health insurance is tied to your job? The brookings.edu website has a good overview on your health insurance options after you lose your job: COBRA or Medicaid may be viable options for you.
Income Loss and Taking Time Off
In the recent $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package approved by Congress and signed by President Trump, individuals who earn $75,000 or less in adjusted gross income will get direct payments of $1,200 each, and married couples earning up to $150,000 will receive $2,400. There is an additional $500 per child. The IRS is starting to get the money into bank accounts and you can track the status of your IRS stimulus check on the IRS website.
Has your employer cut back your hours or do you need to take some time off due to your own health or a family member’s health? The federal government recently passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act bill to give paid leave and family leave to workers who did not previously have it. The Washington Post provides a summary of the bill as well as who’s covered and who’s not covered.
States have paid family or medical leave policies such as Washington, California, and Ohio and you can access the state-specific resources to determine whether you qualify. Filing a disability insurance claim may also be an option.
For many folks, unpaid leave or drastically shortened hours are the only options available to them but before you throw the towel, check with your employer. Your employer may be willing to work with you and some employers are already lending a helping hand:
New jobs and side gigs
If you’re looking for a new job, many companies are still hiring during these difficult times. You can find open positions on many job sites such as Indeed.com or LinkedIn.com. Amazon is trying to hire 100,000 people, Walmart is hiring 150,000 people, and grocery stores and delivery services like Instacart, Postmates, and DoorDash are also hiring.
Looking for some supplemental income to do online? Here are some options below:
With more people at home and practicing social distancing due to COVID-19, some jobs are in higher demand. To get up to speed, education sites like Khan Academy, Coursera, Udemy, and more can help you learn what you need before diving into this rapidly changing work environment. Here are some jobs on the trajectory up due to COVID-19:
With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many utility companies are easing shut-offs or allowing customers to pay late without a late fee penalty - both residential and commercial customers. A few companies are even offering free services. Below is a list of companies and what they’re doing to help:
If you know you can’t make rent, it’s best to contact your landlord early to let them know and work out a payment plan. Most landlords are incentivized to work with you on a payment plan or extension that benefits both parties. If making a partial payment is reasonable in your economic situation, your landlord may be more willing to work with you on a payment plan.
If you need money, the United Way has rental assistance or you could get a loan from a local bank or financial institution. If $500 is enough and you’re looking for cash fast, you can get an installment loan from Possible to help make your rent payment.
Many cities have eviction bans in place due to COVID-19. For example, major cities like LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Orlando, Miami, Austin, and more have some type of eviction ban related to the coronavirus pandemic. Renters can feel safe in their homes, knowing that their landlords cannot kick them out during these tough times. However, it still benefits you to work with your landlord and figure out a payment plan earlier rather than later.
Lawmakers are proposing a nationwide moratorium on all evictions but such a bill has not been approved at this time. What has been approved through the CARES Act is evictions of renters whose homes are backed by a federal program. This can be confusing and it's hard for a renter to figure out but POGO.org has provided a summary to understand whether you qualify.
Phone and Internet
Phone and internet companies have a strong response to COVID-19 and many have signed up to the Keep Americans Connected pledge which has basic tenets such as no disconnections, free access to WiFi, and more. Here are what some of them are doing:
Due to COVID-19 and the resulting financial stress, food banks and other food providers will see higher demand. Consumers have been stocking up groceries, causing drastic declines in food donations to food banks and those who need it most. If you expect a shortage of food in upcoming weeks due to disruptions with work and school, budget and plan early. Below are some options
Find your local food bank on the Feeding America website. They have a network of local food banks that distributes billions of meals every year.
Meals on Wheels serves primarily the senior community and they have a network of 5,000 independently run local programs. Search for ones in your area on their website.
With school closures and kids out of school, local and state organizations have grab-and-go school food sites and other programs to keep kids and families fed. The Food and Nutrition Service has given approvals to serve meals at school sites for the majority of states in the US. We’ve selected a few programs in states that we operate in to specifically highlight:
Search and reach out to your local schools to see what meal plans are available for your kids in your area.
Water and other basic needs
If you have access to tap water, the EPA says it’s still safe to continue drinking and using your tap water. You can find more information on the EPA website page about COVID-19.
For basic needs and other help, we recommend looking to national charities such as United Way and others as well as local charities to see what they are doing in your local community.
Automakers have rolled out new benefits to ease the financial strain on car owners and buyers. Some have even gotten creative! Here’s a list of automakers and what they’re doing to help:
For a complete list of automakers and their COVID-19 responses, Edmunds.com has more information.
Credit card issuers, including all the major banks, have coronavirus related programs to help those who are going through financial hardship. Programs can differ and in most cases, you’ll need to contact their customer service representatives.
In this American Express example by The Points Guy, American Express seems to be willing to waive late fees, waive interest charges, refunding returned check fees, and reinstating forfeited rewards. However, note that your accounts may be frozen and you won’t be able to charge any more on the card until the amount is paid off. Your membership rewards will also be frozen. Consider the trade-offs before taking advantage of these special programs.
According to a Forbes article, Goldman Sachs has allowed Apple credit cardholders to skip March payments without incurring interest charges if they enroll in their Customer Assistance Program. Individuals who enroll in the program will have no negative credit score impact through this relief measure.
Other banks and issuers such as Bank of America, Barclays, Capital One, Discover, Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo, and more are vague in what they’re offering for customers affected by COVID-19. We recommend reaching out to your specific issuer if you have questions or concerns - the earlier the better if you think you will have financial difficulties ahead.
Don’t think you’ll be able to pay your mortgage? Rest assured, government agencies like the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac have all announced a freeze on foreclosures and evictions for at least 60 days along with forbearance or disaster relief options for homeowners.
Depending on specific homeowner situations, you could even delay, reduce, or suspend payments up to 1 year according to the latest news coming from federal regulators. Under the new plan, people who have suffered a loss of income can qualify to make reduced payments or be granted a pause in payments. You’ll need to reach out and contact your servicer/lender and Consumer Finance government site has a complete explanation of the different requirements and situations.
Bankrate summarizes the collective movement around delaying mortgage payments, showing some of the efforts by specific states and cities as well as individual banks such as Ally and Bank of America. Communicate often with your loan servicer and lender for the latest options available to you.
Personal loans and other financial services
Some banks are waiving monthly service fees and waiving penalties for CD withdrawals like Citi. Ally Bank has waived all fees related to checks, debit cards, overdrafts, and excessive transactions for the next 120 days.
State governments are also getting involved. New York Governor Cuomo has signed an executive order asking all state-chartered banks to waive ATM fees, late fees, overdraft fees, and fees for credit cards to help lessen the financial hardship from COVID-19.
Most banks including Marcus by Goldman Sachs and Capital One are allowing customers to defer personal loan payments at least one month. You’ll need to contact your loan provider directly to understand what options are available. Remember that in this environment, companies are constantly updating their policy so it doesn’t hurt to check multiple times.
In times of financial stress, certain banks like US Bank are also reducing prices and services to take into account COVID-19. WECU, a credit union, is providing a crisis-relief loan with reduced APRs to help. If you own or operate a small business, a federal disaster loan is available at the Small Business Association website. You can find a full set of small business coronavirus relief options from the SBA including the new Paycheck Protection Program. If you are looking for a loan, you can take advantage of these types of offers or ones from other financial institutions to lock in financing to ride out the coronavirus uncertainty. However, if you have cash on hand and can wait, you may be rewarded by federal or state help in the coming weeks to tackle the shortage of credit options in the market.
Possible Finance continues to offer loans to both existing and new customers during the COVID-19 crisis. Based in Seattle, we are all working from home to serve our customers and meet their needs. If you need a loan up to $500 in minutes that’s paid back over several months, you can learn more at our installment loan page.
With many children now at home due to the closing of schools, childcare is becoming a growing issue. Parents working from home may not be able to watch over their kids while they work and need childcare. In addition, some parents may still be going to work in certain states around the country and can’t risk their livelihood to stay at home to take care of their kids who are now out of school or daycare.
Unfortunately, other than the Families First Coronavirus Act which helps with paid and family leave, childcare help has been on a state-by-state or city-by-city basis. Below are some resources for individual states. You can also visit Care.com or other providers to look for a nanny and other childcare services.
Texas Workforce Commission is helping parents keep their childcare subsidies and allow for missed payments by parents.
Education for kids who were previously in school is mostly moving online. Your kid’s school district will send online education instructions to you. The resources and specific curriculum will differ significantly between different school districts and states.
UNICEF has listed free and open digital tools to support remote learning for areas with school closures. These resources include digital reading materials, language learning, and literacy and numeracy basics like ABCMouse and more. UNESCO has also provided a list of various learning resources.
Many online learning tools and mobile phone apps allow for free one-month subscriptions that you can take advantage of temporarily. This might be the opportunity for your kids to try them out and see what works best for you and your family.
In response to the national coronavirus emergency, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued guidance allowing all individuals and other non-corporate (small business) tax filers to defer up to one million dollars of federal income tax payments 3 months from April 15th to July 15th, without penalty or interest. Corporate taxpayers have a similar deferment but up to $10 million dollars. As of March 20th, filing taxes has also been deferred to the July 15th date.
However, you should still file your taxes if you expect a tax refund. That way, you’ll be able to take advantage of your refunds earlier and get the money sooner.
The IRS has temporarily closed all Taxpayer Assistance Centers and discontinued face to face service in light of COVID-19. They will be continuing to process tax returns, issue refunds, and help taxpayers in every extent possible.
Many states have followed the example of the federal government. The AICPA has a state by state summary of what each state is currently doing. For example, the California FTB has postponed both filing and payment deadlines for individual and business entities for:
Interest on federally held student loans will be waived for 60 days. In addition, borrowers can choose to waive payments for at least two months to allow themselves greater flexibility. US Department of Education Secretary DeVos issued the announcement on March 20th. On March 27th, the CARES act was signed into law and payments on federal loans will stop from March 13, 2020 all the way to September 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. You can find out more at the Federal Student Aid website.
Borrowers who are already past due get forbearance automatically while others will need to request it specifically. You can contact the federal loan servicer directly below:
FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA): 1-800-699-2908
Granite State — GSMR: 1-888-556-0022
Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.: 1-800-236-4300
OSLA Servicing: 1-866-264-9762
However, some borrowers may want to continue making payments. Those seeking Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) or those enrolled in a repayment plan with a manageable monthly payment may be better off continuing to make their normal payments.
PSLF is a federal program that many borrowers rely on to have student loan balances forgiven. Under this program, borrowers with direct loans who work in the public sector and make 120 qualifying monthly payments will have their loans forgiven tax-free. These paused payments from the student loan relief won’t count towards the 120 qualifying monthly payments.
Note that forbearance or deferment will NOT hurt your credit scores. It will be noted on your credit history but it will not reduce your credit score.
The National Council on Aging has COVID-19 Resources for seniors on their website. It includes the latest news as well as information on what senior centers are still open and operating. Groups out there like Shopping Angels are helping seniors do grocery shopping and reducing COVID-19 risk to seniors.
Grocery stores like Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Safeway, Publix, and others have senior hours for grocery shopping, usually earlier in the morning like 7 or 8 am. Good Housekeeping has a central list of grocery store hours specifically for seniors.
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) has additional resources for seniors on what to do during the coronavirus outbreak, guidance, and more.
As mentioned earlier, check the USA.gov website regularly as well as your local and national news outlets for updates. Coronavirus aid is changing rapidly and new developments are constant so it’s helpful to stay updated on what the federal government is doing and not rely on one source.
The first coronavirus response by the federal government was an $8 billion emergency funding bill that did the following:
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is the second legislation that has gone into effect. It provided for the following:
Further steps to help Americans have been approved by Congress and signed by President Trump through the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) - the total adds up to over two trillion dollars of government aid and stimulus. The financial support and assistance includes:
Be careful about scams relating to the stimulus check. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a warning that the government will never ask you to pay fees or charges related to the stimulus check and they will not call to ask you your Social Security Number (SSN). Bookmark the IRS website to stay updated on latest news regarding stimulus checks and track the status of your COVID-19 stimulus check here.
The $350 billion in small business loans as part of the CARES act has been depleted and Congress is looking to pass a follow-on program up to $300 billion to get money to the small business owners who applied to the program but were not allocated any funds due to huge demand.
The newest stimulus package, the fourth piece of legislation approved by Congress on 4/23, is $480+ billion and includes the following:
We’ll post additional news about federal aid as we hear more from our government, including the timing of the individual checks and more on unemployment benefits.
State and local aid for the coronavirus outbreak differs greatly. We’ve focused on the states we currently service our Possible loan product which include: California, Texas, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Florida, and Ohio. In total, there are now more than 30 states currently that are under some type of stay-at-home policy. Here are some of the things each state is doing to help. We recommend visiting the state government websites to see what aid programs they offer now and you can apply for:
In California, folks are required to stay at home except for essential needs. Despite the stay-at-home order, California residents continue to flock outside to beaches and parks, causing many of these places to be closed. Governor Gavin Newsom directed the first allocation of money, $150 million of the $500 million in emergency funding authorized by the California legislature for COVID-19 related activities to local emergency homelessness actions with $100 million directly to local governments for shelter support and emergency housing and $50 million to purchase trailers and lease rooms in hotels and other facilities. The rest of the funding will increase hospital capacity, help with childcare, protect hospitals and nursing centers, purchase medical equipment and provide other essential services to fight COVID-19.
The National Guard has been deployed to assist in the fight against coronavirus in California.
In Washington, Governor Inslee has issued a two week stay-at-home order. Folks are still allowed to go outside, get grocers, and do other essential business, but cannot gather or meet. Governor Inslee signed several new laws relating to the COVID-19 outbreak, including $200 million in emergency funding. $175 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund will be allocated to local government and state agencies. There’s also $25 million for businesses impacted by the coronavirus due to the mandatory social distancing orders in place. For our fellow companies and small businesses in Seattle, SeattleMet.com has a list of resources small businesses can access to get the funding and help they need.
President Trump has declared a "major disaster" in Washington sta, freeing up additional federal funding and activating the National Guard.
In Texas, Governor Abbott has not yet called for new funding and has left most of the response to local governments. However, on March 19th, Governor Abbott released an executive order that restricted social gatherings, closed bars/restaurants, and closed schools. Abbott has also activated the Texas National Guard to help with the COVID-19 response in Texas. A shelter-in-place order is in place for Dallas and is being readied for both Travis County and Austin.
In Ohio, Governor DeWine has issued a stay-at-home order that begins on Monday 3/23. Folks must stay at home with a few exceptions that include health and safety, outdoor exercise, and necessary supplies and services. Previously, restaurants and bars were closed but there was no stay-at-home mandate. Starting Monday, those in Ohio must stay at home except for essential services. There’s no emergency funding in place for local governments and small businesses at this time.
Starting April 1, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order, joining more than 30 other states who have done so. To support local communities responding to COVID-19, the governor has expedited the delivery of about $170 million in Hurricane Irma reimbursements to cities, counties and hospital districts. Other than that, no new emergency funding for businesses or local governments is currently available.
In Idaho, certain counties like Blaine County with numerous cases of the coronavirus have a shelter-in-place order where folks may only leave their house for essential services. Governor Brad Little is behind other states in closing down schools or businesses across the entire state. In fact, an Idaho Congressman Russ Fulcher actually voted against the recent coronavirus aid package passed by the federal government. There has been no new emergency funding to fight COVID-19 in Idaho.
In Utah, Governor Herbert has declared a state of emergency and shut down dining in restaurants for at least the next 2 weeks and limits gatherings to 10 people. Utah’s public schools are also dismissed for 2 weeks. Salt Lake City has an emergency loan program for businesses that are now open for applications. It’s meant to be a stop-gap resource until the SBA’s larger program becomes available.
We hope this comprehensive resource list for financial support during the coronavirus pandemic has been helpful. Here at Possible, we strive to help you improve your financial health and get you through these difficult times. Email us at [email protected] if you have additional COVID-19 financial support suggestions!