COVID-19: Guide to Financial Resources to Help You Through the Pandemic

May 20, 2020

These are unprecedented times. As more Americans stay at home to save lives and await guidance on testing, unemployment is rising. For many, the future feels unknown. While we may never have been more physically apart—we’re more connected now than ever.

If you’re struggling with a layoff, furlough, or just don’t know what your finances or life may look like 30 days from now, we want to do everything we can to help. We also understand that your needs extend beyond our doors. Here’s a guide to additional resources and assistance you may need to help you cope with your finances right now:

Guide to Financial Resources and Assistance You May Need Right Now

From extended tax deadlines to rental assistance to help with groceries, several local and Federal programs are available to assist you, and more are coming on line every day. We will update this page as new programs are identified.

Unemployment benefits

If you’re facing a layoff or work furlough, unemployment benefits can help cover a portion of your income. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, unemployment benefits have been increased by an additional $600 per week for four months. The CARES Act also added an additional 13 weeks beyond state limits for impacted workers. And for the first time, federal unemployment insurance benefits have been extended to freelancers, contract workers, and the gig economy.

Paycheck protection program

If you worked for (or operate) a small business, you should know that a desperately needed economic injury disaster loan program is available. Overseen by the Small Business Administration, the Paycheck Protection Program is designed to help small business owners retain and continue paying workers (even those already furloughed) and meet other obligations. Now working its way through a second round of funding, the SBA is still accepting applications. So if you’re a small business owner with employees, or an independent contractor or self-employed individual, it’s not too late to apply.

Help paying rent

Many states are offering rental forbearance, have stopped evictions, or are offering local assistance to renters struggling to keep up. Visit Just Shelter for a list of available options in your area.

Help paying your mortgage

If your loan is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you can get help with your mortgage. The Federal Housing Finance Agency is offering skipped payments without late fees or delinquency reporting and holds on foreclosures. And in certain states, such as Connecticut and California, homeowners with non-government backed mortgages may also get relief. Governors in those states have worked with large banks to develop deferment and relief plans.

Federal and state taxes

On the national level, the Internal Revenue Service has extended the filing and tax payment deadlines from April 15 to July 15 2020. Many states have also extended filing dates for state taxes. Keep in mind, if you usually get a refund and you were expecting one again this year, it may be a good idea to file now (if you haven’t already) to receive the income boost.

Help buying groceries

Many states have loosened requirements or extended coverage for the federally backed Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. If you’re struggling to cover basic expenses, visit SNAP to check your eligibility and apply online. Young mothers can also receive assistance through the SNAP program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). A state-by-state breakdown of the program is provided by the USDA.

If your child normally receives free school lunches, they will still be eligible through programs like Pandemic EBT. Visit USDA Food and Nutrition Service to learn more about eligibility and programs offered.

Get support from food pantries and meal programs near you by locating your local community food bank through the Feeding America database.

Help paying utilities

Many gas, electricity, and water providers have pledged to stop disconnections, help customers with late payments and bill extensions, or provide other forms of relief. If you’re struggling to keep up, visit your utility provider’s website or call them directly to get help, keeping in mind that many utility companies are facing higher than usual call volume.

Help with wireless and broadband service

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Communications Commission launched the Keep Americans Connected campaign. Under the campaign, signed by 550 regional providers, providers will not terminate service, have pledged to wave late fees, and open Wi-Fi hotspots. Many providers have also upped data limits or increased speeds.

Help with student loans

If you’re paying off federal student loans, you can qualify for broad relief, allowing you to temporarily stop making your student loan payments and a period of 0% interest from March 13, 2020 through Sept 30, 2020. To get the details and FAQs, visit the U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid Office.

Help with credit card payments

Several credit card companies—from Capital One to American Express to the Apple Card—are offering a host of resources for customers in need, including waiving let fees, forgoing interest payments, or allowing impacted customers to skip a payment. Check our list of credit card issuers and financial servicers offering payment and debt relief right now, or visit your credit card provider’s website to request assistance.

Taking care of your mental health

These are stressful times for us all, and taking care of your mental health is more important than ever. The Centers for Disease Control have provided a list of tips and national hotlines. Many mental health providers are working on a sliding scale or providing free services. The National Institute on Mental Health maintains a database of providers and tips on dealing with stress during the pandemic. And for parents, try this multi-pronged approach to talking about COVID-19 with your kids from Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

The Bottom Line

During this uncertain time, you might feel like you’re more alone than ever. Know that you are not, there are resources in place to support you, and we are also here to help (check out these personal finance tips, and/or visit your Member Center for more info if you’re already a LendingClub member). If you’re struggling, reach out to the other companies and people you do business with, your local government, or federal assistance programs, as soon as possible, to get the help you need. Help is available.

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