Many people that are working families are concerned about their ability to continue to make ends meet should they become unemployed or sick during these turbulent times. Recently passed, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) followed by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act are both aimed at helping people get through the pandemic's harmful economic effects. However, they can be overwhelming to sift through in order to determine what parts of them might directly impact your family and give you the support you may need.
Here are key takeaways of the legislation that directly support families during this crisis so you are aware of options should you ever need them:
Expanded Unemployment Benefits - The CARES Act provides funding to expand unemployment benefits to families that have or may soon lose their paychecks due to this pandemic. This includes allowing states to provide you with the following:
- A temporary increase in compensation benefits of $600/week through July 31, 2020
- 39 weeks of emergency benefits through the end of 2020; this allows for an additional 13 weeks of state unemployment for people who have exhausted the typical 26 weeks
- Expanded eligibility to include independent contractors, self-employed persons and 'gig' workers
There are also temporary incentives in place for states to waive their one-week waiting period for the rest of 2020 in order to get families their money faster.
Expanded Paid Sick Leave - Under the FFCRA legislation, all government workers and employees who work for companies that employ up to 500 employees are now eligible to receive paid sick leave or extended family and medical leave for reasons specifically related to COVID-19 between now and December 31, 2020:
- Anyone who has been employed by a qualifying company for at least 30 days is eligible for two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave to be paid at either 2/3 your employer’s regular rate of pay or the full amount. The payment rate is determined by the conditions for which the time off is needed.
- In addition, you are eligible for 10 weeks of paid expanded medical leave at 2/3 your employer’s regular rate of pay if you are unable to work for reasons related directly to COVID-19, such as providing childcare to a child whose school is closed or whose childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 restrictions.
You can visit the Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Paid Leave Rights for full details.
Cash Rebates - Many have or will receive a stimulus payment of $1,200 plus an additional $500 for every child under 17. The IRS is using 2019 (or 2018) tax returns to determine who is eligible. If you are eligible, you will automatically receive a direct deposit into your bank account or a check in the mail. Here are the details of eligibility:
- Individuals with an adjusted gross income below $75,000 and married couples below $150,000 will receive a full stimulus payment amount for $1,200 or $2,400, respectively. The stimulus payment amounts reduce by $5 for every $100 in income above those income thresholds.
- Every qualifying family receiving a stimulus payment will also get an additional $500 for each child under the age of 17.
- People who don't normally owe taxes (seniors, low-income individuals and people with disabilities) are eligible for a stimulus payment as well.
More information on the stimulus payments can be found on the IRS Economic Impact Payments page.
Mortgage Relief - The new legislation also offers the following mortgage relief for homeowners whose mortgages are backed by the federal government:
- The law suspends any foreclosure and foreclosure-related evictions for at least 60 days.
- If you have experienced a pandemic-related hardship, you are able to request a forbearance which allows you to suspend or reduce your mortgage payments for up to 12 months.
If your mortgage is not backed by the federal government and you need financial assistance, you are advised to contact your loan provider or state and local government offices to see what options are available to you.
We know that at first glance these legislations can be intimidating to make sense of. But our hope is that this summary can help you better understand how these acts will provide your family financial assistance in the event of a hardship. As always, if you have any concerns or questions, let’s discuss to work through them.
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