With the COVID-19 global pandemic showing few signs of slowing down any time soon, the financial crisis it has caused for many Americans is in full swing.
High unemployment persists, and with political wrangling tossed into the mix, 2021 has not gotten off to the best start ever. If you are in a tough spot financially in these difficult times, you should know that you are not alone. Millions of Americans were grateful for the small relief they received through the 2020 CARES Act, which has now mostly run its course.
On December 21, 2020, the two houses of Congress passed a bill called the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021(CAA), expanding CARES in many respects.
Since April 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act has been the first bill to address the effects of the pandemic. The CAA consists of a $900 billion stimulus package and a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill.
COVID Debt Relief Options
The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021
- Workers who are receiving unemployment benefits will get an additional $300 per week. The program replaces the $600 subsidy, and it wraps up on March 14, 2021.
- Through March 14, 2021, the bill extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, expanding its coverage to those in non-traditional unemployment. This includes those who are self-employed, seasonal workers, etc.
- Individuals who run out of regular state-provided unemployment benefits now get additional weeks of benefits, up until March 14, 2021.
- The bill extends the maximum number of weeks unemployed workers may claim benefits through state and federal programs to 50.
- The CAA upholds CARES’ Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). That program provides access to loans for businesses impacted by COVID-19, providing an additional $284.5 billion to help keep businesses open and operating.
- Small businesses are eligible for an expanded Employee Retention Tax Credit, as long as they satisfy the legally stipulated conditions.
- Taxpayers with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of up to $75,000 receive $600 stimulus checks, plus an additional $600 per dependent child under the age of 17. Married couples who file their taxes jointly with an AGI of up to $150,000 receive $1200 stimulus checks.
- The amount of stimulus money received is tied to your AGI, so those whose AGI is greater than $75,000 will receive less stimulus money. Those whose AGI is $87,000 or more will not receive stimulus money under this bill.
- Stimulus money received is non-taxable, meaning that you will not have to worry about paying taxes on this money later on.
- Click here for the full version of the Consolidated Appropriations Act.
- Click here for details on CAA unemployment relief.
- Click here to learn whether you qualify for the $600 stimulus check.
- Click here to download the updated Paycheck Protection Borrower Form.
COVID Debt Relief Options at the State Level
During the pandemic, states have used various legal levers to help families and employees in need to cope with continuing financial hardship.
- Click here if you need to file for unemployment. Use the drop-down menu to locate state-specific resources.
Help with Food
The SNAP (Food Stamp) program allows for flexibility, especially following natural disasters. Click here to find your state’s SNAP website. Scroll to the bottom and use the drop-down box.
Help with Healthcare
For those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic, COBRA coverage or Medicaid and Medicare options may be the solution.
- Click here for a state-by-state and federal guide for medical assistance.
Help with Housing
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program remains an option for those struggling with housing-related problems. The requirements of the program, as well as its benefits, differ from one state to another.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program can give you help with heating and cooling-related expenses. Click here for a state and territory contact list.
Negotiating with Creditors if Unemployed
If you are out of a job and in debt, contact your creditors. They may be able to offer you help by lowering your interest rates, waiving some fees, and settling for lower monthly payments. Many financial institutions are willing to assist their clients during these unprecedented times of hardship.
- American Express offers a Financial Relief Program that consists mostly of lower monthly payments and interest rates. The institution reserves the right to establish eligibility for the program.
- Bank of America offers detailed information on the PPP and stimulus checks.
- Citigroup provides fee-free access to cash with Citibank debit cards at 65,000 ATMs nationwide.
- US Bank's mortgage assistance and hardship loan modification programs seem to be in effect. Contact the bank to check availability/eligibility.
If you find it difficult to negotiate on your own with creditors, you do not have to take a DIY approach. ClearOne Advantage works every day to negotiate settlements with creditors on behalf of our clients. With years of experience in the industry, our dedicated team of advocates has helped thousands of clients achieve freedom from debt. Our Certified Debt Specialists are just a phone call away at 866-481-1597.
Other COVID-19 and Credit Card Debt Relief Options
With the loss of your job for COVID-related reasons, your debt problems can escalate quickly. ClearOne Advantage is committed to helping families work through this financial crisis in the best way possible. Do not delay to check out other ways of handling debt that has escalated beyond your control. Some other options for debt relief include:
- Debt consolidation loans
- Credit counseling and debt management plans
- Debt settlement plans
Our Certified Debt Specialists are standing by to help you explore your debt relief options and work out a solution customized just for you.
Call 866-481-1597 to speak to a Certified Debt Specialist today and get a personalized debt relief plan.