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COVID-19 Quick Guide: Unemployment and Financial Assistance Resources

The financial hardships of COVID-19 have had a substantial impact on many people in the form of salary cuts, reduced hours and unemployment. If you are feeling overwhelmed and need financial assistance, this guide of resources may help you with your situation.

Unemployment Resources

The federal government recently expanded unemployment benefits so that it now covers more people, pays a higher benefit, and has a longer benefit period.

Expanding Eligibility

  • Expands who is eligible for benefits for unemployment experienced Jan. 27, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020.
  • Includes those who are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work for reasons related to COVID-19.
  • Applies to self-employed workers, independent contractors, and those with a limited work history (including "gig" workers).
  • Excludes individuals with the ability to telework with pay.
  • Excludes individuals who are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits.

Increasing Amount of Benefits

  • Provides an additional $600/week payment in addition to what the state benefits provide for all weeks of unemployment ending before July 31, 2020.
  • The increased amount is automatic; no additional steps need to be taken beyond filing for unemployment benefits.

Increasing Duration of Benefits

  • Provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through Dec. 31, 2020 for those who remain unemployed after state unemployment benefits are no longer available.
  • The additional weeks are automatic; no additional steps need to be taken beyond filing for unemployment benefits.
  • Waiving the one-week waiting requirement that many states have.
  • Encouraging states to establish short-time compensation programs for employees who have had reduced hours but have not been laid off.

Additional information

Utilities

Many service providers have announced relief policies for customers who are unable to pay their bills. Gas, electric, and water companies are suspending disconnections and/or waiving late fees due to the impacts of COVID-19.

  • The duration of these extensions and who qualifies varies considerably from location to location.
  • Some are suspending late fee accruals, while others are allowing late fees to accrue which would eventually need to be paid off.
  • Some are calling for reconnection of already-disconnected customers.

Additional information

  • Explore additional assistance programs
  • You can call or visit the website of your specific utility providers to find out what relief they may be offering and how to qualify for it.

Phone and Internet Providers

Many broadband and telephone service providers have committed to the Keep Americans Connected Pledge due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19.

  • Providers pledge to not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of your inability to pay.
  • Providers pledge to waive late fees incurred by any residential or small business customers.
  • Providers pledge to open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.

Additional information

  • Contact your telephone/internet company.
  • View the full list of companies that have pledged to offer assistance.
  • View the companies going above and beyond this, refer to this site.

Credit Card Debt/Banking

  • Most creditors have websites dedicated to their response to COVID-19, as well as which programs they have available to assist their customers. You can call the customer service line or visit your creditor's website for details on their programs.
  • Many financial institutions are offering loan modifications, fee waivers or new loan products to help meet consumer's needs. You can reach out to your financial institution to see if they have programs available.
  • The American Bankers Association maintains a list of banks offering loan modifications, fee waivers or new loans

Additional information

Health Care

If you've lost your job or had your hours cut, you may no longer be covered by your employer's health insurance. It is important to maintain coverage, if you can.

Subsidized Health Insurance

  • If you lost health care insurance or had certain life events, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period to sign up for an ACA health insurance plan (depending upon your income).
  • Some states are holding special enrollment periods to allow anyone to sign up for health insurance plans, including if you are uninsured and haven't experienced a life event. Those states include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Additional information

COVID-19 Related Health Care

Private Insurance

Coronavirus Testing:

  • The Families First Act requires ACA-regulated health plans (all group health plans and individual health insurance coverage) to cover coronavirus testing and to waive cost-sharing (e.g., copays and deductibles) and prior authorization for testing during the emergency period.
  • In addition to the test itself, this requirement applies to testing-related costs from visits to physician offices, urgent care centers and emergency rooms.
  • The new law does not apply to short-term policies, health care sharing ministries, or certain Farm Bureau plans.

Treatment of COVID-19:

  • Treatment is generally being handled the same as any other medical treatment (subject to the terms of your specific plan). Check with your individual insurance provider and plan to determine if they have any special policies related to COVID-19.
  • While no vaccine exists today, it is expected this will be recommended as a preventative service that would eventually be covered at no cost.

Medicare

Coronavirus Testing:

  • Covered at no cost.

Treatment of COVID-19:

  • Treatment may include both in-patient and out-patient services but will be subject to deductibles and cost-sharing.
  • While no vaccine exists today, the CARES Act provides that it will be covered at no cost.
  • Medicare Advantage participants have access to the same benefits.

Additional information

  • Visit the Medicare's site for more information.

More Resources:

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