The program is jointly run by the federal government and states, which are about to receive help to bolster their programs. The new stimulus law provides $1 billion in emergency grants for unemployment insurance.
Half of that money can be used to immediately bolster staffing, technology, and other administrative functions. States can collect the second half after experiencing a 10 percent rise in unemployment, as long as they take certain steps to temporarily make it easier for applicants to qualify. States set their own eligibility rules and benefits, which are generally calculated as a percentage of your income over the past year, up to a certain maximum. Some states are more generous than others, but unemployment typically replaces about 45 percent of your lost income.
Most states pay benefits for 26 weeks, but some have pared that back to as little as 14 weeks.
Many states cover only full-time workers, and some have made it more difficult for temporary workers to get coverage. Gig workers are also unlikely to qualify because they’re largely considered self-employed. You might not even have to lose your job to qualify. If you’re quarantined or have been furloughed — and you’re not being paid but expect to return to your job eventually — you may be able to get benefits.
Most workers at small and midsize companies, as well as government employees, can get paid leave as long as they’ve been employed at least 30 days.
Qualified workers can get two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. They can get 12 weeks of paid leave to care for children whose schools are closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the outbreak.
Part-time workers will be paid the amount they typically earn in a two-week period. People who are self-employed — including gig workers like Uber drivers and Instacart shoppers — can also receive paid leave, but they must calculate their average daily income and claim it as a tax credit.
There are gaps, though. Companies with more than 500 employees — which employ 48 percent of American workers — are excluded from the rules. Eighty-nine percent of employees at these companies already have paid sick leave, but rarely as long as two weeks. Their low-wage workers are also the least likely to have it. But some big companies, like Walmart and Target, have added paid sick leave for coronavirus.
Small employers with fewer than 50 workers can apply for exemptions, and employers can decline to give leave to workers on the front lines of the crisis: health care providers and emergency responders. These changes aren’t permanent. The leave law expires Dec. 31.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced a nationwide eviction and foreclosure moratorium (https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/OCHCO/documents/20-04hsgml.pdf). If you, like many homeowners, have a mortgage owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, they will suspend foreclosures and evictions for at least 60 days. This includes foreclosures that are already in progress.
The order also applies to people with loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration — so-called F.H.A. loans.
To find out if Fannie or Freddie own your mortgage, you can search your address on this federal government site (https://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/get-answers/Pages/get-answers-find-out-mortgage.aspx). Even if it comes up “no,” contact your loan servicer if you are in distress. They can double-check for you, or possibly offer other options for relief, like forbearance.
If you rent, the best national resource found so far is the search-by-state function on Justshelter.org. This offers information on local organizations that can provide advice to renters in distress. Just Shelter’s founders are Matthew Desmond, the author of the book “Evicted,” and Tessa Lowinske Desmond.
The Social Security Administration is mostly closing more than 1,200 offices where Americans get help with applications for retirement, disability and Medicare benefits. But payments to more than 69 million Social Security beneficiaries are not affected.
The government is closing offices to the public in most situations until further notice. Offices that hear disability insurance appeals also are closed. Service will continue to be available via the agency’s toll-free line — (800) 772-1213 — and its website (https://www.ssa.gov/onlineservices/) for most routine services, including help with benefit claims or requesting a new Social Security card.
Field offices will only offer in-person assistance on a very short list of crucial services. These include reinstatement of benefits in dire circumstances; assistance to people with severe disabilities, blindness or terminal illnesses; and people in dire need of eligibility decisions for Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid eligibility related to work status. Those seeking in-person help must call in advance.
Some utility providers are offering to stop cutting people off for nonpayment.
A number of large internet companies have agreed not to terminate residential or small business customers who can’t pay their bills: AT&T, Comcast, Cox, RCN, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. A full list of companies is available on the Federal Communications Commission site (https://www.fcc.gov/keep-americans-connected#pledges)
It is not yet clear whether companies want customers to call to invoke this relief and provide proof or whether they will offer it automatically to everyone. People who need help should call and ask.
Dozens of members of the XY Planning Network have offered to help people through phone consultations (https://www.xyplanningnetwork.com/?_advisor_search=%22coronavirus%20relief%22)
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has a list of available jobs, unemployment benefits information specific to Texas, and Child Care information - https://twc.texas.gov/news/covid-19-resources-job-seekers
The U.S. Department of Labor also has extensive resources for individuals to utilize - https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus