16. PEACE, JUSTICE AND STRONG INSTITUTIONS

Stimulus, unemployment, financial help for those impacted by coronavirus – WPVI-TV

Impact team
Written by Impact team

Stimulus, unemployment, financial help for those impacted by coronavirus  WPVI-TV

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — As the impact of the coronavirus continues to grow across the United States the financial implications also continue to grow. People are losing work as businesses close and many consumers say they are struggling to make ends meet. But many financial institutions are offering relief and there are other resources available for people facing financial hardship.

We’ve compiled the following list to help you navigate these uncertain times:

UNEMPLOYMENT

Walk-in unemployment sites were ordered closed. So how do you apply?

New Jersey: You can apply for unemployment between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. by phone or online, and your time slot goes by the last four digits of your social security number.

Who is covered? Full or part-time workers who were laid off, furloughed or fired, or whose businesses were ordered to close. But you have to be healthy and able to work to qualify.

Who’s not covered? If you’re sick or quarantined you can use your company sick time or apply for short-term disability. Other people who are not covered at this time are freelancers or so-called ‘gig’ employees.

NJ launches websitefor certifying for weekly benefits due to the coronavirus emergency

The jobs portal has thousands of openings and more are being added every day. These openings are in industries such as grocery stores, shipping and logistics, healthcare, janitorial services and warehousing. The state is asking for employers to submit information about any openings so they can be added.

Pennsylvania: The Pa. Dept. of Labor & Industry will have information available on its website for more information: www.dli.pa.gov.

Due to the historic numbers of claims applications L&I is receiving, and the long wait times on the Unemployment Compensation phone lines, they urge everyone who can to apply for benefits online at www.uc.pa.gov. It is the fastest and easiest way to apply. This also allows us to reserve the phone lines for people who do not have computer/internet access and for non-English speakers who need to speak directly with a UC representative to file a claim. People who have questions should first check for an answer in our frequently asked questions section of the COVID-19 page of our website, since most answers can be found there. If you have questions that are not answered or addressed on either the L&I website, Facebook or Twitter, email uchelp@pa.gov.

In a statement, Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry spokesperson Penny Ickes acknowledged the technical difficulties some individuals have dealt with recently. A statement reads:

The unemployment compensation mainframe system is functioning. However, many commonwealth websites and online services were temporarily unavailable for a short period this morning.

The unemployment compensation mainframe system did experience technical problems on Monday from approximately 11:00 AM to 7:30 PM. Only people trying to file their biweekly claims were affected – it was not a system wide issue. We apologize to anyone who was unable to file their biweekly claims and assure them they will not lose eligibility for any weeks because of our issue. Biweekly claims can be filed through this Friday, and individuals unable to file Monday should try again. People filing their initial claim were not affected.

Biweekly claims are filed once someone is approved for unemployment compensation in Pennsylvania. They must maintain their eligibility for benefits by filing for two weeks at one time, known as biweekly claims.

We understand the anxiety that workers are feeling during this unparalleled time. For individuals who are filing for UC benefits for the first time, once applications are approved by L&I they must be verified by the federal government as well before they are considered to be officially approved and the first payment can be made. It typically takes two to four weeks for new claimants to receive payment, but it is possible that delays may be occurring as the federal government works to process the historic numbers of claims it is receiving from the states.

The commonwealth’s Responding to COVID-19 guide has all of the latest guidance and resources for Pennsylvanians, and we encourage everyone to check that page often for updates.

Federal Unemployment Assistance: The Department of Labor gave states leeway to amend their laws so people impacted by COVID-19 could get unemployment insurance: “Under the guidance, federal law permits significant flexibility for states to amend their laws to provide UI benefits in multiple scenarios related to COVID-19. For example, federal law allows states to pay benefits where: (1) An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work; (2) An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; and (3) An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member. In addition, federal law does not require an employee to quit in order to receive benefits due to the impact of COVID-19.” More details on the Department of Labor’s website.

Want to see U.S. unemployment numbers in a larger window? Click here

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GIG WORKERS RELIEF

Uber: The company is offering 14 days of financial assistance to any driver who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is quarantined: “Any driver or delivery person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is individually asked to self-isolate by a public health authority will receive financial assistance for up to 14 days while their account is on hold. We’ve already helped drivers in some affected areas, and we’re working to quickly implement this worldwide.”

Lyft: The company also said it would provide financial help for drivers impacted by the virus: “We will provide funds to drivers should they be diagnosed with COVID-19 or put under individual quarantine by a public health agency. This helps support drivers financially when they can’t drive, while also protecting our riders’ health.” The company said it would also temporarily suspend drivers and riders who are diagnosed with COVID-19 from using Lyft until they are medically cleared.

Postmates: For delivery workers, Postmates created a fund that will credit Postmates for the costs of doctors appointments and medical expenses related to COVID-19’s impact in over 22 states. They are also waiving restaurant commission fees for new merchants that want to use the service to make up for people not coming into their restaurants.

Doordash: The delivery company is offering up to “two weeks of assistance to Dashers and Caviar couriers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are subject to quarantine at the direction of public health officials.”

Instacart: The company announced an expanded sick-time policy in light of COVID-19: “In addition to sick pay for all in-store shoppers nationally, we’re also offering additional support for all part-time employees and full-service shoppers affected by COVID-19. We will offer up to 14 days of pay for any part-time employee or full-service shopper who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed in mandatory isolation or quarantine, as directed by a local, state, or public health authority. This assistance will be available for 30 days to ensure our community is supported during this rapidly evolving situation, and we’ll be sending more information to shoppers in the coming days.”

HOUSING

Tenants cannot be evicted for missing a payment in April. There is currently an eviction and mortgage foreclosure moratorium throughout the state of Pennsylvania.

“If your landlord tries to evict you by either shutting off utilities, by locking your doors, by removing your stuff from your house, you should call 911,” said George Donnelly, Independence Fellow at the Public Interest Law Center.

Donnelly added that landlords can’t go through the process to evict tenants because the courts are closed.

“We’ve set up a tenant hotline for all the legal services agencies in the city for you to call if you are facing what you believe is an illegal eviction,” said Donnelly. “That number is 267-443-2500.”

In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy said homeowners will get a 90-day grace period to pay their mortgages.

“Lenders will also lend any late fees or any costs that would otherwise arise as a result of this 90 day grace period,” said Murphy.

If you can’t cover your mortgage payment or rent, contact your lender or landlord immediately. Some lenders may work out an agreement with you to waive late fees, set up repayment plans, or offer loan forbearance. Keep records of all communication, date, time, and person you talked to so if there’s a dispute later, you have information to back you up.

Mortgage information: visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or find a housing counselor near you.

Rental assistance: visit the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Tips for renters, homeowners worried about making payments

BANK AND CREDIT CARD RELIEF

If you’re struggling to make your credit card or loan payments, contact your lender right away. For guidance visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or contact a credit counselor near you.

No late fees: List of companies, services addressing economic burden of coronavirus crisis

American Express: American Express customers can apply for their Financial Hardship program for relief, which can potentially take the form of lowered monthly payments, waived fees, and lower interest rates.

Bank of America: Bank of America is offering relief through its Client Assistance Program. BofA says that they will assess relief on a case-by-case basis, but that banking customers could have waived fees, and credit cardholders could have deferred payments and refunded late fees.

Capital One: According to a Capital One spokesperson, “The specific provisions offered really depend on the individual customer’s needs, but can include fee suppression, minimum payment assistance and deferred loan payments.”

Chase: If Chase customers are having difficulty making their payments, they should contact customer service.

Citi Bank: Bank customers can apply for fee waivers on monthly service fees and waived penalties for early CD withdrawal. Credit card customers can request credit line increases and collection forbearance.

U.S. Bank: U.S. Bank is waiving many fees and working on its payment-skipping program.

PNC Bank: They released the following statement: “We stand ready to work with those experiencing financial difficulty as a result, and we are taking the necessary steps to avoid potential disruptions of service to our customers. PNC is prepared to offer assistance, as needed, to impacted customers through a range of measures.” They are urging customers to call them at 1-888-762-2265 (7 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET Monday – Friday; 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET Saturday & Sunday).

Wells Fargo: The bank says they will help customers experiencing financial hardships as a result of COVID-19: “If in need of assistance, we encourage customers to call us at 1-800-219-9739 to speak with a trained specialist to discuss options available for their consumer lending, small business and deposit products.”

STUDENT LOANS

On March 27, President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act into law, which, among other things, provides broad relief for federal student loan borrowers.

Your payments will automatically stop from March 13, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2020.

To provide relief to student loan borrowers during the COVID-19 national emergency, federal student loan borrowers are automatically being placed in an administrative forbearance, which allows you to temporarily stop making your monthly loan payment. This suspension of payments will last until Sept. 30, 2020, but you can still make payments if you choose. Read the borrower Q&As to learn more.

TAXES

The deadline for filing federal income taxes and for paying those taxes has been moved back three months, to July 15. If you’re expecting to get a refund, experts recommend you file as soon as possible.

AARP’s free tax prep program, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, has been suspended until further notice.

You can still file for free with options like the IRS’s Free File Program.

UTILITIES

If you are struggling to pay your utility bills, contact your service provider for possible emergency assistance programs. On March 6, 2020, an emergency order was signed prohibiting certain utilities from shutting off services like electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunication, or steam.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said there will be no gas, water or electric line shutoffs in the city until at least May 1.

Utility service providers like PSE&G and PECO will not shut off services if customers miss a payment.

“We’re working with customers to establish payment arrangements for customers who are having difficulty paying their bills and we’re also connecting them with customer assistance programs available,” said Funmi Williamson, PECO Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer.

Comcast
For 60 days, the company is giving all customers unlimited data for no additional charge, and will not disconnect customers’ internet service or charge them late fees if can’t pay their bills during this period.

STIMULUS CHECKS

Stimulus check calculator: How much money to expect from COVID-19 bill

Click here to launch the calculator in a new window.

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SMALL BUSINESSES

For small business help and resources, please visit these sites for the most up-to-date information:
The City of Philadelphia – Information and resources for businesses impacted by COVID-19: Phila.gov
PIDC – PIDC is a non-profit organization founded by the City of Philadelphia and the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia and is considered Philadelphia’s public-private economic development corporation. Visit their Covid-19 Funding & Financial Assistance page.

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Source: 6abc.com

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