The federal government tripled down on its effort to help Americans through the Covid-19 pandemic.
If you are struggling through the pandemic, chances are there is a federal or state relief program available to assist you. To make it easier to sift through the Covid-19 relief options, we have prepared this helpful guide.
Government Programs for Coronavirus Relief
President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan March 11, 2021, providing more relief for Americans struggling through the Covid-19 pandemic. The $1.9 trillion stimulus package included stimulus checks, tax credits, housing assistance, extended unemployment benefits, and more help for small businesses.
COVID-19 Relief Checks
The highlight of the American Rescue Plan is a third round of stimulus checks. Eligible Americans are due $1,400 each from Uncle Sam, plus an additional $1,400 per qualifying dependent. Individuals with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $75,000, or married couples filing jointly with an AGI of $150,000 or less are eligible for the payments. Payments are then phased out above those incomes until the limit of $80,000 for individuals and $160,000 for couples. Use the Get My Payment tool to check your eligibility and track your payment.
Expanded Unemployment Benefits
Federal unemployment benefits, totaling $300/week on top of state benefits. The American Rescue Plan also waives federal income taxes on the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits received in 2020.
Below is a list of end dates for the current $300 per week federal unemployment benefit. If your state is not on this list, the end date is September 6.
Alabama: June 19
Alaska: June 12
Arkansas: June 26
Arizona: July 10; $2,000 bonus for those returning to full-time work, $1,000 for part-time
Florida: June 26
Georgia: June 26
Idaho: June 19
Indiana: June 19
Iowa: June 12
Maryland: July 3
Mississippi (mid-June): Ended
Missouri: June 12
Montana: June 27, $1,200 bonus for returning to work
Nebraska: June 19
New Hampshire: June 19
North Dakota: June 19
Ohio: June 26
Oklahoma, June 26, $1,200 bonus for returning to work
South Carolina: June 26
South Dakota: June 26
Tennessee: July 3
Texas: June 26
Utah: June 26
West Virginia: June 19
Wyoming: June 19
Keep in mind that each state has its own unemployment benefit program. Find more information for your state here
Expanded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps)
For those who qualify, the monthly SNAP allowance has increased by approximately 15%. The amounts to an increase of $28 per person, per month. This benefit is available until the end of September. Learn more about SNAP and how to apply.
Free and Reduced Health Insurance Costs Through the ACA and COBRA
If you lose your job involuntarily, your employer is responsible for covering the cost of COBRA from April 1 through September 30th.
Subsidized Policies through the ACA
The American Rescue Plan Act also increases the income ceiling to qualify for a subsidized premiums through the Affordable Care Act exchanges (healthcare.gov) or your state’s exchanges, to $157,200 (for a family of 4) and $76,560 for an individual, until the end of 2022.
Additionally, those who receive unemployment benefits can qualify for a free policy, regardless of income, through the exchanges.
To learn more, visit healthcare.gov.
Payments to Parents
As part of the American Rescue Plan Act, the IRS will commence sending payments to qualifying parents. These payments will be in the amount of $300 per child per month for children under 6 and $250 per child per month for children aged 6-17. Qualifying families must have adjusted gross income under $150,000 and single parents under $75,000. Here are the expected payment dates released by the IRS. These payments are an advance of the Childcare Tax Credit, which has been in place for several years, but is normally available only after filing taxes.
- July 15
- Aug. 13
- Sept. 15
- Oct. 15
- Nov. 15
- Dec. 15
The moratorium on evictions was extended until July 31, 2021. To be eligible you must make under $99,000 individually or $198,000 as a couple. You also need to attest, in writing, that you can’t pay your rent by submitting this form to your landlord. In addition, Emergency Rental Assistance was made available to states and local governments.
Relief for Homeowners
Forbearance programs (when your mortgage servicer or lender allows you to pause or reduce mortgage payments) are available to homeowners, but they must be requested by June 30, 2021 for FHA, HUD, VA and USDA mortgages. There is no deadline for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans. Typically, the forbearance program will last from 3-to-6 months, but could be extended up to 12 months or even 18 months in some cases. Check with the Mortgage and Housing Assistance Guide from the CFPB for more details. The foreclosure moratorium is set to expire July 31, 2021.
Student Loan Interest Suspended
President Biden, via executive order, extended the moratorium on student loan payments until at least the end of September 2021. Student loan borrowers have the option to suspend payments with 0% interest. For more details, student loan borrowers should contact their loan servicers.
The tax filing deadline for individuals was pushed back to May 17th.
The American Rescue Plan also expanded the Child Tax Credit to $3,600 for children under the age 6, and $3,000 for other children under age 18.
The first $10,200 of unemployment received in 2020 will no longer be considered taxable income. If you paid income tax on this money already, you should expect a refund from the IRS.