Amid the economic uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, government agencies and other organizations are offering assistance. Here’s a rundown of resources being offered as well as general questions answered.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and. Economic Security (CARES) Act will enable the federal government to begin making payments of up to $1,200 dollars per individual, though the amount you receive will depend on your income. Single adults who have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less will get the full $1,200, while married couples with no children, who are earning $150,000 or less, will receive a total of $2,400. For every qualifying child age 16 or under, people get another $500. Those earning more than $75,000 will see their payments decrease as their income increases. Payments phase out completely for those who are single and earning $99,000 or more or married couples with no children earning $198,000 or more. Most people won’t have to do anything to receive the payment. If the IRS has your bank account information, it will transfer the money via direct deposit. Payments are expected to be deposited by mid-April.
The new relief package made changes to the way the unemployment insurance system works and increases benefit amounts up until July 31. The program now covers far more people than are usually eligible, including self-employed people and part-time workers. The plan also makes exceptions for people who cannot work for a variety of coronavirus-related reasons. If you’re quarantined, have been furloughed or if your hours have been reduced, you will be able to qualify for unemployment insurance.
If you are looking to file, the Nevada Unemployment Insurance system is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Due to an inundation of calls, please try to file online instead of calling in. Go to https://secure.ui.nv.gov/ to file. For a claim to be processed on the same day, please file within normal business hours, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Claims filed after normal business hours will be processed on Monday evening.
There are many resources for smaller businesses, independent contractors or those who are self-employed. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) is the primary loan offered by the U.S. SBA, and allows qualifying entities to borrow up to $2 million at 3.75% interest for small businesses and 2.75% interest for nonprofit organizations with terms up to 30 years. All Nevada counties have been declared eligible for EIDL. Eligible industries include but are not limited to: restaurants, retailers, souvenir shops, travel agencies, wholesalers, owners of rental property, hotels, recreational facilities, charter boats, manufactures, sports vendors, sole-proprietors, independent contractors and gig-economy workers. Self-employed individuals are also eligible to apply.
This loan also allows small businesses the opportunity for a cash infusion advance up to $10k. The loan funds may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred. EIDL is not intended to replace lost sales or profits, and it should not be used for expansion. The U.S. SBA will view credit history, your ability to repay the loan and will expect collateral if available, though it is not required for funding less than $25,000.
Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program. Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply. The Paycheck Protection Program provides small businesses with a 1.0% interest loan to pay up to 2.5 times a business average monthly payroll cost (100% guaranteed through the U.S. SBA). Payroll costs include employee salary or wages, commissions, bonuses, health insurance, retirement contributions and local and state payroll taxes. The loan cannot be used to compensate anyone in excess of a salary based on $100k per year, those residing outside the U.S. or anyone already getting reimbursed for paid sick/family leave under the act passed two weeks ago.
Small businesses with 500 or fewer employees-including nonprofits, veterans organizations, tribal concerns, self-employed individuals, sole proprietorships and independent contractors are eligible. Businesses with more than 500 employees are eligible in some industries. Payroll costs are capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee. Early application is encouraged because there is a funding cap and lenders will need time to process loans. If you’re unsure what course of action would be most beneficial to your small business or if you have questions, free counseling is available through Nevada SBA – https://nevadasbdc.org/.
Beware of Scams
Please be wary of scammers during this time. The U.S. SBA will NOT ask for money to complete a loan application and will NOT ask for personal information over email. All personal information is collected through the U.S. SBA’s secure online portal. When in doubt, contact the U.S. SBA’s Disaster Office via email or call 1-800-659-2955. For more information on U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Lending and other disaster resources for small businesses in Nevada, go online or call 1-800-240-7094.
Paid Sick Leave
Government employees, as well as those employed by small- and mid-sized companies, will be able to get two weeks of paid sick leave if ill or seeking care, as long as they’ve been employed for at least 30 days. You can receive two-thirds of usual pay, up to $200 a day. Part-time workers will be paid the amount they typically earn in a two-week period, up to the daily limits. People who are self-employed including gig workers can also receive paid leave but must calculate average daily income and claim it as a tax credit.
There are gaps, though. Many workers at big businesses already have paid sick leave, but their low-wage workers are the least likely to be covered. The New America Foundation has published a detailed list of large employers (mostly consumer-facing companies like retailers, restaurant chains and hotels) and their policies. These changes aren’t permanent; the leave law expires Dec. 31. You can find out more from the Department of Labor, which has posted a fact sheet for workers at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave.
If you have lost your health care, you may qualify for subsidized health insurance. Nevada has opened enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. More information is available at https://www.nevadahealthlink.com/.
If you have a federal student loan, you should automatically receive some relief. You will be placed in an administrative forbearance, which allows you to temporarily stop making payments from March 13 until Sept. 30. No interest will accrue during the administrative forbearance period. The interest you accrued before the period began will also not be rolled into your loan principal, according to a Department of Education spokeswoman. If you want to continue making loan payments you can do so and you may be able to pay the balance down faster if the full amount of your payment can be applied to your loan’s principal. Borrowers who wish to suspend payments should contact their loan servicer online or by phone to request forbearance. Those who have experienced a change in income can also contact their loan servicer to discuss lowering their monthly payments. If you do not know who your servicer is, visit StudentAid.gov/login or call at 1-800-433-3243 or TTY for the deaf or hearing impaired at 1-800-730-8913.
Federal housing officials have also announced a nationwide eviction and foreclosure moratorium for borrowers of Fannie or Freddie mortgages, or borrowers whose loans are backed by the Federal Housing Administration, F.H.A. loans. This includes foreclosures that are already in progress. These mortgages make up about 70 percent of all outstanding home loans, according to the House Financial Services Committee. To find out if Fannie or Freddie own your mortgage, you can search your address on https://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/get-answers/Pages/get-answers-find-out-mortgage.aspx.
A coalition of mortgage industry groups representing banks, finance companies and others has said it will also grant payment suspensions of at least three months and up to 12 months to homeowners whose loans are not owned by Fannie or Freddie, but they have said their effort requires a federal backstop. If you rent, the best national resource is the search-by-state function on Justshelter.org. Nevada Legal Services is providing information about Nevada courts and what courts have issued administrative orders to stay evictions. You can keep updated with any changes at https://nlslaw.net/
Please stay safe and healthy during this time, and please share your experiences with us here.