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, were extended until September 6th. The American Rescue Plan also waives federal income taxes on the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits received in 2020.
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.
The moratorium on evictions was extended until June 30, 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 June 30, 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.