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While everyone wants to put the pandemic behind them, the loss of the financial support that many families have received through the crisis will be less easy to part with.
Incentives, more generous unemployment benefits, more money to feed children and other help and protections kept the worst at bay in many households and made life more bearable during a particularly dark period. The fact that so many Americans were living paycheck to paycheck before the pandemic made the aid all the more necessary.
Now much of that help is drying up.
Here’s what you need to know about program expiration and what help is still available to you.
Congress approved the first $1,200 per person stimulus checks in March 2020. Payments of up to $600 and $1,400 followed in December and last March. Another round is unlikely.
Still, certain families started receiving additional cash payments in in the form of a child tax credit, part of the US bailout plan signed by President Joe Biden in March.
The law increased the existing $2,000 child tax credit from $3,000 to $3,000 and added a $600 bonus for children under 6 for the 2021 tax year. From July to December, families can get half the credit in monthly installments. installments ranging from $250 to $300.
Unemployment benefits were massively expanded during the pandemic, with people able to receive the checks for longer than usual and with an added federal boost. Certain people, including gig workers and the self-employed, who were previously ineligible for the aid, were eligible.
Now federal benefits are scheduled for September 6, when 7.5 million Americans don’t get the money anymore. (Although 26 states have already cut unemployed workers from federal funds.)
“There will be a significant loss of benefits,” said Stephen Wandner, a senior fellow at the National Academy of Social Insurance.
After Labor Day, those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation (PEUC) benefits in some states — likely Alaska, Connecticut, New Jersey and New Mexico — may qualify for additional funding through the Federal-State Extended Benefit program, according to The Century Foundation .
That program offers another 13 to 20 weeks of checkups, but it’s only available to those who haven’t used it yet.
Most unemployed will have to ramp up their job search in the coming weeks, Wandner said.
He recommends contacting one of the more than 2,000 U.S. job centers across the country that help people look for work now.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a historic eviction ban in the US last September. That protection expired on July 31; however, this month the health agency announced a new moratorium until October 3 in areas with high Covid rates.
You are under the command if your province has a “substantial” or “high” number of cases. On the CDC website, you can see if you are in a qualifying area. About 80% of the provinces in the country should be covered.
Keep in mind that you lose protection if your county has 14 consecutive days that fall below those levels, said Emily Benfer, a visiting law professor at Wake Forest University.
As a result, she said, “it will be important to keep an eye on the Covid rates in their community.”
You should also be aware of any local protections you may be entitled to: A number of states have their own policies limiting evictions regardless of Covid rates. For example, tenants in New Jersey can’t be evicted until January.
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There is still a huge amount of federal housing assistance available to those who are struggling. If you have not yet applied for the aid and are concerned about eviction, you should do so as soon as possible, experts say.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition has a state-by-state list of the 484 programs providing the aid. A new tool from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can also help you apply for housing benefit. If approved, you can get up to 18 months of your rent covered.
Just by doing this, you can continue to live in your home longer.
At least four states — Massachusetts, Nevada, New York and Oregon — temporarily prohibit evictions of people with pending housing assistance applications.
Since March 2020, federal student loan borrowers have the option to press the pause button on their monthly bills, without accruing interest on their debt. About 90% of borrowers have done this.
come october, unless the postponement is extended, those bills will be due again.
But those who continue to struggle financially have options. If you are still unemployed or not earning enough to resume your payments, you can apply for economic hardship or unemployment deferral. Those are the ideal ways to defer your bills because no interest grows under them.
However, if you don’t qualify for either, you can use a deferral to keep your payments on hold. Keep in mind that the interest will increase and your balance will be larger (sometimes much larger) as you continue to pay.
If you expect your financial troubles to continue for a while, it may make sense to sign up for an income-driven repayment plan.
Those plans aim to make borrowers’ payments more affordable by limiting their monthly bills to a percentage of their discretionary income and canceling their remaining debt after 20 or 25 years.
Congress passed legislation during the public health crisis that increased the tax credits available to people who purchase health insurance policies on the The affordable health care law market, said Sabrina Corlette, co-director of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.
Fortunately, those credits, which reduce Americans’ out-of-pocket health care costs, will remain available through 2022. And there’s a chance they’ll last even longer, though lawmakers are still debating the issue.
Certain unemployed Americans were also eligible for six months of free coverage through COBRA or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act during the pandemic.
However, that grant will expire on September 30, “and at this point I’m not aware of any plans to extend that,” Corlette said.
If you used that option and can’t afford the monthly premiums on your own, you’ll be entitled to a special subscription period in the market in October, Corlette said.
And if you’re approved for unemployment insurance for a week or more in 2021, you’ll qualify for a $0 monthly premium plan.
People should also keep in mind that federal law requires insurers to fully cover the cost of Covid-19 vaccines, Corlette said.
“As it looks increasingly likely that we will need vaccine boosters, I’m happy to say that vaccination coverage should be a long-term benefit,” she said.
During the pandemic, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits were increased by: 15% per month for all recipients.
That left families with about $25 more per person, per month. A family of four got an extra $100.
However, that boost only runs until September 30.
Still, a number of states received additional SNAP grants during the pandemic, leaving some beneficiaries with extra cash. Those greater benefits can continue as long as the federal government has declared a public health emergency (and the state’s emergency declaration remains in effect).
All SNAP recipients are eligible year-round for the Double Up Bucks program, which is available in 25 states and allows people to get twice the fruits and vegetables for their money.
Families who are still concerned about whether they will be able to afford enough food in October can also look for food banks in their area on FeedingAmerica.org.
You can also call the Why Hunger Hotline at 1-800-5-HUNGRY, or text your zip code at 1-800-548-6479 to connect with local emergency food providers and soup kitchens near you.