Have You Lost Your Job Due to Coronavirus? Here Are Some Resources
Unfortunately, many Americans have lost their jobs overnight due to Coronavirus-related government mandates. Many of the hardest-hit Americans are the ones who need income immediately the most of all. It's easy to feel hopeless in a time like this, but there are fortunately plenty of federal grants that can help ease the burden a bit.
We'll look at a good strategy to use to maximize your eligibility for these grants as well as getting started with applying for them.
While you are technically covered under COBRA, the federal law regarding health insurance for the unemployed, you would have to pay in full for the policy out-of-pocket, which doesn't make much sense. Ignore the letters you get regarding COBRA, since that's a horrible deal for you, typically.
Eleven states have opened up health insurance exchanges again. However, again, you won't get a great rate on these. Before applying for Medicaid, do not apply for unemployment benefits. Medicaid should be the first thing you apply for, since you may honestly declare that you have lost your job through no fault of your own and currently have $0 in income.
While Medicaid isn't ideal, the legislature has pumped plenty of money into it, and it will guarantee healthcare in the interim. Next, you should look at two levels of unemployment benefits.
Unfortunately, you may not be eligible to claim federal unemployment benefits if you voluntarily quit. Even if it was due to concerns that you'd contract the virus, traditional unemployment may be off the table. With around four million Americans claiming it, there may also be a wait period.
However, new legislation sets aside $600 a week for those unemployed, including, for the first time, those who were self-employed or freelancers. This is separate from traditional state-based unemployment.
This is the very first grant you should apply for. That's because you're far more likely to get this faster, since there is even a special task-force at the moment whose sole job is to get this benefit pushed out fast. After that, look into what your state offers. You'd need to find your state's unemployment website. Unfortunately, some states' sites are completely down due to being overwhelmed with claims. However, most states are offering fairly generous unemployment benefits with certain requirements.
The Stimulus Check
This grant still must be fully passed by the House as part of a more extensive Coronavirus relief bill. After days of arguments among members of Congress, there seems to be a consensus that stimulus checks are needed in order to spur on the economy. However, while the vast majority of people will be getting these, not everyone will qualify.
The rules are that the person must be an adult (over 18), have filed tax returns in either 2018 or 2019, and such returns weren't greater than $75,000 in gross income. Those with up to $99,000 in income will qualify for some relief, but the amount will be lower. The amount is doubled for married couples and increased to $120,000 for a "head of household", meaning someone with dependents.
Keep in mind that this is actually based on your 2020 income. Many don't know exactly what their income will be. However, if you make more than the limit in 2020 yet receive a stimulus check, you will be required to pay it back when taxes are due at the end of the year. For those whose incomes stay within the limits, this money is not taxable, contrary to rumors that it would be subjected to taxation. However, some states who have income tax could choose to tax it.
Keeping an Eye Out
Remember to stay constantly vigilant when it comes to grants during this time. Congress is passing unprecedented grants to people affected by Coronavirus, and fortunately, much of it isn't going towards "bailing out" huge corporations. Instead, it's going to the American people; most money for corporations is in the form of loans in exchange for corporate equity, which is likely to repay much more when the economy returns to normal.
Remember, there's no shame in asking for financial assistance during this time. Given that many literally are not allowed to work, it's only fair to get money out of the taxes you've been paying into for years.
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