Need Help with Finances During COVID-19? Check Out These Often Unclaimed Benefits
There's no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc in many lives and on the economy as a whole. Though Congress passed the CARES Act when the pandemic first struck, looking to ease the burden on those newly unemployed by the virus and to keep the economy going, no new aid deal has struck yet.
Many people assume that they need to wait on the federal government for further COVID-19 aid. However, there are benefits already in place that many do not know about. They aren't advertised widely, so read the list carefully to see which ones you could qualify to receive as soon as today.
Remember, you have a limited time to collect each one if you're eligible!
Lost Wages Assistance (49 States)
For everyone who was unemployed as a result of COVID-19 beginning the week ending in August 1, 2020, there's a program under President Trump called Lost Wages Assistance (LWA).
If you live in South Dakota, you're out of luck; this is the only state that has declined LWA aid. LWA provides an additional $300 a week to those receiving at least $100 a week in other unemployment benefits through a FEMA fund.
This fund only lasted for six weeks, but it is retroactive in most cases. If you live in Kentucky, Montana, or West Virginia, you're in luck! These states pitched in the additional $100 President Trump proposed for this fund per week for all unemployed residents.
The FCC's "LifeLine"
This program, which began under the Obama administration, seeks to assist lower-income people with the rising costs of phone and Internet bills. Individuals must make a certain percentage of the Federal Poverty Line, depending on where they live.
Each person who is eligible for lifeline picks a company that serves his or her area. In general, you can expect a basic smartphone for free, 300 minutes or more a month, unlimited text messages, and even 3 GB of LTE data absolutely free! If you don't want or already have a cellphone, you can still take advantage of this program. Simply ask for your $10 per month Internet subsidy from a participating Internet provider.
Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP)
Previously known as "food stamps", this is a type of aid that a surprising number of jobless individuals could get. Most states have lessened their restrictions on who is eligible for SNAP. Typically, one has to not be making much money, not have much in terms of assets minus a retirement account and cheaper vehicle, and sometimes meet other requirements.
SNAP can literally be a lifesaver. Your weekly benefit with SNAP will vary by state, but it's often enough to ensure that you'll be able to eat well as you look for your next income source. Many people have difficulty asking for this type of help because of stigma that can be associated with it; just remember, many people are going through these circumstances that they could not have possibly foreseen.
Be advised, if you are also receiving state and/or federal unemployment benefits, SNAP benefits could be counted as "income" under these and lessen the amount you receive. This depends solely on your state's policies regarding the matter.
Your State's Own Resources Website
Many states offer their own little benefits for those in need. For example, Tennessee offers a one-time cash emergency payment to families struggling due to COVID-19, sourced through a FEMA grant. Most states have these types of emergency grants that you'd have to go on their government sites to find.
If you or your small business are in need of immediate funds, and you have limited resources, there are probably many resources you can take advantage of. If you're unemployed, feel free to ask your Case Manager or a customer service representative about whether or not you may qualify for these benefits; these individuals are often trained to help people determine which benefits they may get.
Don't Lose Hope
It's a tough time economically for most, in addition to the emotional toll that COVID-19 has taken on many people. Even though it may feel hopeless today, remember that you could be hours away from a direct deposit from a public benefit. Even the most conservative states offer programs to help those who need it the most!
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