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SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As the impact of the coronavirus continues to grow across the United States the financial implications also mount. People are losing work as businesses close, and many consumers say they are struggling to make ends meet. But many financial institutions are offering relief and there are other resources available for people facing financial hardship.
We've compiled the following list to help you navigate these uncertain times:
California's Employment Development Department (EDD) provides a variety of support services to individuals affected by COVID-19 in California.
"If you lost your job or your hours are reduced through no fault of your own, and that's certainly happening with a lot of people in this particular situation, you could be eligible for benefits," said Loree Levy, spokesperson for the Employment Development Department.
To be eligible for traditional unemployment benefits, your employer must have contributed to the unemployment insurance program. Gig workers could still be eligible through a prior job, since benefits are based on 12-18 months of your earnings. Gig workers, freelancers, the self-employed, and some other laborers can qualify for "Pandemic Unemployment Assistance" (PUA) as outlined in the federal CARES Act.
You'll have to wait a minimum of two to three weeks for your Bank of America-issued debit card.
California's EDD is currently experiencing a backlog of benefit claims as well as instances of fraud. This has slowed down the processing of claims significantly. If you're having trouble filing a claim, or if you've experienced account issues or fraud, contact 7 On Your Side for assistance.
Disability Insurance: "If you're unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you can file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim. DI provides short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50-$1,300 a week. How to file a disability claim
Paid Family Leave: If you're unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you can file a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim. PFL provides up to six weeks of benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages because they need time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50-$1,300 a week. How to file a PFL claim
Uber: The company is offering 14 days of financial assistance to any driver who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is quarantined: "Any driver or delivery person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is individually asked to self-isolate by a public health authority will receive financial assistance for up to 14 days while their account is on hold. We've already helped drivers in some affected areas, and we're working to quickly implement this worldwide."
Lyft: The company also said it would provide financial help for drivers impacted by the virus: "We're providing funds directly to qualifying drivers diagnosed with COVID-19 or put under individual quarantine by a public health agency - an amount determined by the driver's previous activity on the Lyft platform." The company said it would also temporarily suspend drivers and riders who are diagnosed with COVID-19 from using Lyft until they are medically cleared.
Postmates: For delivery workers, Postmates created a Fleet Relief Fund that will credit Postmates for the costs of doctors appointments and medical expenses related to COVID-19's impact in over 22 states. They are also waiving restaurant commission fees for new merchants that want to use the service to make up for people not coming into their restaurants.
Doordash: The delivery company is offering up to "two weeks of financial assistance for eligible Dashers in the United States (including Puerto Rico), Australia, and Canada who are quarantined or diagnosed with COVID-19."
Instacart: Instacart is offering "up to 14 days of pay for any full-service shopper or part-time employee who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed in individual mandatory isolation or quarantine, as directed by a local, state, or public health authority. This assistance will be available throughout the duration of The COVID-19 crisis to ensure that the shopper community continues to be supported." The company is also providing sick pay, saying: "All Instacart part-time employees, including in-store shoppers, now have access to sick pay, an accrued benefit that can be used as paid time off if you are absent from work due to illness or injury."
Renter eviction moratoriums have been issued statewide as well as for individual counties and cities. Read our city-by-city breakdown of the moratoriums.
Michael Finney has a roundup of credit cards, banks, and other institutions offering relief to their customers.
American Express: American Express customers can apply for their Financial Hardship program for relief, which can potentially take the form of lowered monthly payments, waived fees, and lower interest rates.
Bank of America: Bank of America is offering relief through its Client Assistance Program. BofA says that they will assess relief on a case-by-case basis, but that banking customers could have waived fees, and credit cardholders could have deferred payments and refunded late fees.
Capital One: According to a Capital One spokesperson, "The specific provisions offered really depend on the individual customer's needs, but can include fee suppression, minimum payment assistance and deferred loan payments."
Chase: If Chase customers are having difficulty making their payments, they should contact customer service.
Citi Bank: Bank customers can apply for fee waivers on monthly service fees and waived penalties for early CD withdrawal. Credit card customers can request credit line increases and collection forbearance.
U.S. Bank: U.S. Bank is waiving many fees and working on its payment-skipping program.
PNC Bank: They released the following statement: "We stand ready to work with those experiencing financial difficulty as a result, and we are taking the necessary steps to avoid potential disruptions of service to our customers. PNC is prepared to offer assistance, as needed, to impacted customers through a range of measures." They are urging customers to call them at 1-888-762-2265 (7 a.m. - 10 p.m. ET Monday - Friday; 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. ET Saturday & Sunday).
Wells Fargo: The bank says they will help customers experiencing financial hardships as a result of COVID-19: "If in need of assistance, we encourage customers to call us at 1-800-219-9739 to speak with a trained specialist to discuss options available for their consumer lending, small business and deposit products."
On March 27, President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act into law, which, among other things, provides broad relief for federal student loan borrowers.
On August 8, 2020, President Trump directed the Secretary of Education to continue to suspend federal student loan payments, stop collections, and waive interest on ED-held student loans until Dec. 31, 2020.
The deadline for federal and state taxes for the year 2019 were both pushed back to July 15, 2020. Those who were granted extensions on their federal taxes had until October 15, 2020. Read the IRS's latest updates here.
Accountants and tax preparers are considered essential businesses and do not have to close. However, many have chosen to close.
AARP's free tax prep program, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, has been suspended until further notice.
You can still file for free with options like the IRS's Free File Program.
PG&E: Pacific Gas and Electric has put a moratorium on disconnecting services for those who cannot pay their bills amid the novel coronavirus outbreak. The suspension will apply to both residential and commercial customers and will remain in effect until further notice. PG&E will also offer flexible payment plans to customers who may be affected as a result of COVID-19.
Stimulus payments (or "economic impact payments") were already sent to the majority of Americans who qualified. However, some people, mostly those who do not regularly have to pay taxes, still need to provide their information to the IRS in order to receive their payment if they have not already. The deadline for filling out the "Non-Filer" form is Saturday, November 21 at noon Pacific time. Go here for more information.
Those who receive Social Security were paid directly through the regular benefits method.
Stimulus payments are, in simplified terms, advances on tax credits for your 2020 taxes. You do not need to pay your stimulus payment back. The payments are mostly exempt from seizure by creditors, with the exception of those who owe child support payments.
While there are talks of a second stimulus check, as of yet no new bill has been passed.
Have a question for Michael and the 7 On Your Side team? Fill out the form HERE! 7OYS's consumer hotline is a free consumer mediation service for those in the San Francisco Bay Area. We assist individuals with consumer-related issues; we cannot assist on cases between businesses, or cases involving family law, criminal matters, landlord/tenant disputes, labor issues, or medical issues. Please review our FAQ here. As a part of our process in assisting you, it is necessary that we contact the company / agency you are writing about. If you do not wish us to contact them, please let us know right away, as it will affect our ability to work on your case.