COVID-19 Federal Stimulus Bill FAQs

For general information about COVID-19, see our resource page

Need-to-Know Benefits and Policies for SEAAs

Stimulus bill #3 – CARES Act

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1. Student loans
2. Unemployment insurance
3. Economic impact payments
4. Health services
5. Small business relief
6. Homeowner and renter protections
7. School meals

Student Loans

If COVID-19 has affected your ability to pay your student loans, be sure to check there is any available relief for the type of student loans you may have.

WHAT RELIEF IS AVAILABLE?

  • For suspended payments, interest will also stop.
  • Suspended payments each month will count toward your loan forgiveness program or loan rehabilitation program.
  • Suspension of all involuntary collection of defaulted Direct Loans and Department-owned FFEL loans until September 30, 2020, applies to non-judicial wage garnishment, tax offsets, and federal benefit offset (e.g., seizure of Social Security benefits).
  • There is also a catch-all provision in the law to cover other types of involuntary collection by the Department of Education.
  • Also, for borrowers who withdraw from their school as a result of the coronavirus crisis, the Direct Loan associated with the payment period in which they withdrew will be canceled.

ELIGIBILITY

  • Applies only to non-defaulted Direct Loans and FFEL loans currently owned by the US Department of Education
  • Does not apply to: commercially-held FFEL loans, Perkins loans, private student loans
  • If you are unsure who owns your loan, contact your loan servicer. It may take a few tries because there are many people trying to contact their loan servicers right now.

HOW DO I ACCESS THIS?

  • Nothing. Borrowers eligible for these suspensions will be notified within 15 days of the changes going into effect.
  • If you are unsure who owns your loan, contact your loan servicer. It may take a few tries because there are many people trying to contact their loan servicers right now.

For more information, see:

Unemployment Insurance

If you have lost your job because of COVID-19, be sure to check what the requirements are in your state to file for unemployment insurance. To find information on your state, visit CareerOneStop.

WHAT RELIEF IS AVAILABLE?

  • The CARES Act expands your state’s unemployment insurance to self-employed and part time workers who are unable to work due to COVID-19
  • Increases the dollar amount by $600 per week
    • This is an additional $600 on top of the base payment for your state. Be sure to check what that base payment is in your state
  • Provides 13 extra weeks of unemployment
  • Creates a new short-term compensation plan where employers can reduce your hours instead of laying you off, and you can receive prorated unemployment benefit instead
  • Most of these expansions are available through December 31, 2020. The additional $600 per week payments are available for up to four months.

ELIGIBILITY

  • Workers who were already eligible for unemployment insurance in their state
  • Unemployment to self-employed and part time workers who are unable to work due to COVID-19

HOW DO I ACCESS THIS?

  • For more information, be sure to check your state’s Unemployment Insurance website, which you can find at CareerOneStop.

Economic Impact Payments

WHAT RELIEF IS AVAILABLE?

  • $1,200 per US resident or citizen, plus additional $500 per minor child:
    • Adjusted gross income $75,000 and under for single taxpayers
    • $112,500 and under for head of household
    • $150,000 and under for married couples who file for a joint return
  • Beyond the above adjusted gross incomes, amount begins to decrease until completely phased out at:
    • $99,000 for single taxpayers
    • $146,500 for head of household filers with one child
    • $198,000 for married joint filers
  • If you are a Social Security recipient or are a non-tax filer and have dependents age 16 or under, make sure that you go to the IRS website to claim those individuals as your dependents to secure the extra $500 per dependent.

ELIGIBILITY

  • US resident with a work-eligible SSN
  • Must not be a dependent of another taxpayer
  • Must have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return or have social security benefits
  • Eligible even if you have: little to no income, or you’re on federal benefits (eg. SSI, veterans’ disability)

HOW DO I ACCESS THIS?

  • Nothing. IRS will use your 2019 or 2018 tax return, whichever you’ve most recently filed
  • Checks will start going out by mid-April
  • If you do not file tax returns, you may have to file a “simple” tax return. The IRS will provide more information on how to do this.

For more information and updates, see:

Health Services

The CARES Act provides some coverage for COVID-19 related health services.

WHAT RELIEF IS AVAILABLE?

  • If you’re on private insurance, testing and the associated visit are covered without cost-sharing, needing to meet deductible, prior authorization, or other utilization management
  • If you’re on Medicare, testing and the associated visit are covered without cost-sharing, needing to meet deductible, prior authorization, or other utilization management
  • If you’re on Medicaid and CHIP, testing and testing-related services are covered without cost-sharing. The law also creates state options to cover testing and testing-related services only for uninsured individuals
  • If you’re on TRICARE, Veteran’s Affairs, and health plans covering Federal Workers, testing and the associated visit will not have cost-sharing imposed

WHAT IF YOU’RE UNINSURED?

  • States have the option to expand medicaid coverage to uninsured individuals. If you do not have health insurance, check with your state Department of Health to see if you qualify for a state health insurance option. 

WHAT IF YOU HAVE MEDICARE? 

  • If you have Medicare – 
    • COVID-19 tests are covered under Medicare Part B
    • Medicare Part D plans provide up to a 90-day supply of prescription medication if requested during COVID-19 emergency period 
    • Expanded coverage of telehealth to receive care and dialysis treatment at home and individuals to be recertified for hospice care

WHAT IF YOU HAVE MEDICAID? (state government healthcare program, varies in name by state i.e. Medi-Cal (CA), Medical Assistance (MN))

  • The CARES Act requires states to cover COVID-19 testing under Medicaid and CHIP
  • Extends funding for the Money Follows the Person and spousal impoverishment protections for married individuals receiving home and community-based services (HCBS) until Nov 30, 2020
  • Allows state Medicaid program to pay for direct support professionals and caregivers trained to help with activities of daily living to assist people with disabilities while they are in the hospital

For more information, see:

Small Business Relief

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM (PPP)

WHAT RELIEF IS AVAILABLE?

  • Small businesses can apply for loans, which will be forgiven when it is used to retain staff including payroll, paid leave, health care, and to maintain the operations of the business such as rent, mortgage interest, and utilities.
  • Covers expenses from February 15, 2020 – June 30, 2020. 

ELIGIBILITY

  • Small businesses with less than 500 employees, independent contractors, other self-employed persons, 501c3s, and 501d19 organizations.
  • Unfortunately, all available PPP funding has now been exhausted.

HOW DO I ACCESS THIS?

  • If you’re eligible, reach out to your bank to submit an application and inquire more.

For more information, see:

ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOAN (EIDL)

WHAT RELIEF IS AVAILABLE?

  • This 7(b) loan is for up to $2 million to be used on anything like: debt, rent, mortgage, utilities, payroll (except for refinancing).
  • There is no forgiveness.
  • Interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits.
  • Payments to this loan start at 11 months after the loan is approved, with long-term payments available for up to 30 years. The legislation passed requires SBA to disburse funds within 3 days of verifying the business’s eligibility.
  • May apply to also be considered for a $10,000 emergency cash advance grant. This grant will be part of your loan amount, but will be completely forgiven if you use it towards rent, utilities, and payroll. 

ELIGIBILITY

  • Small businesses with credit elsewhere may not be eligible because having credit elsewhere suggests you do not have a hardship. Check with your lender.
  • You may qualify for the loan, but not qualify for the advance grant. Or, you may qualify for both the loan and the advance grant. Ask your lender.
  • Businesses can apply to both EIDL and PPP; however the funds cannot pay for the same expenses.
    • For example, PPP should be used to pay for employees’ paychecks and healthcare expenses. Therefore, EIDL funds cannot pay for the same employees’ paychecks and healthcare expenses.

HOW DO I ACCESS THIS?

  • Submit an application to the SBA, who will decide your loan amount based off of last year’s tax returns.
  • Must demonstrate that your business is losing income due to COVID-19.

For more information, see:

Homeowner and renter protections

MORTGAGE FORBEARANCE

WHAT RELIEF IS AVAILABLE?

  • Forbearance on mortgage payments for up to 6 months, with a possible extension for another 6 months without fees, penalties, or extra interest.

ELIGIBILITY

  • FHA, USDA, VA, or Section 184 or 184A mortgages (for members of federally-recognized tribes)
  • Mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac

HOW DO I ACCESS THIS?

  • Contact your mortgage servicing company directly

EVICTION PROTECTIONS

WHAT RELIEF IS AVAILABLE?

  • Renters unable to pay rent are protected from eviction for 4 months.
  • Property owners cannot issue a 30-day notice to a tenant to vacate a property until after the 4-month moratorium ends

ELIGIBILITY

  • Properties that receive federal subsidies such as public housing, Section 8 assistance, USDA rural housing programs, and federally-issued or guaranteed mortgages

I’M PROTECTED, BUT MY LANDLORD IS NOT ABIDING BY THE MORATORIUM. WHAT CAN I DO?

  • Contact the relevant federal agency that administers your housing program or your local Legal Aid office.

School Meals

The CARES Act makes it possible for states to provide accessible meals to children. 

WHAT RELIEF IS AVAILABLE?

Options for your child’s nutrition program to:

  • Provide meals outside of a congregate feeding setting, such as distributing at a site where families pick up the meals or delivering to children’s homes
  • Provide flexibility to the meal service time requirements
  • Allow a parent or guardian to pick up meals and take home to children

ELIGIBILITY

Covers federal child nutrition programs, including:

  • School Breakfast Program
  • National School Lunch Program
  • Summer Food Service Program
  • Child Adult Care Food Program

HOW DO I ACCESS THIS?

  • Your state must apply to opt-in with the USDA, so be sure to check with your school district or state education agency if your state has opted-in.

For more information, see: