Two new federal laws
the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act) and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
include programs and provisions that could help our members and their families weather the coronavirus crisis. These benefits include expanded unemployment programs, Recovery-Act payments, child-care options, mortgage- and rent-payment assistance, student-loan deferment, and more.
The links below contain a wealth of information. We also want to share some frequently asked questions and answers based on information our parent organization, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, provided this week.
Q: How will I receive my Recovery-Act payment?
A: The CARES Act provides economic recovery payments of $1,200 for most adults with up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income (or AGI of $112,500 for heads of household and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly). There is an additional $500 for each child under age 17.
In most cases, no action is required for tax payers to receive payments. If you have a bank account on file with the IRS (for receiving a previous refund, etc.), the payment will be automatically deposited in this account. If the IRS does not have your bank-account information, a check will be mailed to you. The IRS is working on a web-based portal so you can provide your banking information online and receive your payment more quickly. Payments are being made in an order based on income, with the lowest-income individuals and families receiving payments first.
Read more about Recovery-Act payments through the "Summary of assistance and protections for SSMRC/UBC members" link below.
Scams related to Recovery-Act payments are already occurring. Know that the IRS will never call, text, email, or send social-media messages asking for personal or financial information. See below for more information about avoiding coronavirus-related scams.
Q: Do I need to apply to get the extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits?
A: No. Apply for unemployment with your state as you normally would. Your state will then notify you if you are eligible for the extra payments.
Q: Why wouldn't I be eligible for the extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits?
A: While the federal government is funding these payments, your state has to enter into an agreement with the federal government in order for people in your state to receive the payments. So far, about two-thirds of states have done this. Eligible individuals will receive payments based on the date their state signed an agreement with the U.S. government.
If you are part of a supplemental state unemployment program, you might not qualify for the additional federal payment. Check with your state.
Q: What else should I know about additional unemployment payments from the federal government?
A: Child support will be deducted from these payments in the same way it is deducted from ordinary unemployment payments.
However, these payments will not be considered income in relation to Medicaid or state child health insurance programs. The payments will not disqualify anyone from these programs.
Quitting work in an attempt to take advantage of additional unemployment benefits is fraud.
Q: Can I receive paid sick leave or Family/Medical Leave Act benefits if I have not worked for my employer at least 12 months?
A: Yes, but you have to meet requirements of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) or the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA). (See the "Summary of assistance and protections for SSMRC/UBC members" link below for full requirements.)
The EPSLA applies to an employee of a covered employer regardless of how long the employee has worked for the employer.
The EFMLEA applies to employees of covered employers if such employees have been employed by the employer for at least 30 calendar days.
Q: Can I take advantage of expanded paid sick leave and Family Medical Leave Act provisions if I lost my job?
A: No. These provisions only apply to those who are currently employed.
Q: Do provisions related to child care apply during the summer?
A: The CARES Act and FFCRA provide unemployment, paid-sick-leave and family/medical-leave benefits for workers who must stay home to take care of a child whose school or place of care is closed because of the virus. See the "Summary of assistance and protections for SSMRC/UBC members" link below for details.
Currently, benefits only apply in relation to school-age children during the period in which children would be in school. This excludes the summer months.
You also cannot take advantage of the benefit if a co-guardian is available to take care of the child/children.
Q: Which tax-filing deadlines are affected?
A: The deadline for filing forms and making payments are extended to July 15 for 2019 annual filings/payments and for 2020 estimated quarterly payments (if you are required to file quarterly payments) typically due April 15. Second-quarter 2020 payments due June 15 are not affected.
Q: Do I still have to make my credit-card payments?
A: Yes, unless you request and receive a forbearance or modified-payment agreement from your credit-card provider.
The CARES Act prohibits banks, lenders, and other entities that provide information to credit reporting agencies from treating a deferment, partial payment, or a credit forbearance requested by a consumer as a result of the coronavirus pandemic as negative credit information.
However, this provision only applies for consumers in good standing who fulfill all terms and requirements of a forbearance or modified-payment agreement. The prohibition will remain in place until 120 days following the end of the declared COVID-19 national emergency.
Q: Do I or my children still have to make student-loan payments?
A: The CARES Act defers student loan payments, principal, and interest through Sept. 30 for all borrowers of federally owned loans. In addition:
- People who drop out of school because of the pandemic will not be required to return portions of any Pell Grants or federal loans they received.
- If students drop out due to the pandemic, the current academic term doesn’t count toward their lifetime eligibility limit for receiving Pell Grants or subsidized federal loans.
Q: Am I protected from eviction or foreclosure if I can't pay my rent or mortgage?
A: Maybe. The CARES Act prohibits landlords from commencing eviction procedures for nonpayment of rent for 120 days after March 27, 2020. The provision only applies to properties where the landlord's mortgage is for a multifamily (five or more dwelling units) property and the mortgage is insured, guaranteed, supplemented, or protected by federal agencies or programs.
For home owners, the CARES Act prohibits mortgage lenders from foreclosing on any federally backed mortgage for a 60-day period following March 18, 2020. This only applies to mortgages insured or guaranteed by HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Veterans Affairs Department, and the Agriculture Department.
Additional information and resources: