FAQS

The federal government has recently changed the rules for unemployment insurance to allow a larger number of Americans (including many independent workers/Gig workers) to file for unemployment. Unemployment is handled differently by each state. To get started, use the filter at the top of this page to find out where you can apply for unemployment and other financial support specifically for your state.

Important notes:

  • Payments have been expanded to include freelancers, gig workers, those who are self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history, and more.
  • The federal government will be enhancing state benefits by up to $600 for four months and expanding unemployment coverage for an additional 13 weeks.
  • Federal law does not require an employee to quit in order to receive benefits due to the impact of COVID-19.

For additional information on filing for unemployment, check out our Unemployment Guide.

As part of the Coronavirus Stimulus Package, the federal government is sending money directly to many Americans. Your eligibility depends on your family size and income, which the IRS will obtain from your 2018 or 2019 tax return. If you qualify, you could receive up to $1200, plus $500 per eligible child. Keep in mind, you will need a valid Social Security Number.

The deadline to submit direct deposit information to the IRS is May 13, 2020. If the IRS does not have your direct deposit information on file after this date, you will be mailed a paper check to the address included on your 2018 or 2019 tax return.

Important notes: There is no need to apply. If you’re eligible the IRS will use your tax returns to issue your stimulus payment.

We recommend you do a review of your budget, or if you don’t have a budget, use this as an opportunity to create one. You should prioritize your expenses, starting with important bills and essentials first. There are many companies offering leniency programs on financial obligations like student loans and mortgages, meaning your payments could be deferred. You also might qualify for government assistance as a result of the new Coronavirus Stimulus Package – you can learn more information about the stimulus package and filing for unemployment in our Unemployment Guide.

If you have a qualified health plan through a state or federal marketplace, you may be entitled to increased subsidies if your income drops. Advanced premium tax credit subsidies are based on your income. If you’re not working right now and have experienced a drop in your income, you can update this information in your existing health insurance application, especially if you have purchased a health plan through the GigSmart + Stride Worker Benefits Portal.

Our benefits partner, Stride, has put together a resource with instructions on how to update your income by reporting a change, and also instructions for how to estimate your income.

If you can’t pay your rent or your mortgage right now, there may be available assistance to support you.

  • Rent:
    • Many states and cities aren’t allowing evictions right now. In many of these cases, you are still required to pay rent. Click here to contact your regional HUD Office for information about what’s happening in your area and how you can afford to stay in your home. For more resources, check out Just Shelter for state-by-state rental assistance links.
    • The United Way and 211.org (foundations that provide assistance to those in need) are also available around the country. Each of their sites has a zip code and city search helping connect folks with chapters in their city.
  • Mortgage:
    • The Federal Housing Finance Agency is allowing certain folks with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loans to delay mortgage payments. Those same FHA- backed loans aren’t allowing foreclosures and evictions nationwide. If you’re unsure if you have a Fannie or Freddie backed loan, check out this site.
    • Other banks and lenders may follow the government’s lead, so contact your mortgage company for more information.

If you need help paying important bills like your cell phone, internet, or utilities, there may be assistance available to you:

  • Cell phones:
  • Internet:
    • Several large companies have signed pledges agreeing not to terminate residential or small business customers who can’t afford to pay their bills. They have also agreed to waive late fees and open Wi-Fi hotspots to anyone who needs them. Here is a full list of companies. 550+ companies are on this list including giants such as AT&T, Comcast, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.
  • Utilities:
    • Several electric, gas, and water companies have pledged to not shut off utilities. Head to your state government’s website here to find out what is happening in your area. When you find your state, select the “Consumer Protections Office” which will will link you directly to your state’s utility commission site.

If you need food immediately, call the USDA National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479) or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (1-877-842-6273). Information is available in English and Spanish. The hotline is available Monday – Friday, 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM ET.

You can also get more information by visiting the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). According to the USDA website, each state has its own application form whereby you can apply for available benefits offered in your state.

There are many federal support programs available as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, ranging from stimulus checks to unemployment insurance. In addition to these programs, many states and cities are putting extensive resources into action to provide residents with financial, physical, and emotional support. These types of assistance include:

  • Loans + funding for small businesses
  • Tax + fee extensions
  • Utilities + Food
  • Health + Well-being
  • Childcare
  • Unemployment benefits

Our benefits partner, Stride, has put together more information here more here to outline what major cities are doing to support locals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’re struggling to make ends meet, you may fall behind on certain bills, like your car payment. If you cannot make one or more of your monthly payments, you should notify your lender. Missing one or more payments could result in outstanding debt, which will damage your credit. By contacting your lender, you’re opening the communication channel to a possible payment extension or deferment, which gives you a better chance of getting your due date postponed.

Several car companies and some of the biggest lenders have all announced measures for payment assistance during COVID-19. Many in-person offices and dealerships are closed due to shelter in place orders, so you may need to contact them via telephone or by submitting a web/mobile support request.

Many of the top automakers and auto lenders have specific pages dedicated to payment circumstances as it relates to COVID-19. Search for your automaker or auto lender and “COVID-19” to find more information on what assistance or forgiveness is available to you.

Our benefits partner, Stride, has also put together a more in-depth resource on car payment relief here.

If you’re worried about making your credit card payments right now, the best thing you can do is notify your credit card company. Many credit card companies are offering assistance to those experiencing hardships right now, including Bank of America, Chase, and Capital One. If you do need to contact your credit card company, please remember to be patient as wait times are increased due to circumstances surrounding COVID-19.

In addition, our benefits partner, Stride, has put together a resource to help track what the major credit card companies are saying as a result of COVID-19 relief.

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories were able to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance of up to $10,000. This advance is designed to provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.

At this time, only agricultural business applications will be accepted due to limitations in funding availability and the unprecedented submission of applications already received. Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. For agricultural businesses that submitted an EIDL application through the streamlined application portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will process these applications without the need for re-applying.

To learn more about the EIDL, visit the SBA website here.

If you find yourself unable to provide for your family’s basic financial needs, you may be able to get temporary support from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. TANF works with your state government to provide cash for a maximum of five years. You can spend this cash on food, clothes, housing, transportation, medical supplies, and other household necessities. TANF eligibility depends on your household size, monthly income, and housing costs. You must have children to qualify. TANF programs are run on the state level, so you’ll need to look up your state’s program here to submit your application.

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