These are certainly trying times. We understand that many of you are facing sudden financial hardship or uncertainty due to the disruption of our daily lives.
As New Yorkers, we stand together to assist one another and support our community members. While every bit helps, we also desperately need relief from the government institutions we depend upon during times of crisis.
Fortunately, some assistance is available to those suffering during the COVID-19 outbreak. Various relief programs are available from municipal, state, and federal funding sources. Some sources provide direct stimulus (AKA a check), while others may provide a low-interest loan, a temporary forbearance on debt, or assistance through programs like Citymeals on Wheels.
The following are some of the programs available to those who find themselves out of work or dealing with drastically reduced income at the moment. We know taxi drivers, Uber drivers, and small business owners are going to be hit particularly hard during this time, so we hope that these programs can provide some form of financial relief, no matter how small.
Individual Stimulus Payments
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, was passed by both U.S. legislative chambers and signed into law on March 27, 2020. Among other forms of relief, the act offers direct stimulus to individuals suffering economically during the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent business closures.
Here are some of the most important facts you need to know about the direct individual stimulus payments:
- The payments are based on your 2019 income, as listed on your 2019 tax return. If you haven’t yet filed for 2019 (as many of us haven’t), it will be based on your 2018 income.
- Most adults will receive $1,200. Couples will receive $2,400.
- Every qualifying child under 16 may grant an additional $500.
- Individuals who make over $75,000 or couples who make over $150,000 will have their payment reduced by $5 for each $100 they make over the $75k/$150k threshold.
- Max limits for any payments are $99,000 (single person), $198,000 (married, no children), $218,000 (family w/ 2 children).
- Most can expect payments within three weeks. There’s no need to apply if the IRS has already used your bank information to direct deposit tax returns in the recent past.
- If you have not used direct deposit with the IRS before, the agency says that it will, “develop a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information…in the coming weeks.”
- Individuals who already receive financial assistance and file Form SSA-1099 or Form RRB-1099 but do not file a tax return may need to take no further action unless they have qualifying dependents.
- Stimulus payments do not count as taxable income for 2020.
Expanded Unemployment Benefits
The CARES Act also expands unemployment benefits for New Yorkers. This includes Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits as well as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
Here are some of the most important things you need to know:
- Benefits are being expanded to bridge the gap between actual earnings and what the state would ordinarily pay as an unemployment benefit.
- Covers part-time workers and the self-employed, and generally includes people that would ordinarily not be eligible.
- Gig workers, freelancers, and independent contractors are covered by expanded unemployment benefits, too. Self-employed people would be newly eligible for unemployment benefits.
- Those who are already receiving assistance likely need to take no action. New applicants can apply online.
The Paycheck Protection Program (SBA Loans)
Many small businesses are required to postpone operations during the COVID-19 outbreak. Others must severely scale back operations and staff.
As part of the CARES Act, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has implemented the Paycheck Protection Program. They describe the program as, “a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.”
Here are the most important facts to know about the program:
- Sole-proprietors, independent contractors, and other self-employed individuals are eligible for loans.
- Specific allowable uses of the loan include: payroll support, such as employee salaries, paid sick or medical leave; insurance premiums; and mortgage, rent, and utility payments.
- If the employer maintains payroll, the portion of the loans used for covered payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities would be forgiven. This proposal would be retroactive to February 15, 2020
- Applicants “can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating,” and more regulators will participate, “once they are approved and enrolled in the program.”
- The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020.
SBA Disaster Loans and Loan Relief for COVID-19 Economic Losses
The SBA is expanding its disaster loan and loan relief programs in light of the COVID-19 crisis.
Here are some of the most important details:
- They are offering a loan advance of up to $10,000 for certain qualifying applicants.
- Those currently enrolled in 7(a), 504, or microloans who qualify for debt relief will have all of their principal, interest, and fees automatically paid for six months. The SBA will similarly cover the costs of new loans issued prior to September 27, 2020.
- Certain businesses may qualify for automatic deferral.
Other Resources for Individuals Impacted by COVID-19
While the New York area has been hit the hardest during the COVID-19 crisis, we do have a number of resources available as a small form of relief to the most vulnerable populations.
These programs include:
- Employment Resources
- Food Assistance
- Health & Medical Assistance
- Financial Assistance
- Rent Arrears and Public Assistance
- Emotional Support & Spiritual Care
- Other Assistance
For more information on these available programs, visit the Help Now NYC COVID-19 Assistance for Individuals page.
Let Us Know if You Need Assistance with a Traffic Ticket Case or License Suspension
For the time being, New York traffic ticket cases are postponed. However, NY police officers are still issuing new tickets, and individuals with existing suspensions or ongoing cases may have their procedures complicated by office closures.
If you need any help with an existing New York traffic ticket case, a new ticket, or an ongoing suspension, do not hesitate to contact Feifer & Greenberg, LLP. We can work closely with you to coordinate your case with local officials, keep you up to date, and try to minimize the impact the COVID-19 outbreak has on your outcome.We are available for free case evaluations when you call us at (888) 842-5384 or contact us online.