New COVID-19 relief act signed. Aid extended to millions.

On December 22nd congress passed the most recent COVID-19 relief package. The act provides $908 billion dollars in aid to families, businesses, nonprofits, and states. As we learn more about the act and how the programs and funding will be implemented, we will update our website and social media accordingly. Please contact us at the appropriate numbers below if you or your family are struggling and need assistance.  

This list is not exhaustive, and the bill contains programs and funding not listed here.  

Here is what we know so far: 

Unemployment Insurance

This act extends the CARES Act’s unemployment insurance expansion through March 14th, 2021. Specifically, this act:  

  • Provides an additional $300 per week to supplement all state and federal unemployment benefits, starting after December 26, 2020 and ending March 14, 2021 through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program; 
  • Extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which provides continued unemployment assistance to the self-employed, freelancers, gig workers, part-time workers and other individuals in non-traditional employment. It also increases the number of weeks of PUA benefits an individual may claim, from 39 to 50; 
  • Extends the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, providing additional weeks of federally-funded benefits to workers who have exhausted their regular state unemployment benefits. It also increases the weeks of PEUC benefits an individual may claim, from 13 to 24 and; 
  • Provides full federal financing of state Shared Work programs, allowing employees who are working reduced hours to claim partial unemployment compensation, through March 14, 2021. 

For FAQs about unemployment insurance click here. Apply for unemployment at the Department of Employment Security website or call 1-888-737-0259. If you have questions regarding your application or how the new relief bill affects your unemployment benefits, call our hotline 980-256-3979 and leave a message to receive assistance in English or Spanish. 

Economic Impact Payments (Stimulus Checks) 

Critical financial support in the form of one-time direct payments of $600 is being made available for individuals making up to $75,000 and $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000, as well as an extra $600 per eligible child dependent. We do not know if this amount will be increased. This is the same eligibility as the original $1,200 stimulus payment, but also expands these direct payments to mixed-status households, ensuring that millions of immigrant families across the U.S. get access to this relief. 

These payments will likely be distributed in a similar way as the $1,200 payments through direct deposit or check. Stay up to date with this information on the IRS website

Those who did not previously receive the original $1,200 stimulus check or received the incorrect amount may be able to receive it through a Recovery Rebate Credit when filing you 2020 tax return. Learn more here. 

If you have questions about the $600 economic impact payments or the recovery rebate credit, contact a tax advocate at: 980-202-7329  

Emergency Rental and Utility Assistance 

This act extends the CDC Eviction Moratorium through January 31st, 2021. Read more on how you can use the moratorium to prevent eviction here. 

An additional $25 billion will be distributed to existing local housing agencies that can best distribute these funds on behalf of tenants. It is unclear what organizations or programs this funding will go toward but can be used to pay past due rent, future rent payments and utility and energy expenses.  

The act provides $638 million to assist low-income families with drinking water and wastewater utility bills. This money will also be distributed via state and tribal governments. You can apply for utility assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program or RAMP Charlotte. 

Nutritional and Food Assistance 

Millions of families across the country are struggling to put food on the table. This act addressed food insecurity by: 

  • Increasing monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for the next six months beginning January 1st, 2021 through June 30th, 2021. Unless there are other supplements, this increase will be added to the current maximum eligible monthly amount per family size;  
  • Excluding Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) from being counted as income for calculating eligibility and amount of SNAP benefits; 
  • Extending SNAP eligibility to college students who are eligible for a federal or state work study program or have an expected family contribution of $0 and; 
  • Improves the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (PEBT) program to school-age children and expands the program for children younger than six years old.  

If you need assistance with applying for SNAP, PEBT, or other public benefits, contact our Family Support and Healthcare Unit at 704-376-1600. 

Bankruptcy 

The act provides that consumers in Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases will not be denied a discharge if they miss 3 or fewer mortgage payments because of a financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to COVID–19. Consumers can have utility service maintained or restored after filing bankruptcy without paying a deposit. Also, consumers cannot be denied a mortgage forbearance under the CARES Act if they have filed bankruptcy or received a bankruptcy discharge.