If you’ve ever been flattened by a rogue wave while fishing or sunbathing, you probably recognize the emotional responses that have accompanied the pandemic wave that crashed across the United States – shock, anxiety, and concern for ourselves and others.
Our World has Changed
In just a few weeks, the virus changed our world in significant ways.
We became familiar with new terms – elbow bump, social distancing, shelter-in-place, flatten the curve – and learned to guesstimate six feet.
We’ve found ways to help our children with schoolwork (often while balancing our own work and online meetings), make cloth masks for ourselves and for healthcare workers, and learn to manage the loneliness that accompanies quarantine conditions.
Businesses have seen sales and revenue decline. As a result, millions of people are without work. In February 2020, the St. Louis Federal Reserve reported 3.5 percent of the civilian workforce, about 5.76 million people, were out of work. By the end of June, estimates suggest unemployment could reach 32.1 percent and about 52.8 million people may be out of work.1
Whether you are working reduced hours, furloughed, or out of work, there are resources available to help you stay afloat financially. The Federal Reserve, commercial banks, financial institutions, and federal, state, and local governments have taken steps to help people cope. Here are some tips and financial resources available to individuals.
Beware of Scams
The Federal Trade Commission has cautioned Americans to beware of scams associated with the stimulus checks:3
“Do not give anyone your personal information to ‘sign-up’ for your relief check. There is nothing to sign up for. Anyone calling to ask for your personal information, like your Social Security number, PayPal account, or bank information is a scammer, plain and simple. Also, be on the lookout for email phishing scams where scammers pretend to be from the government and ask for your information as part of the ‘sign-up’ process for the checks…No one has early access to this money. Anyone that claims to [provide early access] is a scammer.”
Electronic transfers of funds began on April 9, 2020. Paper checks began being issued on April 24, 2020, to taxpayers who have not used electronic deposit for tax refunds, reported The Washington Post.4
Higher Unemployment Benefits
The Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization and Access Act of 2020 was passed as part of the CARES Act. It increased unemployment benefits by $600 per week through July 31, 2020.
Because the average unemployment benefit in the United States is about $300 per week, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, households may receive about $900 per week or $3,600 per month in unemployment benefits.5, 6
States also have the option to make unemployment benefits available to independent contractors, gig workers, and other workers who are not usually eligible to receive benefits.5
Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides additional benefits to people who work for companies with 500 or fewer employees. These benefits include:7
- Paid sick leave: At least two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay if the employee is unable to work because he or she is quarantined or experiencing coronavirus symptoms.
- Basic paid family and medical leave: At least two weeks of paid sick leave at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay, if the employee is unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19. These reasons include caring for someone who has been quarantined and caring for a child (younger than age 18) whose school or care provider is closed.
- Extended paid family and medical leave: Up to 10 additional weeks of paid family and medical leave at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay, as long as the person has been employed for 30 days and the leave is related to COVID-19.
Loan and Fee Relief from Banks and Financial Institutions
Many banks and financial institutions put COVID-19 plans into place in March 2020. As a result, you may be able to defer mortgage, auto, and loan payments, as well as small business loan payments. The key word is ‘defer.’
You will receive relief now, but you will have to make the payments sometime in the future, in most cases. Contact your bank to find out what options are available to you. Be prepared to spend a significant amount of time on hold.8
There also are resources available to help business owners, including loans and tax credits.
If you would like to talk about your current financial position, or that of your business, and learn more about steps you can take to improve it, please get in touch. We’re here to help.
Michael Bradley, CEO/President, Bradley Wealth Management
Michael Bradley’s greatest passion in life is to help others experience true wealth and live their life by their own design. With his friendly, proactive, and caring approach, Michael pledges to provide the finest wealth management service experience anyone has ever had. And if you aren’t a client, no problem; Michael pledges to be a warm and caring friend who reminds you to experience the utter joy in life, and to turn that joy into memories, which make up our true wealth.
4 https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/irs-to-begin-issuing-1200-coronavirus-payments-april-9-but-some-americans-wont-receive-checks-until-september-agency-plan-says/2020/04/02/8e0cfc84-751e-11ea-85cb-8670579b863d_story.html (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/Peak+Documents/May_2020_TheWashingtonPost-IRS_to_Begin_Issuing_%241200_Coronavirus_Payment_Checks-Footnote_4.pdf)
Securities offered through Bradley Wealth Management, Member FINRA/SIPC.