Stimulus, unemployment, financial help for those impacted by coronavirus

SBA, student loans, rent, utilities, taxes and more
CHICAGO (WLS) -- As the impact of the coronavirus continues to grow across the United States the financial implications also continue to grow. People are losing work as businesses close and many consumers say they are struggling to make ends meet. But many financial institutions are offering relief and there are other resources available for people facing financial hardship.

A good place to start is making a personal finance plan for the coronavirus pandemic, in order to organize and then manage your finances. Here is a playbook for managing your finances during the COVID-19 crisis.

See ongoing reporting on personal finance during the COVID-19 crisis at Money Fix, by Consumer Investigative Reporters Jason Knowles and Samantha Chatman.

We've compiled the following list to help you navigate these uncertain times:


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Federal Unemployment Assistance: The Department of Labor gave states leeway to amend their laws so people impacted by COVID-19 could get unemployment insurance: "Under the guidance, federal law permits significant flexibility for states to amend their laws to provide UI benefits in multiple scenarios related to COVID-19. For example, federal law allows states to pay benefits where: (1) An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work; (2) An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; and (3) An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member. In addition, federal law does not require an employee to quit in order to receive benefits due to the impact of COVID-19." More details on the Department of Labor's website.

Want to see U.S. unemployment numbers in a larger window? Click here

City, state groups were offering grants for artists, organizations impacted by pandemic. The application for arts organizations has closed temporarily and will reopen on May 4. To receive an email notification when the application reopens, please visit the Arts for Illinois website

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The Illinois Department of Employment Security has launched Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for self-employed and gig workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, though self-employed workers must first apply and be rejected for regular unemployment benefits. Click here to visit the IDES website. Read instructions carefully.

Uber: The company is offering 14 days of financial assistance to any driver who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is quarantined: "Any driver or delivery person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is individually asked to self-isolate by a public health authority will receive financial assistance for up to 14 days while their account is on hold. We've already helped drivers in some affected areas, and we're working to quickly implement this worldwide."

Lyft: The company also said it would provide financial help for drivers impacted by the virus: "We will provide funds to drivers should they be diagnosed with COVID-19 or put under individual quarantine by a public health agency. This helps support drivers financially when they can't drive, while also protecting our riders' health." The company said it would also temporarily suspend drivers and riders who are diagnosed with COVID-19 from using Lyft until they are medically cleared.

Postmates: For delivery workers, Postmates created a fund that will credit Postmates for the costs of doctors appointments and medical expenses related to COVID-19's impact in over 22 states. They are also waiving restaurant commission fees for new merchants that want to use the service to make up for people not coming into their restaurants.

Doordash: The delivery company is offering up to "two weeks of assistance to Dashers and Caviar couriers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are subject to quarantine at the direction of public health officials."

Instacart: The company announced an expanded sick-time policy in light of COVID-19: "In addition to sick pay for all in-store shoppers nationally, we're also offering additional support for all part-time employees and full-service shoppers affected by COVID-19. We will offer up to 14 days of pay for any part-time employee or full-service shopper who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed in mandatory isolation or quarantine, as directed by a local, state, or public health authority. This assistance will be available for 30 days to ensure our community is supported during this rapidly evolving situation, and we'll be sending more information to shoppers in the coming days."


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See ongoing reporting about small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic at Small Business Survival.


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American Express: American Express customers can apply for their Financial Hardship program for relief, which can potentially take the form of lowered monthly payments, waived fees, and lower interest rates.

Bank of America: Bank of America is offering relief through its Client Assistance Program. BofA says that they will assess relief on a case-by-case basis, but that banking customers could have waived fees, and credit cardholders could have deferred payments and refunded late fees.

Capital One: According to a Capital One spokesperson, "The specific provisions offered really depend on the individual customer's needs, but can include fee suppression, minimum payment assistance and deferred loan payments."

Chase: If Chase customers are having difficulty making their payments, they should contact customer service.

Citi Bank: Bank customers can apply for fee waivers on monthly service fees and waived penalties for early CD withdrawal. Credit card customers can request credit line increases and collection forbearance.

U.S. Bank: U.S. Bank is waiving many fees and working on its payment-skipping program.

PNC Bank: They released the following statement: "We stand ready to work with those experiencing financial difficulty as a result, and we are taking the necessary steps to avoid potential disruptions of service to our customers. PNC is prepared to offer assistance, as needed, to impacted customers through a range of measures." They are urging customers to call them at 1-888-762-2265 (7 a.m. - 10 p.m. ET Monday - Friday; 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. ET Saturday & Sunday).

Wells Fargo: The bank says they will help customers experiencing financial hardships as a result of COVID-19: "If in need of assistance, we encourage customers to call us at 1-800-219-9739 to speak with a trained specialist to discuss options available for their consumer lending, small business and deposit products."


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On March 27, President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act into law, which, among other things, provides broad relief for federal student loan borrowers.

Your payments will automatically stop from March 13, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2020.

To provide relief to student loan borrowers during the COVID-19 national emergency, federal student loan borrowers are automatically being placed in an administrative forbearance, which allows you to temporarily stop making your monthly loan payment. This suspension of payments will last until Sept. 30, 2020, but you can still make payments if you choose. Read the borrower Q&As to learn more.


The deadline for filing federal income taxes and for paying those taxes has been moved back three months, to July 15. If you're expecting to get a refund, experts recommend you file as soon as possible.

AARP's free tax prep program, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, has been suspended until further notice.

You can still file for free with options like the IRS's Free File Program.

Some counties in Illinois are offering various levels of property tax relief or assistance due to the coronavirus crisis. Click here for information about DuPage County relief measures, click here for information about McHenry and Lake counties, and click here for information about Will and Kane county property tax measures.


For 60 days, the company is giving all customers unlimited data for no additional charge, and will not disconnect customers' internet service or charge them late fees if can't pay their bills during this period.


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