The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has affected people not only socially and emotionally, but also financially.
Because the most effective way to stop the spread of the new virus is to stay away from one another, many business have been forced to close temporarily and lay off their staffs.
For those in Georgia who have lost their income stream during this pandemic, we’ve curated some resources to help you navigate the rough waters ahead.
The Georgia Department of Labor is providing online access to unemployment services, partial claim access for employers and other re-employment services during the pandemic.
“Employers are required to file partial claims on behalf of their employees whenever it is necessary to temporarily reduce work hours or there is no work available for a short period,” GDOL’s website states. “Any employer found to be in violation of this rule will be required to reimburse GDOL for the full amount of unemployment insurance benefits paid to the employee.”
Georgia residents can file a claim online 24 hours a day, but GDOL warns the volume of new claims might delay your payments. The AJC’s Michael E. Kanell reported last week that filings for unemployment benefits had soared by roughly 400%, enough to sporadically overload government web pages.
GDOL has updated its page since Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which expands unemployment benefits. You can read the changes here.
The following links provide information and quick access to the following:
Some Georgia residents might be eligible for Temporary Assistance for Need Families.
Among the requirements for TANF benefits are:
- A child must be less than 18 years of age (19 years if they are a full-time student).
- A TANF applicant/recipient must apply for and accept other benefits (unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, supplemental security insurance (SSI), child support, etc) for which they might be eligible.
- A recipient must be a citizen of the U.S. or a lawful resident alien.
- A child must be deprived due to:
- Continued absence from the home of at least one parent
- Physical or mental incapacity of at least one parent
- Death of a parent
As of March 23, all DHS offices will encourage customers to use self-service options and telephone communication as a primary means to conduct business. Individuals requiring in-person consultation will be seen by appointment only.
SNAP and Medicaid
If you already receive aid via the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or Medicaid:
- March Pandemic SNAP Assistance (P-SNAP) benefits will be released automatically on EBT cards to all eligible households by the end of the month. April Pandemic SNAP will be released in a staggered schedule, on or after the regular April issuances.
- Renewal of benefits for food stamps and TANF due in March, April and May 2020 have been extended by six months. In addition, Medical Assistance benefits (Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids) due for renewal in March and April have been extended by four months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic emergency.
If you need to apply for assistance, Division of Family & Children Services customers are encouraged to use the below tools:
- Apply for food stamp and Medicaid benefits at gateway.ga.gov (Verification documents and case status info for all benefits; food stamps, Medicaid and TANF account updates are also housed on this site.)
- Download an application at https://dfcs.georgia.gov/services
- For information on Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), visit https://www.connectebt.com/gaebtclient or call 888-421-3281 for updates
- For general information, visit dfcs.ga.gov.
- Call 877-423-4746
- For those without access to online resources, requests can be made via phone for applications to be mailed to them. Customers should complete the applications at home and return by mail with supporting documentation included.
Mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said March 18 they would suspend all foreclosure sales and evictions of borrowers in single family homes by their companies, the Associated Press reported last week.
The action is one of many to protect those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also suspended foreclosures and evictions for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration.
Fannie and Freddie announced other mortgage relief options as well:
- Expansion of its forbearance program, which provides relief for up to a year and suspends late charges and penalties
- Suspension of reporting to credit bureaus any past due payments of borrowers in a forbearance plan as a result of hardships attributable to this national emergency
“Fannie Mae, along with our lending and servicing partners, is committed to ensuring assistance is available to homeowners in need. We encourage residents whose employment or income are impacted by COVID-19 to seek available assistance as soon as possible," said Malloy Evans, senior vice president and single-family chief credit officer with Fannie Mae.
Homeowners can contact Fannie Mae directly by calling 1-800-232-6643. For more information, visit www.knowyouroptions.com/covid19assistance.
Help for renters
A judicial emergency was announced March 14, and, the AJC’s Meriz Lutz reported, “most courts in metro Atlanta appear to have suspended eviction proceedings in the interest of focusing on more essential functions related to public safety.” But landlords can still file for an eviction online.
Evictions in Fulton and DeKalb counties are carried out by both the sheriff and the marshal. Lutz reported all four agencies confirmed they are not carrying out evictions right now because of the coronavirus.
“The court’s issues do factor in, but it’s purely humanitarian at this point,” DeKalb Marshal Richard Berkowitz said. “It doesn’t make any sense to displace people with what’s going on.”
That doesn’t mean you can just not pay rent, however. If you’ve lost your income, you should let your landlord know and try to work out an agreement.
“Most landlords would be willing to work with a good tenant who is experiencing hardship due to current events,” John Graff, a Los Angeles-based real estate broker, told CNBC Make It.
Even if Georgia college students aren’t finding that to be true, your landlord might be willing to let you make partial payments.
If not, check one of these websites for financial assistance:
- Georgia Legal Aid
- Rent Assistance
- Need Help Paying Bills
- The Salvation Army
- Free Financial Help Paying Bill
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