Federal Pandemic Aid Set to Expire for Millions of Americans - News-Credit-Mortgage-Coin

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Federal Pandemic Aid Set to Expire for Millions of Americans








A whole range of pandemic aid programs are set to expire in the new year, leaving millions of Americans without the government support that’s helped keep them afloat -- and threatening to hold back a rebounding economy. The biggest blow will likely come from the end of two federal unemployment-insurance programs, with roughly 12 million people facing a late-December cutoff, according to a study released Wednesday by The Century Foundation. Also, measures that froze student-loan payments, offered mortgage forbearance and halted evictions have a year-end deadline –- and so do Federal Reserve lending facilities for small businesses and local governments. Some Covid-19 assistance could potentially be attached to a spending bill needed to avoid a federal government shutdown, but with Congress deadlocked and a White House transition looming, the outlook for another stimulus package this year is bleak. President Donald Trump hasn’t outlined a plan to extend the aid programs via executive order and his successor Joe Biden won’t take office until the second half of January. All of this poses risks to a U.S. economy that’s recovered faster than expected yet still has a long way to go, particularly with the resurgence of Covid-19 cases bringing a new wave of restrictions on business. While in aggregate household finances are in great shape, the strength is uneven, with jobs still 10 million below February levels. Following is a roundup of the support that’s poised to be withdrawn -- and the people who benefited from it. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance has been a safety net for those who aren’t typically eligible for jobless benefits, like self-employed and gig workers. As many as 9.4 million people were claiming PUA in late October. The final payable week is currently the second-to-last week of December. Larry Long of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, got his first check under the program in July -- and expects the last one to arrive in the coming weeks. Before the pandemic, the 63-year-old helped plan charity fundraisers and corporate parties, until Covid-19 brought cancellations and work dried up. An additional supplemental benefit of $600 a week expired months ago, and he hasn’t been able to pay his bills in full since then. “Basically all I can do is try to have food in here and to make arrangements with utilities and the landlord,” Long said. Now, with both PUA and eviction moratoriums expiring, he’s also worried about losing his home. “I am extremely worried about the virus. As an older Black male with a touch of diabetes, I am scared to death,” Long said. “I’m scared to death to go outside. I’m scared to death to stay home.” The second expiring jobless program, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, extends benefits for up to 13 extra weeks. As of the week ending Oct. 24, 4.1 million people were claiming it. Most states offer 26 weeks of unemployment payments before applicants need to roll onto PEUC. In others like Florida and North Carolina, the period is much shorter -- meaning that many Americans have already exhausted such benefits. Jennifer Marshall, of Hendersonville, North Carolina, is one of them. She was working at a barbecue joint when the state imposed curbs on restaurants, and she filed for unemployment on March 18. Since then Marshall, 51, has exhausted regular state benefits, PEUC and another program called Extended Benefits. “All of a sudden, I’m looking at nothing,” she says. A diabetic and a cancer survivor, both high-risk categories for Covid-19, Marshall has borrowed money from friends and relatives. She’s listed her microwave for sale online and is preparing to unload her car.

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