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By Claire Hegstrom
News surrounding the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has been spreading like wildfire, as many Americans enter their fourth week of our economy’s “new normal.” Within the next few weeks, $2 trillion is set to disburse to individuals, families, and both small and large businesses to stimulate the economy after a worldwide downturn. Read on to learn what you’ll need to do to get your money, how much you can expect to receive, and where you can find additional resources that may be helpful.
Many individuals who filed a federal income tax return in 2018 or 2019 -- or those who collect Social Security benefits -- can expect to receive a stimulus check. The money will be either directly deposited into the bank account used for your previous tax refunds or your Social Security benefits, or mailed to your residence on file with the IRS.
For individuals who may not yet pay taxes or receive Social Security benefits, the IRS has created a page on their website to ensure they have the information needed to send you your money. This is the only site approved by the IRS, and the only way they will attempt to collect your information. Visit https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here to create your account with the IRS.
You won’t need to do anything to get this check — after all, you have enough to focus on right now! For most people eligible to receive the stimulus money, the funds will be deposited directly into your account. Some may receive a check in the mail, if you do not have a bank account linked to the IRS for taxes or Social Security. Please note that the government will never call you to ask for your account numbers or any other private information. There have been multiple scams brewing in the light of this stimulus package news, so please stay alert and cautious to protect yourself and your finances. It’s probably a good idea to talk about these scams with your parents or grandparents the next time you call or video chat with them. The elderly are often the most vulnerable to these fraudsters.
Read the latest updates on how you can ensure you receive your stimulus payment.
During this pandemic, the safest way to deposit your check is by using the remote deposit feature on your credit union or bank’s online or mobile application. You can also use deposit-taking ATMs at your financial institution to securely deposit the check.
Pro tip: Make sure to endorse the check with “For mobile deposit only at financial institution name” directly under your signature to ensure a seamless experience.
For those who receive a check made out to you and a joint filer, make sure to endorse the check with both of your names, and deposit it into an account you hold jointly. Checks from the government written to two parties can’t be deposited into a single owner’s account.
Mortgage payment assistance is being offered to those whose income has been impacted by COVID-19. Lenders are permitted to offer a 180-day payment deferral on mortgage loans. Alliant members needing assistance can visit myalliant.com/emergency-assistance for more details. Others can learn more about special payment provisions your mortgage servicer may be offering at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/04/coronavirus-and-your-mortgage.
Student loan payment deferrals are being offered on all federal (Direct and FFELP) student loans through September 30, 2020. To discuss payment arrangements, contact your federal student loan servicers:
Unemployment and self-employment assistance is being increased by an additional $600 weekly. The duration period for unemployment benefits has also been extended to a 39-week maximum. Gig and entertainment workers are now eligible for unemployment, as well as self-employed workers, independent contractors and nonprofit employees. To contact your state’s unemployment office, visit the U.S. Department of Labor website.
Retirement savings access is being granted with the 10% early withdrawal fee being waived under certain circumstances for those needing to withdraw up to $100,000 early. Fee-free withdrawals are available to individuals who are diagnosed with COVID-19, those with a spouse or dependent diagnosed with COVID-19, or those who experience financial consequences as a result of the pandemic. Please note that although the normal early-withdrawal penalty is waived, the withdrawal is considered to be taxable income (unless you’re withdrawing Roth 401(k) or Roth IRA contributions). To withdraw from your retirement account, contact your financial institution for assistance.
Required minimum distributions are cancelled for seniors. If you turned 70.5 before December 31, 2020, and would normally have to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your retirement accounts this year, the CARES Act cancels that requirement for 2020.
If you need further emergency assistance, please reach out to your financial institution or loan servicers. The Alliant Money Mentor will continue to share updates on any additional programs offered to consumers during this difficult time.
Claire Hegstrom is an advocate of the credit union movement through and through. Passionate about financial education, she approaches money conversations from a candid and inclusive space focused on growth and awareness. As our credit union founding father, Ed Filene, once said, “Progress is the constant replacing of the best there is with something still better.” Claire hopes reading Money Mentor will help transform your life from the best to even better.
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