Additional helpful COVID information from Assemblyman Bramnick

We wanted to pass on this helpful information from Assemblyman Bramnick’s newsletter:

Relief and Resources for Individuals

Federal Stimulus

The vast majority of New Jersey residents will begin to receive a stimulus check starting in three weeks. Eligibility will be based on 2018 tax filings unless you have already filed your 2019 taxes.

  • Single filers making up to $75,000 will receive $1,200. If you are single and make over $99,000 you will not receive stimulus money. Single filers making more than $75,000 but less than $99,000 will receive a reduced benefit.
  • Married filing jointly making up to $150,000 will receive $2,400. Joint filers making over $198,000 will not receive stimulus money. Joint filers making more than $150,000 but less than $198,0000 will receive a reduced benefit.
  • An additional $500 will be given for each child under 16.

Most wage garnishments to repay debts are temporarily suspended. That includes student loans in default and late taxes. The waiver does not include people who are behind on child support.

Taxes

The federal government has extended the deadline to file taxes to July 15th. New Jersey has not decided on an extension at this point.

Healthcare

If you lost your job and your healthcare coverage you can apply through the Individual Marketplace. Loss of a job is a qualifying event making you eligible to enroll. To enroll go to: www.nj.gov/governor/getcoverednj

For the next two months, Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield is allowing employers to maintain coverage for employees who have been furloughed, temporarily laid off, or whose hours have been dramatically reduced

Out of work

Any worker, including freelance and part-time, who is out of work or getting fewer hours because their job was impacted by the emergency is eligible for unemployment benefits.

The benefit is 60 percent of your average weekly wage, up to $713 a week. The federal stimulus provides an additional $600 a week through July 31st and expands benefits by 13 weeks to a total of 39 weeks. New Jersey has waived the waiting period so benefits will be available as soon as you are approved.  To apply visit myunemployment.nj.gov or by phone.

Northern Region: 201-601-4100

Central Region: 732-761-2020

Southern Region: 856-507-2340

When filing a claim, callers are encouraged during a designated window based on the last 4 digits of their social security number.

0000-1250 between 8am and 9am

1251-2500 between 9am and 10am

2501-3750 between 10am and 11am

3751-5000 between 11am and 12pm

5001-6250 between 12pm and 1pm

6251-7500 between 1pm and 2pm

7501-8750 between 2pm and 3pm

8751-9999 between 3pm and 4pm

Anyone missing their timeframe can try to call again between 4pm and 7pm.

Common Eligibility Questions:

I am a gig-worker, freelancer or independent contractor: Eligible 

I was about to start a new job and now can’t because of the outbreak: Eligible

I have been advised by a health care provider to quarantine myself: Eligible  

I am unemployed and have a COVID-19 diagnosis or need to care for a family member: Eligible

I am a part-time worker: Eligible

My employer shut down because of coronavirus: Eligible 

I quit because I don’t like my job: Not Eligible 

Leave Programs: Workers that are sick, quarantined, or taking care of a sick family member are eligible for sick or paid leave, including family leave and temporary disability. Quarantined healthcare workers are also eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. For more information visit nj.gov.labor

If you are looking for work or employees New Jersey has created a job portal with available and in-demand jobs. There are currently 43,000 openings on the site which you can find at jobs.covid.nj.gov

Student Loans

All payments on student loans held by the federal government have been automatically suspended until September 30, 2020. You can still choose to pay down your principal or make no payments at all. Your loan will not accrue interest and if you are working to qualify for loan forgiveness the 6 months of suspended payments will still count towards your 120 month total.

If your loan is not held by the federal government check with your lender to see how they are handling student loans. This includes Discover, Sallie Mae, and Wells Fargo. State borrowers should contact the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority at https://www.hessa.org.

Retirement Accounts

 In 2020 there will be no required minimum distribution from workplace retirement savings plans like a 401(k). That way you are not forced to sell investments that may have fallen in value.

You can withdraw money from your I.R.A. or retirement plan early with out a penalty if it is related to the outbreak. You can take out up to $100,000 with out the 10 percent penalty. You can also spread out the income taxes owed on the withdraw over three years and put the money back before the three years are up. You qualify if you, a spouse or dependent tested positive or experienced negative economic consequences.

Food Assistance

New Jersey expanded its food assistance programs including SNAP and WIC. Current enrollees in these programs will see increased benefits for March and April placed onto their debit cards. If you need to apply for assistance go to www.NJHelps.org

If you need immediate food assistance you can find local food pantries online. To find nearby food banks visit www.cfbnj.org/findfood or visit hungerfreenj.org/coronavirus for more information.

Utilities

All New Jersey electric, gas, water, and sewer companies, both public and private, have agreed to halt service shut offs during the emergency.

Volunteer Opportunities

New Jersey is asking for medical professionals who may be retired or otherwise inactive in the state to volunteer. If you are willing to do so please go to covid19.nj.gov/volunteer

If you have Personal Protective Equipment that you would like to donate or have a lead on a company that is interested in selling the equipment please submit the information to covid19.nj.gov/ppereport

For opportunities to volunteer during the emergency visit https://www.nj.gov/state/volunteer.shtml

Relief and Resources for Businesses

The Small Business Administration is offering up to $2 million loans for small businesses and private non-profits. Loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills. The interest rate is up to 3.75 percent for small businesses and 2.75 percent for non-profits. Loan terms are up to 30 years and the SBA will determine an appropriate payment based on the financial condition of the borrower. For more information go to http://covid19relief.sba.gov/ or calling 1-800-659-2955.

IRS is offering refundable payroll tax credits for businesses and nonprofits that keep their employees during the health crisis. The credit is equal to 50 percent of quarterly employee wages up to $10,000 per worker.

Paid leave tax credits are also available for employers providing coronavirus related leave to their employees. The credit gives a 100 percent match for leave given to employees sick with coronavirus, capped at $511 a day for ten days. Employers can also receive credit for providing employees with leave to care for a sick relative or deal with childcare issues, capped at $200 a day for ten days.

The government will make advanced payments of the tax credit. Companies can also defer some of their payroll taxes to next year to free up cash. More information can be found at irs.gov/coronavirus

The federal stimulus bill helps you keep employees on payroll. The Paycheck Protection Program provides eight weeks of cash-flow assistance through federally backed loans to small employers who maintain their payroll during the emergency and do not take the tax credit.

Any portion of the loan used to cover payroll, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities may be forgiven. Payments are deferred for six months, fees are waived and there is no prepayment penalty. The program is retroactive to February 15, 2020 and covered expenses incurred until June 30. For more information and an application go to: home.treasury.gov/cares

  • Non-profits including 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(19) organizations with under 500 employees are eligible. This includes religious institutions and schools gig economy workers.
  • The size of the loans equals up to 250 percent of an employer’s average monthly payroll with a maximum loan amount of $10 million.
  • Covered payroll costs include salary, wages, payment of cash tips (up to an annual rate of pay of $100,000), employee group health care benefits, including insurance premiums, retirement contributions and covered leave.
  • Loans are expected to be available Friday, April 3rdthrough existing SBA-certified lenders, FDIC insured institutions, credit unions or financial technology lender that has signed up for the program.

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority has created a number of programs to help small and medium sized businesses. To see which state programs you may be eligible for go to https://assistance.business.nj.gov or call 609-858-6767. Applications will be available before Friday, April 3rd.

  • Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program.Grants up to $5,000 to small businesses to stabilize their operations and reduce the need for layoff or furloughs.
  • Small Business Emergency Assistance Loan Program.Working capital loans up to $100,000 to businesses with less than $5 million in revenues. Loans will be for 10 year terms with zero percent interest for the first 5 year and the prevailing floor rate capped at 3 percent for the remaining 5 years.
  • Small Business Emergency Assistance Guarantee Program. Provides guarantees on working capital loans and waives fees on loans made through institutions participating in existing EDA lending programs.
  • Emergency Technical Assistance Program. Provides technical support to New Jersey-based companies applying for State and US Small Business Association programs.

A small to medium size business survey is currently being conducted by EDA to develop new programs and initiatives to support the COVID response. The survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CVSupport.

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