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Lawmakers rushed in March 2020 to cushion the financial blow wrought by the virus by approving a wide array of financial relief measures. Congress, as well as the Trump and Biden administrations, then extended the protections several times as the pandemic continued to plague the nation.
Federal housing protections are ending
Homeowners with a loan backed by US Department of Housing and Urban Development, US Department of Veterans Affairs or the US Department of Agriculture, who have not entered into a forbearance program, which allows them to defer or delay their payments, will be able to enter into that program through September, as will those with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac-backed mortgages who have a coronavirus related hardship.
Expanded unemployment benefits end by Labor Day
The three pandemic jobless benefits programs are set to expire the first weekend of September in the states that are continuing them — which will affect an estimated 7.2 million people, according to Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at The Century Foundation.
Everyone in state and federal jobless programs will lose the $300 federal weekly supplement. Also ending are payments to those in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs.
The former provides benefits to freelancers, independent contractors, the self-employed and certain people affected by the coronavirus, while the latter extends the duration of payments to those receiving regular state unemployment benefits.
Some 3.6 million people lost some or all of their unemployment compensation in the states terminating the programs early, Stettner said.
After the pandemic payments end, the jobless will only be able to access state benefits, which typically last 26 weeks though some states are currently providing as few as 14 weeks. But the state program is not open to certain out-of-work Americans, including freelancers, the self-employed and those who can’t return to work because of health or childcare issues stemming from the pandemic.
A few states are also offering extended benefits of up to 20 weeks because of continued high unemployment rates.
Also expiring in early September are federal flexibilities that have allowed state unemployment agencies to hire temporary staff and call centers to handle the crush of people filing for benefits. While the numbers are far lower than they were at the start of the pandemic, they remain elevated, and state agencies are still contending with backlogs and fraudulent claims.
Beefed up food stamp benefits cease at the end of September
The boost provides about $27 more per person, per month.
Lawmakers augmented the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, as food stamps are formally known, because of an increase in hunger during the pandemic.
The standard benefit typically doesn’t last the entire month — prior to the increase, it didn’t cover the national average meal cost in 96% of counties, according to a recently released Urban Institute report. After the enhancement, that figure dropped to 41%.
At least six states have stopped or will soon end another food stamp enhancement that Congress enacted in March 2020. The provision increased recipients’ allotment to the maximum amount for their family size, but states have to have an emergency measure in place for the federal government to provide the additional funding.
More than 42.3 million Americans were receiving food stamps in April, according to the most recent data from the US Department of Agriculture.
Federal student loan payments to restart
Borrower balances have effectively been frozen for more than a year, with no payments required on federal loans since March 2020, when Congress first authorized the pause as part of one of its first major Covid relief packages. The benefit was later extended by both the Trump and Biden administrations.
The relief is even more significant for those who work in the public sector and may be eligible for loan forgiveness after 10 years. They are still receiving credit towards those 10 years of required payments as if they had continued to make them during the pandemic, as long as they are still working full time for qualifying employers.
Both the pause on payments and interest waiver is automatic, but only applies to federally held loans. That covers roughly 85% of all federal student loans, including those known as direct federal loans and PLUS loans that parents have taken out on behalf of their children. It excludes some federal loans that are guaranteed by the government but not technically held by it. Generally, those were disbursed prior to 2010.
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