Q: What happened to stimulus payments?
A: Throughout 2020 and 2021, millions of American families received up to three stimulus payments. The last round of stimulus checks went out in March 2021 and was $1,400 for every adult and every child under 17. Currently, there aren’t plans for any more stimulus payments but we’ll keep you posted about that.
Q: I never got a stimulus payment, what do I do now?
A: If you still haven’t received your payment, or got less than you were eligible for, you can claim the money by filing a 2021 tax return and claiming the Recovery Rebate credit.
Q: What is the Child Tax Credit?
A: The Child Tax Credit gives tax breaks for families with children – $3,600 a year for children under age 6 and $3,000 a year for children 6-17. The American Rescue Plan, passed in 2021, expanded the CTC and allowed American families to get up to half of the Child Tax Credit paid over monthly installments. The last monthly child tax credit payments went out on December 15, 2021.
Q: When’s the next CTC payment?
A: The final enhanced child tax credit payment for 2021 – including any money you didn't receive in advance – will arrive with your tax refund. That means you have to file your taxes to receive any money you may be owed.
Q: Am I eligible for a tax credit if I don’t have children at home?
A: Working people who don’t have dependent children and who have lower incomes may be eligible for the EITC, the Earned Income Tax Credit. You have to file your taxes to get the credit. Click here for tax prep help.
Q: What’s the Earned Income Tax Credit?
A: It’s a tax credit for workers with low to moderate income. Whether or not you’re eligible depends on a few factors, including your income, your tax filing status, and your family size. You may qualify for more than $1,500 if you don’t have children living with you, or up to $6,700 if you are raising children in your home.
Q: Wait, do I have to have kids?
A: No. And in fact, the American Rescue Plan expanded the EITC for people without children this year, making it worth a lot more. It also expanded eligibility so that people without children who are 65 and older, or between the ages of 19-24 now qualify.
Q: How do I get it?
A: To claim your EITC, you have to file your tax return.
Q: Can I still get federal pandemic unemployment insurance?
A: Unfortunately, no. The CARES Act, which passed in 2020, expanded federal unemployment benefits and made even more people eligible. That expanded federal money ran out in September 2021 and hasn’t been renewed. But you can still get state unemployment benefits. See below for more.
Q: I lost income or my job, what can I do?
A: You may be able to get unemployment payments through your state. Click here to find your state unemployment insurance office and see if you’re eligible.
Q: How much money can I get from state unemployment?
A: It depends. Unemployment payments vary by state, with most states replacing roughly half of a person’s income, up to a maximum amount.
Q: I need help paying my rent. What can I do?
A: If you’re a renter and need help with bills or utilities, start here.
Q: I own my own home but I’m behind on my mortgage. What can I do?
A: Most mortgage companies must let you put your mortgage payments on hold, with no penalties or fees, if you can’t pay in any way related to COVID. These protections are for the big majority of mortgages, which are federally backed. To find out if your mortgage is federally backed, ask your mortgage company or check here.
Q: Can I get help with utility and broadband bills?
A: Yes, although it depends on where you live and how much money you make.
Heating and cooling: You may be able to get help paying your heating and cooling bills through the federal LIHEAP program. Click here to check on the program in your state now.
Broadband and telephone: You may be able to get up to $30 off your monthly broadband bill through the Affordable Connectivity Program. Learn more here.
Families with lower incomes may also be able to get $9.25 taken off their monthly phone bill. Learn more now.
Q: Can I get help with groceries?
A: You can! Supplemental Food Assistance Benefits (SNAP), which used to be called food stamps, helps people and families pay for their weekly groceries. Click here to see if you qualify.
Q: How do I apply for SNAP?
A: Each state has its own application process. To start, click here to find your local office.
Q: I’ve heard about WIC. What’s that?
A: Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides food assistance, food nutrition help, and other social services for women who meet certain income requirements and are pregnant, just had a baby, and/or are raising infants or young kids. To start, click here to find your local office.
Q: How do I find a local food pantry?
A: To find a local food pantry (or local help of different kinds), click here. Just put in your zip code and you’ll be able to find something in your area.
Q: I lost my job. How do I get health insurance?
A: You can get coverage through the Affordable Care Act (called ACA or Obamacare) or Medicaid, depending on your income. Click here to learn more.
When you apply for coverage under the ACA, you will also find out if you are eligible for Medicaid or your children are eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (or CHIP).
Q: How much will my premiums be under the Affordable Care Act or Medicaid or CHIP?
A: Thanks to government subsidies that Congress passed in the American Rescue Plan in 2021, premiums may be very low – even zero – depending on your income, so be sure to check. If you now have coverage through the ACA and your income drops, you can lower your premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
Q: Are healthcare companies charging for COVID-19 vaccines and testing?
A: Health insurance companies are not charging for COVID-19 vaccines and testing. And some companies are also making other changes, like not charging co-payments for telemedicine or not needing prior-approval for COVID-19 related care. And at-home Covid tests are now fully covered. You can order up to four free COVID-19 rapid antigen tests per household. Click here to order your tests.
Q: I heard they paused student loan payments. Is that true?
A: Almost all federal student loan payments have been put on hold through May 1, 2022. That means no payments and no interest charges. This applies to the 92% of student loans backed by the federal government.
However, that’s only for loans backed by the government. If your student loan is not backed by the federal government (and comes from a bank, for example) this doesn’t apply. So if you’re having trouble paying, you should ask your loan servicer to agree to put your payments on hold, without interest, as long as the federal government does.
For private student loans, contact your servicer to find out if your payments have been suspended.