General Steps for Managing Your Finances During the COVID-19 Shutdowns

Updated April 30, 2020
 
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First, remain calm: Mecklenburg County, the State of North Carolina and the U.S. Government are putting a number of programs in place to assist with financial hardships associated with the COVID-19 situation. Keep a level head, limit unnecessary purchases, don't pursue any payday, auto-title or online installment loans or max your credit card, and follow the steps below for specific instances. You will eventually have to make your payments. It is unlikely any rent, mortgage, car, utilities, loan or credit card payments will be waived permanently. But there are some things already in place that may assist you in your current situation and give you time to breathe:

Beware of Scams:
We also want to remind you to be on guard against scams. Never give your personal information to anyone posing as a company or governmental insitution who contacts you unsolicited by phone, email or otherwise. Legitimate firms will never ask you for the information. It is a scam!


Mecklenburg County, NC:
For a complete list of services and resources available from Mecklenburg County, NC, scroll to the bottom of this page.

Federal Government - COVID-19 Stimulus - What we know now:

Stimulus Checks - Who Qualifies? 

  • • Individuals making $75,000 or less will receive $1,200, with an additional $500 per child (under age 17) 

  • • Joint filers making up to $150,000 will receive $2,400, with an additional $500 per child (under age 17) 

  • • Individuals making $99,000 or above & couples making $198,000 or above will not qualify 
    • People who receive Social Security benefits but don't file tax return are still eligible, too. You don't need to file taxes; your checks will be based on information provided by the Social Security Administration.  

**Qualified Incomes will be based on 2019 tax returns (if already filed), or on 2018 tax returns 

 

Unemployment Expansion: 

  • Increase maximum unemployment benefits by $600 per week for laid off workers for 4 months 

  • Benefits extended to those who not typically qualify: 

  • Furloughed employees 

  • Independent contractors 

  • Temp workers 

  • PRN workers (on-call workers)  

 

When will I get my money?  Some news sources say it will not be until May (at the latest) to receive checks. However, COVID-19 has limited the IRS staff and budget. Due to an increased number of taxpayers filing returns electronically and opting for refunds via direct deposit, the time MAY be sooner. If you do not have an account with the IRS, you will most likely receive a paper check. 

 

Mortgage Assistance 

  • Mortgage lenders and servicers will be allowed to provide up to 180 days of forbearance (payment deferral) on federally-backed loans for customers experiencing hardship related to the COVID-19 emergency. 

Student Loan Assistance 

  • All payments for federal student loans (Direct and FFELP) are deferred through September 30, 2020 

  • Contact your student loan servicer to discuss eligibility and options. 

  • Contact information for the top three servicers are listed below: 

  • MOHELA: 1-888-866-4352 

  • Navient: 1-800-722-1300 

  • Nelnet: 1-888-486-4722  

Unemployment:
The State of North Carolina has made several changes to its filing process for unemployment. In short, if you have lost your job, been laid off or had significant reduction of hours, file a claim now.
Q. How do I file for unemployment insurance?
A. The fastest and most efficient way to file a new claim is to file online. Click NC Department of Commerce and you'll be directed there. If you don't have access to a computer, you may file over the phone by calling 888-737-0259.

Seeking Employment
:
Several major employers are currently interviewing people for thousands of jobs that need to be filled. If you are out of work, here are some links to employers.
Q. What employers in the Charlotte area are hiring now?
A. The following employers have postings for employment:
Mortgage:
The Supreme Court of the State of North Carolina and the U.S. Government has issued a delay of any new mortgage foreclosures until April 30 at the earliest. To the best of our knowledge, pending cases in the Mecklenburg County courts have also been put on hold. You will have to make arrangements, but you do not have to worry at the moment about mortgage foreclosure.
Q. What if I cannot make my mortgage payment?
  1. Have address and account number in hand.
  2. Call your mortgage company. (The phone number should be on your last statement).
  3. Explain the reasons for your hardship clearly and concisely.
  4. Be specific about what remedy you are seeking. Some remedies are:
    1. A 3-, 2- or 1- month deferment
    2. An interest-only payment
  5. Don't promise to send more money than you can reasonably afford.
  6. Ask for an email response explaining what steps have been agreed on to correct the issue.
  7. Do not give debit access to your checking account for any reason.
Rent:
The Supreme Court of the State of North Carolina has issued a delay of any new eviction proceedings until April 13 at the earliest. To the best of our knowledge, pending cases in the Mecklenburg County courts have also been put on hold. You will have to make arrangements, but you do not have to worry at the moment about being evicted.
Q. What if I cannot pay my rent?
A. Call your landlord and explain that you have been impacted by the COVID-19 shutdowns and cannot pay your rent. No one will be surprised, and your landlord will likely work with you.

Utilities
:
Duke Energy has amended its late fee and payment policies in response to the COVID-19 crisit. You will have to make arrangements, but you do not have to worry about your power being disconnected.
Q. What if I cannot pay my utilities?
A. Call Duke Energy and explain your situation. For more information from Duke Energy, click here.

Car and Car Insurance Payments:

To the best of our knowledge, there have been no governmental protections put in place to assist you with car or insurance payments.
Q. What if I cannot pay my car payment or car insurance?
  1. Have address and account number in hand.
  2. Call your finance AND insurance companies. (The phone number should be on your last statement). Explain the reasons for your hardship clearly and concisely.
  3. Be specific about what remedy you are seeking. Some remedies are:
    1. A 3-, 2- or 1- month deferment
    2. An interest-only payment
  4. Don't promise to send more money than you can reasonably afford.
  5. Ask for an email response explaining what steps have been agreed on to correct the issue before you provide any money.
  6. Do not give debit access to your checking account for any reason.
Credit Card:
To the best of our knowledge, there have been no governmental protections put in place to assist you with credit card payments.
Q. What if I cannot pay my credit card?
A. Call your credit card company and explain that you have been impacted by the COVID-19 shutdowns and cannot make your payment. No one will be surprised, and your credit card company will likely waive your current payment. Worst case, do not make a payment at all for a month. Interest will accrue, and your credit report will take a slight hit. But it may be your best option.

Federal Income Taxes
:

The Internal Revenue Service has moved both filing and payment due dates July 15, 2020.
Q. What should I do about filing and paying my federal income taxes?
  1. The deadline to file your 2019 federal taxes has been moved from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. You will not need to file an extension.
  2. If you are due a refund, do not wait. File as soon as possible, then text the word CWC to 474747 and request a counseling appointment to plan your refund. If you have student loans, make sure those loans are in deferment or in an income-based repayment plan.
  3. Do not take out a Refund Anticipation Loan from your tax preparer. Wait for your refund to get the maximum amount.
North Carolina State Income Taxes:
The State of North Carolina has moved both filing and payment due dates July 15, 2020.
Q. What should I do about filing and paying my North Carolina income taxes?
  1. File your taxes by July 15, 2020.
  2. If you owe taxes, your payment will be due at the same time.
  3. If you are due a refund, file as soon as possible, then text the word CWC to 474747 and request a counseling appointment to plan your refund.

Increased SNAP Benefits:
All families that receive FNS will receive the maximum amount allowed for March 2020 and April 2020 for their household size. For example, a family of four would be eligible to receive a total of $646 for each of the two months regardless of their usual benefit amount. The increase is subject to the following guidelines:  

  • Households that have already received the maximum amount for their household size will not receive the temporary increase.
  • The household size will not include ineligible or disqualified members.
  • Households that were ineligible in either March 2020 or April 2020 will not receive a temporary increase for the month(s) they were ineligible.

Approximately 360,000 households will begin receiving the temporary increased benefit on their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card on April 1 and April 22. They will be randomly generated and staggered every other workday until all eligible households have received their temporary increase. 

Recipients will continue to receive their regular benefits and should be aware they will receive two separate payments for March and two for April.

To check availability of benefits families should: 

  • Call 1-888-622-7328.
  • Visit www.ebtedge.com. Click on More Information under EBT Cardholders.
  • Download the ebtEDGE mobile app.
Company-Specific Resources Other Questions Not Covered: If you have another question not covered here, please text the word "finances" to 474747 and a Common Wealth Charlotte financial advisor will follow up with you. Our volume of requests has been extreme. Please be patient, and we will contact you.

Mecklenburg County NC Services

To help reduce the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and to protect the community and staff Mecklenburg County departments are closing the following facilities and canceling services/events until further notice effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

Social Services
Adult and Family & Children's Medicaid
Customers can apply online using ePASS (https://www.nc.gov/services/e-pass). After the application has been submitted online, a DSS employee will reach out to complete the interview by telephone.

Adult Protective Services (APS) Intake and Investigations
Call 704-336-CARE (2273)

Adult Protective Services (APS) Guardianship
Call Just1Call at 
704-432-1111

Child Care Resources, Inc. (CCRI)
Office will remain open at this time with limited staffing. Please call the main number at 
704-376-6697 to confirm your appointment before arrival.

Community Social Work
Call Just1Call at 
704-432-1111

Child Protective Services (CPS) Adoptions and Post-Adoptions
Call 
980-314-7700

Child Protective Services (CPS) Family In-Home
Call 
980-314-7700

Child Protective Services (CPS) Independent Living
Call 
980-314-7700

Child Protective Services (CPS) Intake
To report child abuse, neglect or human trafficking call the 24-hour HELP line at 980-31-HELPS (43577).

Child Protective Services (CPS) Interstate Compact
Call 
980-314-7700

Child Protective Services (CPS) Investigations
Call 
980-314-7700

Child Protective Services (CPS) Permanency Planning/Foster Care
Call 
980-314-7700


Emergency Assistance, General Assistance and Crisis Intervention
With utility companies temporarily halting disconnections and NC courts stopping evictions and foreclosures, Crisis Assistance Ministry (CAM) will close all facilities effective March 17, 2020 until further notice. After the COVID-19 threat has passed, struggling families will still need support. Should you like to help, financial contributions can be online anytime at https://www.crisisassistance.org/donate/challenge/.

Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) Intake & Redeterminations
We encourage customers to apply online at https://epass.nc.gov/CitizenPortal/application.do or through a mail for all applications and recertifications. To receive a mail-in application and assistance in applying for benefits, call 704-336-3000. Recertification paperwork is automatically mailed to the customer's last known mailing address. Completed recertification packets should be mailed to 301 Billingsley Rd Charlotte NC 28211. If recertification paperwork was not received and the case is due for recertification, customers can complete the process online using ePASS at https://epass.nc.gov/CitizenPortal/application.do. Customers can also call Customer Connect at 704-336-3000 for recertification assistance.

Food & Nutrition Employment Training Program
Service is currently suspended.

Food Pantry
Service is currently suspended at the DSS buildings. Customers can call Customer Connect at 
704-336-3000 for assistance.

Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP)
Customers can apply online through ePASS at 
https://epass.nc.gov/CitizenPortal/application.do or complete a mail-in application. To receive a mail-in application, call 704-336-3000

Mecklenburg Transportation Services (MTS)
For transportation scheduling, call 
704-336-4547

Senior Congregate Nutrition Program (SCNP)
SCNP has closed all congregate meal sites and is delivering meals to food insecure customers. For confirmation on a food delivery, call 
704-432-1111.

Work First Employment Services
Service is currently suspended.

Work First Family Assistance
Customers wishing to apply for Work First Family Assistance should contact Customer Connect at 
704-336-3000 to have an application mailed to them. Interviews will be conducted by phone once the completed application has been mailed back or left in the outside drop box at DSS at 301 Billingsley Rd Charlotte NC 28211.