Handling Debt Pressure from COVID-19

If you have been laid off, furloughed or lost your job due to the major business disruptions the coronavirus is causing, here are some general suggestions to assist you managing your finances during these uncertain times

The State of Washington’s home page on the pandemic, http://www.coronavirus.wa.gov, contains much helpful information on resources, news and updates from the Governor.

King County residents can find helpful resources here

  • Business owners may be entitled to disaster relief under the Paycheck Protection Program or through the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan. You can find links here https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
  • You may be eligible for unemployment benefits even if you have not been officially let go or are a gig worker and independent contractor. Check with the Washington Employment Security Department to check eligibility: https://esd.wa.gov. Be aware that unemployment claims have spiked considerably in the last month and processing times have increased
  • If you need relief from your rent or lease payment, please notify your landlord first and ask if your landlord will reduce or defer rent. Property owners and managers are not required to offer rent concessions but some may so that properties can stay occupied. Do not simply refuse to pay your rent. Governor Inslee has blocked residential evictions for the time being but this ban will eventually be lifted
  • The Department of Financial Institutions has a comprehensive list of resources for consumers and businesses https://dfi.wa.gov/coronavirus in need of financial relief and assistance. Banks, mortgage companies and credit card issuers are not required to forgive, suspend or defer your payments but many do offer programs to accommodate their customers in need. If you are having trouble making ends meet, contact your creditor and see what options they make available
  • Federally-backed mortgages (FHA, VA, for example) must offer forbearance options to borrowers and may not start or continue with foreclosure. Check with your lender for details
  • Do not, except as a last resort, draw down or take an early distribution from retirement funds. These funds are generally exempt from creditors under state and federal law and cannot be seized to pay your debts. Protect your retirement savings
  • The IRS extended the tax filing and payment deadline from April 15 to July 15. If you will owe taxes you will not be required to pay interest or penalties if you defer paying your taxes until July 15
  • Payments on student loans that are held by the federal government are suspended through September 2020. Check with your loan servicer to see whether your loan qualifies under this CARES Act provision or whether other assistance is available