SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, providing millions of workers with multiple pandemic relief programs, will expire at the end of December.
Under the CARES Act, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program allows individuals who aren’t typically eligible for unemployment to make claims.
It also includes the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which extended unemployment benefits an additional 13 weeks.
Leslie Tayne, a financial attorney at the Tayne Law Group, says with no extension finalized yet, it’s important to start preparing now for relief to end.
“If your unemployment is ending or you’re receiving fewer benefits or you’re going to be furloughed and you’re not going to have the same income coming in, now is the time to take a look at the expenses that you have and decide what’s most important, what you can cut out and what you have to put on the backburner,” Tayne said.
She says consider getting organized as soon as possible and develop a budget to determine what you can and can’t afford without the extension.
“The first step always is looking at your budget,” Tayne said. “So figuring out your income and what your expenses are. You need to look at expenses not just for today but what’s going to happen in January and even in February.”
Tayne suggests starting to reach out to creditors to discuss a proactive payment plan.
“If they’re utility bills, contact your utility company, ask them about either balanced billing or some ability to pay a reduced amount for a short period of time,” Tayne said.
If you think you might qualify, Tayne says to apply to other unemployment programs as soon as possible. You can also reach out to local representatives, like your state senator, to assist in moving your application forward.
“It’s OK to ask for help. Be your own advocate,” Tayne said. “Ask what programs and services are out there that could benefit me. And if it’s not through this particular organization that you’re speaking with, do they know any place else that you could reach out to? The worst thing that could happen is that they say no.”