COVID-19 Government Assistance Guide
We’ve created a comprehensive guide to help you find and navigate state and federal resources that are available in response to COVID-19. Families and individuals that have been impacted can find information about:
- Financial Relief
- Paid Family Leave
- Paid Sick Leave
- Unemployment Benefits
- Health Insurance
- Education, Student Meals, and Childcare
- Public Benefits
- Housing Protections
- Utility Services
- Vulnerable Populations
- Student Loans
- Retirement Accounts
Financial Relief and Taxes
Tax rebates up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for joint taxpayers. Taxpayers who have children will also receive an extra $500 for each child. Benefits are calculated based on 2018 and 2019 tax returns. If you haven’t filed a return for 2018 or 2019, visit the IRS’ Free File page to ensure that you receive a rebate.
The federal income tax filing due date has been extended from April 15 to July 15 for all classes of taxpayers. This includes deferral of any payments that would otherwise be due on the filing deadline, without penalties or interest, regardless of the amount owed. No additional steps are required to take advantage of this automatic filing and payment extension.
The FDIC has encouraged private financial institutions to assist customers impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Many national and regional banks are offering relief in different forms to consumers. Visit this Forbes post regularly for an updated list of accommodations being provided by banks.
California has required insurance companies to refund customers for a portion of their March and April premiums, as well as May premiums if shelter in place restrictions continue. The order applies to at least six types of consumer and business insurance lines, the most relevant for consumers being private passenger automobile.
Paid Family Leave
The Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides benefits for employees who cannot work because they must care for a child whose school or childcare facility is closed. Speak with your employer to determine your eligibility.
California’s Paid Family Leave benefits apply to employees who must care for a family member with a serious health condition. Submit a claim on the California Employment Development Department’s page.
Paid Sick Leave
The Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act entitles full-time employees to 2 weeks of emergency paid sick leave in addition to existing paid sick leave. Part-time workers receive the amount equivalent to their average hours worked in a two-week period. Emergency paid sick leave is available to employees who are sick, caring for someone who is ill, or caring for a child whose school or childcare is closed.
California has taken action to expand this 80-hour emergency paid sick leave benefit to food sector workers at companies with more than 500 employees, including farmworkers, agricultural workers, grocery store employees, fast food chain staff, and delivery drivers. Visit the California Department of Industrial Relations’ page for FAQs about California sick leave in relation to COVID-19.
The Federal CARES Act funds an extension of unemployment benefits for an additional 20 weeks beyond the typical 26 weeks afforded under California law and provides an additional $600 per week to beneficiaries for up to 4 months (until July 31), on top of the $40 to $450 weekly normally provided by the State of California. The Federal-State Extended Duration benefits program (FED-ED) is now available for individuals dealing with prolonged period of unemployment beginning on July 1.
The Federal CARES Act extends unemployment benefits to self-employed workers, independent contractors, and individuals with limited work history. Self-employed workers and independent contractors can find more information about State Disability Insurance and Paid Family Leave.
Visit the California Employment Development Department’s page to submit a claim for unemployment benefits.
The Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires private health insurers to cover testing for COVID-19 and associated provider, urgent care, or emergency room charges at no cost to the individual.
Medi-Cal benefits provide for all necessary treatment and testing services for adults and children as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Medi-Cal, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and CHIP customers have any applicable cost-sharing requirements waived for treatment related to COVID-19. There are no limitations on the Medi-Cal enrollment period, and services are retroactively covered for 3 months prior to the date of application. Apply for Medi-Cal.
Uninsured individuals can apply for Covered CA (the state healthcare exchange) during a Special Enrollment Period that has been extended to June 30. To have medical questions answered and receive remote assistance, uninsured individuals and Medi-Cal patients without a health plan (fee for service) can call 1-877-409-9052 to access the Medi-Nurse line.
Education, Student Meals, and Childcare
K-12 schools are required to use their state funds to provide non-congregate meals to students. Parents should contact their child’s school for more guidance on where to access non-congregate meals for children. Download the CA Meals for Kids mobile application for a listing of Emergency Meal Sites.
Visit the California Department of Education’s page for information about where families can find childcare and student supervision.
Visit the California Department of Education’s page for resources that parents and teachers can use to help with virtual learning for students with disabilities.
The Federal Government has created Pandemic EBT, a new program to provide additional CalFresh (SNAP) payments to current beneficiaries and to provide families of children who receive free and reduced-price school lunch with additional cash to purchase food. CalFresh recipients will receive increased deposits to the maximum for their family size (currently $194 for one person and $646 for a family of 4. Visit the California Department of Social Services’ page for more information and to sign-up for CalFresh.
Eligible families whose children receive free and reduced-price school lunch will receive a P-EBT card by mail in May with up to $365 per eligible child. Families already receiving CalFresh, Medi-Cal, or Foster Care benefits do not need to apply. Families with children who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals and who do not get their P-EBT card in the mail by the end of May must apply online before July 15, 2020.
Visit the California Department of Public Health’s page for more information and to sign-up for WIC:
Visit the California Association of Food Banks’ page to locate a food bank in your area.
The Federal CARES Act implements a nationwide 120-day prohibition on landlords with federally-backed mortgages from initiating new eviction filings. The Judicial Council of California has frozen all eviction and foreclosure court proceedings, other than those necessary to protect public health and safety, until 90 days after the end of the statewide emergency. California has also authorized counties to institute moratoriums on eviction.
The CARES Act permits homeowners with federally-backed mortgages to request payment forbearance of up to 180 days (beginning on March 18) from their lender if they are unable to make payments due to impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The State of California has required utilities to continue providing service to customers who are unable to pay their bills because of the COVID-19 outbreak. This applies to municipal utilities; community choice aggregators; and energy, water, sewer, and communications companies.
The Federal Government has provided additional funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Visit this page for California LIHEAP contact info.
For low-income residents not enrolled, Comcast is providing 2 months of free internet service through the end of 2020, after which the rate is $9.95 monthly.
The State of California has set up a Friendship Line to provide isolated seniors with emotional and other support. Trained staff also help seniors navigate a variety of issues, including making referrals to other agencies for services and support. The Friendship Line is: (800) 971-0016.
California has expanded “text-to-911” capability throughout the state, allowing individuals to text ‘911’ for emergency services. California is also working on rolling out “text from 911” across the state, allowing 911 dispatchers to text a caller back if their call is disconnected.
To support victims of domestic violence, California is partnering with the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (CPEDV), Airbnb and Uber to provide victims with free accommodation and transportation.
To support undocumented immigrants, California has set up a fund to provide grants of $500 per adult, up to $1,000 per household, to deal with a variety of financial hardships resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Federal CARES Act states that federal student loan borrowers are eligible for temporary relief during the COVID-19 outbreak by requesting administrative forbearance of up to 180 days from their loan servicer (through September 30). Interest is also waived until September 30 on all federally-held student loans. All collection actions on defaulted student loans are suspended until September 30, including wage garnishments, withholdings from federal tax refunds, and other federal payments.
Contact your loan servicer to request forbearance and explore your options. If you’re unsure who your loan servicer is, login to your FAFSA account or call (800) 433-3243. Visit the U.S. Department of Education’s student loan COVID-19 page for more information.
The Federal CARES Act eliminates the 10% early withdrawal penalty for those who must withdraw money from their retirement savings to deal with an immediate financial hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Eligible retirement accounts include IRAs, 401Ks, other qualified trusts, certain deferred compensation plans, and qualified annuities. This accommodation applies to withdrawals taken between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.
*New developments occur frequently, and this guide will be updated as additional governmental resources and funding become available. Updated July 7, 2020.