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Update: 5/7/20 - Increased Food Benefits for Families with Children
Increased North Carolina EBT Benefits for Families with Children
- Families with children who are eligible for free and reduced lunches will now receive approximately $371 per child to help purchase food for children impacted by school closings.
- The money will be provided in two installments and will be issued in Mid-May and again in the beginning of June. Unused benefits will be rolled over month-to-month and must be used within 365 days.
- There is no need to apply for this benefit as those already receiving Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) will receive the additional benefit on current EBT card. If not already enrolled in FNS services, eligible families will receive a new EBT card in the next few weeks.
- Read more here.
Stimulus Payment Alert for SSI and VA Recipients: Have a Child but Don’t File a Tax Return? Visit IRS.gov now.
Some VA and SSI recipients with eligible children need to act by May 5 to quickly add money to their automatic stimulus payment.
- SSI and VA beneficiaries who did not file a tax return for 2018 or 2019 have until May 5 to make sure their dependents are accounted for in their Stimulus Payments.
- In order to add the $500 per eligible child amount to these payments, the IRS needs the dependent information before the payments are issued. Otherwise, the additional $500 per eligible child amount will be paid in association with a return filing for tax year 2020.
- Use this tool on IRS.gov by May 5 to make sure you get your full stimulus amount without having to wait until next year.
Update: 4/14/20 - Your Stimulus Payment - Make a Plan Before Spending
Stimulus Payments: Plan Out How to Use Them
Stimulus payments have started arriving for some. To take the greatest advantage of the money assistance, we recommend the following approach.
- Write down your plan (if possible before you see the stimulus payment hit your account). Writing down the plan will help you think through the different components more clearly. After you have it finalized, put it somewhere you are reminded of it regularly – like your refrigerator. This will help you hold yourself accountable to following through with it.
- Focus on your basic needs before all else. These are strange times with most people staying at home for our safety and health, causing boredom and cabin fever to set in for some. Take that and combine it with an unexpected windfall of money and it could be tempting to spend on non-essentials; however, with financial uncertainty across our country, this is the time to buckle down and resist old habits of consumer spending. Make a money plan that ensures you have the money to meet your basic needs.
Basic needs include: food, medicine, rent/mortgage and car payment. Apart from your basic needs, everything else can wait.
- Save when you wouldn’t normally save. If there is anything left over after paying for your basic needs, it may well be worth prioritizing savings ahead of paying things like credit cards, personal loans, federal student loans, or other unsecured debt. If you were making extra payments towards debt before the crisis, this may be a good time to consider paying just the minimums and saving more. While it may be tempting to use this lump sum to pay down debt or make a large one-time purchase, it is unclear how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last and whether more individuals will lose income moving forward.
Bottom line: save as much as possible to build a strong buffer for further economic uncertainty. If your income stays intact through the pandemic, then you can always use that savings to get ahead on other financial goals once this crisis has passed.
- Don’t hoard. Get enough of what you need. Getting more than what you need can exacerbate the impact of this crisis for others, while also costing you more money. Spending less, by buying only what you need for the next two weeks, will allow you to save more. That savings—not a stockpile—will be your lifeline over the next few months.
- Beware of scammers. DO NOT give out bank account information to people calling over the phone requesting it to send you stimulus check. They are scammers.
- Have adequate income and savings and want to help others? Consider using your stimulus to support local businesses by doing things such as buying gift cards, paying your hair dresser even though you didn’t get a haircut, or continuing to pay for memberships even if you aren’t using them; get your needs met by making your purchases at local businesses instead of national corporations; or donate to a local non-profit serving the community.
Unsure How to Get a Stimulus Payment?
Read our article listed directly below this one called "Getting Your Stimulus Payments" about who will get stimulus payments, for how much, and how to ensure you get yours. We keep this article updated with the most up-to-date information from the IRS on how to get your stimulus payment.
Update: 4/8/20 - Getting Your Stimulus Payments
Stimulus Payments: The Basics + How to Ensure You Get Yours
Here’s How Much You Can Expect in Your Stimulus Payment
- As part of the recently passed Cares Act, people will be soon receiving a stimulus payment. Payment amount is based on your 2019 tax return information or your 2018 tax return information if you have not filed yet for 2019. Individuals who earn less than $75,000 will receive $1,200. Married couples filling joint returns and earning less than $150,000 will receive $2,400. Households will receive an additional $500 per child aged 16 or under.
- What if you earn more than that? Individuals who earn more than $75,000 but less than $99,000 will receive a reduced amount. Married couples filing jointly who earn more than $150,000 but less than $198,000 will receive a reduced amount. Those who earn above those amounts will not receive a stimulus payment.
- Find out how much you are likely to receive using this calculator.
- When will you get your payment? The IRS is still releasing stimulus payments as of the end of May 2020. If you haven’t received your stimulus payment yet, check the IRS portal linked or the Economic Impact hotline below. For those without direct deposit or who haven’t filed at least their 2018 taxes, it will take longer.
- See more information on stimulus payments here.
Here’s Who Will Automatically Receive a Stimulus Payment
- Recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Retirement and Railroad Retirement (as well as those with survivor benefits) will automatically receive these payments as a direct deposit or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their benefits.
People in these groups who have qualifying children under age 17 can use this application to claim an additional $500 payment per child.
For those with dependents who use Direct Express debit cards, additional information will be available soon regarding the steps to take when claiming children under 17.
- Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2018 or 2019 will automatically receive the payment.
- You can use the portal on this website to update your bank account information for direct deposit. This is the fastest way to receive your stimulus payment. If the IRS doesn’t have your bank account information (for example, if you owed money or got your refund by check last year), use this website to update your information.
- For questions about your stimulus payment, call the Economic Impact Payment hotline at 1-800-919-9835. Find out more here.
Here’s Who Needs to Take Additional Steps to Receive a Stimulus Payment
- (This is complicated; read closely) If you were not required to file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 AND you did not receive Social Security benefits (SSDI, SSI, retirement, railroad retirement, or survivor), enter your payment information here to receive your stimulus payment.
- If you were supposed to file this year or last, but have not yet, you can file a normal return to be eligible for the payment. You can file for free at this link.
Update: 4/2/20 - Money Assistance for Essential Life Needs and Restaurant Workers + Local Small Business Loans
Buncombe County Starts One Buncombe Fund:
Supporting Buncombe County Residents & Businesses Affected by COVID-19
- Local government, civic and business partners, and individual donors in Buncombe County have joined forces to start the One Buncombe Fund to provide direct assistance to individuals and small businesses affected by COVID-19 while they wait for federal and state resources.
- As of March 29, the fund has a running total of $500,000 and is actively seeking donations. Learn more here.
Direct Financial Assistance for Individuals with Essential Life Needs
- Provides direct financial assistance (as a grant, meaning it will not have to be paid back) to individuals who have lost employment due to COVID-19.
- Funds can be used for essential life needs and are paid directly to the service provider, not individuals. Essential life needs include things such as food, certain utilities, housing, and overnight lodging.
- Need financial assistance for an essential life need? Start your application now by completing the form on this website.
$10,000 Loans for Small Businesses
- Provides for-profit, small businesses with loans up to $10,000 intended to provide low-cost bridge funding to help businesses stay open until they qualify for longer term disaster funding.
- Loan details: Six months of no payments while interest accrues at 4%, followed by 36 months of principal and interest payments at 5.5% interest.
- Money can be used for accounts payable, fixed debts, or other bills the business is unable to pay.
- For more eligibility details and to apply, visit this website. For questions not answered by the website, contact Mountain BizWorks at (828)-253-2834 ext. 14.
Money Assistance for Restaurant Employees
$500 Grants from the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund
- One-time $500 grants paid directly to individuals who have had a reduction in income as a result of COVID-19.
- Money is available for restaurant workers who have worked part- or full-time basis for at least 90 days in the last year & who have had a primary source of income in the industry for the last year.
- Apply now while funds last. Application period opens on 4/2/20.
$350 Grants from New Belgium
- One-time $350 grants for food or beverage employees who have been furloughed or laid off in Asheville due to COVID 19.
- Applicants must have worked in a restaurant, bar, nightclub, music hall, or stadium for at least 20 hours per week in the past month.
- Apply now while funds last. Applications will only be accepted through midnight on April 5.