COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Learn what to do when you’re facing financial challenges due to COVID-19.

The Unemployment Insurance program pays benefits to workers who have lost their job through no fault of their own and meet the program’s eligibility requirements. And, remember, if your work hours have been reduced you may be eligible for partial unemployment benefits. For more information and/or to file for benefits go to the state of Maryland unemployment site.
Howard County residents whose income was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and are in need of assistance with paying past due rent may be eligible for up to three (3) months of rent payments. Details regarding this program, including eligibility and the application process may be found here.
As of March 25th, Mary Ellen Barbara, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and administrative head of the judicial brach, pursuant to the authority conferred by Article IV, § 18 of the Maryland Constitution, do hereby order this 25th day of March 2020, in addition to other statutes ordered states that “Residential eviction matters pending in the District Court of Maryland and all pending residential eviction orders shall be stayed effective immediately.” The full release can be found here.

The Howard County Rental Protection and Stability Act, in part, prohibits residential landlords from increasing rents, unreasonably or arbitrarily decreasing promised services like electricity or water, terminating an existing lease, or making any other material changes to existing lease terms during any Governor-declared emergency and up to three months thereafter.

If you are a Maryland resident and are facing eviction as a result of COVID-19-related circumstances and are seeking legal support, Maryland Legal Aid and/or Maryland Volunteer Legal Services may be able to assist you.
Start by talking to your mortgage lender. Explain the reason why you are unable to meet your payment obligation and ask for options. Lenders are aware of the current financial issues affecting the United States. The Federal Housing Finance Agency recently extended the moratorium on some evictions and single-family foreclosures through June 30, 2021.
Howard County residents facing imminent danger of a utility cut-off may be eligible for utility assistance. Details regarding such assistance may be found on the Community Action Counsel website.
U.S. Department of Education-held student loans are automatically being placed in an administrative forbearance, allowing borrowers to temporarily stop making monthly loan payments, until September 30, 2021. Information regarding U.S. federal student loans may be found here.

If your student loan debt is not covered by the automatic administrative forbearance referenced above, contact your student loan servicer and let them know you are unable to pay and the reason why. Ask for your payment options, which could include income-based payment plans, forbearance, or deferment.
Lastly, if you are uncertain as to the type of student loan debt you have, contact your student loan servicer directly for information.
On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was signed into law to distribute the Third Economic Impact payments. Due to new income limitations, some individuals won’t be eligible for the third payment even if they received a first or second Economic Impact Payment or claimed a 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit. The general eligibility requirements for the full amount are as follows:
  • U.S. Citizen or U.S. Resident alien (and their spouse if filing a joint return), and
  • Are not a dependent of another taxpayer and
  • Their adjustment gross income (AGI) is not more than:
    • $150,000 if married and filing a joint return or if filing as a qualifying widow or widower
    • $112,500 if filing as head of household or
    • $75,000 for eligible individuals using any other filing status
The third Economic Impact Payment amount is:
  • $1,400 for an eligible individual with a valid Social Security number ($2,800 for married couples filing a joint return if both spouses have a valid Social Security number or if one spouse has a valid Social Security number and one spouse was an active member of the U.S. Armed Forces at any time during the taxable year)
  • $1,400 for each qualifying dependent with a valid Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number issued by the IRS

Detailed information regarding EIPs can be found on the IRS website. If you have not yet received your EIP, check your status using the IRS “Get My Payment” tool. If you are not required to file a tax return you may still be eligible for an EIP. Please visit the IRS Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here free tool no later than May 17, 2021 to determine your eligibility and payment amount.
Currently, Congress has not passed legislation authorizing a second round of stimulus payments.
No, the IRS will not request personal financial information by phone call, text or social media. There have been a number of EIP-related scams and other financial schemes looking to take advantage of taxpayers. Additional information regarding such scams and shams can be found on the Federal Trade Commission website.
No, MakingChange does not provide cash financial assistance to individuals. To find resources and referrals for programs and services across Maryland, dial 2-1-1 from any phone. Call specialists are trained to assist people dealing with all kinds of challenges, including housing, utility shutoffs, family crisis, financial, legal, employment, and other problems. 2-1-1 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in over 180 languages. 2-1-1 is also accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing through Maryland Relay (dial 7-1-1). You may search the 2-1-1 database as well here. Information regarding various types of financial assistance available to qualifying individuals may be found at the Maryland Department of Human Services website.
While everyone’s situation is different, generally it is best to ensure housing costs are paid first. Once your housing expenses are paid and basic needs are met, consideration should be given to making payments on debt secured by collateral, also known as secured debt, as defaulting on this type of debt may result in the seizure of collateral, such as the repossession of a vehicle.

Individuals and families may be eligible for financial support through COVID-19-related rental and mortgage assistance programs. Seeking such relief first can help extend your available funds for other needs and expenses. If you live in Howard County, click here for more information regarding housing assistance, including eligibility requirements. Also, see the other FAQs on this page for recommendations for particular items such as utilities, car loan, credit cards and student loans.
Contact your credit card company and inform them of your inability to pay and the reason why. Ask for your options. Continuing to make on-time minimum payments will avoid credit card fees, as well as derogatory (negative) information on your credit report.
You should contact your lender and inform them of your inability to pay and the reason why. Ask for your options, including whether payment forbearance is available. It is true, however, that some lenders may electronically disable or repossess your vehicle if you are one day late with your payment. And, remember, it’s always best to talk to your lender as soon as possible, preferably before any missed payments.

PLEASE NOTE: MakingChange does its very best to be sure information on its website is accurate and current; however, we are unable to guarantee the accuracy of all information provided herein and/or the accuracy of information provided by other websites provided herein.

For free financial counseling related to COVID-19 or any financial challenge you are facing,

call us at (443) 518-7650 or schedule an appointment below.