Resources for Memphians Experiencing Financial Hardship

On this Page

  1. Homeowners and Renters
  2. Defer Payments on Your Student Loans
  3. Limited Internet Access
  4. Contact the Social Security Administration
  5. The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability
  6. Unemployment Insurance

 


Homeowners and Renters

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) halted evictions for renters during the pandemic through December 31, 2020.

The Order protects tenants who:

  • have used their best efforts to obtain government assistance for housing
  • are unable to pay their full rent due to a substantial loss of income
  • are making their best efforts to make timely partial payments of rent, and
  • would become homeless or have to move into a shared living setting if they were to be evicted.

In addition to the above requirements, one of the following financial criteria must apply. To qualify for protection, tenants must:

  • expect to earn no more than $99,000 (individuals) or $198,000 (filing joint tax return) in 2020
  • not have been required to report any income to the IRS in 2019, or
  • have received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has extended a ban on evictions and foreclosures for homes backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) through the end of 2020. This applies to roughly 8.1 million homeowners with single-family mortgages.

There is a moratorium on evictions for most residents with subsidized apartments and renters of homes covered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through January 31, 2020.

Here’s how you can learn more or get help:

 


Defer Payments on Your Federal Student Loans

The CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27, 2020, allows Americans to opt to suspend their federal student loan payments through January 31, 2021. To set this up, you must contact your loan service provider.

The bill also suspends all involuntary debt collection on student loans, including wage garnishment and tax refund reduction.  Additionally, regardless of whether you choose to suspend your payments, interest on all federal student loans has been automatically suspended through September 30, 2020.

Below is a list of major loan providers. If you’re not sure who your student loan servicer is, you can call Federal Student Aid at 1-800-433-3243.

  • CornerStone: 1-800-663-1662
  • ECSI: 1-866-313-3793
  • FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA): 1-800-699-2908
  • Granite State — GSMR: 1-888-556-0022
  • Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.: 1-800-236-4300
  • HESC/Edfinancial: 1-855-337-6884
  • MOHELA: 1-888-866-4352
  • Navient: 1-800-722-1300
  • Nelnet: 1-888-486-4722
  • OSLA Servicing: 1-866-264-9762

Limited Internet Access

Millions of Americans who are now eligible for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) or Medicaid are also eligible for the Federal Communications Commision’s Lifeline program. The Lifeline program is the primary federal program charged with helping low-income families obtain broadband and telephone services. To increase awareness about the program, I sent a letter along with my colleagues urging the FCC to work with other federal agencies and ensure that those who are eligible have the information they need. Learn more about the Lifeline program here.

Several other broadband resources are available at little to no cost while the current public health crisis continues. Find available resources here.

 


Contact the Social Security Administration

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Social Security Offices are currently only offering phone services. Here is a link to find your local field office. If you know which office you are trying to reach, please find the number below:

  • Austin Peay Highway office: 1-855-420-8557
  • Monroe Avenue office: 1-866-336-2212
  • South Third St office: 1-855-782-9155

More information about the Social Security Administration and its current services in light of the coronavirus outbreak may be found here.

 


 

The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability

The Commission has a number of resources available for elderly and disabled adults, including assistance with grocery delivery. Please visit https://www.tn.gov/aging.html, call 1-866-836-6678 or email TN.Aging@tn.gov

 


Unemployment Insurance

My office can help: If you are experiencing issues with filing for unemployment benefits, please contact my Memphis office at 901-544-4131. Please leave a voicemail with your callback information and someone on my staff will get back to you as soon as possible. 

Please be aware that due to the Senate's inaction, the federal unemployment supplement of $600 per week expired the week ending July 25, 2020. On May 15, 2020, House Democrats passed the Heroes Act, legislation that provides crucial aid for Memphians as the coronavirus pandemic persists. To address the dramatic spike in unemployment, this bill would extend the federal unemployment supplement of $600 per week through January 31, 2021. Unfortunately, the Senate has refused to vote on this legislation.

Here are the three remaining types of unemployment assistance (set to expire December 31, 2020):

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program provided pandemic-related unemployment assistance for people who don’t qualify for regular unemployment benefits. These benefits are retroactive to cover any weeks of unemployment due to the pandemic after Jan. 27, 2020. 

Who it helps: Self-employed workers, freelancers or independent contractors, and other gig workers — who otherwise aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits — to get benefits.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation

The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program allows states to provide up to 13 weeks of federally funded unemployment benefits to certain workers, including those who have already used up available regular unemployment benefits.

Who it helps: Workers who have already exhausted available state benefits.

Federal-State Extended Benefits

The Federal-State Extended Benefits program is a permanent program that provides additional unemployment benefits to workers who have used all available state benefits in times and places of high unemployment. The CARES Act included adjustments to this program that shifted more funding of it to the federal government, and ensures available additional benefits are still available to workers after they have exhausted PEUC benefits.

Who it helps: Unemployed workers who have already used all available state and PEUC benefits.

Pandemic Unemployment Compensation

The Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) program provided an additional $600 weekly unemployment payment through July 31. 

Who it helped: Individuals who were collecting regular unemployment compensation through their state programs, as well as additional federal and pandemic-related unemployment programs.

How These Programs Work

Combined, these four programs provided for multiple levels of unemployment benefits to American workers. Here’s how they apply, as outlined in The Century Foundation report:

  1. State unemployment benefits: This is the first stop for workers in need of unemployment benefits. State benefits typically provide up to 26 weeks of unemployment assistance, though certain states and circumstances allow for longer.
  2. PEUC: Available after an unemployed worker uses all available state benefits.
  3. PUA: Available to self-employed, freelancers, and other workers not eligible for state unemployment benefits in the first place.
  4. EB: Available to unemployed workers in certain states after they’ve used all available PEUC benefits. These additional benefits are not available to those receiving PUA assistance.