Resources for Memphians Experiencing Financial Hardship

On this Page

  1. Economic Impact Payments
  2. Unemployment Insurance
  3. Homeowners and Renters
  4. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP)
  5. Tax Deadline Extension
  6. The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability
  7. Defer Payments on Your Student Loans

 


 

Economic Impact Payments

 

Please be aware that the IRS is sending many Economic Impact Payments as prepaid debit cards instead of paper checks. These debit cards are arriving in plain envelopes from "Money Network Cardholder Services." Do not throw these debit cards out-- they are your $1,200 Economic Impact Payment. Learn more on the IRS's website here.

The IRS has sent out the majority of its Economic Impact Payments, but many Memphians have still not received their payment. If you need help with your Economic Impact Payment, please call my Memphis office at 901-544-4131 and leave a voicemail with your callback number. The IRS has also made a phone number available for assistance with Economic Impact Payments at 800-919-9835. 

 

Background on Economic Impact Payments

As you may know, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Congress passed and was signed into law on March 27, 2020, has made cash rebates available to millions of Americans. Individuals making $75,000 or less ($150,000 for couples filing jointly) will receive a $1,200 check. This phases out up to $99,000 ($198,000 for couples filing jointly). Families will receive $500 for each dependent child under 17. All individuals with a Social Security number, including Social Security retirement and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients, are eligible.

To receive the economic impact payments, most people do not need to take any action. The IRS will automatically calculate and distribute the payments to eligible Americans who have already filed their 2019 tax returns. For those who have not yet filed their 2019 returns, the IRS will use information from their 2018 tax returns. The payments will be deposited directly into the banking account on the return filed or mailed to the filer’s home address depending on how they filed previous returns.

If you are not required to file taxes but you are a Social Security retirement recipient, Social Security disability recipient, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient or Railroad Retirement benefits recipient, you will also receive the payment automatically.

 

Receiving an Economic Impact Payment as a Non-Filer

The IRS launched a web tool on April 10, 2020 for non-filers to receive the economic impact payments. However, non-filers who receive Social Security retirement benefits, Social Security disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Railroad Retirement benefits should not use this tool because people in these groups will receive the economic impact payments automatically. People who should use the Non-Filers tool include: 

  • Lower income: This may include single filers who made under $12,200 and married couples making less than $24,400 in 2019 who did not file a 2018 or 2019 return because they are under the normal income limits for filing a tax return.  
  • Veterans beneficiaries: The IRS continues to explore ways to see if Economic Impact Payments can be made automatically to those who receive veterans disability compensation, pension or survivor benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and who did not file a tax return for the 2018 or 2019 tax years. Veterans beneficiaries can either use “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info” option now or wait as the IRS continues to review automatic payment options to simplify delivery.   
  • Social Security retirement, Social Security disability, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Railroad Retirement recipients with qualifying dependents: These groups will automatically receive $1,200 Economic Impact Payments.  However, people in this group who have qualifying children under age 17 had to claim the $500 payment per child by May 5th using the “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info” option.

Individuals will be asked to provide information including Social Security number, name, address, and dependents. Again, please find this tool here.

 

Impact on Past-Due Child Support

The CARES Act did not exempt the Economic Impact Payments from federal offsets for child support arrears. If you are overdue on child support payments, the amount you owe in child support may be deducted from your economic stimulus payment.

 

Working Timeline for Economic Stimulus Payments

  • The IRS began making direct deposit payments to Americans during the week of April 13 for those who filed 2018 or 2019 tax returns. 
  • Shortly thereafter, the IRS plans to make payments to Social Security beneficiaries who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019 and receive their Social Security benefits via direct deposit.
  • Starting in the end of April, the IRS will begin to issue paper checks at a rate of about 5 million per week. This could take up to 20 weeks. 
  • The checks will be issued in reverse “adjusted gross income” order, starting with people with the lowest income first.
  • For taxpayers who plan to file a 2019 return but have not yet done so, economic impact payments will be dispersed weekly as 2019 returns come in. 

 

Track Status of Payment

Use the IRS’s “Get My Payment” tool to track the status of your payment here.

Please note, “Get My Payment” cannot update bank account information after an Economic Impact Payment has been scheduled for delivery. To help protect against potential fraud, the tool also does not allow people to change bank account information already on file with the IRS.

 

Tax Preparers and Delays with Economic Impact Payments

Please note that if you used a tax preparer or got a refund anticipation loan on your most recent tax filing, your economic impact payment may go to your preparer instead of you and cause serious delays in getting your payment. Please visit the IRS Get My Payment page to make sure the IRS has your accurate direct deposit information.

 


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 without Senate action, the federal unemployment supplement of $600 per week is set to expire 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.

Background on unemployment benefits during the pandemic: To address the widespread financial hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Congress has significantly expanded unemployment insurance benefits and broadened who is eligible. The state of Tennessee began dispersing $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits in addition to regular unemployment benefits as of Wednesday, April 15. Tenessee also began dispersing these payments to qualified individuals as retroactive backpay to March 29, 2020. Here is what this may mean for you:

  • $600 a week in addition to other unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for 4 months.
  • Temporary unemployment insurance program for part-time, self-employed, gig economy, and other workers excluded from regular UI through December 31, 2020
  • 13 additional weeks of unemployment benefits through December 31, 2020

Check your eligibility, even if you haven’t been technically laid off. You may still be eligible for unemployment if you’ve lost work due to COVID-19. At this time, people can receive their unemployment for up to 16 weeks. Your insurance amount will vary based upon the amount you previously earned. However, emergency unemployment insurance will soon be increasing due to the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which became law on March 27, 2020. Here’s what this may soon mean for you:

Learn more with the House Ways and Means Committee FAQ and apply for Tennessee unemployment benefits here.

 


Homeowners and Renters

Please be aware that without Senate action, the current moratorium on evictions for most residents with subsidized apartments and renters of homes covered by Fannie Mae, FHA and Freddie Mac will expire the week ending July 25, 2020. On July 25, 2020, landlords may begin sending 30-day eviction notices.

On May 15, 2020, House Democrats passed the Heroes Act, legislation that provides crucial aid for Memphians as the coronavirus pandemic persists. To assist hardworking Americans with housing, the Heroes Act would expand the availability of mortgage forbearance to all multifamily borrowers and the current eviction moratorium to virtually all renters for 12 months.

Background on evcition moratoriums during the pandemic: If your mortgage is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), evictions and foreclosures have been temporarily suspended. Additionally, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan banks, is providing payment deferments to borrowers for up to 1 year. Several banks are also providing relief to mortgage customers affected by the coronavirus.

New legislation passed by Congress protects renters from eviction for 4 months if they reside in public or assisted housing, or in a home or apartment whose owner has a federally-backed mortgage, and who are unable to pay their rent.

  • Property owners are also prohibited from issuing a 30-day notice to a tenant to vacate a property until after the 4-month moratorium ends.
  • This protection covers properties that receive federal subsidies such as public housing, Section 8 assistance, USDA rural housing programs, and federally-issued or guaranteed mortgages.
  • Renters whose landlord is not abiding by the moratorium should contact the relevant federal agency that administers their housing program or their local Legal Aid office.

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

 


Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Beginning June 1, 2020, SNAP recipients will be able to use their benefits to buy authorized food items online through Amazon and Walmart locations across the state. SNAP benefits cannot be used for delivery fees and SNAP recipients who receive cash benefits on their EBT cards will not be able to apply those non-SNAP benefits to online purchases. Families can access this new resource by entering their Electronic Benefit Card (EBT) information on Amazon's SNAP dedicated website (www.amazon.com/SNAP) or by following the guidelines Walmart has established for SNAP online purchasing (https://www.walmart.com/ideas/discover-grocery-pickup-delivery/walmart-grocery-pickup-accepts-snap-ebt-payments/355540). For more information, please click here.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the State of Tennessee can issue Emergency Allotments to current SNAP households for April and May 2020 up to the maximum monthly allotment for any given household. All Emergency Allotments will be delivered on current SNAP households’ EBT cards. 

Apply for SNAP benefits here. For more information on SNAP benefits and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s response to coronavirus pandemic, please click here.

 


Tax Extension Deadline

The Internal Revenue Service has moved the tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15 for all taxpayers and businesses.

 


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

 

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 September 30th. 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