I’m out of a job! What do I do?

I’m Salinas Bankruptcy lawyer Clark Miller.  For over 30 years I have helped many individuals survive financial disaster and obtain a new start.  This experience has given me countless examples of ways folks can get back on their feet after a debt breakdown.  Now, with unemployment of over 15%, I have suggestions for actions to survive the current shelter-in-place restrictions.

Unemployment Insurance.  Apply for state unemployment immediately.  There will be delays given the huge rush, so “get in line” early.  Remember, there in California there is a one-week waiting period before benefits can begin.

Take advantage of the stimulus relief.

–In your unemployment application, take advantage of the added $600 /week in benefits through June 30.  This is in addition to California’s maximum UE of $450/wk.

–Your $1200/person stimulus check should have already arrived.  If not, inquire of the Small Business Administration at sba.gov.  Initial benefits went only to those persons having filed tax returns in 2018 and/or 2019.  But every adult can apply, even those who have not worked.   There are additional benefits for your dependent children.

If you can’t pay your rent, contact your landlord immediately.

Monterey County and most local cities have eviction restrictions in place, but DO NOT simply discontinue your rent.  Contact your landlord in writing if the pandemic has affected your income and ability to pay rent (which means just about everybody).  Most ordinances permit a two to three month remission of rent (unfortunately the rent is NOT canceled; the landlord has a right to recover it over the next 12 months).

Take advantage of your bank’s mortgage forbearance program.

Virtually all banks now have in place programs to permit a remission (lowering) of your mortgage payments for a limited time.  Check your bank’s website.  Again, do not simply stop making your payment—you must apply for the relief which is in the nature of a mortgage modification.

Check to see if your employer has a financial relief program.  Many employers offer such services that may cover essential expenses such as medical bills.

Do not forget to contact your credit card companies.  As with landlords and banks, credit card issuers are way ahead in having in place programs to delay or lower payments.  But you must apply.  Nothing makes a credit card issuer more nervous than repeated missed payments.

Pay attention to the news about further relief efforts.  The initial measure by Congress to provide relief to citizens expired quickly and the second is nearing the end.  Unless the pandemic ends quickly Congress is sure to again extend benefits.  If you did not already apply, be first in line with any new program.

Folks, with virtually everyone adversely affected by the pandemic, financial hardship will be a common plight.  Creditors will judge you less harshly if you’re in difficulty if you show that you are in action to address these issues.  Hopefully the economy will recover swiftly enough that everyone can regain employment and get back up.  If it doesn’t, or if you have a special situation, we are always available to discuss how bankruptcy might be a solution.  There is no charge or obligation to speak with an attorney at our firm.  Please call us if you have questions.  831-424-1764.