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COVID-19 Recovery Resource Center: Business

Resources for Business

COVID-19 Recovery Resource Center: Individuals

Resources for Individuals

COVID-19 Recovery Resource Center: Community

Resources for Communities

Frequently Asked Questions for Individuals

We have compiled answers to some of the most common questions that individuals have as they manage the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Financial Assistance

  1. Is any kind of immediate financial assistance available for individuals?
  2. Do I have to pay rent or mortgage this month?
  3. I’m concerned that I am unable to pay my mortgage on my home.  What do I do?
  4. My tenants cannot pay rent and I am unable to pay the mortgage on my rental property.  What do I do?
  5. Can I get relief for my student loans?
  6. What should I do if I am unable to pay my utility bill?
  7. Will I lose my cell phone or internet service if I am unable to pay my bill?
  8. What can I do if I don't think I will be able to pay my taxes?
  9. Some Vermonters are eligible for free federal and state tax filing. Am I?

Is any kind of immediate financial assistance available for individuals?

A federal stimulus package was recently signed into law that includes direct one-time payments to most Americans. The direct payment will provide $1,200 payments to adults with annual incomes up to $75,000, plus another $500 per child. For most Americans, the money is likely to arrive in April via the direct deposit information as indicated on your 2019 tax return, or by check through the mail if no direct deposit information was provided in your tax return.

FAQs: Financial Assistance


Do I have to pay rent or mortgage this month?

If you can afford it, yes. If you are having trouble making ends meet due to the COVID-19 emergency, contact your mortgage service provider or landlord regarding the terms of your payment. While terms may be adjusted, homeowners and renters remain responsible for making payments in full.

Beginning July 13, 2020, homeowners who have been unable to pay their full mortgage due to COVID-19 response can apply for assistance through the Mortgage Assistance Program. The Program is being administered by the Vermont Housing Finance Agency in partnership with the Department of Housing and Community Development. Information about program eligibility, and applications, can be found at https://www.vhfa.org/map/

FAQs: Financial Assistance


I’m concerned that I am unable to pay my mortgage on my home.  What do I do?

Single family homeowners should contact their mortgage service provider to explain their financial situation.  Federal law prohibits foreclosures on all federally-backed mortgage loans for a 60-day period beginning on March 18, 2020. Up to 180 days of forbearance will be provided to borrowers who have a federally-backed mortgage loan who have experienced a financial hardship related to the COVID-19 emergency. The Department of Financial Regulation has complied a summary of national foreclosure freezes and forbearance programs.

Beginning July 13, 2020, homeowners who have been unable to pay their full mortgage due to COVID-19 response can apply for assistance through the Mortgage Assistance Program. The Program is being administered by the Vermont Housing Finance Agency in partnership with the Department of Housing and Community Development. Information about program eligibility, and applications, can be found at https://www.vhfa.org/map/

FAQs: Financial Assistance


My tenants cannot pay rent and I am unable to pay the mortgage on my rental property.  What do I do?

Multi-unit property owners should contact their mortgage service provider if they unable to pay their mortgage. Federal law provides up to 90 days of forbearance for multi-family borrowers with a federally backed multi-family mortgage loan who have experienced a financial hardship. The Department of Financial Regulation has complied a summary of national foreclosure freezes and forbearance programs.

Beginning July 13, 2020, landlords and tenants who have been affected by COVID-19 response can apply for assistance through the Rental Housing Stabilization Program. The Program is being administered by the Vermont State Housing Authority in partnership with the Department of Housing and Community Development. Information about program eligibility, and applications, can be found at https://www.vsha.org/rental-housing-stabilization-program/

FAQs: Financial Assistance


Can I get relief for my student loans?

The federal CARES Act suspends payments of federal student loans from March 13, 2020 through September 30, 2020. Auto-debit payments are suspended and interest will not accrue on loans during this time. If you are participating in a loan forgiveness or loan rehabilitation program, you will receive credit for the time in which your payments are suspended.

The CARES Act does not pertain to private student loans or federal loans such as Perkins Loans or commercially-held FFEL loans. However, under a new initiative, many Vermonters with commercially owned Federal Family Education Loan Program loans or privately held student loans who are struggling to make their payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible for expanded relief.

Borrowers in need of assistance, including VSAC borrowers, must immediately contact their student loan servicer or lender to identify the options appropriate to their circumstances. Relief options include:

  • Providing forbearance of payments for a minimum of 90 days;
  • Waiving any applicable late payment fees;
  • Protections from negative credit reporting;
  • Ceasing debt-collection lawsuits for 90 days; and
  • Working with borrowers to enroll them in appropriate assistance programs, such as income-based repayment.

FAQs: Financial Assistance


What should I do if I am unable to pay my utility bill?

Contact your utility provider to let them know that you are having financial trouble related to COVID-19 emergency. While payment terms may be adjusted, charges will still accrue, and arrangements must be made to pay the amounts owed. Effective until April 30, providers of natural gas, electricity or land-line telephones will not disconnect services. Find public Wi-Fi hotspots, information on cellular connectivity, and more resources.

FAQs: Financial Assistance


Will I lose my cell phone or internet service if I am unable to pay my bill?

Comcast, Consolidated, Sprint, AT&T and some other internet and cell phone service providers have pledged to maintain services to customers. Contact your provider about their policy. Charges will still accrue, and arrangements must be made to pay the amounts owed in full.

FAQs: Financial Assistance


What can I do if I don't think I will be able to pay my taxes?

On March 21, 2020, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service announced that the federal income tax filing due date has been extended from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. The Vermont income tax filing due dates for the following taxes have also been extended from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020:

  • Vermont Personal Income Tax
  • Vermont Homestead Declaration and Property Tax Credit Claims
  • Corporate Income Tax
  • Fiduciary Income Tax

Taxpayers may file and pay these taxes before July 15, 2020, without penalty or interest. Although the due date for filing has moved from April 15 to July 15, taxpayers who are able to file now are encouraged to do so, especially those who are expecting a refund. The Vermont Department of Taxes remains able to process to returns and refunds in order to get money back into taxpayers’ hands as soon as possible.

FAQs: Financial Assistance


Some Vermonters are eligible for free federal and state tax filing. Am I?

More detailed information is available at https://tax.vermont.gov/individuals/free-file, but you may qualify for free federal and free state online tax preparation and e-filing if:

  • Your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is $69,000 or less and
  • You are age 51 or younger or
  • You are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, or
  • ​Your Active Military for Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is $69,000 or less

FAQs: Financial Assistance

Housing

  1. Can I apply to the state for rental assistance?
  2. Can I be evicted for non-payment of rent?
  3. Can my landlord show my apartment to a new tenant while I am still staying home?
  4. Can I apply to the state for mortgage assistance?
  5. What do I do if I need emergency housing?
  6. Is short-term housing (less than 30 days) available?
  7. May I sign a long-term lease (more than 30 days) on a new apartment or house?

Can I apply to the state for rental assistance?

Beginning July 13, 2020, landlords and tenants who have been affected by COVID-19 response can apply for assistance through the Rental Housing Stabilization Program. The Program is being administered by the Vermont State Housing Authority in partnership with the Department of Housing and Community Development. Information about program eligibility, and applications, can be found at https://www.vsha.org/rental-housing-stabilization-program/

FAQs: Housing


Can I be evicted for non-payment of rent?

The Vermont Legislature and Governor have temporarily suspended all non-emergency eviction hearings until 30 days after the end of the Governor’s Emergency Order. The current order is set to expire July 15th – non-emergency eviction hearings will be suspended until August 15th. If you are in the eviction process and you have a hearing scheduled, it may be postponed. Call your courthouse to confirm. If you receive court papers you must respond within the timeframe given, and if you are paying rent into court, such payments must continue as scheduled. If you have received a Writ of Possession or a Notice to Vacate, contact Vermont Legal Aid at 1-800-889-2047 for assistance. 

Renters and Landlords should check ACCD.vermont.gov frequently for updates on rental relief programs. These programs will become available soon after final approval by the Vermont Legislature. Both tenants and landlords will be able to apply for financial assistance for rental payments missed due to the COVID-19 emergency. Payments will be made directly to landlords on the tenant’s behalf. Applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements and must continue to pay rent and mortgages if possible.  

FAQs: Housing


Can my landlord show my apartment to a new tenant while I am still staying home?

Realtors (or landlords) may show homes (or rental units) assuming they can practice physical distancing. Refer to the Real Estate guidance for full details.

FAQs: Housing


Can I apply to the state for mortgage assistance?

Beginning July 13, 2020, homeowners who have been unable to pay their full mortgage due to COVID-19 response can apply for assistance through the Mortgage Assistance Program. The Program is being administered by the Vermont Housing Finance Agency in partnership with the Department of Housing and Community Development. Information about program eligibility, and applications, can be found at: www.vhfa.org/map

FAQs: Housing


What do I do if I need emergency housing?

Contact Vermont 211, a 24-hour hotline for help obtaining emergency housing, shelter and other resources and services.

FAQs: Housing


Is short-term housing (less than 30 days) available?

Lodging operators, including short-term rentals, may resume limited lodging operations with specific health and safety requirements, and occupancy/capacity limits, for the purpose of serving Vermont residents and non-residents who can verify they have met the quarantine requirements as outlined by the Vermont Department of Health or travel from a non-quarantine county. Short-term rentals and other lodging is also allowed for state-sanctioned emergency shelters for homeless individuals, health care workers, or other workers deemed necessary to support public health, public safety or critical infrastructure. Refer to the Lodging and Accommodations guidance for full details.

FAQs: Housing


May I sign a long-term lease (more than 30 days) on a new apartment or house?

Long-term rental leases are allowed. Moving and moving services are also allowed, so long as social distancing guidelines are followed. 

FAQs: Housing

Unemployment Insurance

  1. Can I apply for unemployment assistance if I am not typically eligible for unemployment insurance?
  2. Are you out of work because you were told by a medical professional to stay home and self-isolate?
  3. Has your employer closed because an employee has symptoms of, or has been diagnosed with COVID-19?
  4. Have your hours at work been reduced OR have you been laid off due to slow-down in business as a result of COVID-19?
  5. Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19 and were forced to quit your job as a result?
  6. Do you need to take time off work because you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19?
  7. Have you had to leave your job to take care of a family member as a result of COVID-19?
  8. What if I have an existing unemployment claim and am currently in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19?
  9. None of these scenarios apply to me. How do I know if I qualify for unemployment benefits?
  10. If I am concerned about my health and safety at work, who should I contact?

Can I apply for unemployment assistance if I am not typically eligible for unemployment insurance?

Vermonters who are self-employed, independent contractors, and other individuals who are not eligible for traditional unemployment insurance benefits may now apply online for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

If approved for PUA, claimants must continue to file weekly claims for each week they are unemployed and wish to receive benefits. Failure to do so will result in delayed payment. Eligible PUA claimants will be able to file and receive past benefits, dating back to the week of March 15, 2020. Weekly benefit amounts will be determined by 2019 earnings. Individuals that are eligible for PUA are also eligible for the additional $600 weekly benefit through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program, which provides the additional benefit through July 25, 2020. Claimants can easily choose their preferred payment method (direct deposit or check), choose to have taxes withheld, or make other profile changes by using the online PUA Dashboard.

More information on the PUA application process and eligibility can be found at labor.vermont.gov/pua. For additional information and updates on the Vermont Department of Labor, please visit labor.vermont.gov.

FAQs: Unemployment Insurance


Are you out of work because you were told by a medical professional to stay home and self-isolate?

You may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are following the guidance of a medical health professional or public health official to self-isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure;
  • You are not receiving paid sick leave or other types of leave from your employer;

To ensure that you are properly filing your claim, please contact the Department of Labor’s Claimant Assistance Line at 877-214-3332. Please note there will not be a work search requirement if your return to work date is within 10-weeks of separation.

FAQs: Unemployment Insurance


Has your employer closed because an employee has symptoms of, or has been diagnosed with COVID-19?

If you are not receiving payment from your employer, such as paid sick leave or paid time off, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits during this period. For more information on establishing an unemployment claim, click here or contact the Claimant Assistance Line at 877-214-3332.

FAQs: Unemployment Insurance


Have your hours at work been reduced OR have you been laid off due to slow-down in business as a result of COVID-19?

In these cases, you would likely be eligible for unemployment benefits during the layoff period. If your hours are reduced, then you would likely be eligible for benefits to assist in time loss. In the case of a temporary layoff, if you have a return to work date within 10-weeks, then you would not be required to conduct a work search. For more information on establishing an unemployment claim, click here or contact the Claimant Assistance Line at 877-214-3332.

FAQs: Unemployment Insurance


Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19 and were forced to quit your job as a result?

If you are forced to quit your job due to contraction of COVID-19, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits once you recover. The Department of Labor is looking into all options to protect individuals in this circumstance.

FAQs: Unemployment Insurance


Do you need to take time off work because you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19?

Employer-paid time off is the first and best option for employees in this case. If employer-paid time off is not available, under the Vermont Earned Sick Time Law, employers are required to give employees 40-hours per year of earned sick time. Employees should check with their employer to confirm what, if any, accrued leave balances they have available. More information on Earned Sick Time is available in English as well as Spanish.

FAQs: Unemployment Insurance


Have you had to leave your job to take care of a family member as a result of COVID-19?

If you leave work to care for a family member who has not contracted COVID-19, you are likely not eligible for unemployment benefits. Employees may be entitled to job protections under the Vermont Parental Family Leave Act or the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

FAQs: Unemployment Insurance


What if I have an existing unemployment claim and am currently in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19?

Claimants with existing unemployment claims will likely remain eligible for benefits if they contract COVID-19 while currently filing. In the event that it is deemed necessary, the Department of Labor is prepared to exempt certain programs requirements for claimants. Further updates will be provided should they be necessary.

FAQs: Unemployment Insurance


None of these scenarios apply to me. How do I know if I qualify for unemployment benefits?

Please contact the Vermont Department of Labor or visit labor.vermont.gov

  • Existing UI Claimants: Claimant Assistance Line - 877-214-3332
  • Employers: UI Employer Services - 802-828-4344
  • General questions: Department of Labor Commissioner’s Office - 802-828-4301

FAQs: Unemployment Insurance


If I am concerned about my health and safety at work, who should I contact?

Employees with COVID-19 related concerns in the workplace should contact the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration (VOSHA). Employees can submit a safety complaint form on VOSHA's website, or call toll free at 1-800-287-2765.

FAQs: Unemployment Insurance

Support Services

  1. If I am concerned about my health and safety at home, who should I contact?
  2. Where can I go to get food assistance?
  3. What grocery stores are providing extended or special hours for seniors or other vulnerable populations?
  4. Can I get my internet connection fixed?

If I am concerned about my health and safety at home, who should I contact?

There are numerous resources available at the local and national level. They include:

  • Vermont Network website: vtnetwork.org/covid-19-update
  • Vermont Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-228-7395
  • Vermont Sexual Violence Hotline: 800-489-7273
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
  • If you’re unable to speak safely: Log onto thehotline.org, or text LOVEIS to 22522.
  • If you are in an emergency situation: Call 911.

FAQs: Support Services


Where can I go to get food assistance?

Vermont WIC is open and most services are being done by phone appointment to align with social distancing efforts. They have also temporarily expanded their food list to add options for some hard to find items. Check the expanded food list to see what has been added. Visit their online application or text VTWIC to 855-11 to apply. To connect with WIC in your area, visit www.healthvermont.gov/local. WIC will continue to provide breastfeeding support, nutrition education, and community referrals. If you are pregnant, postpartum, breastfeeding, a caregiver or parent with a child under five you may be eligible for WIC.

FAQs: Support Services


What grocery stores are providing extended or special hours for seniors or other vulnerable populations?

The Vermont Retail and Grocers Association has compiled a database of stores that offer special shopping hours and alternative shopping methods for vulnerable populations.

FAQs: Support Services


Can I get my internet connection fixed?

The Governor’s Executive Order states that only activities required to support COVID-19 response, maintain critical infrastructure and construction, or services for safety, sanitation and operations of residences or businesses should occur. Repairing a home's internet connection would be an example of this. However, work to establish a new connection to new construction or to add additional internet connections to a home that already has a working connection is considered non-critical.

FAQs: Support Services

Health and Safety

  1. If I am unable to wear a cloth face covering due to work, health or environmental conditions, may I wear another mouth and nose covering such as a face shield?
  2. If an employee goes on vacation and Vermont guidance requires that employee to quarantine upon return from the vacation, does their employer need to provide sick time?

If I am unable to wear a cloth face covering due to work, health or environmental conditions, may I wear another mouth and nose covering such as a face shield?

It is more important than ever to make wearing cloth face masks or coverings a habit and to bring one with you whenever you leave home. Effective August 1, 2020, Cloth face masks or coverings are required in public settings when a physical distance of at least 6 feet is difficult to maintain. For example, visiting a grocery store or on a crowded sidewalk or bike path.

As part of Governor Scott’s Work Smart & Stay Safe - Restart VT, people are required to wear cloth face masks or coverings over their nose and mouth when using public transportation—including buses, trains and ride services, and in mass transportation stations or terminals, including airports.  They are also required to wear face coverings when returning to work and in the presence of others. Businesses and non-profit and government entities may decline service to individuals who are not wearing a mask.

The advice to wear cloth face masks or coverings is based on data about how COVID-19 can spread before a person has any symptoms. Because people may have COVID-19 but no symptoms, wearing cloth face masks or coverings may help keep people from spreading the virus.

People who have trouble breathing can wear a light-weight bandanna or cloth covering tied to be open at the bottom, or a face shield. Face shields are generally not recommended because they are more for health care settings to protect the person wearing it from droplets getting into their eyes. Face masks or coverings, like a cloth face mask or bandanna, do a better job than face shields of keeping droplets in. However, if your work environment or health does not allow you to wear a cloth face mask, wearing a face shield is better than having no barrier on your nose and mouth.

Neither the use of face masks nor the use of face shields is a satisfactory alternative to social distancing. We all still need to stay at least 6 feet away from people, even when wearing cloth face masks or coverings, practice good hand hygiene and follow the state’s Be Smart, Stay Safe guidance.

FAQs: Health and Safety


If an employee goes on vacation and Vermont guidance requires that employee to quarantine upon return from the vacation, does their employer need to provide sick time?

Yes, the employer does have to pay for the quarantine under the terms of the FFCRA Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.  Mandatory quarantine is a qualifying condition under the Act, and the Act does not take into account the circumstances that led up to the need for quarantine.  Employees may quarantine for 7 days and get tested and return to work after receiving a negative result or quarantine for 14 days.

Employers may consider alternatives to this impact through:

  1. The employer can have a policy that requires employees to request leave ahead of time, and if the request is for vacation in another state that would lead to quarantine, the employer could deny the request.
  2. If the employer has work the employee can do remotely, the employer can require the employee to work while quarantining.

FAQs: Health and Safety

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