In this time of uncertainty, it’s hard to know what your rights are when it comes to job loss, housing, and even elections. Hopefully this guide helps provide some light on what your rights are during COVID-19.

Please note: This post was last updated April 23, 2020. Deadlines and material changes to Executive Orders are subject to change.

You can file for unemployment, even as a member of the gig economy.

Self-employed and contract workers who have lost wages due to the pandemic are eligible for unemployment and can now file online. If you’re self-employed, follow these instructions for filing a claim.

Additionally, New York State is waiving their traditional seven-day waiting period for unemployment benefits due to COVID-19 closures or quarantines.

For more details, read our post on your options if you’re out of work due to COVID-19.

You don’t need to choose between your family and a paycheck.

The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act is designed to alleviate the financial burden of caring for your family during this trying time.

Learn more about eligibility and benefits here.

Evictions are on pause.

New York State Executive Order 202.8 bans both residential and commercial evictions for renters until at least June 20. At this time, any pending eviction cases are adjourned, and new cases may not be filed. Cases may be filed after the moratorium is lifted; if you’re able, please continue to pay your rent in full.

There is pending legislation to extend the moratorium for six months.

If your landlord is threatening you with eviction or a police offer attempts to perform an eviction, even with an existing warrant, follow the instructions here.

Mortgage lenders are providing temporary relief.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act protects homeowners and business owners with a temporary foreclosure moratorium and mortgage forbearance for federally backed loans if you are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.

Mortgage forbearance means you can defer your payments temporarily, without incurring penalties or negatively impacting your credit score. Depending on your lender, the full amount of deferred payments may be due when the forbearance period concludes: if you are able to make payments, even partial payments, it is in your best interest to continue to do so.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a comprehensive guide to navigating mortgage relief options.

Additionally, the New York State Department of Financial Services issued a directive to New York State mortgage servicers to provide 90 days of mortgage relief to borrowers impacted by COVID-19. The Governor made this binding in Executive Order 202.9. Relief includes:

  • Waiving mortgage payments based on economic hardship.
  • No late payment fees or fees for paying online.
  • Grace periods for loan modifications.
  • No negative reporting to credit bureaus.
  • Suspending foreclosures.

Utilities

The New York State Department of Public Service instructed all major electric, gas, and water utilities to suspend disconnections due to economic hardship related to COVID-19.

Additionally, on March 13, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission launched the Keep Americans Connected Pledge to ensure everyone will continue to be able to access the internet during the pandemic. More than 650 companies across the country signed the pledge.

Vehicle registrations and inspections and driver’s license expirations are on hold.

New York State Executive Order 202.8 suspends expiration dates for vehicle registrations and inspections as well as driver’s licenses.

You can renew registrations online. Depending on your license type, you may be able to renew online. And automotive shops are currently considered essential businesses if you would like to have your vehicle inspected.

You can defer your student loans.

The CARES Act provides relief to borrowers whose loans are owned by the federal government.

For privately held loans, the New York State Department of Finance and the largest student loan servicers in the State agreed to provide relief for borrowers experiencing financial hardship. Relief includes:

  • 90 days of deferred monthly payments.
  • No late payment fees.
  • No negative reporting to credit bureaus.
  • Enrolling eligible borrowers in long-term assistance programs.

You must contact your student loan servicer directly and request relief due to financial hardship related to COVID-19.

Banks are offering additional support to their customers.

New York State Executive Order 202.9 instructs banks to temporarily eliminate ATM, overdraft, and late payment fees.

Some financial institutions are offering additional services to their customers. Forbes has a list of banks and what they’re offering customers, but you should always check with your bank directly as their offerings are subject to change.

Certain insurance policies may not be canceled due to non-payment.

New York State Executive Order 202.13 extends the grace period for paying life insurance premiums to 90 days.

New York State Executive Order 202.14 extends the payment of health insurance policies to June 1, 2020. Insurers are required to pay for claims during this period, and may not retroactively cancel the policy.

If you lost your health insurance due to job loss, you can apply for coverage through the State.

If you lost employer covered health insurance, you may apply through the New York State of Health within 60 days of losing coverage, through May 15, 2020.

You and your family may also be eligible for Medicaid, the Essential Plan, subsidized Qualified Health Plans, or Child Health Plus.

There are no copayments required for telehealth visits.

In order to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the New York State Department of Financial Services is requiring insurance companies to waive all copays for in-network telehealth visits, regardless of the nature of the visit.

You can take advantage of free mental health services.

Stress from job loss, financial strain, homeschooling, and social distancing is real. Nearly 9,000 mental health professionals are offering free online mental health services.

Call the State’s hotline at 1-844-863-9314 to schedule your first free appointment.

You may have one support person present during labor, delivery, and immediate post-partum.

New York State Executive Order 202.12 ensures that no one needs to give birth alone.

You can vote by absentee ballot.

New York State Executive Order 202.15 allows voters to request and vote via absentee ballot for any election held on or before June 23, 2020.

Download an absentee ballot application here, and make sure to check the box for “temporary illness of physical disability” as the reason for requesting the ballot.

Completed applications may be mailed, emails, or faxed to your County Board of Elections no later than the seventh day before the election.

Watch out for scams.

Unfortunately, fraudsters are taking advantage of these uncertain times. Read a statement and guidance from New York Attorney General James on avoiding scams.

We are here for you.

Call (914-946-2889) or email us at Francis J. Malara or Anne Penachio with any questions or for a free consultation.

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