If you’re a regular Zing reader, you probably already know about all the holiday dangers to be found on the inside of your house. But there’s another area you should be concerned about: your outdoor holiday lights display. Icy weather and electrical problems can make setting up and maintaining your fancy display downright dangerous. If you’ll be putting up lights this holiday season, follow these tips to spread Christmas cheer in the safest way possible.
Here at Quicken Loans, and all across America, we’re sending thoughts and prayers to those on the East Coast. While some of the most devastating damage from the storm is physical and emotional, there’s another loss you might be experiencing: financial. CNNMoney claims the storm has created about $50 billion in combined losses from physical damage and business revenue. If you’re in a disaster area, you might have experienced some financial loss yourself. There are many government programs that can help you get your finances back on track if you’ve been affected by Hurricane Sandy. Here are a few resources you should be aware of.
Residents of New York City and the 14 counties in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut that were declared federal disaster areas may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. To be eligible, you must be able to prove that your unemployment is a direct result of the natural disaster, and for each week that you continue to receive benefits (up to 26 weeks), you must show that your unemployment continues to be a direct result of the disaster, independent of other factors. Check out this article by CNN for more details.
If you need to file for disaster-related unemployment, these three pages can help you get started.
First of all, hurricane victims can take a breath; for individuals and businesses in disaster areas, tax filings or payments that are due between late October and January 15 now have an extended deadline of February 1, 2013. If you’re scrambling to get your taxes together, take your time, because you have at least a few more weeks to get it done.
Second, if your home or business suffered damages that aren’t covered by insurance, you have a few options. While you can certainly claim a loss on this year’s taxes, you also have the option to file an amendment to your 2011 taxes. The latter option can help get cash back into your pocket even faster.
Third, here’s a note for our Zing readers who don’t live in hurricane-affected areas: If you’ve been helping Sandy victims, you could be eligible for tax benefits. Whether you’ve made a charitable donation or joined the volunteer effort, you might be rewarded come tax time.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering low-interest loans to hurricane victims to help cover uninsured damages. Don’t let the name deceive you; the SBA offers loans to individuals, businesses and non-profits alike. Hurricane victims are urged to fill out an online loan application to make sure they’re eligible to receive all the aid they need. Applying for the loan is an easy process, it’s no-cost and you’re not obligated to take out a loan just because it’s offered. Interest rates for renters and homeowners are as low as 1.688%. You can fill out the online application here, and for more details about disaster loans or for more references, please check out this article by New Jersey Today.
According to an article by the New York Business Journal, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will automatically suspend evictions and foreclosures for 90 days for borrowers whose homes are in the Sandy disaster area. If you’re having trouble paying your monthly mortgage due to this disaster, you should reach out to your mortgage servicer to see if you qualify for a 90-day mortgage forbearance, which simply means that your payments will be temporarily suspended or reduced.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also has Mortgage Insurance for Disaster Victims and Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance, which basically enable home buyers and homeowners to obtain the funds necessary to purchase a new home or rebuild the home that was damaged by the disaster. Learn more about the programs here.
Savings Bond Redemption
The Savings Bond Redemption program by the Department of the Treasury allows bond owners in affected areas to redeem savings bonds prior to the expiration of their initial 12-month holding period. If you’ve lost your savings bonds in the disaster, you may need to participate in the Savings Bond Replacement program, which allows bond holders to request expedited service for the replacement of missing bonds. Learn more about the programs here.
If you’ve been affected by the storm, take some time to review the government programs that are at the disposal of disaster victims. You can find out which kinds of aid are available to you, and apply for some forms of aid online by visiting DisasterAssistance.gov.
Do you have any hurricane-related information to share with your fellow Zing readers? Please leave a comment to let us know!