Employment Service Grants to States: The $400 million program provides career information and job-matching services for job seekers.
Unemployment Insurance: The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act of 2008, which was scheduled to expire on March 31, 2009, was extended through Dec. 31, 2009. This program provides 20 weeks of unemployment insurance and an additional 13 weeks for individuals in states with high unemployment rates.
Additionally, benefit payments are increased by $25 per week through Dec. 31, 2009.
Temporary Suspension of Taxation of Unemployment Benefits: Federal income tax on the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits is suspended for 2009.
COBRA Continuation Coverage: This program provides premium reductions for health benefits. Eligible individuals pay only 35% of their COBRA premiums and the remaining 65% is reimbursed to the coverage provider through a tax credit. The premium reduction applies to periods of health coverage beginning on or after Feb. 17, 2009 and lasts for up to nine months for those eligible for COBRA during the period beginning Sept. 1, 2008 and ending Dec. 31, 2009.
To put it simply, the White House wants to make your house more valuable. To that end, its Making Home Affordable Program is part of an extensive plan to restore the housing industry and help up to 9 million American families, including: homeowners approaching foreclosure; those who are current on their mortgage payments, but hold loans now higher than the present value of their property; and individuals considered first-time home buyers.
Foreclosure Relief: If you’re having trouble making monthly mortgage payments (due to a recent increase in your monthly mortgage bill, job loss, or unforeseen medical bills), the administration has worked out a plan to allow you to modify your loan. The adjustment should make your monthly obligation less burdensome.
To qualify for Home Affordable Modification, you should be able to answer “yes” to these four questions:
1. Is the home in question your primary residence?
2. Is the amount you owe on your mortgage less than or equal to $729,750?
3. Did you receive your mortgage loan before Jan. 1, 2009?
4. Is the payment on your loan (including taxes, insurance, and home- owner’s association fees, etc.) more than 31% of your monthly gross income?
If you answered yes to each of these questions, you should immediately contact your current mortgage service provider—the financial institution to which you send monthly payments. Their contact number should be on the mortgage coupon booklet or your monthly statement. A customer service representative should be able to give you details about applying for a loan modification.
Mortgage Refinancing: If you’re a homeowner whose home is worth less than the amount of your mortgage loan, you may be eligible for the new Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan. You qualify for Home Affordable Refinance if:
1. You own a home that contains one to four units.
2. You hold a mortgage owned or guaranteed by government-sponsored Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. (If you’re not sure, ask your lender).