FAQ2020-11-19T10:26:50-05:00

What Financial and Other Help is Available for Drivers During Covid-19 Crisis

Drivers Benefits wants to make sure drivers know all of the types of support are available during this difficult time. We will update this page as more resources become available. 

The most recently updated material will be highlighted in blue.

Last updated: 10/20/20:

Don’t speak English? Read the pages we made for drivers in EspañolFrançais, or 中文.

Disclaimer: This guide is not meant to constitute legal or professional advice. Please consult a lawyer for any legal advice.

NEW: Basic Needs

NEW: Upstate New York

Is there any rent or mortgage assistance available for those living in Erie County?

Yes. Erie County residents struggling to keep up with their rent or mortgage payments are able to apply for a grant program made available through 211 Western New York, and if awarded could receive up to $3,500 per household. Applications open on October 1, 2020, and those interested are encouraged to apply before December 1st. You can apply online here, or by calling 211 and asking about the program.

Public Housing

I live in public housing. Is there any help for me?

Yes. If you live in public housing, you can apply for Rent Hardship. You can click here for more information on eligibility and how to apply.

Renters

Is there any assistance available with paying my rent?

Yes, Project Parachute has started a program called FASTEN, meant to help tenants who need help in order to stay in their homes because of the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

If accepted into the program, tenants are eligible to receive assistance in receiving other government benefits they are already eligible for and receive financial assistance. The types of financial assistance you can receive are:

  • Costs associated with securing and transitioning into new housing (security deposit, first month rent, moving expenses)
  • Career developments and job search-related costs (licensure, initial weeks of daycare), transportation costs, and immediate need grants (utilities, food, prescriptions, etc.)
  • Rental arrears assistance for NYC residents ineligible for existing rental arrears grants due to immigration status or nonstandard employment.

You can learn more about the program and if you are eligible by clicking here. In order to apply, go to the second page of this sheet, find the organization associated with your zip code, and give them a call.

New York State also offered a COVID Rent Relief Program. The deadline to apply was August 6th. We created a special Frequently Asked Questions page to assist drivers who are interested in the program.

If you are a member, you should check your email to see how you can access the page.

If you are not a member, you should sign-up here. Once you do, you will receive access to our page.

I can’t pay rent. What should I do?

The first thing you should do is talk to your landlord before rent is due. Your landlord knows about the pandemic. You should let them know your financial situation, and see if they can make a payment plan for you.

UPDATED: If I can’t pay rent, can I get evicted?

On September 1st, President Trump froze all evictions pertaining to the non-payment of rent until December 31st, 2020 for people who earn less than $99,000 a year if you file taxes individually, or $198,000 a year if filing taxes jointly. In order to successfully claim this, tenants must file sworn declarations that eviction would leave them homeless or force them into “close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting,” and they must affirm that they’ve “used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing.”

Governor Cuomo has extended the Tenant Safe Harbor Act until January 1, 2021. The courts will review all eviction cases that were pending before the courts closing, however, any eviction warrants that were issued before March 17th may be executed. As a reminder, President Trump’s moratorium on evictions do not pertain to cases that are not related to paying rent.

If you were in eviction proceedings before March 17th, you should contact legal aid if you haven’t already. New York City has a resource guide here. If you don’t have internet access, you can call 311 and say ‘Tenant Helpline’.

On June 30th, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Tenant Safe Harbor Act. This act does the following:

  • No tenant – who can prove they faced financial hardship during the pandemic – can ever be evicted for nonpayment of any rent accrued from March 7 effectively until all pandemic-related government restrictions are lifted in a given county. 
  • Tenants are offered a defense, but they still must make their case before a judge if their landlord tries to evict them for not paying rent. This does not apply to those who have not suffered financial hardships from COVID-19, and face eviction for reasons other than nonpayment of rent and anyone facing eviction for missed payments prior to March 7.

Still, you are responsible for paying rent back at some point. And although you’re protected from eviction and thus capable of remaining housed, judges can still impose a money judgment on tenants for the rent payments they missed.

For Drivers Benefits members, we conducted an interview with a housing attorney to go over COVID-19 tenant protections, laws around eviction, and legal & financial resources available to tenants. If you want to watch this video and are not a member yet, please sign up here! If you are a member, please check your email for the link to the video. If you need help finding it, call us at 833-814-8590.

Regardless, you should talk to your landlord before rent is due, so they are not surprised you did not pay for the month. Many of them will work out a payment plan for you.

What if I am being harassed by my landlord?

If you talk to your landlord and you still receive an eviction notice, you should contact the Department of Investigation’s Bureau of City Marshals at

212-825-5953.

If you are served an eviction notice, you may qualify for free legal assistance by going here to find out if you are eligible.

If your landlord harasses you about payment, you should reach out to the Met Council on Housing, Tenant’s Rights Hotline. Their phone number is: 212-979-0611 and their hours of operation are below:

  • Monday: 1:30 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 1:30 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Friday: 1:30 PM – 5:00 PM

Please note that the Met Council on Housing is staffed by volunteer members and does not provide any legal advice.

Is there a website that can tell me more about my rights as a tenant in New York City?

Yes. The Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants released a new Resource Portal meant to help protect tenants facing evictions or harassment from their landlords.

Is there a resource available to help me avoid going to court with my landlord?

Yes, there is. New York City recently created the Landlord-Tenant Mediation Project. This program is to resolve housing issues due to COVID-19, and its aim is to help tenants and landlords meet outside of Housing Court to resolve: 

  • Unpaid rent
  • Lease concerns
  • Move outs

Mediation is free, confidential, and voluntary. You can participate regardless of immigration status. 

You can apply by calling 311 and saying “Tenant Helpline”. The helpline specialist will ask you a few questions about the problem, see if it’s appropriate for the program, and refer you to a Community Dispute Resolution Center (CDRC) in your borough. 

Is there rental assistance available if I’m a veteran?

Yes, there is. Supportive Services for Veteran Families is assisting veterans at risk of eviction. Veterans who owe back rent or in need of assistance can contact the Jericho Project or call 646-624-2341.

Are landlords allowed to charge me an extra fee if I can’t pay on time?

No, the landlord cannot. Governor Cuomo announced a ban on fees for late or missed rent payments on May 7th.

If this has happened to you, you should first tell your landlord of this executive order, since it is still relatively new.

If your landlord harasses you about payment, you should reach out to the Met Council on Housing, Tenant’s Rights Hotline. Their phone number is: 212-979-0611 and their hours of operation are below:

  • Monday: 1:30 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 1:30 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Friday: 1:30 PM – 5:00 PM

Please note that the MET Council on Housing is staffed by volunteer members and does not provide any legal advice.

Can I use my security deposit to pay rent?

Yes, you can. Governor Cuomo announced that tenants are allowed to use security deposits to pay rent. You will, however, have to pay it back later.

What if I need my landlord to fix my pipes, or electricity?

You should tell your landlord!

Nothing has changed about the rights of tenants to get repairs to their apartment. Workers like electricians, plumbers, and other “related” construction firms were deemed essential by Governor Cuomo.

If your landlord is refusing to make any necessary repairs, you can contact Housing Court Answers here.

I have Covid-19. What are my rights as a tenant?

You should first talk to your landlord about payment of rent. But, if you still have any specific questions related to paying rent while under quarantine, you can contact the Mayor’s office via this online form.

You should also read this guide by the Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants.

Home Owner

Can I delay my payment for school property taxes if I live in Long Island?

Announced on August 14th, Nassau homeowners now automatically have an extra month to pay school property tax bills. Homeowners will receive their tax bills one month later than in previous years, and payment will be due December 10th, instead of November 10th.

Are there any resources available to help with my mortgage?

Yes, there is. HomeownerHelpNY is a free service available by the New York State Attorney General’s office, and Center for NYC Neighborhoods. You can receive legal, professional help by dialing 855-464-3456 or fill out this form here.

Advocates are available to work on:

  • Managing mortgage payments
  • Unsustainable tax debt
  • Foreclosure prevention
  • Reverse mortgage foreclosures
  • Scam prevention
  • Senior assistance

I can’t pay my mortgage, what can I do?

If you are in danger of missing a payment, you should immediately reach out to your lender. Online is recommended because of recent staff reductions, but don’t be shy to call either.

If your loans are owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you will be able to delay your payment for up to 12 months if the pandemic affected your income. Even if you got your mortgage from a bank it probably qualifies. You can see if your mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac here.

If you have FHA loans, you can’t be evicted. Announced on August 18th by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the ban on evictions and foreclosures for homes backed by the Federal Housing Administration has been extended until the end of 2020.

I am struggling with paying for meals. What can I do?

You can check your eligibility for SNAP benefits by going to New York State’s website here or by calling us at 833-814-8590, and we will help walk you through it. We are available from 8 am to 8 pm, Monday through Friday.

You can look for soup kitchens and pantries by using New York City’s FoodHelp map here.

You can sign up with Grocery List Aid to have someone pay for your groceries. Click here for how to apply and more information.

You can also stop by a New York City public school and receive three free “Grab and Go” meals. Information is below.

UPDATED: Is the Grab-And-Go meal program still going on during the school year?

Yes, the grab-and-go free meal program will continue at select schools during the school year. The new schedule will allow adults to pick up breakfast and lunch from 3 PM – 5 PM daily after the school day has ended. Children attending school in-person and remotely will either eat their meals in their classroom or pick up from 9 AM-noon. 

Nobody will be turned away and there is no registration or ID required. People are allowed to pick up multiple meals at once. 

For more information, and to find a site near you, including where you can find Halal and Kosher meals, click here 

Is New York State giving me money if my kid is in public school?

Yes.

If you have children who attend public school in your household, you should have automatically received the $420 per child from NY State that would have been spent on school lunches during a normal school year. 

The funds are disbursed as follows:

  • If you are on SNAP and cash assistance: You should have received an additional $193 deposited to your EBT card on May 19. The remainder, $227, should have been deposited on June 16.
  • If you are on Medicaid only: You should have received the full $420 amount per child during the last two weeks in June.
  • If you are not on any assistance or benefits program: you should have been mailed a $420 EBT card this summer from the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

Note: This program ran only from March – June

Here is a useful FAQ by New York State on the program.

I am under quarantine. Is there a way to get food delivered to me?

Yes. You can sign-up with Smile Faith and/or Invisible Hands (you will have to pay for the groceries) to get food delivered to you.

I am over 60 and am struggling to pay for meals. What can I do?

You should sign-up for free home delivery of meals from CityMeals!

You can sign up by:

  1. Go to this website
  2. Scroll slowly down to “Do You Need Meals?” Enter your zip code in the box underneath it
  3. Click “Get Meals”
  4. It will then display the closest provider’s phone number.
  5. Call the provider and sign-up!

You can also register for food delivery through GetFood NYC by either calling 311 and asking for the GetFood NYC program or registering online here. Please note that you must re-register every two weeks, or you will be removed from the delivery list.

The New York State Healthcare Marketplace has extended its deadline for uninsured New Yorkers to enroll in insurance to September 15th. If you have lost income, you may now be eligible for Medicaid, the Essential Plan, Child Health Plus, or a subsidized health care plan.  

If you’re unsure of what you may be eligible for, give us a call at 1-833-814-8590, and we can help!

I don’t have health insurance. What can I do?

You should call us! Please call us at 833-814-8590, and we will screen you for free or low-cost health insurance for you and your family. Many drivers who didn’t qualify before the current crisis will now qualify, so give us a call. We are available between 8 AM – 8 PM, Monday through Friday.

I am an immigrant, lost my health insurance, and afraid to apply for Medicaid. What should I do?

We encourage you to seek legal consultation. These organizations are offering free assistance:

Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, ActionNYC: Free legal screenings and assistance is available to New Yorkers. To make an appointment, call (800) 354-0365 Monday through Friday between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM. You may also call 311 and say ‘ActionNYC.’

New York State Office for New AmericansThe New Americans hotline is a toll-free, multi-lingual hotline. The hotline provides live assistance in more than 200 languages. Anyone can call the hotline for information and referrals, regardless of citizenship or documented status. Calls to the hotline are confidential and anonymous.

Call 1-800-566-7636 from 9:00AM to 8:00PM (ET), Monday through Friday (excluding Federal holidays) and is managed by Catholic Charities Community Services.

Through the hotline, you can:

  • Ask general immigration and naturalization questions
  • Obtain referrals to immigrant-related public and private programs
  • Find out information about the ONA Opportunity Centers
  • Report immigration assistance fraud and schemes against immigrants

Legal Aid Society: For help with an immigration matter, whether for removal defense or for help with an affirmative immigration benefit (citizenship, green cards, family-based petitions, etc.), with concerns about public charge, or for help with advance planning for non-citizen parents, please call our Immigration Law Unit Helpline: 844-955-3425

The helpline operates Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

With everything that is going on I am really stressed and need to talk to someone. Where can I go?

If you are having suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-273-8255.

You should reach out to the IDG Wellness Program at Independent Drivers Guild. Their team is full of professional counselors who work with drivers on a daily basis. They can provide counseling in English, Spanish, Chinese, Bengali and Urdu. You can receive assistance by emailing  wellness@drivingguild.org or by calling 917-594-5443.

If you are looking to talk to a professional about the stress and anxiety you are feeling, you can do this through our telemedicine benefit via MDLIVE. Make sure your benefits are activated, and sign onto the app!

Another option would be NYC Well, which is offering free confidential counseling in more than 200 languages. On this website, you can chat with them, or text “WELL” to 65173* or call 1-888-NYC-WELL

What help is out there for paying my cell phone bill?

There is help out there for people who may have trouble paying their cell phone bill. Make sure to call your provider to see what they are doing to assist New Yorkers during this crisis.

On June 30th, the “Keep Americans Connected Pledge” was not extended. As we are writing this section, we do not know what specific offers Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T will be offering customers who have suffered financially from COVID-19. We will update this as more information becomes available.

UPDATED: If I can’t pay my utility bills, will my gas, electric, water, or telephone get shut off?

The New York state hold on all utility shut-offs will continue until November 3rd. However, if you are having trouble paying your bills, you are encouraged to call your utility companies now (don’t wait until November 3rd) and “self-certify” to receive an additional 180 days of protection from utility shut-offs.

What happens if I can’t pay my ConEd bill?

You should make sure to call ConEd at 1-800-75-CONED to let them know. ConEd has promised that they will not shut off service for non-payment, and waive late fees but you should still call them to work out a plan.

If you qualify for SNAP or Medicaid, you also qualify for a discount. Click here for more information.

What should I do if I don’t have electricity? 

First and foremost, you should report the outage to ConEd as soon as possible. You can report the outage by either going here, or calling 1-800-75-CONED (26633).

If you’ve already reported your outage, you can go to ConEd’s website here to check its status. If someone in your household has a medical issue that requires power and is without, please call ConEd’s emergency number at 1-800-752-6633.

What happens if I can’t pay my National Grid bill?

You should call National Grid to let them know you are having trouble. They have consumer advocates who help clients who need assistance. You can call them at 718-643-4050 or email them at ConsumerAdvocacyNYC@nationalgrid.com

They also encourage you to look at grant programs here.

National Grid has promised they will not shut off service for non-payment if you are impacted by COVID-19. They request you go to their consumer advocate page here to request assistance.

Is child care available to me?

Yes, there is. New York City is putting together a child care program called Learning Bridges for public school parents with children from 3K through 8th grade, and applications are now open. You can learn more about it here, and you can apply here. We encourage you to apply as soon as you can since we still do not know the process for allotting children to programs.

I need some help with the iPad that the Department of Education gave my child. Where do I go?

You can find lots of answers regarding your child’s iPad, including who to contact for technical help, how to return it, and questions about delivery by going here.

How can I keep my internet if I can’t pay for it?

On June 30th, the “Keep Americans Connected Pledge” was not extended. As we are writing this section, we do not know what specific offers Comcast, Verizon, and Spectrum will be offering customers who have suffered financially from COVID-19. We will update this as more information becomes available.  

In the meantime, we recommend you reach out to your company to see what they are offering.

My kids are home and need internet access. What can we do?

There are options:

Comcast

For those without a current subscription, Comcast is offering Essentials internet services free for two months for new qualifying customers.

You may qualify if:

  • Are eligible for public assistance programs like the National School Lunch Program, housing assistance, Medicaid, SNAP, SSI, and others.
  • Have not subscribed to Comcast internet within the last 90 days.
  • Have no outstanding debt with Comcast that is less than one year old.

More information can be found here, and apply here. After the two months, you will have to pay $9.95

Spectrum

For those without a current subscription, Spectrum is offering discounted broadband and WiFi internet to those who qualify for: 

  • National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
  • Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the NSLP
  • Supplemental Security Income (for applicants 65+ only)

To enroll, go here for the application and details of how to apply.

I have legal questions that pertain to my citizenship case. Are there any resources to help me?

Yes, there are. These organizations are offering free assistance:

Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, ActionNYC: Free legal screenings and assistance is available to New Yorkers. To make an appointment, call (800) 354-0365 Monday through Friday between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM. You may also call 311 and say ‘ActionNYC.’

New York State Office for New AmericansThe New Americans hotline is a toll-free, multi-lingual hotline. The hotline provides live assistance in more than 200 languages. Anyone can call the hotline for information and referrals, regardless of citizenship or documented status. Calls to the hotline are confidential and anonymous.

Call 1-800-566-7636 from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM (ET), Monday through Friday (excluding Federal holidays) and is managed by Catholic Charities Community Services.

Through the hotline, you can:

  • Ask general immigration and naturalization questions
  • Obtain referrals to immigrant-related public and private programs
  • Find out information about the ONA Opportunity Centers
  • Report immigration assistance fraud and schemes against immigrants

Legal Aid SocietyFor help with an immigration matter, whether for removal defense or for help with an affirmative immigration benefit (citizenship, green cards, family-based petitions, etc.), with concerns about public charge, or for help with advance planning for non-citizen parents, please call our Immigration Law Unit Helpline: 844-955-3425

The helpline operates Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Where can I find more up-to-date information about immigration issues and COVID-19?

We encourage you to look at:

New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs COVID-19 resource page

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Response to COVID-19 page

I don’t have the money to take care of my pet. Is there any support out there?

Yes, there is now a Pet Hotline, which is being run by the City of New York and ASPCA. This can help you with pet food, emergency medical services, emergency animal boarding, and more. You can call the Pet Hotline from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, 7 days a week, at 1-877-204-8821.

I have lost a loved one and cannot afford a proper burial. What can I do?

You can receive assistance from the City of New York. You may be able to receive up to $1,700 in burial allowance and $3,400 on burial costs. You can apply to 120 days from the date of the loved one’s death. Applications that were received on or after March 12, 2020 will be considered for the increased burial assistance allowance, regardless of immigration status.  The application is here. You must send an email to BurialServices@hra.nyc.gov  Go here for more information about the program and applying.

The American Red Cross are offering support for individuals who are dealing with a family member’s death due to COVID-19. They will connect you with crisis counselors and spiritual providers who will help meet your needs. Go to their Funeral Support Form here to apply.

Can I go somewhere for legal assistance with my will, or claiming inheritance?

Yes. The City Bar Justice Center is offering free legal assistance for people who need assistance with claiming inheritance and creating a will. You can go here to learn more. Their application is here, and their number is 212-382-6756.

The weather is starting to heat up, and I’m nervous that I don’t have an air conditioner. What can I do?

The City of New York is offering support. 

There is the Cooling Assistance Benefit, which provides up to $800 if you are on SNAP (food stamps), Temporary Assistance, or Code A Supplemental Income, or if you meet their income requirements. You can find more information about the program, eligibility, and how to apply here.

The city is also providing free air conditioners to New Yorkers who are 60 years old and older and have income below 60 percent of the state median income, and do not have air conditioning at home. There is no need to apply. Eligible New Yorkers will be identified by NYCHA, DFTA, HRA and HPD, and will be reached out to directly.

When it comes to the summer heat, are there any resources I should be aware of?

New York City Emergency Management recently created a “Beat the Heat” page, which gives important information on extreme heat.

Is there any assistance available with purchasing MetroCards?

Yes, there is. The Fair Fares program allows those eligible to purchase MetroCards at a 50% discount. You can go here to find more information and the application.

UPDATED:Driving

Can I receive workers compensation?

Workers’ compensation may apply, but in general, you only qualify for workers’ compensation from an injury or illness that directly results from performing a covered service for a Member Base of The Black Car Fund. Coverage will be denied if you cannot identify how you contracted the virus, if you are asymptomatic and a family member has the virus, or if you contracted the virus from friends, co-workers, family members or strangers. Each case will be evaluated on its own merits.

To report a claim, you can go to https://www.nybcf.org/reportyouraccident. In the description section, please provide as many details as you have regarding how you contracted the virus. You can also file a claim by calling The Black Car Fund at 212-269-4800.

Can I receive workers compensation and unemployment insurance/Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?

In certain circumstances, you can. Be aware however. If you receive workers’ compensation, you will have to report that income when applying for Unemployment Insurance and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. It will decrease the amount you can earn since you cannot earn more than $503 per week.

Please note that if you are receiving workers compensation payments because you are totally disabled (ie. you are receiving temporary total or permanent total benefits) you are generally not eligible for unemployment benefits.

I need a break from driving and need to stop paying my insurance. How can I do this?

On March 21st, The NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission announced they are letting For-Hire Vehicle owners put their vehicle licenses into storage. This will put your TLC Vehicle License “on-hold” for a period of no more than 120 days. You can not drive that vehicle professionally in New York City while your vehicle license is in storage.

You should contact your insurance company prior to putting your vehicle license in storage to know what type of expected refund or reimbursement on insurance you may receive.

For more information on this new program, take a look at TLC’s FAQ.

To put your FHV license in storage, follow these steps. Click the same link if you would like to find out how to retrieve your license from storage.

How can I get help paying for my TLC Insurance?

On July 6th, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order pertaining to insurance companies expired. We recommend you reach out to your TLC Insurance company to see what types of relief they are offering.

If you delayed payments under the executive order, you do not have to pay all of your payments at once. Instead, you will have to pay them little by little each month.

Can I get partitions for my car?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Taxi and Limousine Commission is allowing all vehicles without partitions to install temporary partitions by approved TLC-partition installers.

See the updated approved list of partition installers here.

The TLC recommends contacting the approved installer prior to showing up to their business. The TLC also recommends keeping a copy of your installation paperwork in your vehicle to demonstrate the partition was installed by an approved installer.

If you are leasing your car, we also recommend reaching out to your leaser to make sure they approve and to see if they have any special deals for their clients. 

What can I do about my TLC ticket?

OATH has granted extensions on all hearings. They recommend doing this online at the OATH website here. You may also call 844-628-4692.

OATH will not be holding any in-person hearings until at least August 1st.

If you are interested in a hearing by phone, you may email OATH at the hearing location listed on your summons:

  • BRONX: remoteBronx@oath.nyc.gov
  • BROOKLYN: remoteBKLYN@oath.nyc.gov
  • MANHATTAN: remoteManhattan@oath.nyc.gov
  • QUEENS: remoteLIC@oath.nyc.gov
  • STATEN ISLAND: remoteSI@oath.nyc.gov

If you would like to have your hearing online, you can see if your summons is eligible here.

If you need to talk to a lawyer about your ticket, please call us at 833-814-8590.

What can I do about my DMV/NYPD tickets?

The DMV partially reopened on June 1st, but still wants you to plead or pay for your New York City traffic ticket on the website.  You can go here to learn more about how to pay or plead on the website, and go here to learn how to appeal your Traffic Violations Bureau ticket.

If you need to talk to a lawyer about your ticket, please call us at 833-814-8590

Is there a way to make DMV transactions without going inside the office?

New Yorkers can now complete specific DMV transactions through secure drop boxes. Drop boxes can be used for license plate surrenders, address changes, and license and registration renewals. Drop boxes are located at all state-run DMV offices and are open for use during regular office hours Monday – Saturday. Please note that everyone is required to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing whenever visiting a DMV office, or using the drop box. 

You can go here for more information.

Is the DMV open?

On June 1st, the DMV partially opened in New York City and other counties. You can go here to read the agency’s guidance.

On July 6th, the DMV announced the beginning of in-person services at their offices. You may only do these services if they are not available electronically and if you have a reservation. Click here for a list of locations and list of services you may be able to do in person.

UPDATED: Is there an extension on getting my vehicle registered and inspected?

Yes. On October 5th, Governor Cuomo passed an executive order that extended the expiration date of vehicle registrations and inspections to November 3rd from October 4th. 

I lease my vehicle from an agency, what can I do to get help?

You should call them and see how they are helping drivers. Many are cutting fees or waiving them completely.

Something is wrong with my car, can I get it fixed?

Yes. Governor Andrew Cuomo deemed auto maintenance and repair, and auto mechanics essential workers. Their shops are allowed to be open. Just call ahead to make sure they are there.

I got harassed because of my race, nationality, immigration status, or religion. What should I do?

You should start by reporting the abuse to the company you are driving for. This will help protect you if the passenger files a false report against you. If enough drivers complain about a passenger the company may ban them so other drivers won’t face the same problem.

You can report abuse to the NYC Human Rights Commission by calling 311, or filling out this form online, especially if the abuse is coming from someone you work with.

What is the TLC Driver Protection Unit?

The TLC Driver Protection Unit was created to protect your rights as a for-hire vehicle driver. Some of the illegal conduct that is investigated by the unit is: 

  • Failure to pay drivers what they earned by providing a trip
  • Failure to return a driver’s security deposit
  • Failure to provide drivers copies of documents required under TLC rules, including leases and receipts
  • Overcharge of lease or vehicle purchase amounts
  • Acts of identity theft
  • Retaliation for filing a complaint with the TLC

To date, the Unit has helped drivers get back more than $3.2 million.

If you’d like more information, call 718-391-5539 or e-mail driverprotection@tlc.nyc.gov.

Can all New York drivers for Black Car services use the Drivers Benefits Legal Assistance benefit?

Yes! Our Legal Assistance benefit is now available for all drivers in NY State. We can help you connect to legal assistance for NYPD or other police issued tickets in New York State or New Jersey. To learn more, check out our Legal Assistance webpage here

UPDATED: Finance

New York State Unemployment Insurance & Pandemic Unemployment Assistance:

Most drivers usually don’t qualify for unemployment assistance, but the federal government has passed a new law to offer drivers something similar called “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.”

We have created a guide to help drivers understand the programs and how to apply.

The TLC is hiring drivers to do deliveries to senior citizens who need to stay at home. Sign-up is available to only TLC drivers. The pay is $53 per route, which is broken down to $40 per route in base pay and $13 per route to cover gas and mileage. You can find more information about the opportunity here and you can register here.

Uber started Work Hub, which connects Uber drivers to other work opportunities, including Uber Eats. Look in your Uber app for more information, or here.

Amazon is hiring drivers to do deliveries in New York City and other places around the United States. Click here for more information.

You can sign up to be a paid poll worker. Right now, there is a shortage of poll workers in NYC, and a need for people who speak more than one language. If you are interested, you should sign up as soon as possible. 

Kid Car is looking for drivers for their Kid CarPool program that transports children to and from school. Those interested should look here for more information. If interested in applying, click here.

The Sanitation Department of NYC is now accepting applications for temporary snow laborers. These workers are called on after heavy snowfalls to help clear areas like bus stops, crosswalks, and fire hydrants. For more information and to register, click here

Small Business Services (SBS) Workforce1 is a city government program that can provide you one-on-one assistance from professionals who can help with:

  • Identify jobs that fit your experience and skills
  • Prepare for interviews
  • Access free job training

You can sign up here.

Upwardly Global offers a free job search program for immigrants. You can learn more and apply here.

I need help with my resume, where can I go for help?

If you need help with your resume, libraries are offering assistance.

Queens Public Library is offering virtual resume assistance. This is available Monday – Friday on a first come, first served basis. You can email your resume or questions regarding resumes to jobsearchhelp@queenslibrary.org. Career coaches and employment counselors can help you format your resume, highlight keywords to best spotlight your abilities, and provide suggestions to best spotlight your skills and qualifications. Please allow a minimum 48-hour turnaround for assistance.

Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is offering resume and career help via email through their Business and Career Center. If you have questions about your resume, cover letter, resources that could help you in your job search or other job search-related questions, please email resumehelp@bklynlibrary.org. Click here for more information.

What non-government financial resources are available for me?

While we cannot guarantee that you will get them, there are a few different organizations offering financial relief to people affected by COVID-19.

Hebrew Free Loan Society is offering interest-free loans of $2,000 – $5,000 to residents of New York City’s five boroughs, Westchester, or Long Island who are facing financial challenges caused by the Coronavirus outbreak. These loans are intended to address:

  • Lost wages due to being unable to go to work
  • Child care costs due to school closures
  • Small business losses
  • Related medical costs

You can find out more about the loan here, and the application here.

New York Disaster Interfaith Services’ COVID-19 Unmet Needs Roundtable is offering money to primarily assist with cell phone bills that are in final turnoff notice, prescription medical costs, and other emergency needs, such as vouchers for food. 

In order to be eligible, you must live in New York City, have a proof of address, provide proof of food stamps, and show unemployment applications.

You can apply by emailing info@nydis.org 

Is there free one-on-one financial counseling available to help me figure out my personal finances?

Yes, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs offers free one-on-one professional financial counseling and coaching. All appointments at this time are over the phone, and can be made here.

NHSNYC (Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City), a non-profit organization, is also offering free financial coaching, as well as foreclosure prevention counseling. You may request an appointment here.

Is there free one-on-one financial counseling available to help me figure out my professional finances?

Yes, there is. You can reach out to the New York State Small Business Development Center. They have free financial consulting available to small business owners, and independent contractors. You can schedule an appointment here.

New York City Small Business Administration. They are offering professional help to: 

  • Understand which loan is best suited for their needs  
  • Review and put together loan documents   
  • Calculate loan repayment terms   
  • Connect with multiple lenders – including banks, credit unions, non-profit lenders and the Small Business Administration (SBA) 
  • Prepare SBA loan forgiveness documents   
  • Understand loan payment deferment options 

You can request help here.

The TLC has started a TLC Driver Resource Center, where financial counseling, legal services, health and mental health resources and public benefit application support free of charge is available. You can find out more information at that link, or by clicking here to make an appointment.

Can I get paid sick leave?

Uber, Lyft and Via are offering financial assistance to drivers who can’t drive because of the coronavirus, but it is not technically “paid sick leave.”

What are they offering?

The app companies are offering different processes and qualifications for financial assistance to drivers.

For each of these companies, you will need a doctor’s note. A doctor’s note from the doctors on MDLIVE is acceptable, so make sure to activate your benefits and use the app. When you are talking to the doctor, describe your symptoms, and request a doctor’s note. Each company has different policies for offering financial assistance.

We’ve compiled them below:

Uber

They are offering financial assistance to any driver or delivery person who is diagnosed with COVID‑19 or is individually asked to self‑isolate by a public health authority, as well as people who have been told to isolate because they have pre-existing conditions that put them at a higher risk of suffering serious illness from COVID-19. Drivers selected will receive financial assistance for up to 14 days while their account is on hold. ”

Uber has also established a “maximum per-person payment” to drivers under this program.

Your doctor’s note must include:

  • You have an active case of COVID-19”; or
  • “You were individually ordered to self-quarantine because you’re suspected to have an active case of COVID-19”; or
  • “You were individually ordered to self-quarantine because you have pre-existing health conditions that put you at higher risk of serious illness due to COVID-19”

To qualify, you must also meet these criteria:

  • You must have completed at least one trip or one delivery on the Uber platform in the 30 days before the date on your documentation, or the date you first reached out to Uber for financial assistance, whichever is earlier.
  • Your documents must contain your full name, the full name of the doctor or government public health official, their contact information, and a diagnosis date or start date of quarantine.
  • You must submit your documents within 30 days after the date of your diagnosis or the date when your individual quarantine started.

The following situations do not qualify for financial assistance:

  • You’ve tested positive for immunity to COVID-19, but do not have an active case of COVID-19
  • You do not have written documentation from a licensed doctor or government public health official
  • Your city or country has ordered a mass quarantine
  • Your city or country has suspended Uber service
  • You have already received payment under Uber’s financial assistance policy

You can request financial assistance by going here and logging in. Uber said they will process requests within 7 days.

Lyft

Lyft is providing “funds to drivers should they be diagnosed with COVID-19 or put under individual quarantine by a public health agency.” You should contact Lyft’s support team to self-report and provide documentation that proves you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or put under individual quarantine by a public health agency. The amount you will receive is “based on the rides they provided on the Lyft platform over the last four weeks.” This policy will be in place until April 10th, then they will re-evaluate.

You can apply for financial assistance through Lyft’s Help Center on the app. You must have a doctor’s note that says either you have Covid-19, or should isolate due to being at-risk of having Covid-19.

Via

Via is also providing financial assistance for any driver diagnosed with COVID-19 or put under individual quarantine.

You can apply here. You must have a doctor’s note that says either you have Covid-19, or should isolate due to being at-risk of having Covid-19.

Credit Card Debt

How can I get help with my credit card debt?

You should call your credit card company and let them know you’re having trouble paying because of the pandemic. Every credit card has a phone number to call on the back of the card.

UPDATED: Student Loans

I can’t keep up with my student loans. What can I do?

This depends on the type of loan you have.

State loans at a New York State public university:

If you have student loans owed to the State University of New York, debt collection has been suspended through August 15th.

Federal student loans:

On October 5th, Attorney General Letitia James extended the suspension of the state’s collection of student and medical debt until November 3rd. This order will pause the accrual of interest and collection fees on existing debt. For more information, call 800-771-7755, or check out the Attorney General’s website here.

On March 27, 2020, the federal government passed the CARES Act, which provides relief for most federal student loan borrowers, effective March 7, 2020, and lasting through at least September 30, 2020.

The current student loan borrower relief package includes the following, which will be done automatically by your loan servicer:

  • Suspension of payments (you will not be required to make payments)
  • Stop to all interest accrual (effectively, your interest will be 0% for this period)
  • All months, even if no payment is made, will count toward loan forgiveness programs, like Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and loan rehabilitation (if you are not currently enrolled in any of these programs, consider calling your servicer to ask for more information)
  • No negative credit reporting for suspended payments (this relief won’t hurt your credit score)
  • end to debt collection activity, including wage garnishment (money that was recently taken will be returned)
  • Any payments borrowers choose to pay will be applied to the loan account (if you choose to make payments, they will be used to pay down the balance of your loans)

Private student loans:

If you have private student loans, you must contact your creditor to see what they are offering. On April 7th, Navient, Nelnet, PHEAA, MOHELA, and other private loan companies, struck an agreement with New York State to do the following for people with debt:

  • Providing a minimum of 90 days of forbearance relief for borrowers;
  • Waiving late payment fees for borrowers;
  • Ensuring no borrower is subject to negative credit reporting;
  • Ceasing debt collection lawsuits for 90 days; and
  • Working with eligible borrowers to enroll them in other applicable borrower assistance programs.

Do I still need to file taxes?

Yes, you do. The tax filing and payment deadline was July 15th.

If you filed an extension, the deadline is October 15th.

Are there any relief programs for paying property taxes in New York?

Yes, the New York City Department of Finance offers three types of plans for those struggling to pay property taxes: Low-Income Senior (LIS) Plan, Fixed-Term Income-Based (FTI) Plan, and Extenuating Circumstances Income-Based (ECI) Plan.

For each program, you are eligible if your gross income is less than $58,000. Click here for more information about eligibility.

What if I was late paying my property taxes in New York City? Is there any help for me?

As of July 1st, there is a new Property Tax Interest Reduction program in New York City. This is for property owners who may have late interest fees based on not paying your property taxes on time. If eligible, you may either receive 0% late fee interest or have it more than halved based on the value of your property. You can click here to find more information about how to qualify and apply.

Is there any free tax prep available?

Yes, there is. The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection is offering NYC Free Virtual Tax Prep, which will help you for the October 15th deadline for those who either missed the July  15th deadline or filed an extension. This service is available for families earning $64,000 or less in 2019 and single filers earning $45,000 or less in 2019. Click here for a full list of providers, including a checklist of documents needed to file your taxes.

Note: NYC Free Tax Prep volunteers can also assist non-filers with stimulus payments.

UPDATED: Government

Is it true that the government is sending everyone a check?

Most Americans will be receiving a check in the next few weeks. Most drivers can expect to get $1,200 plus an additional $500 per child under 17. Individuals earning over $75,000 or married couples earning $150,000 will probably get less.

What do I have to do?

If you filed your taxes for 2019 or 2018, or receive Social Security retirement or disability (SSDI), you don’t have to do anything. There is no sign-up required.

If you did not file taxes for either year, it is recommended that you file your taxes to receive the payment. You may also go to the IRS website here and go to “Non-Filer: Enter Your Payment Here”

When will I get it?

It depends on if you have already provided the IRS your direct deposit information when filing for taxes. Some direct deposits have already been sent out.

If the IRS does not have your direct deposit information, they will send you a paper check.

Can I find out when they will send me a check?

Yes. Go to this IRS link here and click “Get My Payment”.

You can also call the new IRS hotline at (800) 919-9835 to receive the status of your payment.

Is there a way to update my bank deposit or mailing address?

If the government did not send out your money already, yes. Go to the IRS website here and click “Get My Payment”

The IRS said they are working on a portal for people to submit their bank information for a quicker deposit. Once that is developed, we will link it here.

Is there money being sent to parents who missed the deadline to submit children and dependents in August?

Yes, but only for people who did not receive the money when the checks came out and if they don’t have to file taxes. The deadline was extended to September 30th. You can go here to find more information and to submit. 

The only people eligible for this have: 

  • Income is less than $12,200
  • Married filing jointly and together your income is less than $24,400
  • Have no income

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) can provide up to 100% loan forgiveness to small businesses, including self-employed and independent contractors to pay salaries (including what drivers earn after expenses) and to pay certain expenses.

This program may be of special interest to drivers who want to continue driving, not receive unemployment, and would like to have extra money for their own compensation to make up for lost profit, vehicle leasing payments and gas money (if they have already filed their FY2019 taxes and claimed these expenses as deductions).

The application for new loans expired on August 8th.

Go to our premium, members-only Paycheck Protection Program page to learn more. If you aren’t already a member of Drivers Benefits, sign up here to get this and other premium content, all for free. Current members should check their email for how to get to the page.

UPDATED: Do I still have to fill out the Census, even if there’s a pandemic?

The deadline to get counted passed on October 15, 2020.

How can I register to vote, or check my voter registration?

You can do either of these things by going to New York City’s Board of Elections website.

To register to vote, go here.

To check on your voter registration, go here.

UPDATED: Can I vote early in-person?

In-person voting will be available for registered voters in New York from October 24th through November 1st, 2020. You must follow social distancing guidelines and wear a face covering whenever you enter a voting location. Learn more about early voting and find your poll site here

Can I vote by absentee ballot?

You can now request an absentee ballot for the November 3, 2020, General Election by applying here. If you want to vote by absentee ballot, your application must be submitted online, faxed, emailed, or postmarked by October 27th. 

If you have more questions about absentee voting, you can call the Board of Elections at 1-866-868-3692.

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