A photo showing part of an American flag and some $100 bills.

This guide to federal and state financial aid packages includes updated information to help you secure loans, grants and benefits.

New: Congress passes the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act

• Increases the forgiveness period from 8 weeks to 24 weeks;

• Decreases  the minimum amount that must be spent on payroll from 75% to 60%;

• Increases loan maturity from two to five years for new Paycheck Protection Plan loans;

• Extends the deadline to rehire staff from 6/30/20 to 12/31/20;

• Provides New borrowers with five years at 1% (if lender and borrower agree) to repay unforgiveable portion of the loan;

• Allows for delayed payment of payroll taxes;

• States that a reduction in workforce to pre-pandemic levels won’t impact forgiveness, according to Small Business Majority,  if the business is unable to hire a former employee; the business is able to demonstrate an inability to rehire similarly qualified employees; and the business demonstrates the inability to return to the same level of business activity before 2/15/20.

New: SBA Issues Form for PPP Forgiveness

The Small Business Administration (SBA) now has a streamlined form you can fill out to apply for Paycheck Protection Plan forgiveness. Apply for this with PPP Loan Forgiveness Application Form 3508EZ if:

• You are self-employed and have no employees; 

• You did not reduce your employees’ wages or salaries by more than 25%, and you didn’t reduce employees’ hours;

• COVID-19 regulations or directives resulted in a reduction in your business, yet you didn’t reduce employees’ wages or salaries by more than 25%.

If you don’t meet the above criteria, you can still complete the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application revised June 16, 2020.

New: SBA Reopens Application Process for Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Advance

The SBA began accepting new Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) and EIDL Advance applications on June 15 to qualified small businesses and agricultural businesses.

New: Webinars on Navigating Loan Programs During COVID-19

The Small Business Majority offers free business webinars on a variety of topics, targeting various U.S. regions and states.

The Original Package

A $483 billion relief package was passed by the Senate on April 21. It will reinvigorate the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, which had been close to empty of funds before the new package was passed, according to a report from CNN.

“There will also be $10 billion for grants under the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster (EEID) loan program, $50 billion for disaster recovery loans and $2.1 billion for additional salaries and expenses for the Small Business Administration,” the article stated.

EEID loans and grants are detailed below, in this article.

The Cares Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is $2 trillion plan to offer economic relief to businesses and individuals whose lives and businesses have been disrupted by coronavirus (COVID-10). It became law in late March.

A key element of the CARES Act is the extension of unemployment compensation to individuals who wouldn’t normally be eligible for it — including massage therapists and others who work as sole proprietors, small-business owners and independent contractors. Massage therapists and others who have been employed may file for unemployment benefits through their state’s unemployment office.

Additionally, the CARES Act provides for a one-time payment for most Americans, of about $1,200 per adult plus $500 per child. You are eligible if you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who filed federal income taxes for 2018 or 2019 if you meet the income thresholds; you receive Social Security retirement, disability (SSDI), or survivor benefits; or you receive Railroad Retirement benefits.

Financial Help for Independent Contractors

A person employed as an independent contractor may be eligible for unemployment assistance under Section 2102 of the CARES Act based on one of several factors — including having to quit one’s work as a result of COVID-19 or having had one’s workplace shut down due to a COVID-19 public health emergency.

“Pandemic unemployment assistance is available not only if such independent contractors are ‘unemployed’ but also if ‘partially unemployed,’ according to “Independent Contractors Eligible for Unemployment Assistance Under Federal CARES Act Stimulus Bill,” a paper prepared by Locke Lord Labor & Employment Practice.

“This benefit is not available, though, if and when such self-employed individuals are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits, including such benefits available to independent contractors under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act or a state law providing such paid benefits to self-employed workers,” the paper continued.

On April 20 the U.S. Department of Labor published its Unemployment Insurance Program Letter 17-20 to detail unemployment benefits both to employees covered by state benefits and independent contractors covered by the CARES Act.

The amount of money available to independent contractors could vary by state.

Financial Help for Employees

A person employed as an employee may be eligible for unemployment through their state employment office.

Also, The CARES Act gives all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members. 

Loans & Grants for Small Businesses

Small-business owners may apply for a loan through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, which provides cash-flow assistance through 100% federally guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during the COVID-19 emergency. Such businesses have to have been in operation on Feb. 15, 2020, according to The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act, produced by the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship.

The Guide also describes small-business benefits including:

• Economic Injury Disaster Loans: Lower-interest loans of up to $2 million, with possible deferment of principal and interest; to pay for expenses that could have been met had a disaster not occurred.

• COVID-19 Emergency Economic Injury Grants: $10,000 of economic relief to businesses experiencing temporary loss of revenue; this grant does not need to be paid back; however, it comes in the form of an advance on one’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

• Small Business Debt Relief Program: A financial reprieve to small businesses during the pandemic. The SBA will automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of current 7(a), 504, and microloans for a period of six months; the SBA will also automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of new 7(a), 504, and microloans issued prior to September 27, 2020.

• Small Business Counseling: The SBA’s Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and SCORE mentorship chapters are receiving additional funding to expand their each and better support small-business owners with counseling and information related to COVID-19.

• Small Business Tax Provisions: The IRS has extended the annual tax-filing deadline to July 15; created an employee retention credit; and offers online tax help.

Download Info & Forms Here

Stimulus Check Calculator

The Cares Act

“Independent Contractors Eligible for Unemployment Assistance Under Federal CARES Act Stimulus Bill”

Find Your State Unemployment Insurance Office

CareerOneStop is a state-by-state resource on applying for benefits.

The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act

Paycheck Protection Program Information Sheet

Paycheck Protection Program Borrower Application Form

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application Form

Locate a Small Business Development Center, Women’s Business Center or SCORE mentorship chapter

IRS Information on Coronavirus Tax Relief for Businesses and Tax-Exempt Entities

Employee Retention Credit

MASSAGE Magazine’s COVID-19 Resource Page

About the Author

Karen Menehan is MASSAGE Magazine’s editor in chief. Her recent articles include “MTs Ask: What’s Really in My CBD Topical?,”  “Aging Baby Boomers are Changing the Way Senior Massage is Delivered.” and “Coronavirus and its Impact on the Massage Industry.”