Our financial crisis is being combated on many sides, with a seemingly endless series of opportunities for people facing serious hardships. I thought it would be helpful to summarize all the options created as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and give you just the facts that you need in order to consider pursuing one or more of them.
1. Mortgage Refinancing and Modification
You may be having trouble making mortgage payments (either your rate went up significantly, or your income decreased, or maybe both), or you’ve been paying your mortgage on time but your home value has decreased, so you can’t take advantage of lower interest rates. Help is available for both groups.
Visit MakingHomeAffordable.gov, and find out if you are eligible.
Also worth pointing out on that site is the special Beware of Scams page. The idea of losing your home is one of the more frightening ones I can think of. People may not always make sound decisions.
2. Tax Reduction for 95% of Working Americans
You don’t have to take any action to benefit from this. You’ll either notice your regular paycheck increasing, or you won’t.
3. $250 for SSI or Social Security Recipients
There’s a one-time payment of $250 that should be made by the end of May 2009 for people on Social Security, a veteran with a pension, or people with disabilities. You don’t have to do anything special to receive this, either. More information at Social Security Online.
4. Tax Credits for Making Energy Efficiency Improvements
The Low Impact Living blog has a great summary of the different ways you can save in 2009 by making specific “green” improvements. I’m seriously considering a few of these.
5. Over $15 Billion for Medicaid
I don’t know much about Medicaid, except that many people rely on it, and if you were worried that you wouldn’t be covered, there’s a good chance you will be, now. Read the Press Release at the White House.
6. Tax Credits for Buying a House
There was a tax credit for buying a house last year, and there’s a tax credit for this year. They have different rules and Flexo did a great job explaining both, and how to act on either one.
7. Tax Deduction for Buying a Car
Trucks are included, too. If your income isn’t too high (taxable income of $125,000 / year or $250k for couples filing jointly), you can deduct the sales tax on a new vehicle. Read more (especially the first comment) at the Sound Money Matters blog.
8. More Money for Students
An additional $17.1 billion in Pell Grants means an increase of a maximum Pell award from $4,850 to $5,350. There’s also an additional $200 million for work study programs. Quite a lot more information at the U.S. Department of Education Web site.
More details about this, additional credits and 529 plans can be found at the Online Education Blog.
Whether you think the ARRA is a good idea or not, it’d be foolish not to take advantage of the opportunities that make sense for you and/or your family. Mostly, though, I hope the growth of our various tent cities slows down really soon.