Feeling a more angry or irritable than normal, you know, “just not feeling right?” Maybe you are blaming yourself more for not being the person you used to be at home or on the water and now go home feeling like you are letting someone down. Maybe the client that you once loved to teach, or the waters you can navigate with your eyes closed, no longer bring you peace? Heck, maybe, that relaxing evening drink has increased to four or has become the midday, “I will just have one, well maybe two” self-talk.
Look, here’s the thing, we all could use a check-up from the neck up! Even the toughest, manliest and womanliest of guides need to talk it out sometimes. And the Guide Relief Program is here to ensure you have someone to speak with when you need it and how you need it no matter where in the state you are.
We have even removed the barrier of not being insured. That’s right, as an uninsured Montanan, help is here. If you, or a family member, do not have insurance, but feel as though you need to chat with someone, follow the instructions below to get the process started.
If you should have any questions, feel free to contact us at email@example.com
All communication is confidential.
At the end of July (July 25 in Montana, July 31 elsewhere) a significant benefit extended to independent contractors will end. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program (FPUC) which has provided an additional $600 per week to individuals who are collecting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) will terminate. Even though many independent contractors have been able to return to work fully, many have not or have found that they have decidedly less work. The loss of this additional income will prove critical to many who work as independent contractors, the self-employed, gig workers, and the like.
As Congress considers new relief, including the extension of FPUC, we encourage you to reach out to your Senators (and others if you wish) urging them to support the extension until January 2021. It could be because you need the extension beyond July 25th. Perhaps you won't need it right away, but in passing, will ensure that you will receive this benefit in the event it's needed. And in doing so, you will support your fellow guides who are in need of this funding.
Below find information on how to contact Montana Senators Tester and Daines. Direct links will be the most effective in which to reach out. You will also find talking points on FPUC, guide specific points, and suggestions on how best to write your letter. It's important to stay focused and clear on your messaging. Also, don't be fearful of making it personal. This is very personal to you and your colleagues.
If you are a guide or independent contractor from a state other than Montana, click here to find the Senators in your state.
We encourage you to reach out to us if you should have any questions or need assistance. firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Fill out the form with information needed. Name, address, etc.
2. Message bullet points.
3. Guide specific bullet points. (Choose one or two that may resonate with you. Feel free to expand on it and give personal examples.)
Hints and tips on putting your email together
You know why you’re writing and what to write, but just how should you write it? Here is some advice on giving your letter the right tone and approach.
First and foremost, if you are in crisis and need support, call the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 24/7, at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) Or text “MT” to 741741
If you should need assistance in navigating what might be best fit for you, please do not hesitate to contact us. Feel confident that every conversation is confidential.
406-838-3507 or email@example.com
Montana Housing’s Emergency Housing Assistance program provides rent, security deposit, mortgage payment, and/ or hazard insurance assistance as-needed for Montanans who have lost a job or substantial income loss as a result of COVID-19.
If you're concerned about your ability to pay your bill, please contact them right away.
Phone and internet:
FCC announced the Keep Americans Connected Initiative. In order to ensure that Americans do not lose their broadband or telephone connectivity. More than 700 companies and associations have signed the Chairman's pledge to Keep Americans Connected. These companies have vowed to:
United Way is supporting communities across the world struggling to cope with COVID-19, protecting the most vulnerable. Helping people most in need access food, shelter, vital information and more through United Way’s global network. Services are available throughout Montana.
File For Unemployment
If you, as an independent contractor, have not yet filed for unemployment, a site has been created specifically for those who work as independent contractors, self-employed, or gig workers. Before you file, have the following items prepared:
If you have questions or need assistance, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) office can be reached at 406-444-3382 or PUAClaims@mt.gov
Montana Citizens' Advocate
If you have filed for unemployment and haven't received your benefits and/or are unsuccessful in speaking with someone at Montana Works or the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), we encourage you to call or email the Montana Citizens' Advocate. Their job is in the name - they work to advocate on behalf of Montanans and offers direction and assistance within state government.
Montana Citizens' Advocate Office can be reached at (855) 318-1330 or (406) 444-3468 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To check on your status or apply today!
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC):
The new Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provision in the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020” (CARES Act) adds an additional $600/week to any benefit payment for which you are eligible.
Under this new law, the first week for which the additional $600 is payable is benefit week ending April 4, 2020. Assuming continuing eligibility, the last week the FPUC $600 addition may be paid is benefit week ending July 25, 2020.
FPUC payments are taxable by the federal government. Any withholding from benefits you have elected, or may elect, for federal income taxes will also apply to the new FPUC payments.
FPUC payments are also subject to offset for child support payments and benefit overpayments.
Yes, you are reading right. Unemployment Benefits, including the $600 additional weekly payment are beginning to roll out. However, as is stated very clearly in this video, the Montana Department of Labor & Industry are working diligently to add the self-employed and independent contractors to the system. Once that has been completed, self-employed and ICs will begin receiving their benefits, including the $600, which in many cases will be retroactive.
We understand that waiting for these funds to hit is stressful - know you are not alone in this. There are other programs that might help you with electric or other utilities. Find that information here.
"Do I need to apply to receive the additional $600 per week on my unemployment claim?
If you have already filed a claim that is in process or have filed a claim and are currently receiving benefits, you do not need to take any action to receive the additional $600 per week. As U.S. DOL provides federal guidance on those payments, you will be issued those payments as they become available.
Videos to assist you with filing your claim: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkx11XAxr6McUCzF5R2627iihYR_q5syc [youtube.com]
A press release, which includes a lot of details, can be found here: https://news.mt.gov/governor-bullock-announces-emergency-rules-to-streamline-unemployment-benefits-for-workers-impacted-by-covid-19
Please check this website for updates on Self Employment and when we will begin processing those new claims: http://dli.mt.gov/self-employed-contractors.
If you return to work and continue to file, please report your full hours and gross earnings when you file for benefits. We do not ask you for your hourly rate, but rather full gross earnings. Not reporting hours and earnings can result in fraud penalties and overpayments.
Please attempt to use our website at MontanaWorks.gov first. It is the fastest and most efficient way to open and request payment. The phone lines are extremely busy and we are experiencing statewide connection phone issues. Our phones lines continue to be open at this time. You can attempt to contact us at 406-444-2545 but please understand it is very difficult to reach us due to the extreme volume of calls."
(This is an email response from a UI representative).
This was an email sent to those that have applied for SBA funds:
On March 29, 2020, following the passage of the CARES Act, the SBA provided small business owners and non-profits impacted by COVID-19 with the opportunity to obtain up to a $10,000 Advance on their Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). The Advance is available as part of the full EIDL application and will be transferred into the account you provide shortly after your application is submitted. To ensure that the greatest number of applicants can receive assistance during this challenging time, the amount of your Advance will be determined by the number of your pre-disaster (i.e., as of January 31, 2020) employees. The Advance will provide $1,000 per employee up to a maximum of $10,000.
You may be eligible for another loan program, the Paycheck Protection Program, which is available through participating lenders. Below is a comparison of the two loan programs:
For all of us, we are waiting on our stimulus checks to show... any day now would be great!
The IRS just updated their website and they allow for 'non-filers' meaning:
In addition to this, they will have a "Get My Payment" site up and running by mid-April.
So, hopefully this week... we all will be able to access our money or at least have a better idea of where it is!
To stay up to date with the IRS and your stimulus check
"I owe the IRS... during COVID... now what?"
For those that have filed their returns, have been processed, and like many I.C.s... owe money, there are options.
It's hard enough to owe the IRS as a guide but it is even more difficult to owe money during COVID. We can't work, have no income, and don't know when our next check will be.
The good news is, we do have options. And hopefully as things progress, we will have more as the economy reboots.
For some help on what to do right now
And just a reminder... the tax filing date has been moved back to July 15, 2020.