Both consumers and businesses alike have been thrown into disarray with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each subsequent variant adds to ongoing uncertainty. Life hasn’t been easy for anyone, parents have been homeschooling kids and working from home if they’re lucky. Many businesses have shut down or have had to pivot to survive while laying off many of their staff.
If there is any silver lining to the current situation, it is that it has tested human ingenuity and resolve. For small business owners, the federal government has also offered the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) to assist them through the Small Business Administration (SBA).
However, there are so many questions that are still rampant about the EIDL, such as what the program is, or how do you apply for it? Some businesses wonder about the impact of the loan if they are unable to survive the pandemic. Many have applied for EIDL and have not heard back and don’t know where to start to check their status or how to contact the SBA. Below we explore all these questions and more to give readers a better understanding of the program and its process.
What is the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)?
Economic Injury Disaster Loan, or the EIDL, is a disaster relief loan program managed by the US Small Business Administration (SBA) for businesses facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a loan program. Unlike the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), EIDL cannot be forgiven if a few conditions are met. However, EIDL is a funding lifeline at a time when banks are not lending given the economic uncertainties.
Since the start of the third quarter of 2020, Commercial and Industrial loans at US commercial banks have been contracting. Yet, SBA is offering the EIDL at a fixed rate of 3.75% for businesses, and 2.75% for nonprofit organizations. The loan has a 30-year payback timeframe and offers an option to defer payments for two years. Furthermore, the loan does not come with any fees or early payment penalties.
The loan is intended for businesses to cover their operating costs and working capital needs, such as payroll, equipment purchases, or debt payments of all kinds. The maximum loan amount was increased to $2 million, up from $500,000 in September 2021. There is at least a one-month wait time to hear back on the status of loan applications above $500,000, however, loan applications below that threshold are processed immediately, to prioritize smaller businesses.
How do you qualify for the EIDL?
To qualify for the EIDL, businesses must meet the following criteria:
- The businesses should have been in operation on January 31, 2020.
- The business has to be classified as one of the following; Veterans organizations, qualified agriculture businesses, eligible nonprofit organizations, tribal organizations, small businesses, sole proprietorships, individuals that are self-employed, or independent contractors.
- The entity must have less than 500 employees.
- The business cannot be insolvent or in the process of bankruptcy.
What is the EIDL application process?
The EIDL loan application process is reasonably straightforward. Applicants can apply for the loan directly from the SBA website at www.sba.gov. According to SBA guidelines for the EIDL application, businesses need to submit the following as part of the application:
- The SBA electronic loan application
- The last three years of tax returns for the business
- A personal financial statement
- A schedule of liabilities
- A tax authorization form.
Once a business has applied with the above documents, the SBA replies with a loan quote. It is not an approval, nor an indication of the loan amount a business will receive. It is the maximum loan amount that a business may apply for. The business owner will need to confirm the amount within this maximum number, at which time the application is forwarded to an SBA loan officer. At this point, the business may be requested to furnish additional, more current, details about the business such as the balance sheet or an income statement.
The loan approval or denial notification is sent via email. Denial emails explain the reasons for the denial. In the case of approval, instructions are sent on how to sign the loan documents and obtain funding.
Where you can check the EIDL status
Once the application has been submitted, the EIDL status can be checked through multiple sources.
Phone – businesses can also call the SBA Disaster Assistance Customer Server Center at (800) 659-2955 between the hours of 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM Eastern, Monday through Sunday.
Email – You can email the SBA directly at [email protected]
Remain Optimistic and Persistent
Businesses need to remain optimistic in the face of these trying times. Make sure that before reaching out to the SBA, you have all the complete information that may be required to proceed with the status check. Sometimes there may be more luck with calling, at other times, emails may work better. Fortunately, there is an option for such a funding lifeline. The flip side is that millions of businesses are applying for it in unison. Try all options, be persistent in doing so, and just be patient!
Beware of Fraud
It’s been a difficult time for everyone, but there is no lack of scam artists, even in these trying times. There is even more cause for concern given with the number of funds involved and people looking to prey on the frustrations and delays of the application process. Business owners will need to be vigilant around any emails received purporting to be from the SBA. The logo, the email addresses may look very legitimate and convincing but make sure to match any contact information shared to that found on the SBA website.
Many of these nefarious actors are experts in phishing tactics to extract vital business details and bank account information. Businesses need to verify that the person they may be speaking to is in fact from the SBA. Any fraudulent activity should be immediately reported to the SBA.
Many small business owners face a dire predicament, survival. With the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), the SBA offers a lifeline to struggling businesses. However, it’s a difficult process given the long wait times and ambiguity. If one has been lucky enough to successfully navigate the application process and submit a request for a loan, questions often arise as to what’s next. Many don’t understand how long they need to wait, how to contact the SBA about their status of the EIDL, and what information must have handy if they contact the agency. Will they even be approved?
Figuring out the process for the EIDL loan application and status during a challenging time is difficult. However, businesses owners must remain optimistic and persistent through the process as they try different things and get in touch with the SBA.