This suspension of mortgage payments is called forbearance, but it is not automatic. You have to ask for it. Simply not paying your mortgage does not qualify you for forbearance.

QUESTION: I got a six-month forbearance on my mortgage in early April. At the time, my wife and I thought we would be back to work by September, or at the very least, one of us would be. It’s clear that is not going to happen. The window on our mortgage is going to close soon. Is there any other help out there for us?

ANSWER: Yes, there is, but you have to ask for it.

The coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in March gave borrowers the right to suspend paying their mortgage for up to 180 days, plus another 180 days if borrowers ask for it before the first 180 days expires. This means you can go for up to a year without paying your mortgage with no risk of foreclosure, damage to your credit score or late fees.

This suspension of mortgage payments is called forbearance, but it is not automatic. You have to ask for it. Simply not paying your mortgage does not qualify you for forbearance.

I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping in touch with your lender. Never just do not pay your mortgage.

If you are nearing the end of your initial forbearance period and you are still experiencing financial hardship because of the coronavirus, get in touch with your lender before the deadline. You do not have to provide documentation of financial hardship. Lenders are obliged under the relief bill to approve forbearance if asked.

Keep in mind that forbearance is not forgiveness. You will have to repay the missed mortgage payments. Once the forbearance period ends, you and your lender will have to agree on a repayment plan. This could be a lump sum payment, extra payments each month or extending the term of the mortgage by the number of missed months or maybe some other repayment plan.

If you are struggling financially and have not yet asked for forbearance, you can still do so.

Not all mortgages qualify for forbearance – only those backed by the federal government (about 70 percent of all mortgages). These include Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Department of Agriculture (USDA) direct and guaranteed loans, Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). If you do not know who owns your mortgage, ask your lender.

Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and out of Darkness.” Email her at: lrgoodspeed@comcast.net.