$1.9 trillion Senate stimulus: A guide to what you can expect
Here’s what we know about how Americans could benefit from the Senate bill:
If your family makes less than $160,000 a year
The Senate bill would provide direct payments worth up to $1,400 per person to families earning less than $160,000 a year and individuals earning less than $80,000 a year.
The payments will phase out faster than they would have under the House version of the bill, which set the income caps at $200,000 for couples and $100,000 for individuals.
That means that not everyone who was eligible for a check earlier will receive one now — but for those who do qualify, the new payments will top up the $600 checks approved in December, bringing recipients to a total of $2,000 apiece.
Individuals earning less than $75,000 would receive the full $1,400.
Married couples earning less than $150,000 a year would receive $2,800 — and families with children would be eligible for an additional $1,400 per dependent.
The payments will be calculated based on either 2019 or 2020 income. Unlike the previous two rounds, adult dependents — including college students — would be eligible for the payments.
If you are unemployed
Out-of-work Americans would get a federal weekly boost of $400 through August 29. Those enrolled in two key pandemic unemployment programs could also continue receiving benefits until that date.
Freelancers, gig workers, independent contractors and certain people affected by the coronavirus could remain in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for up to 74 weeks and those whose traditional state benefits run out could receive Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation for 48 weeks.
The jobless in these pandemic programs will start running out of benefits in mid-March, when provisions in December’s $900 billion relief package begin to phase out along with the current $300 federal weekly enhancement.
Senators had looked to reduce the federal enhancement to $300 a week and to extend the duration of the programs by another month. But those changes have not progressed.
Who is out of luck?
Workers being paid at or just above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour will not see a boost in pay.
The Senate parliamentarian ruled in late February that increasing the hourly threshold to $15 does not meet a strict set of guidelines needed to move forward in the reconciliation process, which would allow Senate Democrats to pass the relief bill with a simple majority and no Republican votes.
Here’s what’s in the House bill:
If you are hungry
Food stamp recipients would see a 15% increase in benefits continue through September, instead of having it expire at the end of June.
And families whose children’s schools are closed may be able to receive Pandemic-EBT benefits through the summer if their state opts to continue it. The program provides funds to replace free- and reduced-price meals that kids would have been given in school.
If you’re behind on your rent or mortgage
The legislation would send roughly $19.1 billion to state and local governments to help low-income households cover back rent, rent assistance and utility bills.
About $10 billion would be authorized to help struggling homeowners pay their mortgages, utilities and property taxes.
It would provide another $5 billion to help states and localities assist those at risk of experiencing homelessness.
If you have children
Along with receiving the stimulus payments described above, most families with minor children could claim a larger child tax credit for 2021. Low-income parents, in particular, would benefit.
Qualifying families could receive the child tax credit of $3,600 for each child under 6 and $3,000 for each one under age 18, up from the current credit of up to $2,000 per child under age 17.
The credit would also become fully refundable so more low-income parents could take advantage of it. Plus, households could receive payments monthly, rather than a lump sum once a year, which would make it easier for them to pay the bills.
Families paying for child care services could receive some additional aid. The bill would provide $39 billion to child care providers, some of which must be used to help families struggling to pay the cost.
If you’re sick
If you’re sick, quarantining or caring for an ill loved one or a child whose school is closed, the bill may provide your employer an incentive to offer paid sick and family leave.
Unlike Biden’s original proposal, the House bill would not require employers to offer the benefit. But it does continue to provide tax credits to employers who voluntarily choose to offer the benefit through October 1.
Last year, Congress guaranteed many workers two weeks pay if they contracted Covid or were quarantining. It also provided an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave to those who were staying home with kids whose schools were closed. Those benefits expired in December.
If you need health insurance
More Americans could qualify for heftier federal premium subsidies for Affordable Care Act policies for two years.
Enrollees would pay no more than 8.5% of their income towards coverage, down from nearly 10% now. Also, those earning more than the current cap of 400% of the federal poverty level — about $51,000 for an individual and $104,800 for a family of four in 2021 — would become eligible for help.
Lower-income enrollees could have their premiums eliminated completely, and those collecting unemployment benefits could sign up for coverage with no premiums in 2021.
Those who want to remain on their employer health insurance plans through COBRA could also get federal help. These laid-off workers would pay only 15% of the premium through the end of September, though that could still prove costly.
If you own a small business
The bill would provide $15 billion to the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan program, which provides long-term, low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration. Severely impacted small businesses with fewer than 10 workers will be given priority for some of the money.
It also provides $25 billion for a new grant program specifically for bars and restaurants. Eligible businesses may receive up to $10 million and can use the money for a variety of expenses, including payroll, mortgage and rent, utilities and food and beverages.
The Paycheck Protection Program, which is currently taking applications for second-round loans, would get an additional $7 billion and the bill would make more non-profit organizations eligible.
Another $175 million would be used for outreach and promotion, creating a Community Navigator Program to help target eligible businesses.