Congress is working to pass the new administration’s American Rescue Plan to help alleviate the financial strain caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic. While the bill has not yet passed, it may contain the following benefits when it does.
The current relief bill is set to expire March 14 but Congress is hoping to have the new bill passed and sent to President Biden before then for a smooth transition. The $1.9 trillion COVID Relief Bill currently includes:
- $1,400 direct payments
- Supplemental unemployment benefits, increased from $300 to $400
- Extended unemployment benefits until August 2021
- $20 billion for Coronavirus vaccine support
- $50 billion into COVID-19 testing
- $350 billion into state, local and tribal government relief
The bill includes additional relief programs for industries and individuals negatively impacted by the COVID Pandemic, including small businesses, children, and those without health insurance. Neither the House of Representatives nor the Senate has passed the bill so items may change by the time it becomes law.
However, the House of Representatives passed the bill on 2/26/21 and now it has moved to the Senate for their vote. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer expects the bill to pass in the Senate as well.
Next Round of Stimulus Checks
We won’t know when stimulus checks will come out until the COVID-19 relief bill has been passed but they will likely be $1,400 per eligible individual. Unlike previous direct payments, dependents of any age, including children and disabled adults, will qualify for the $1,400 check. Otherwise, eligibility may remain the same.
With such a large stimulus check this round, you may be able to use it in multiple ways. While the direct payments are intended to stimulate the local economy, you may consider using it to:
- Pay down debt
- Start or add to an emergency fund
- Save for a down payment on a house or car
- Cover bills to give yourself a break this month
- Save it for a rainy day
This kind of opportunity does not present itself often so make sure you think about what you’re going to do before you spend the check.
Supplemental Unemployment Benefits
This relief bill will likely extend unemployment benefits received from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which already extended benefits beyond the typical 26 weeks. The bill proposes extending PUA until August 29, 2021, increasing the number of weeks those receiving benefits can collect checks from 50 weeks to 74 weeks.
Those receiving unemployment benefits could receive a $400 supplement from the federal government in addition to their weekly payment starting March 14, if the bill passes before then. This is a $100 increase from the current federal supplement outlined in the previous relief bill. The new bill will continue the increased supplement until August 29.
Unemployment benefits may also be available for contract workers or those who were self-employed, who previously had been ineligible for this program.
Once the bill passes, you should not need to do anything differently when claiming your weekly benefit in order to receive the extension and federal supplement but check with your state’s unemployment rules before claiming your weekly benefits.
If you expect to have trouble paying down your unsecured debt even after receiving your next stimulus check, give a Certified Debt Specialist a call at 866-481-1597 to discuss your best debt relief options or get a free savings estimate.