This article was last updated on December 30, 2020.
It has been a grueling 9 months since America has received any sort of financial aid during the pandemic. After months of deliberation, Congress and now President Trump has signed off on the country’s second-ever stimulus relief package and some Americans are waking up with $600 in their bank accounts.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced on Tuesday, December 29, that direct deposits for the second round of COVID-19 stimulus relief payments are headed your way! While paper checks will begin to be mailed out this week, Americans are already receiving their stimulus checks of $600 in their bank accounts. As stimulus checks continue to be delivered, the Senate will continue to debate boosting the payments to the proposed $2,000.
The hurdles continue
Mitch McConnell blocked the proposed $2,000 stimulus check too quickly to even be seen by President Trump. McConnell has not said whether he’d allow a direct vote on $2,000 checks but indicated the Senate would review the matter later this week as the agreed $600 stimulus checks roll out.
To which Nancy Pelosi responded, “In blocking ($2,000 checks), they are in denial of the hardships that the American people are experiencing now, health-wise, financially and every way,” she said. “Their lives and livelihood in many cases are on the brink. We hope in the days ahead … that they will see the light and understand the suffering that is going on in our country. It’s amazing to see the patience that some people have with other people’s suffering. We urge Mitch McConnell to stop his obstruction and to bring that legislation to the floor of the Senate, and we urge Republicans in the Senate to encourage him to do so.”
The turn of events
After Congress finally agreed on the stipulations for the second COVID-19 stimulus relief package late Monday night, December 22, President Trump responded the next day in a surprise video demanding more financial aid for the American people. He stated that he will not be signing the stimulus bill without $2,000 stimulus checks to all Americans.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2020
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted a response shortly after, “At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 — Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it!”
After holding up the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill for nearly a week, President Donald Trump has just signed off on the stimulus package, which includes $600 stimulus checks.
The president had previously called the bill an unsuitable “disgrace” and demanded lawmakers raise the second round of stimulus checks to $2,000 per person, from $600.
Here is what to expect in the upcoming weeks.
The House plans to vote on a measure to increase stimulus checks to $2,000 on Monday, December 28, and in a statement released by Trump on Sunday, December 27, he said the Senate would “start the process for a vote that increases checks to $2,000.”
The stimulus package
The top priority is the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. The bill includes $69 billion to expand vaccine distribution, test-and-trace measures, and other public-health efforts. For those Americans making up to $75,000, you will be receiving a $600 check within 2 weeks, as well as an enhancement of $300 per week in federal unemployment benefits (if applicable) for an additional 11 weeks. (This is obviously if stimulus checks do not increase in amount.)
The long-awaited stimulus checks
First in line to receive stimulus checks will likely be individuals who already have their direct payment information on file with the IRS. Before Trump balked at signing the legislation, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that qualifying Americans could see direct payments reach their bank accounts in a matter of days.
“This is a very, very fast way of getting money into the economy. Let me emphasize: People are going to see this money at the beginning of next week,” said Mnuchin.
This includes those who signed up to receive a refund by direct deposit when filing their 2018 and/or 2019 taxes, and it may extend to the 14 million people who previously registered their details via two new online tools the IRS built this spring to collect banking and contact information. We wait to find out.
FAQ: “Will seniors get a second stimulus check?”
The answer is yes for those who make less than $75,000 and for those who collect Social Security benefits for retirement, disability, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)–they will be eligible for the stimulus payments. This includes retirees! But note that retirees who still bring in incomes above $87,000 for single filers or $174,000 for married joint filers will not receive any money.
Most retirees do not have child dependents that would entitle them to the additional $600 deposits beyond the ones they’re personally eligible for. That means it’s most likely that Social Security beneficiaries who are single will get a total of $600 if their income is not too high while married senior couples will get $1,200 in combined stimulus money.
The IRS could begin sending out payments as early as the week of January 4 via direct deposit while paper checks should start being mailed around a week later, assuming the agency follows a similar timeline as it did for CARES Act payments.
FAQ: “Is Medicare being affected by this stimulus bill?”
A provision called the Physician Assistant Direct Payment Act will now allow Medicare to directly reimburse physician assistants who provide medical care to older adults, instead of needing to reimburse a supervising physician or employer. Advocates for this change, like Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL) who co-sponsored the provision along with her Republican colleague Congressman Adrian Smith (NE), say that giving physician assistants more autonomy will make it easier for seniors, especially those living in rural areas, to find medical care.
The coronavirus relief package was included as a part of a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill, which also contained changes to key senior programs. Here, we break down some of the legislation’s most important provisions for older Americans.
The current stimulus relief package proposal:
- $286 billion in direct aid; including $600 checks and $300 weekly unemployment benefits
- $325 billion for small businesses
- $82 billion for schools
- $69 billion for public-health measures, including vaccination and testing
- $45 billion for transportation, including over $4 billion for the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority)
- $7 billion to bolster broadband access to help Americans connect remotely during the pandemic
- $25 billion in rental assistance
- $13 billion for additional SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits
- A tax credit “to support employers offering paid sick leave”
- A ban on surprise medical bills
- The bill will rescind “$429 billion in unused funds provided by the CARES Act for the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending facilities”
Some strange additions in the package
Here are some out-of-the-ordinary items you wouldn’t expect to be in the relief package.
- $35 billion for clean energy research and development
- $2 billion for the Space Force
- Statement of policy regarding the succession or reincarnation of the Dalai Lama
- The establishment of two new Smithsonian museums
- A “three-martini lunch” tax deduction for business meals
Do you feel ‘relief’?
We want to hear from you! Is $600 in stimulus relief aid enough? Should Americans receive more financial aid? Tell us your thoughts on the matter on Facebook.