The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is an Act of Congress meant to respond to the economic impacts of the ongoing 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic. The act will provide funding for free coronavirus testing, 14-day paid leave for American workers affected by the pandemic, and increased funding for food stamps.
Click here for details: Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Notice
President Donald Trump signed into law Friday afternoon a historic $2 trillion stimulus package as the American public and the US economy fight the devastating spread of COVID-19. Here are the answers to common questions about what’s in the plan that could benefit YOU.
Will I get a stimulus payment from the government? Even if PLS has kept me working during the COVID-19 period?
Yes and yes, you sure will.
How large would the payments be?
Most adults would get $1,200, although some would get less. For every qualifying child age 16 or under, the payment would be an additional $500.
How many payments would there be?
Just one. Future bills could order up additional payments, though.
How do I know if I qualify for the full amount?
It depends on your income. Single adults with Social Security numbers who are United States residents and have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less would get the full amount.
Married couples with no children earning $150,000 or less would receive a total of $2,400. And taxpayers filing as head of household would get the full payment if they earned $112,500 or less.
Above those income figures, the payment decreases until it stops altogether for single people earning $99,000 or married people who have no children and earn $198,000.
You can’t get a payment if someone claims you as a dependent, even if you’re an adult. In any given family and in most instances, everyone must have a valid Social Security number in order to be eligible. There is an exception for members of the military.
You can find your adjusted gross income on Line 8b of the 2019 1040 federal tax return. If you haven’t prepared a tax return yet, you can use your 2018 return.
Would I have to apply to receive a payment?
No. If the Internal Revenue Service already has your bank account information, it would transfer the money to you via direct deposit based on the recent income-tax figures it already has.
When would the payment arrive?
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he expected most people to get their payments within three weeks.
Would eligible unemployed people get these stimulus payments? Veterans?
Yes and yes.
Do I have to pay income taxes on the amount of my payment?
Who would be covered by the expanded program?
The new bill would wrap in far more workers than are usually eligible for unemployment benefits, including self-employed people and part-time workers. The bottom-line: Those who are unemployed, are partly unemployed or cannot work for a wide variety of coronavirus-related reasons would be more likely to receive benefits.
How much would I receive?
It depends on your state. Under the plan, eligible workers would get an extra $600 per week on top of their state benefit. But some states are more generous than others. According to the Century Foundation, the maximum weekly benefit in Alabama is $275, but it’s $450 in California and $713 in New Jersey.
So let’s say a worker was making $1,100 per week in New York; she’d be eligible for the maximum state unemployment benefit of $504 per week. Under the new program, she gets an additional $600 of federal pandemic unemployment compensation, for a total of $1,104, essentially replacing her original paycheck.
States have the option of providing the entire amount in one payment, or sending the extra portion separately. But it must all be done on the same weekly basis.
What if I have COVID-19 or need to care for a family member who has it?
If you’ve received a diagnosis, are experiencing symptoms or are seeking a diagnosis — and you’re unemployed, are partly unemployed or cannot work as a result — you would be covered. The same goes if you must care for a member of your family or household who has received a diagnosis.
What if my child’s school or day care shut down?
If you rely on a school, a day care or another facility to care for a child, elderly parent or another household member so that you can work — and that facility has been shut down because of coronavirus — you would be eligible.
What if I’ve been advised by a health care provider to quarantine myself because of exposure to coronavirus? And what about broader orders to stay home?
People who must self-quarantine would be covered. The legislation also says that individuals who are unable to get to work because of a quarantine imposed as a result of the outbreak would also be eligible.
I was about to start a new job and now can’t get there because of an outbreak?
You’d be eligible for benefits. You would also be covered if you were immediately laid off from a new job and did not have a sufficient work history to qualify for benefits under normal circumstances.
I had to quit my job as a direct result of coronavirus. Would I be eligible to apply for benefits?
It depends. Let’s say your employer didn’t lay you off but you had to quit because of a quarantine recommended by a health care provider, or because your child’s day care closed and you’re the primary caregiver. Situations like that are covered.
But this provision wasn’t intended to cover people who quit (or want to quit) because they fear that continuing to work puts them at risk of contracting coronavirus, according to congressional aides.
My employer shut down my workplace because of coronavirus. Would I be eligible?
Yes. If you are unemployed, partly unemployed or unable to work because your employer closed down, you would be covered under the bill.
Whom would the bill leave out?
Workers who are able to work from home, and those receiving paid sick leave or paid family leave would not be covered. New entrants to the work force who cannot find jobs would also be ineligible.
How long would the payments last?
Many states already provide 26 weeks of benefits, though some states have trimmed that back while others provide a sliding scale tied to unemployment levels.
The bill would provide all eligible workers with an additional 13 weeks. So participants in states with 26 weeks would be eligible for a total of 39 weeks. The total amount cannot exceed 39 weeks, but it may be shorter in certain states.
The extra $600 payment would last for up to four months, covering weeks of unemployment ending July 31.
How long would the broader program last?
Expanded coverage would be available to workers who were newly eligible for unemployment benefits for weeks starting on Jan. 27, 2020, and through Dec. 31, 2020.
Which retirement account rules would be suspended?
For the calendar year 2020, no one would have to take a required minimum distribution from any individual retirement accounts or workplace retirement savings plans, like a 401(k). That way, you aren’t forced to sell investments that may have fallen in value, which would lock in losses. If you don’t need the money now, you can let the investments sit and hope that they recover.
This change would not affect old-fashioned pensions.
What if I have to take money out of my I.R.A. or workplace retirement plan early?
You could withdraw up to $100,000 this year without the usual 10 percent penalty, as long as it’s because of the outbreak.
I want to help people who are suffering from the pandemic. Does the bill do anything about charitable donations?
Yes. The bill would make a new deduction available — and not just for 2020 — for up to $300 in annual charitable contributions. It’s available only to people who don’t itemize their deductions, and you calculate this new one by subtracting the amount you give from your gross income.
To qualify, you would have to give cash to a qualified charity and not to a donor-advised fund, which is a charitable account that affluent people often use to bunch contributions in a particular year in order to maximize deductions. If you’ve already given money since Jan. 1, that contribution counts toward the $300 cap.
Other Features of the Bill
Would there be damage to my credit report if I took advantage of any virus-related payment relief, including the student loan suspension?
No. There is not supposed to be, at least.
The bill states that during the period beginning on Jan. 31 and continuing 120 days after the cessation of the national emergency declaration, lenders and others should mark your credit file as current, even if you avail yourself of payment modifications.
If you had black marks in your file before the virus hit, those will remain unless you fix the issues during the emergency period.
Credit reporting agencies can make errors. Be sure to check your credit report a few times each year, especially if you accept any help from any financial institution or biller this year.
Is there any relief for renters in the bill?
Yes. The bill would put a temporary, nationwide eviction moratorium in place for any renters whose landlords have mortgages backed or owned by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other federal entities. This will last for 120 days after the bill passes, and landlords also can’t charge any fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent.
Did the legislation make it illegal for any internet provider to cut off service to an individual or small business that can’t pay its bills?
Did the legislation make it illegal for utility providers to cut off service?