How the CARES Act Could Help Your Family

Current Events & News | 03/27/2020

Jessica Reynolds
National Digital Coordinator

Congress has just passed a $2 trillion stimulus package to provide assistance to American families during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The legislation includes direct payments to families based on income level, expansion of unemployment benefits, a 6-month suspension of student loan payments, and increased funding for schools, hospitals, and food assistance programs. 

We don't have all the answers, but you can check out the FAQs below to learn more about what the stimulus package could mean for your family. 

How much will I receive in a direct payment from the federal government? 

If you have filed your 2019 tax return, the IRS will look at your adjusted gross income from last year to determine if you are eligible to receive a payment. If you haven't filed your 2019 return, your 2018 tax return will be used to determine eligibility. Individuals who earned no more than $75,000 will be eligible for the full $1,200 payment, plus $500 for each child dependent. Married couples who filed jointly will receive $2,400 if their gross income was under $150,000 year, along with $500 for each child. The payments — which are automatic and do not require action on your part — will be reduced on a sliding scale for people earning higher incomes. 

Use this helpful tool to forecast whether can expect to receive a payment and for what amount. 

How will I receive my direct payment?

Funds will go to the bank account the IRS already has on record from when you previously filed your income taxes within several weeks. In cases where the IRS doesn't have your bank information, you’ll receive a paper check in the mail within several months. 

How are unemployment benefits being expanded? 

The stimulus bill expands which type of workers are now eligible for benefits and the amount of money jobless workers can receive. Self-employed, freelancers and independent contractors (for example, people who drive for Uber and Lyft) are now eligible to apply. Those who are approved for benefits would receive an extra $600 per week (for up to four months) on top of their state benefit. 

What student loan relief is provided?

Borrowers with federal student loans will have up to six months, until September 30, to delay making payments without penalty. During this period, there will be a freeze on interest. The six-month suspension only applies to payments on federally-backed loans, not private student loans.

What if I can't pay my mortgage or rent right now?

if your landlord owns your home through a government-backed mortgage, they cannot evict you for 120 days upon the bill's passage. The bill also includes a 60-day moratorium on foreclosures for homeowners with Fair Housing Act-backed mortgages and relief for homeowners with loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Other legislation may be in place in your state if you’re a homeowner in need of help paying your mortgage.

More helpful information: 

F.A.Q. on Stimulus Checks, Unemployment and the Coronavirus Bill - New York Times

What's Inside The Senate's $2 Trillion Coronavirus Aid Package - NPR

What's in the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill - CNN

What the coronavirus stimulus means for schools - Chalkbeat

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