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Little Rock These are times like we have never seen before in the United States. The government is actually giving almost all of us some money up to $1200. If we’re among the eighteen million and rising “vast army of the unemployed,” we can get our check plus $600 per week for a time. I know I’m not the only one who is confused, because I get questions hither and yon on a daily basis. All of that is what we believe to be true, but, as always, the devil is in the details, so let’s look Satan in the eye, and see if we can get our feet on solid ground somewhere.
Let’s start with the one check to almost all. First, if your income has been so low that you have not been filing, you need to get your paperwork into the IRS, so that they can transfer money to your account. If you are on social security, railroad retirement, or other federal benefit programs, it will be automatic for you because your number and account information is already known. If you have a question, the IRS has a site that might work for you called: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment. I can’t guarantee that it will work, but it might help if you’re not sure of your situation.
Much is made of the $1200 bump. If you made less than $75,000 as a single filer, you get it all or $150,000 as a joint filer with a spouse. You will still get something between $500 and $1200 if you made less than $100,000 or $200,000 filing jointly, as I read it. If you have children under 17 years of age, you will get another $500. If they are over 17, but you are still claiming them as exemptions, you get nada for them, and they don’t get anything for themselves either.
These payments do not count against your food stamp eligibility, but the expanded unemployment, the extra $600 per week will count against SNAP levels, although they will not affect Medicaid and CHIP program eligibility. The $600 bump is good from April 4th until July 31st, about 16 weeks. If you applied by then, but haven’t received the additional money, your money will be paid back to the application date. Unemployment has been expanded to 39 weeks, as I read it which is basically throughout 2020, and you can hope a bump will be added, but that is not in any of the packages that have been passed to date.
If you have been self-employed, an independent contractor, a gig worker or in whatever situation where an employer was not paying into the state unemployment fund, in a real breakthrough you will qualify for unemployment benefits under the package. Additionally, the headline on the applications that I have seen indicate that if you have been laid off or furloughed because of Covid-19, you will not be required to do a job search. This is all new ground for the states, so there may be some early slips between the cup and the lip, but hang in there until you get paid.
I hope this helps cut through some of the info-fog about all of this. We’ll keep at it!