States Stimulus Checks Go Up To $1,500 In Some States

Stimulus Check
stimulus check

Despite Republican opposition to stimulus checks, more states have stepped in to send stimulus checks to residents and the amount has been increasing in several cases. Even Republican rules states, including Florida, have stepped in to help their residents.

The end of 2021 marked a couple of happenings that pulled Americans back to the desperate situation they faced immediately after the pandemic hit the nation in February 2020. In the initial weeks of the pandemic, both low and middle-class people faced the prospect of poverty, homelessness, and defaulting on their loan repayments.

With a complete shutdown, people were suddenly without a job and unlike normal times, there was no prospect of another source of income, as the whole economy was on lockdown. The federal administration stepped in quickly and sent a series of stimulus checks, with the first check of $1,200 dispatched within weeks of the lockdown.

The stimulus payments were of great help to citizens and helped them put food on the table, pay their rent and home installments, pay their credit card bills and other loan installments, and even set aside a part of the money as investments.

The second stimulus check came in December 2020 and was followed by the third stimulus check under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) signed by incoming president Joe Biden in March 2021.

The ARPA was more than the third stimulus check and included comprehensive measures to support every section of the economy including businesses, other organizations, and local, tribal, and state economies.

The enactment of a nearly $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package with benefits included the third round of stimulus payments, the extension of unemployment benefits, and generous tax breaks that covered low and moderate-income citizens.

The promised stimulus checks under the ARPA began to hit the bank accounts of Americans on March 17, the initial official payment date though some banks intervened to make the money available to people even before it arrived from the federal government.

The payment went out in batches each week, and it wasn’t till the end of 2021 that almost all stimulus checks went out to beneficiaries. The payments went out in the form of direct bank transfers initially, though later the IRS and the Treasury relied on paper checks sent through the US Postal Service.

stimulus check

The federal pandemic unemployment compensation went out for weeks after it ended on March 14 and was extended through September 6. It also included an extra $100 weekly payment known as the mixed-earner supplement, also through September 6, 2021.

These payments helped people who had a mixed income from both wages and self-employment paid by other employers. This was enabled as they were often stuck with lower state-issued benefits linked to their lower wages.

Housing Support Was An Vital Component Of ARPA

The stimulus package provided billions in rental and utility assistance to people who continued to struggle with home rent and who faced eviction from their homes. Close to $225 billion went towards emergency rental relief. The major part of it was used to replenish the Coronaviru Relief Fund, part of the CARES Act, and was distributed through local, tribal, and state governments. That supplemented the $25 billion relief provided in December.

Financial assistance was given for utilities, other housing expenses, and rent. Householders had to meet several conditions to get the payments. For instance, the total income for householders cannot exceed 80% of the median income of the area.

Further, at least one household member must be facing housing instability or homelessness. Individuals should have experienced financial hardship directly or indirectly or must qualify for unemployment benefits. Low-income families that experience unemployment for three months or more were given priority for assistance.

Homeowners facing default in mortgage payments, payment of utility bills, and housing costs too received $10 billion in assistance. Around $100 million was dedicated solely to housing counseling. It helped both renters and homeowners remain in their homes.

Close to $5 billion went to help the homeless. This included the conversion of properties like car parks and motels into temporary shelters. $5 billion more was used for emergency vouchers for housing. They were intended for people facing homelessness, including domestic violence survivors.

Stimulus Check
Stimulus Check

The ARPA And Relief For Health Insurance

Buying insurance under the COBRA scheme became much cheaper. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act normally allowed workers who had lost their job to buy coverage through their former employers. But before the act, it was an expensive proposition. People had to pay around 102% of the premium cost.

But the government ensured that the entire premium would be free from April 1 to September 30 for people who would not normally be eligible for free coverage having lost their jobs. The premium for such plans costs around 8.5% of the modified AGI.

State Stimulus Checks Limited In Scope

Most states are giving out stimulus checks based on their budget surplus and funds from the ARPA. Though the amount is nowhere near the comprehensive support under the federal schemes, it would be enough for people to tide over the immediate crisis caused by increasing prices. With a total stop to all forms of federal stimulus checks and other relief, close to 20 states have sent, or are in an advanced stage of sending stimulus checks.

Unlike the federal stimulus checks, these payments are more narrow in scope and limited to just direct payments, tax rebates, debit cards, or sales tax relief. The limitation has been prompted by state budgets and the realization that stimulus payments need to be more focused and directed towards only low and moderate-income groups, people who have been directly affected by the rise in prices.

States such as Maine and New Mexico have already sent stimulus checks to residents. California and Florida are the latest states to declare inflation relief measures for residents, though Florida has limited its stimulus checks to foster parents, related and non-related caretakers, and residents who are on welfare. The amount has also been limited to a $450 stimulus check for around 59,000 residents.

California has been more generous and around 23 million residents, or around 60% of the population, will get a stimulus check ranging from $350 per head to $200 for middle-class residents.