Pandemic Brought Into Focus The Need For Multiple Stimulus Checks For Groups With Limited Income, Abilities, And Resources: A Look At Several Benefit Programs

stimulus check
stimulus check

The COVID-19 pandemic created a public health crisis on a scale not seen for over a century. It has resulted in multiple challenges for individuals and families across the nation and changed the way we live and work. The federal administration assisted with stimulus checks and other measures at critical junctures for individuals and their families. It ensured that citizens had the chance to keep their families safe and thriving, both at work and at home.

The most widespread and notable relief support was the multiple rounds of stimulus checks which benefitted low and medium-income families across the nation. While the first two rounds went out in 2020, the third stimulus check was declared under the broad-based American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed by President Biden in March 2021.

The Rescue Plan Sent Out Stimulus Checks To Individuals And Families

The payments from the third round continue to go out to Americans.

The Bill also extended employment assistance that started in March 2021 and waived several federal taxes on unemployment benefits to help out those who lost their jobs due to the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic.

The annual Child Tax Credit was enhanced from the regular $2,000 to between $3,000 and $3,600 according to the age of the children. Half of the amount of those stimulus checks went out monthly to parents between July and December 2021. The rest is stuck in the gridlock of Washington politics as the Republicans have used their equal number to stymie a lot of initiatives taken by the Democratic administration.

The Emergency Rental Assistance program also made funds available to government entities to assist homes for individuals and families that are unable to pay for utilities and rent.

Challenges For Businesses

The pandemic and the resulting economic crisis also created multiple challenges for small, micro, and solo businesses in communities across the nation. The administration provided critical assistance to these small businesses throughout the country and facilitated the urgent deployment of capital and support. This helped them persevere and finally recover on a solid footing.

The Rescue Plan also extended several critical tax benefits, among them the Paid Leave Credit and the Employee Retention Credit to such small businesses.

There was also the Emergency Capital Investment Program that supported the efforts of financial institutions supporting low and medium-income communities.

Another program, the Paycheck Protection Program, has provided small businesses with the necessary resources that they would need to continue paying their employees regularly, hire back the retrenched workers, and account for applicable overheads.

Support For States, Local And Tribal Governments

The economic crisis aggravated by the pandemic has also put the administration of American states and local and tribal governments under unparalleled strain. The federal administration also provided relief that these governments to enable them to continue to support the public health response and lay a strong foundation for their recovery.

The Rescue Plan provided $350B in emergency relief funds to these governments to help them respond to the economic crisis caused by the pandemic and to ensure employment for their residents.

The Capital Projects Fund (CCPF) also addressed the need for all communities, especially those in low and medium-income communities in rural America, to have access to modern, high-quality infrastructure that is needed to thrive, including access to the internet.

The states and other local governmental entities also received $10B under the Rescue Fund to provide relief to the most vulnerable homeowners. $21.6B was also provided to local governments to help households unable to pay rent and utility bills. $10B was also provided for the business expansion initiatives of small businesses.

The American industry was badly affected during the pandemic and the treasury department offered liberal financial backing so that they can support American workers and also play a vital role in aiding the recovery of the economy.

The Supplemental Security Income

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is aimed at providing monthly benefits to blind and disabled adults and children who have low resources and income. SSI benefits are also for people aged 65 years and above with low incomes.

The Social Security Administration has noted that the territories and states may supplement the SSI benefits from SSI with additional benefits.

While the federal rate for individuals in 2022 is $841 for individuals and $1,260 for couples, the exact rate might be dependent on other factors such as living arrangements, income, and many other factors. The upcoming SSI payment is set for June 1.  

State Governments Step In As Federal Stimulus Checks Dry Up

With the federal stimulus checks coming to a halt at the end of 2021, state administrations have stepped in with their version of the stimulus check. Several states have already initiated legislative measures and the payments should reach residents starting the first week of June.

Five states have passed legislation to provide tax breaks to residents. Idaho Governor Brad Little signed a bill back in February that allocates $350M and tax rebates to residents.

To be eligible for the stimulus check, residents must be full-time residents and must file their tax returns for 2020 and 2021, or should have filed their grocery credit refund returns.

A Stimulus Check Payment of 12% of state tax for 2020 or $75 will be given to residents, whichever is more.

Residents of Georgia who have filed their returns for 2020 and 2021 will be eligible for rebate payments of $250 for individuals, $500 for married couples, and $375 for heads of household.

Indiana, like Georgia, has also enjoyed a budget surplus and taxpayers will receive a one-time refund of $125 for individuals after they file their 2021 tax returns.

New Jersey under Governor Phil Murphy has approved a one-off rebate stimulus check of up to $500 to around a million families.

Murphy has proposed an allocation of $53M more to give taxpayers who file through the Taxpayer Identification Number, more aimed at helping resident clients and non-residents, as well as their families.

The New Mexico legislature approved new legislation to give residents $250 for an individual and double that amount for a married couple who file jointly. Qualifying residents must also have an income below $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples.

Previous articleWisconsin Elections Commission Member Resigns