Stimulus checks and additional unemployment benefits on the way for struggling Americans.

The Senate on Monday approved a $900 billion economic relief stimulus package that includes another round of direct stimulus payment checks to Americans, billions in funding to help struggling businesses and expansion of unemployment benefits, funding for federal agencies through the fiscal year 2021, and extension of certain expiring tax provisions.[1]

The Senate voted 92-6 to pass the long-awaited coronavirus relief bill, just hours after the House approved the package earlier on Monday. Last summer, Americans earning less than $75,000 each received direct stimulus checks amounting to $1,200 for adult individuals, $2,400 for married couples, and an additional $500 for each child.

Direct stimulus payments to individuals in the new economic relief package are smaller this time, but the package includes an additional weekly payment to people collecting unemployment insurance.

Provisions in the massive (5,593 pages) bill include:

  • $600 direct stimulus payments for Americans earning less than $75,000 individually, $1,200 for married couples earning less than $150,000, and an additional $600 for each child
  • Around $300 billion for more Paycheck Protection Loans to help businesses struggling due to the pandemic[2]
  • $25 billion in rental assistance and extension of the ban on evictions until the end of January
  • Protection against surprise medical bills[3]
  • $68 billion to support vaccine distribution
  • $13 billion for food stamps expansion
  • An additional $300 per week in unemployment compensation

In March, Congress passed the $2 trillion Cares Act, which included many similar provisions, including direct stimulus payments of $1,200 for individuals. The new legislation brings the total of emergency government spending this year to more than $3.3 trillion, according to The Washington Post.[4]

Americans have waited anxiously for months for another direct stimulus payment while members of Congress bickered over what the bill should include. The direct stimulus payments to individuals and married couples should help many Americans catch up on monthly bills and expenses, pay down credit cards and other debt, catch up on medical bills, and pad emergency savings accounts.

Unemployed Americans struggling to stay afloat will also benefit from the extension of up to an additional $300 per week on top of the regular amount received in unemployment compensation for up to 11 weeks. Another key component of the economic relief package is the legislation’s “No Surprises Act” aimed at helping Americans facing “surprise” medical bills.

According to U.S. News, the No Surprises provision prevents patients from being held responsible for surprise medical bills related to emergency care.[5] The legislation also stops patients from having to pay surprise bills from an out-of-network physician involved in a planned in-network hospital procedure. Out-of-network service providers must also provide patients with at least a 72-hour notice of estimated charges.

The mammoth stimulus package is about half the size of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act relief package passed in March but still remains “one of the largest relief packages in American history,” according to the New York Times.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

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