On March 12, President Biden signed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill into law. This relief bill comes a year after the COVID-19 virus forced states into various stages of lockdown to reduce the spread of the virus.
This law is the first major piece of legislation of President Biden’s presidency. While this bill focuses on providing COVID-19 relief to Americans, the bill’s main attribute is to stimulate the U.S. economy, which has been suffering and sluggish due to lockdowns and COVID-19.
The bill provides a stimulus check of $1,400 per household member, including children, adults and adult dependents, such as seniors staying with children and college students. During the previous two rounds of stimulus, adult dependents were excluded from receiving this support but are included this time.
If an individual earns less than $75,000 a year, they will receive the full $1,400. Married couples with incomes up to $150,000 would receive $2,800. If a family of four has a household income of less than $150,000, they would receive $5,600. Those individuals with incomes of $80,000 or more and married couples earning more than $160,000 will not be receiving a stimulus check this time. These income amounts are based on tax returns for 2019 or 2020.
During the first two rounds of stimulus payments, those receiving Social Security benefits, survivor or disability benefits, Supplemental Security, Railroad Retirements benefits, or Veterans benefits may or may not have received payments if they had dependents under or over the age of 16. This time dependents of all ages qualify for the full $1,400.
On March 17, the IRS began depositing funds into eligible recipients’ bank accounts through direct deposit. If you usually receive direct deposits from the IRS, they will directly deposit the stimulus check into your account. If you receive a check from the IRS, they will be mailing you a check or a debit card. Approximately 150,000 checks and debit cards have been sent out through the mail.
By March 17, media outlets were abuzz with those who have already received their stimulus payment. You can check your stimulus check’s status by visiting IRS.gov and selecting the Get My Payment tool. The status will show if a payment has been issued to you and the method it was sent – direct deposit or by mail.
If the IRS “Get My Payment tool” says “Need More Information,” you may need to add details in order to receive your stimulus check, such as a bank account. If the IRS tried to deliver your payment by either method and couldn’t, the “Get My Payment tool” will also include this note. The IRS tool will allow you to enter bank account information to correct this note.
If the IRS tool says, “Payment Status Not Available,” it means that the IRS has not processed your stimulus payment yet. It may also mean that you’re not eligible for this round of support. Throughout 2021, the IRS will continue to issue stimulus checks to those eligible, so monitor this tool.
Additional expansions of several programs are included within this bill, including grants and funds allotted to supporting rural Americans, specifically improving health care and access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Additional funds are earmarked to support farmers across the country. These funds are for use by farmers and ranchers, food producers and distributors, and farmer’s markets to ward against COVID-19 and for purchasing supplies to protect their livelihood from this virus.
Also, within this bill, grants and funds are earmarked for increasing accessibility, preventing child abuse, and increasing mental health support across the country. There is funding allocated to support medical workers, youth suicide prevention measures, and strengthening consumer protections when it comes to COVID-19 related products like PPE. Expansions to the federal unemployment benefits are included. Billions are set aside to expand the Affordable Care Act, and over $13 billion is earmarked specifically for distributing COVID-19 vaccines.
Support for this bill in the House of Representatives included almost all Democrats. Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Jared Golden of Maine, along with all House Republicans, voted against the bill. The final tally of votes was 219-212. Once in the Senate support for the bill was divided by party lines 50-49, with no Senate Republicans supporting the bill.