COVID-19 Stimulus: Who Can Get $600 Checks And When?

The bipartisan, $900 billion deal will provide another round of relief to Americans struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 economic Stimulus check. | Getty Images
COVID-19 economic Stimulus check. | Getty Images

Congress on Monday evening voted to approve the new, approximately $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, which will include another round of stimulus checks for Americans and financial aid for businesses. President Donald Trump is expected to sign off on the bill once it reaches his desk.

If signed, it will be the second largest relief package in U.S. history, behind the $2 trillion CARES Act that Congress approved in March, according to lawmakers.

Trump also on Sunday night signed a one-day extension of government funding, allowing lawmakers extra time to pass the relief measure as millions of Americans remain unemployed during a severe economic crisis.

“As the American people continue battling the coronavirus this holiday season, they will not be on their own,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who stalled negotiations by demanding liability protection for corporations from COVID-related lawsuits filed by employees, said on Sunday. “More help is on the way.”

The deal will provide another round of relief programs to Americans struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic — some of which are set to expire from the CARES Act this month. 

Who qualifies for the relief money?

The deal will send direct stimulus payments of up to $600 to individuals who earned up to $75,000 — a one-off payment that is half the amount of the first and only round of payments sent out in the spring. Individuals who made more than $75,000 in 2019 would see reduced payments and those who earned more than $99,000 are ineligible according to the Washington Post. It will also extend federal unemployment benefits of up to $300 per week.

It calls for extensions of two other unemployment programs that are set to expire  — the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides unemployment benefits to self-employed workers, independent contractors, and gig workers; and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides up to 13 weeks of additional unemployment benefits to individuals who previously collected state or federal unemployment compensation but used up those benefits.

It will also restart the Paycheck Protection Program so small businesses can apply for a second round of loans, extend eviction protections until January 31, and increase SNAP benefits by 15% for six months. The PPP has been widely criticized for handing out large payments to beneficiaries including large restaurant chains and properties owned by the Trump Organization and President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s family.

When will people receive their checks from the government?

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday that the government would begin to send out the $600 checks next week.

News of the deal received tepid responses from some lawmakers, who pointed out that Americans have needed additional relief for months as Congress drew out negotiations. (For instance, McConnell adjourned the Senate after pushing through Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation at record speed before the election, then called another recess for Thanksgiving, without passing relief.) Others criticized the meager stimulus checks, saying that a one-time $600 check is not sufficient for struggling Americans.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has repeatedly said that Democrats would take up another relief bill after President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in. Biden has commended the bipartisan deal and said it’s “just the beginning.”

“The emergency relief in this agreement, the second largest in history only to the CARES Act, is an important first step that Democrats look forward to building on under the new Biden-Harris Administration to meet the remaining needs of the American people during this historic health and economic crisis,” Pelosi said said on Sunday in a joint statement with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.