COVID-19: Your Guide to Benefits and Stimulus Packages for Americans Affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic
Understanding the Pandemic
In a well-developed, first-world country like the United States, people are almost too-far removed from the historical impact of plagues, pandemics, and other medical and health emergencies that have swept the globe throughout the centuries. Combined with the typical human nature attitude of “that will never happen to me”, the lack of knowledge and experience is creating a lot of fear and uncertainty.
Combine that fear with the overabundance of false information and so-called “fake news” online, plus a healthy dose of media hype to guarantee ratings, and you have an entire country of people who are slowly being quarantined to their homes or at least removed from public day-to-day activities, including work. When you depend on a paycheck, it can be scary not knowing where the next one will come from.
The Economic Impact is Broad-Reaching
The pandemic has already caused the U.S. stock market to become a bear market, causing central banks and governments to come up with a variety of methods to help counteract this disruption. Countries all over the world with much less-developed stock markets and financial frameworks would be scrambling at how to fix this. The United States is barely keeping up.
The list of all of the available benefits and stimulus packages is quite extensive, and we might not even get to cover all of them in this book. However, we’ll at least get started with what we know so far and make sure that you’ve got the facts.
Federal Benefits and Stimulus Packages
At the current time, the development of benefits and stimulus packages at the federal level is still ongoing. There is a lot of work left to do, but below you will find information about the programs that are available to-date and who is eligible for them. The federal government has been responding to the current state of emergency, which allows them to distribute additional aid to people to the tune of an additional $50 million.
The most recent bills are just the latest in federal solutions to deal with the business loss and economic fallout that is coming as a result of the pandemic. Here are a few things that the government has done to assist with benefits and helping to stimulate the economy:
- The U.S. Federal Reserve has cut interest rates as much as a full percentage point, attempting to assist in freeing up extra funds to assist with the impact of this pandemic and its subsequent resulting economic shutdown.
- The Federal Reserve also increased the liquidity of the banking system by extending a variety of short-term loans to organizations that need a better way to finance their business in these difficult times.
- There is currently a Phase Three plan in place to be sent to Congress, which includes additional money that is given to small businesses, passenger airlines and cargo transit, and even to consumers.
- Funding is now available to assist with free virus testing, additional Medicaid funds, now-necessary paid sick leave that some employees are eligible for, and expanded benefits for federal and state unemployment.
- Currently, those making under $75,000 can expect a stimulus check of up to $1,200, along with an additional benefit of $500 per child.
- The Emergency Relief Package approved Wednesday, March 18, 2020 has mandated paid leave under the following circumstances for employees of companies with up to 499 employees:
- Two weeks paid leave for those who are ill, seeking preventive care or diagnosis, or quarantined due to coronavirus.
- 12 weeks paid leave for people with children whose childcare provider or school is closed and therefore requires the parent to remain in the home.
- Additional aid, including free testing, food, medical support, and unemployment benefits for anyone affected by the crisis, will be readily available, as well.
You can find out more about the paid leave program and its details by reading our other in depth article here. For a full list of mark-by-mark financial moves regarding the current economy, check out this great article on COVID-19 and available government stimulus efforts.
State-Level Benefits and Stimulus Packages
In addition to the programs set forth by the federal government and other federal resources, individual states are also starting to offer a number of assistance packages and benefit programs for those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
For example, in the state of Ohio, once restaurants and bars were shut down to help reduce the risk of the virus spreading, all service workers immediately became eligible for unemployment pay, regardless of the hours worked and without the standard paperwork and waiting periods.
Other states have similar programs in place, along with other benefits for those who are out of work or otherwise displaced by this pandemic.
There are some mandates and benefits set forth at the federal level that all businesses are required to follow. However, for the most part, when it comes to compensation and benefits, private companies are left to decide for themselves whether or not they want to provide anything for their employees.
Things are changing every single day, which is why it’s important to find a valuable resource that offers the information that you need on an ongoing basis. Every state has an informational page about COVID-19, at the very least, and there are a number of other resources to assist with unemployment benefits, insurance, sick leave laws, and more.
The National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) has a great resource set up that is updated regularly, and includes a full list of state-by-state resources. You can check out their COVID-19 website here: https://www.naswa.org/resources/coronavirus
What’s to Come
Being that we’re still in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, it is only a matter of time before more programs and stimulus packages are created. No one has any idea as of yet just what is going to come of all of this, so it’s hard to predict what we will need in terms of resources and solutions for both consumers and businesses alike.
Federal and state governments are handling their responses individually and, for the most part, effectively. Of course, there are some states that are doing better than others. The numbers are mostly out right now since this is all so new, but there is certainly a lot in the works in terms of resources for people who are impacted by the effects of this pandemic.
Fortunately, there is a wealth of information online and every media outlet seems eager to update you on the latest details, so you don’t have to worry about trying to reach out too far on your own. Just make sure that you take the time to get the facts. Talk to people and try to get realistic information that you can translate and share with your children.
We will be regularly updating you with additional information about available stimulus packages, benefits, financial assistance, and other programs that are designed to help those affected and/or displaced by COVID-19 and its effects on their health, livelihood, or financial situation.
How Can I Learn if I Qualify?
The Internet is a great resource for information. Unfortunately, it’s also a huge source of misinformation and useless details that can affect a lot of decisions that you make. Understand, first and foremost, that if you have been affected in some way by COVID-19 and the ensuing closing of many businesses and local workplaces, that there are programs in place to help and if there isn’t one that suits your needs or situation yet, there will be soon.
For the most part, you can learn about current benefits and stimulus packages for the COVID-19 pandemic by visiting your state’s Department of Job and Family Services or Department of Labor website, the U.S. Department of Labor, and other government resources. Do not rely on news media outlets or other unverified sources until you have taken the time to confirm the information.
If you have been displaced or affected in any way by the outbreak of COVID-19, start by visiting your state government’s website. If you have been put out of work, ask your employer what to expect moving forward, including whether they will be providing compensation or if you will need to file for unemployment benefits.
Fortunately, due to the severity and suddenness of the onset of this pandemic, more often than not, you will qualify for whatever assistance you need during this uncertain time.
How Will I Get My Money?
Most of Americans will receive their Stimulus relief money via ACH Direct Deposit but some will receive it via paper check to their address. It all depends on what you have setup with the IRS or in other words, how you normally receive your tax refund checks. The process will probably take a few weeks until all the details have been ironed out.
What Else Should I Know?
Things are changing on a moment-by-moment basis right now, and it can be hard to stay on top of the latest information. As it stands, New York State is currently holding as much as five percent (5%) of the world’s confirmed cases of COVID-19. Over the weekend, Senate Democrats blocked the trillion-dollar stimulus plan that was on the table, and Navy ships headed towards Los Angeles and New York to provide space for additional hospital beds, as needed. FEMA is covering 100% of the cost of the deployment of the National Guard to assist with the crisis across the country, as well.
As far as the financial assistance coming to US residents as a result of this pandemic, much still remains to be seen and very few numbers have actually been confirmed. Check back with us for regular updates and to stay informed about the ever-changing assistance programs being created for people across the country and the financial benefits that you can expect to receive.
Updated resources and news about this economic stimulus can be found here.