CARES Act Offers Stimulus to Fight Impact of Coronavirus

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“On behalf of AARP’s 38 million members and all older Americans nationwide, I thank the administration and leaders in Congress for their bipartisan work to address the unprecedented public health and economic crisis that faces our nation,” AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins said in a statement after the Senate vote. “Today older Americans, like Americans of all ages, worry about their families, their futures, their jobs and their retirement savings. Older Americans face the one-two punch of coronavirus’s health and economic consequences, and many need immediate relief and ongoing help and support to cope with the pandemic. Those needs are only set to grow in the weeks and months ahead. That is why AARP supports the quick enactment of the bipartisan CARES Act.”

What’s included in the CARES Act

The law will address the wide-ranging financial impact of shutting down much of the nation to deter the spread of the coronavirus in the following ways:

Unemployment benefits

More than 3.2 million people filed new unemployment claims during just the week ending March 21, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The CARES Act will create a new benefit, federal pandemic unemployment compensation, that Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has described as “unemployment insurance on steroids.” The law will make it easier for people who lost jobs due to coronavirus-related circumstances — because of their health or business or school shutdowns, for example — to qualify for benefits. It also will make them eligible for an additional $600 per week on top of what they will already qualify for in unemployment benefits from the state. People receiving coronavirus-related unemployment could collect benefits for up to 39 weeks. The benefit, which will be retroactive to Jan. 27, will also be available to so-called gig workers.

People who have been furloughed by their employer — not working or getting paid, but still technically on the payroll — also will be eligible for unemployment benefits. The advantages of furlough status are that employers could quickly bring back workers once the economy improves and workers might be able to keep their employer health care plans when they’re not on the job.

Stimulus checks

Individuals who earn $75,000 or less per year will receive a one-time check of $1,200 and children will receive $500. For people who earned more than that based on the adjusted gross income reported on their 2019 tax returns, the amount of the check will get smaller the more money they earned over the $75,000 threshold. Individuals who earned more than $99,000 will not get a stimulus check at all. Social Security recipients are eligible to receive these stimulus checks.

Small businesses

The law includes more than $360 billion that small businesses could use to cover their payroll and other expenses. If a company that takes one of these federal loans retains most of its employees, part of what it borrowed will convert to a grant that the company will not have to pay back.

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