Here’s what you need to know about the stimulus bill

The Senate passed its version of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan on Saturday. The pandemic relief bill now goes back to the House of Representatives, which must approve the Senate’s changes before it can go to President Joe Biden’s desk. Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions.

Q: How big are the stimulus payments in the bill, and who is eligible?

A: The stimulus payments would be $1,400 for most recipients. Those who are eligible would also receive an identical payment for each of their children. To qualify for the full $1,400, a single person would need an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or below. For heads of household, adjusted gross income would need to be $112,500 or below, and for married couples filing jointly that number would need to be $150,000 or below.

Q: How would the stimulus bill affect unemployment payments?

A: If you’re already receiving unemployment benefits, payments would generally be extended for another 25 weeks, until Sept. 6. The weekly supplemental benefit, which is provided on top of your regular benefit, will remain $300 but run through Sept. 6. Although unemployment benefits are taxable, the new law would make the first $10,200 of benefits tax-free for people with income less than $150,000. This applies to 2020 only.

Q: What would the relief bill do about health insurance?

A: Buying insurance through the government program known as COBRA would temporarily become a lot cheaper. COBRA, for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, generally lets someone who loses a job buy coverage via the former employer. But it’s expensive.

Under the relief bill, the government would pay the entire COBRA premium from April 1 through Sept. 30. A person who qualified for new, employer-based health insurance someplace else before Sept. 30 would lose eligibility for the no-cost coverage. And someone who left a job voluntarily would not be eligible, either.

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