COVID stimulus update: What we know so far

Despite it being the middle of the holiday season, the House and Senate have been buzzing with activity regarding the end-of-year COVID stimulus package.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • The stimulus package covers unemployment extensions for 11 weeks.
  • There will be an additional $300 on the unemployent checks for 10-11 weeks – it is still unclear whether this current week will count toward the total.
  • Recipients will also receive a one-time $600 payment. Note:  A one-time $2,000 payment had unanimously passed the House, but was struck down by the Senate yesterday. However, with the threat of a fillibuster on a veto override looming around the defense spending bill, political moves may allow for another vote today to boost the direct payments back to $2,000. We are watching this closely.
  • Similar to the criteria of the CARES Act, eligibility on these one-time payments haven’t changed. Individuals with an income of $75,000 or less on their 2019 tax returns will receive the full $600 ($150,000 or less AGI for couples filing jointly; $112,500 or less for heads of household). For people who earned more than those amounts, the size of the check will gradually decrease by $5 for every $100 earned over that threshold.
  • A federal eviction moratorium has been extended through Jan. 31.
  • The bill will also aid other services, such as small business loans, vaccine distribution and $25 billion toward rental assistance.
  • Congress has passed the No Surprise Billing Act, which mostly restricts companies from sending “surprise” health care bills to patients. The tenets in the bill promote transparency in communication, hoping to limit confusion between insurance companies and consumers.
  • There is an expansion and some changes for FSA, or Flexible Spending Accounts. You can find the details here.
  • Paid leave due to COVID-19 has been extended through March 31st. Details on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA), the newly-amended FMLA Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) can be found here.
  • The new package includes $284 billion in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans.
  • The bill puts more than $8 billion into Covid-19 vaccine distribution and more than $20 billion into providing it to Americans for free.
  • It also includes $82 billion in education funding and $45 billion for transportation.
  • There will be no aid provided to state and local governments.

As these bills have just passed, there are many details still open to interpretation by regulators and lawmakers. As the finer points get ironed out and any new details emerge, we will be sure to keep you updated.