Could I get second stimulus check and unemployment benefits at the same time?
Unemployment benefits have been extended and the arrival of a second economic stimulus check was confirmed, but can you receive both at the same time?
The US Congress and President Donald Trump have already approved a new $900 billion economic rescue package which, in addition to a second economic stimulus check, also contained the extension for unemployment benefits. But many people have been asking if they are eligible for both.
Unemployment plus stimulus payments
As you will know if you’ve been following all the latest developments via out daily live blog, the signing of the approved bill by President Trump on Sunday, despite being delayed, meant that Economic Impact Payments of $600 were able to begin being distributed to needy Americans on Tuesday evening. Whether or not that amount is increased to $2,000 depends on the Senate, and at the time of writing this Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s actions appear to make this unlikely, but we will see.
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The good news regarding the two payments, though, is that if you are eligible to receive both - i.e. you meet the criteria set out in the regulations - then you will be able to claim both. There is no interference from one onto the other.
As it stands, unemployment benefits will continue to be paid out until 19 April 2021, when the latest extension of the benefits expires. The stimulus checks are already being received for those with bank account on the system via direct deposit, and paper checks or debit cards will be issued by mail in the coming days for those who don’t.
More information on stimulus checks
Tracking your second stimulus check: IRS' Get My Payment tool
The IRS’ tracking tool is called Get My Payment but is currently offline, pending further information on the changing situation in Congress regarding a second stimulus check. The tool can usually be used to track payments for both filers of tax returns and non-filers. The holding message on the site states:
#IRS begins delivering a second round of Economic Impact Payments to millions of Americans. There’s no need for taxpayers to take any action or call the agency. See https://t.co/VY0F1xzGPl #COVIDreliefIRS— IRSnews (@IRSnews) December 29, 2020
“The IRS continues to monitor and prepare for new legislation related to Economic Impact Payments. The IRS will make updates to the Get My Payment portal to provide updated information for taxpayers in the near future. Please continue to monitor IRS.gov for the latest information.”
The Frequently Asked Questions page also includes information on how to claim payments missed from the first round of stimulus checks, or amounts not fully realised as well as how to manage various error messages on the tracker.
More information on unemployment benefits
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
Under the new $900 billion relief bill, PUA is extended for new applicants until 14 March, 2021. People in the program who haven’t exhausted their total 50 weeks of PUA by then can continue to draw benefits throughout the week of 5 April, 2021.
The new bill also extends Pandemic Emergency Unemployment compensation for people experiencing long-term joblessness for a total of 24 weeks as well as providing an extra $300 per week for all benefits recipients.
Don't forget: Republicans are handing out $6.3 billion in tax breaks to their corporate sponsors for 3-martini lunches, but wouldn't offer more than $300 a week in extra unemployment benefits for just 11 weeks to struggling American workers. Their priorities couldn’t be clearer.— Robert Reich (@RBReich) December 28, 2020
Employ America advisor Elizabeth Pancotti states that people currently receiving PUA into 2021 should continue to certify and collect their benefits as normal, but recommends they send in their verification documents as soon as possible after the new requirements are determined by their state agency.
The new verification requirement is not retroactive, so if you self-qualified for PUA in 2020 but do not submit required documents for continued benefits in 2021, you will not be expected to return any PUA funds you received this year. It only applies for new funds requested going forward.
People who apply to PUA for the first time starting January 31, 2021, will have 21 days to submit their verification documents, say CNBC.
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