President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law on Thursday, March 11. This Covid relief plan provides a wealth of benefits directly to the American people – including a third stimulus check. We’ll answer some frequently asked questions about how this new law affects people getting monthly benefit payments below.
Q: Who qualifies for a $1,400 Covid relief check?
A: Anyone who’s single, has a valid Social Security Number (SSN) and makes less than $75,000/year qualifies for this one-time check. This also includes anyone receiving monthly benefits from the following federal programs:
- VA disability compensation or pension benefits (i.e., honorably discharged U.S. military veterans)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients of all ages
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries
- Retirees who currently receive regular Social Security payments
Married couples whose adjusted gross income falls below $150,000 annually qualify for $2,400 in Covid relief payments.
Q: What about eligible dependents that didn’t get one of the first two Covid relief payments?
A: Good news! If you claimed a dependent child or disabled adult on your taxes last year, then yes, they also qualify. Children younger than 17 should each qualify, as well as dependent adults. However, the $1,400 per dependent payment will go to the person who claimed those children or adults on their taxes. Here’s an example: You’re married, make less than $150,000 and have two teenagers at home (13 and 17). Your household automatically qualifies for $5,600 in Covid relief payments.
Q: When will I get my Covid relief payment?
A: According to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, direct deposits will begin going into people’s accounts immediately. You could get your payment as soon as March 12, 2021, or shortly after that via direct deposit. If you received prior Covid relief payments mailed to you in check format, it may take a little bit longer.
Q: I got the first Covid relief payment in 2020, but the second one never showed up. How can I fix that problem? What do I do to make sure I get the $1,400 Covid relief payment?
A: It’s possible this happened because you didn’t file taxes in 2020 or 2021, moved residences or changed your banking information. Visit the IRS Get My Payment page online and click the blue “Get My Payment” button. You may need to file a tax return to receive missing Covid relief payments, even if you normally don’t file. This answer specifically applies to VA, Social Security, SSD and SSI beneficiaries who never file tax returns with the IRS. If the Get My Payment tool shows a payment went out but you never received it, don’t stress! You can still try to recover that payment via Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 income taxes.
Q: If I get a Covid relief payment based on incorrect tax returns, will I’ll have to repay that money?
A: No. There’s zero chance of that happening to you, even if your household makes too much money this year to qualify. The law’s provisions specifically state that no money paid in error must be returned to the IRS.
Q: Does this new law do anything to help people raising kids or grandkids at home?
A: Yes! Every child through ages 6-17 that lives in your home qualifies for $3,000 in child tax credits for 2021. Children aged 5 and younger qualify for $3,600 in child tax credits for this year. This credit is “fully refundable,” meaning even if your tax bill is $0, you can receive that money back in cash. You can receive half that money in advance monthly payments starting in July 2021.
For example: Your grandkids are 13 and 16, so your household qualifies for $6000 in child tax credits. You can receive $500/month from July to December 2021 in advance payments. When you file your 2021 taxes, you will receive another $3,000 in credits. Depending on how and when you file, you may receive a lump-sum $3,000 payment in 2022.
Q: Will I have to pay for a Covid test, treatment, or vaccine out of my own pocket if I’m on disability?
A: No. If you’re on SSI and have Medicaid, tis new law covers all Covid-related healthcare costs. The plan also provides funding for those expenses for state-level CHIP beneficiaries. In addition, it provides money to states to pay for Covid tests, treatments, and vaccines for uninsured individuals. However, each state determines how and when to provide those benefits to uninsured residents. Medicare beneficiaries on SSDI also receive free Covid vaccines and tests. These free tests both include active Covid infection and antibody testing.
Q. Is there any Covid relief money for people who can’t pay rent or utility bills?
A: Yes! The new law provides each state and U.S. territory with at least $152 million for rent and utility bills. If you’re unemployed, on SSI or are facing homelessness, you almost certainly qualify. ARPA also adds billions in funding for HUD housing vouchers and LIHEAP heating and cooling program payments. Need help with food, housing, temporary shelter or paying your rent? Visit the HUD resource center online. Worried about your home going into foreclosure? Call (888) 995-HOPE to get help and connect with resources in your state or municipality.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
If you’re getting ready to apply for disability, we want to help increase your chances for benefit approval. Those who qualify for legal assistance through this website typically receive $10,000 in lump-sum backpay as well as monthly benefits. Those who apply on their own usually wait 18-24 months for their first payment, if approved.
Having a lawyer file your disability claim makes you 2x more likely to win benefits on your first try. Sign up for a free, no-obligation phone call with a Social Security attorney near you. That way, you get confidential claim advice for free by phone! If the Social Security Administration doesn’t award you benefits, you pay $0 for legal assistance. But if you do win, then you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free disability benefits evaluation now!
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.