8 ways the US bailout could help families survive COVID-19
The third round of stimulus cash payments, which could start hitting checking accounts as early as this weekend, has drawn most of the attention and headlines to the US bailout package signed by President Joe Biden this week.
But there are other features believed to help families struggling with the economic challenges posed by the pandemic. The measures are almost all temporary, with the stated goal of alleviating the hardships for individuals and families brought about by the impact of COVID-19 on jobs and incomes, as well as stimulating the economy and avoiding a profound recession.
In Biden’s words, they are meant to “put the country in a place to get back to normal.”
Here are eight provisions for struggling families that have received less attention than cash deposits and unemployment assistance:
1. A larger child tax credit
For 2021, the amount of the credit will increase to $ 3,000 per child aged 6 to 17 and to $ 3,600 for the youngest. The bill also closed loopholes that prevented Americans with very low wages or no wages from claiming the child tax credit.
Under current law, the credit did not include 17-year-olds, but the new legislation adds them.
As reported by NPR, “The amount is gradually reduced for couples earning more than $ 150,000 and people earning more than $ 75,000 per year. Families eligible for the full credit will receive payments of up to $ 300 per child per month from July through the end of the year.
“The bill would make the full value of credit available to low-income people who are not currently eligible or are only receiving a portion,” according to the New York Times. “And for the second half of this year, the federal government should send prepayments of credit to Americans in installments, similar to a guaranteed income for families with children.”
2. Make the future student loan forgiveness tax-free
Congress is still grappling with the notion of student loan debt and whether at least part of it should be canceled and, if so, who could benefit from it. But the bill Biden signed this week states that any student loan forgiveness that is passed this year through January 1, 2026, will not be taxable as income.
3. Child Care and Development Block Grant Fund
Nearly $ 15 billion contained in the US bailout goes to the Child Care & Development Block Grant program to strengthen child care facilities, with a focus on those located where there is a great need for child care. daycare centers. The White House considers it “the biggest investment in childcare since World War II”.
A Biden administration information sheet that “families will recover in the form of a refundable tax credit up to half of their childcare expenses for children under 13, so that they can receive up to $ 4,000 for a child or $ 8,000 for two or more children ”.
4. Energy assistance for low-income families
Among other provisions, $ 4.5 billion will be added to the Home Energy Assistance Program for Low-Income People, aimed at helping needy families cover the costs of heating and cooling their homes.
5. Increased access to nutrition
According to a White House Backgrounder, the benefits of the supplementary nutritional assistance program (food vouchers) will increase by 15% until September. The bill also pays for a collaboration with restaurants “to feed American families and keep workers in the restaurant industry at work.”
Families with very young children could also get additional help. NPR writes: “A provision will give the Secretary of Agriculture the authority and funding to temporarily increase the value of cash vouchers for the Special Supplementary Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children up to $ 35 per months for women and children for four months. period during the pandemic.
There are provisions to boost nutrition that specifically attempt to help seniors, including $ 37 million for the low-income supplemental feeding program.
6. More Resources for Needy Older Americans
The new law includes increased financial support for programs aimed at the elderly, including community programs and those designed to help caregivers.
7. Rental assistance.
Of the $ 25 billion in emergency rent assistance, 20% will be used for emergency housing vouchers for the homeless, survivors of domestic violence and those trafficked.
8. Health insurance subsidies
The law project temporarily increases subsidies for people who purchase their health insurance through federal markets created under the Affordable Care Act. Qualifying families will see their monthly premiums drop for a few months.
People who lost their jobs during the pandemic but temporarily retained their insurance coverage under the provisions of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, more commonly known as simply COBRA coverage, will also see their premiums paid until September.
The New York Times reported that the signed measure also invests billions in public health programs and veteran health care.