ATLANTA - The Senate passed a historic $2 trillion stimulus bill aimed at helping Americans impacted during the coronavirus pandemic. The bill now goes to the House, which could approve the legislation Friday to have President Trump sign it into law.
We’ll bring you LIVE updates on Channel 2 Action News. Get extended coverage on the free WSB Now app on Roku, Amazon Fire and Apple TV.
The stimulus comes at a time where unemployment rates reached historic levels. On Thursday, the government said more than 3 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week. That’s the most in American history.
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Georgia’s unemployment figures have been released by the Georgia Department of Labor:
“For the week of March 15 through March 21, claims processed in Georgia increased to 12,140 initial claims, up 6,695 from the previous week’s 5,445 claims. The GDOL anticipates substantially higher claims in the coming weeks already seeing a higher number of claims than were filed during the 2008-2009 recession. In the first week of March, the GDOL saw 59,000 users on the website and yesterday reported 110,000 in one day.”
We’ve put together everything you need to know about the stimulus bill, unemployment and even more:
The Stimulus Bill
How much money will people be getting from the stimulus bill?
The bill would give one-time direct payments to Americans — $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year, and $2,400 to a married couple making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child.
The amount of the payments will be based on income reported in 2018 taxes -- or your 2019 taxes if you have already filed them. The amount of the payment will decline gradually, beginning with individuals who made more than $75,000, or married couples who filed jointly who made $150,000.
Payments will phase out at a rate of $5 per every additional $100 in income over $75,000 in adjusted gross income for singles, $112,500 for heads of household, and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly.
The checks will be directly deposited into bank accounts if you included direct deposit information on your tax form. If you did not, your check will be mailed to you.
When will I get the money?
Channel 2′s Consumer Advisor Clark Howard said people may start seeing the payments as soon as next month.
“The last week of April is when I’m hoping against hope will be the day that money drops into people’s checking accounts,” Howard said.
Is there just one payment?
Right now, there is only one payment planned. But future bills could offer additional payments, the White House said Wednesday.
Do you have to apply to receive a payment?
No. If the Internal Revenue Service already has your bank account information, it would transfer the money to you via direct deposit based on the recent income-tax figures it already has, according to the New York Times.
To get the money to people who don’t usually file tax returns, the IRS may have to request that information from the Social Security Administration or Veterans Affairs. In 2008, those people were required to file a return anyway in order to get their rebate, according to CNN.
Unemployment in Georgia
How does the stimulus bill impact unemployment in Georgia?
Lawmakers agreed to a significant expansion of unemployment benefits that would expand unemployment insurance by 13 weeks and include a four-month enhancement of benefits -- an additional $600 per week - on top of what state unemployment programs pay, according to ABC News.
In total, unemployed workers are eligible to receive up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits.
The program was expanded to include freelancers, furloughed employees and gig workers, such as Uber drivers.
The massive boost in unemployment insurance is expected to cost $250 billion.
Are you eligible for unemployment in Georgia?
In Georgia, the Department of Labor handles unemployment benefits and determines eligibility on a case-by-case basis. Applicants must meet the following three eligibility requirements in order to collect unemployment benefits in Georgia, according to NOLO.com:
• Your past earnings must meet certain minimum thresholds.
• You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, as defined by Georgia law.
• You must be able and available to work, and you must be actively seeking employment.
How do you file unemployment claim in Georgia?
You can file your claim online here. The Georgia Department of Labor temporarily suspended in-person requirements for services provided by the department.
In order to file a claim, you will need your Social Security number, your driver’s license if you have one, your bank’s routing number and account number and your work information history for the last 18 months.
Does the stimulus bill help ease student loans?
Student loan borrowers would be allowed to put off paying their federal student loan payments without penalty until September 30 under the Senate coronavirus stimulus bill.
The bill provision extends the plan already put in place by the Education Department amid the coronavirus crisis, which allows borrowers to defer their payments without interest for at least 60 days.But the deferred-payment benefit currently isn’t automatic and requires borrowers to contact their loan servicers to ask for help.
The Senate bill automatically suspends those payments without interest for the next six months. It also suspends the collection on defaulted debts -- including wage and tax refund garnishment.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Wednesday that collections will be stopped for at least 60 days.
Information from the New York Times, ABC News, CNN and NOLO.com was used in this report.