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The CARES Act: Assistance for Families & Workers: Direct Payments and Unemployment Benefits

Senator Patty Murray
Apr 6 · 5 min read

Led by efforts from U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Congress recently passed the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help support workers, families, businesses, communities and more struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic and response. The CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020, and contains new provisions to provide relief to Washingtonians, as well as families and workers nationwide suffering during the current economic downturn.

Direct Payments

Championed by Senator Murray, the CARES Act provides $1,200 directly to individuals and $500 for each child. This direct payment begins to phase out at incomes of $75,000 per individual or $150,000 per married couple. Direct payments fully phase out for individuals with incomes above $99,000.

How do I qualify for a payment?
If you’re below the income threshold, you should qualify for a direct payment.

How will I receive my payment?
The fastest way to receive your rebate is if you already filed a tax return and provided your direct deposit information.

🔘 If you filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019, or you receive Social Security or disability benefits, you should receive the rebate automatically.

🔘 If you provided bank account information to receive your tax refund as a direct deposit, your rebate should be issued to that account.

🔘 If you did not provide information for direct deposit, you will be either:
✅ mailed a rebate check to the address provided on your 2018 or 2019 tax return — whichever you filed most recently, or
✅ asked to provide your direct deposit information to the IRS through a new form — more information available on the IRS’s coronavirus hub HERE.

What if I’m on Social Security or Supplemental Security Income?
Most people who receive Social Security or disability benefits should get the direct payment automatically either electronically or by paper checks by mail. The Social Security Administration has laid out different scenarios to help explain what actions, if any, you need to take to receive your payment HERE.

What if I don’t normally file taxes?
You can still receive a direct payment. The IRS will issue a new form or additional guidance for individuals who do not plan to file a tax return and don’t already receive a direct payment from the government. For more information on this process, visit the IRS’s coronavirus hub HERE.

I’m undocumented, but my children are American citizens — do I qualify for a direct payment?
Unfortunately at this time, individuals without a Social Security Number — including undocumented immigrants, DACA recipients, TPS holders, and U-visa holders — are ineligible for direct payments, as well as adult dependents, and estates and trusts. But Senator Murray is committed to keeping up the fight to help make sure undocumented individuals and others who are not eligible for a Social Security Number, but who pay billions in taxes every year, have the resources and support they need to weather this crisis.

The IRS will post all key information regarding direct payments on IRS.gov/coronavirus as soon as it becomes available. For additional frequently asked questions about direct payments, visit HERE.


Unemployment Benefits

Senator Murray also supported efforts to secure provisions in the CARES Act law expanding unemployment insurance benefits (UI) for workers who have had their hours cut or jobs eliminated due to the coronavirus crisis, including:

🔘 Wage Replacement: an additional $600 per week for every American receiving UI benefits for up to four months. This supplemental assistance in combination with traditional UI provides 100 percent of the average American worker’s weekly wage
🔘 Waiving Waiting Weeks: federal incentives for states to eliminate waiting weeks to help get money in people’s pockets sooner
🔘 Extension of Benefits: an additional 13 weeks of federally-funded unemployment insurance benefits
🔘 Expanding Access: allowing part-time, self-employed, and gig economy workers to access UI benefits

How do I enroll in this new program?
You don’t need to do anything special to apply for the expanded UI provisions under the CARES Act — you just need to file for UI benefits like you normally would through the state. For more information or apply for UI benefits in Washington state, visit HERE.

How long will my UI benefit lasts under the new law?
Under the new law, federally-funded unemployment insurance benefits will last an additional 13 weeks (for a total of 39 weeks).

What if I was already on unemployment before COVID?
For people who were already receiving UI benefits or who have already exhausted their UI benefits, under the CARES Act, you will receive an additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits. These benefits are federally-funded, but you will still receive them through the state.

When will I start receiving my UI benefits?
The UI provisions went into effect immediately when the bill was signed into law. However, it will likely take a few weeks for UI benefits claims to get processed and in the hands of workers, and Senator Murray is pushing to make sure Washingtonians receive their benefits as soon as possible.

I work in the gig economy — can I apply for the expanded UI benefits?
Yes, you can! Senator Murray supported efforts to ensure self-employed workers and independent contractors — like workers in the gig economy — have access to the expanded UI benefits under the new law.

What if I don’t normally file taxes?
You can still receive a direct payment; the IRS has issued additional guidance for individuals who do not plan to file a tax return and don’t already receive a direct payment from the government. For more information on this process, visit HERE.

For more information about the CARES Act’s expanded UI benefits in Washington state and additional frequently asked questions, visit the Washington state Employment Security Division HERE.

Senator Patty Murray

Written by

Official account of U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)

Senator Patty Murray

Written by

Official account of U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)

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