The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a package passed by the federal government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are details about financial relief for individuals and the local resources available to help Philadelphians access these benefits.
Security note: The IRS will not call, text, email, or contact you on social media to ask for personal or bank account information.
Economic Impact Payments
Most residents are eligible for Economic Impact Payments, the one-time payments to individuals that you’ve likely heard about.
Who is eligible to receive an Economic Impact Payment?
U.S. citizens or resident aliens who:
- Have a valid Social Security number.
- Are not claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer.
- Meet the income guidelines outlined below.
How much is the payment?
The IRS Economic Impact Payment Information Center lists the following income eligibility guidelines for receiving payments:
- Single adults with an annual income of $75,000 or less will receive $1,200. This amount decreases incrementally for individuals with income above $75,000, and stops with individuals making $99,000 and above.
- Married adults filing jointly with an annual income of $150,000 or less will receive $2,400. This amount decreases incrementally for couples with income above $150,000, and stops with couples making $198,000 and above.
- Taxpayers who file as head of household with an annual income of $112,500 or less will receive $1,200. This amount decreases incrementally, and stops with households making $136,000 and above
- Individuals will receive $500 for each qualifying child under the age of 17.
The IRS determines payment amount based on tax returns from 2018 or 2019.
Do I have to do anything to get my payment?
Most eligible U.S. taxpayers will automatically receive their Economic Impact Payment, including:
- Individuals who filed federal income tax for 2018 or 2019.
- Individuals who receive Social Security retirement, disability (SSDI), survivor benefits, supplemental security income (SSI), or Railroad Retirement benefits.
Individuals who don’t file taxes need to complete an additional form. This mainly includes individuals with no or very low income. Additionally, individuals who receive Social Security retirement, disability (SSDI), survivor benefits, supplemental security income (SSI), or Railroad Retirement should complete this form if they have qualifying children under 17 in order to claim the $500 per child payment.
How will I get the payment?
The IRS is depositing payments directly to individuals’ bank accounts that are on file from 2019 or 2018 tax returns.
Those without a bank account on file will receive a paper check in the mail unless they provide new account information to the IRS. If you moved since you last filed, let the IRS know your new mailing address.
Do you need assistance filing taxes or opening a bank account?
The City’s Financial Empowerment Centers (FEC) can help. Reach an FEC counselor by calling 855-FIN-PHIL (346-7455).
Counselors can also help with other financial support, such as opening a bank account to receive the payment; applying for relief from payments to credit card companies, banks, and student lenders; and finding other financial resources.
The City has also partnered with BankOn to provide a list of recommended banks that provide safe, low cost services.
Will the payment affect my other benefits?
The payment will not jeopardize participation in benefit programs including Medicaid, SNAP, and public housing; and will not count as a benefit under the federal “public charge” policy for immigrants.
Like other tax refunds, these payments are not considered taxable income, will not be counted toward eligibility for benefits, and will be disregarded as an asset for 12 months. The payment cannot be taken for past-due taxes, student loans, or Unemployment Insurance over-payments; but it can be taken for child support that is owed.
How can I check on the status of my Economic Impact Payment?
The IRS launched “Get My Payment,” a tool to help individuals track the status of their payment, including the date it is scheduled to be deposited or mailed to their home. Individuals can provide bank account information on this site if they don’t already have an account on file with the IRS.
For more details on any of this information see www.irs.gov.
Expansion of Unemployment Compensation Benefits
As a result of the CARES Act, individuals may be eligible for traditional unemployment compensation (UC) if:
- Your employer temporarily closes or goes out of business because of COVID-19.
- Your employer reduces your hours because of COVID-19.
- You have been told not to work because your employer feels you might get or spread COVID-19.
- You have been told to quarantine or self-isolate, or live/work in a county under government-recommended mitigation efforts.
Pennsylvania’s Office of Unemployment Compensation has developed a guide to benefits available to individuals whose work has been impacted by COVID-19.
To check your eligibility and apply for UC, visit www.uc.pa.gov.
Follow these tips when applying for UC:
- Apply online, using a computer (not a smart phone), if you can.
- If you have questions or need help applying, contact Philadelphia Legal Assistance’s free hotline (215-999-6910).
- There is no waiting period or job search requirement for UC recipients during the emergency.
New UC benefits available through the CARES Act
In addition to traditional unemployment compensation, the CARES Act authorizes three new types of pandemic unemployment insurance.
- Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC): All unemployed workers will receive an extra $600 per week, on top of regular benefits, until July 31, 2020. No additional application is required. See the State’s FAQs.
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): Self-employed workers, gig workers, and independent contractors are covered under PUA and also eligible for FPUC. It also covers individuals seeking part-time employment, individuals lacking sufficient work history, and those who otherwise do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits. Individuals eligible for PUA must file separately. See the State’s FAQs.
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): UC and PUA recipients may collect an additional 13 weeks of benefits if they are still unemployed after 26 weeks (for a total of 39 weeks of coverage).
The PA Office of Unemployment Compensation is updating Information for Pennsylvania Employees Impacted by COVID-19 on a regular basis. Please check back frequently for new information and instructions.