Waiting for another coronavirus relief check? New deal offers 2nd round of payments

The $1 trillion HEALS Act includes a second relief payment of up to $1,200. But unemployment benefits would take a significant hit.
Eric Gay / AP

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By Kerry Breen

After disagreements between the two main U.S. political parties about continuing unemployment assistance and other coronavirus relief programs, a new deal is on the table.

The $1 trillion HEALS Act, proposed by Senate Republicans on Monday, includes a second relief payment of up to $1,200. The proposal has already faced criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike.

The package still has to be approved by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, which could lead to changes — the HEALS Act and the Congress-proposed HEROES Act, which passed the House in May but was never considered by the Senate, have some key differences — but there is bipartisan support for more direct payments.

It's expected that the exact terms of the package will be subject to negotiation between the House and Senate.

How much money might be sent out?

Much like the first round of coronavirus relief payments, the HEALS Act allows for one person to receive up to $1,200 in a single, direct payment.

That amount might vary based on your income. According to CNBC, the checks will follow the same eligibility formula as the first round.

  • Individuals earning a gross adjusted income of up to $75,000 per year in 2019 will receive a $1,200 payment.
  • Couples earning a gross adjusted income of up to $150,000 per year in 2019 will receive a $2,400 payment.
  • The checks will be reduced by $5 for every $100 in income, phasing out completely at $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for couples.
  • Individuals with no income and individuals who rely on benefits such as Social Security are eligible for the full $1,200 payment

The new bill clarifies that anyone who died before Jan. 1, 2020 cannot receive a check.

What dependents are eligible for $500 payments?

Some criticized the first stimulus package for overlooking college students and other young adults who might still be dependents but were not under the age of 17. Adult dependents were also unable to receive a check.

Grassley said that the HEALS Act would offer $500 to all dependents, "regardless of age."

What are the differences between the HEALS Act and the HEROES Act?

The greatest difference between the Republican-proposed HEALS Act and the Democrat-proposed HEROES Act is the unemployment benefits. In March, an additional $600 per week was added to unemployment benefits as part of the CARES Act; that additional benefit expires July 31. The HEROES Act would have extended the $600 payments. Under the HEALS Act, workers can be paid up to 70% of their prior earnings and will receive $200 per week from the federal government while state labor departments switch over to the more targeted benefits. The 70% coverage would be capped at $500 per week.

The bills are relatively similar when it comes to relief payments, though the Democratic package called for families to receive an additional $1,200 per child for up to three children.

Other sticking points include "liability shields," a provision that would prevent businesses, universities, schools, hospitals and more from being sued over coronavirus-related damages. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called the shield nonnegotiable, while Democrats say it is likely to give large employers the opportunity to avoid paying damages and open the door for mistreatment of employees and customers.

The GOP proposal also excludes an evictions moratorium, which expired July 24. Plus, there are differences between education funding, Paycheck Protection Program funding and funds for coronavirus-related testing and research.

When can people expect to start seeing payments?

Now that the HEALS Act has been proposed, it will go to the House of Representatives, where members will begin debating the exact terms of the bill. A final agreement will need to be reached, and the qualifications for who is eligible for another payment will have to be decided. Congress breaks for a monthlong recess on Aug. 7.

Not all coronavirus relief payments for the first round of checks have been received yet. There is currently no timetable for how long it may take to receive payments from the new package, even once it's approved.