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Third stimulus package, totaling $1.9T, signed by Biden

There is some concern that debt collectors will be able to garnish stimulus payments under the new law

Summary

In the latest round of federal COVID relief, eligibility for stimulus payments to Americans has been tightened and unemployment benefits extended, along with other stimulus efforts.

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President Biden has signed off on a third round of stimulus, this one totaling $1.9 trillion, to boost the U.S. economy as it continues to battle the coronavirus. It comes amid concern about whether the recovering economy requires this big boost which could well stoke inflation.

In the American Rescue Plan, stimulus checks will go out to all eligible Americans, as with previous efforts. The checks could start arriving in bank accounts in a matter of days.

See related: 6 in 10 Americans will use second stimulus check to pay bills

Who will receive a stimulus check?

Eligibility requirements to receive stimulus checks have been tightened, though. Individuals making less than $75,000 and couples earning lower than $150,000 will be eligible to receive the full stimulus payments of $1,400 for the former and $2,800 for the latter.

And individuals making short of $80,000 along with couples earning below $160,000 will get partial stimulus payments. There will also be payments of up to $1,400 for dependents, including adult dependents.

Can debt collectors seize your stimulus check?

The National Consumer Law Center, a consumer advocacy organization, has expressed concern about the danger that debt collectors could get their hands on stimulus payments; this relief effort, unlike the one passed in December, does not prohibit debt collectors from garnishing the monies once they hit bank accounts.

According to Lauren Saunders, associate director, NCLC, “The stimulus is an essential shot in the arm to help families pay for food, rent, medicine and auto loans, and stay connected to essential utility services. Now Congress must take immediate action to ensure that the economic stimulus payments feed families as intended rather than debt collectors.”

The NCLC, along with some other consumer advocates and the American Banking Association, is urging Congress to take action and have the Treasury Department amend this situation. Otherwise, banks will have to follow court rules and allow the stimulus checks to be garnished by debt collectors.

See related: Can my stimulus check be garnished? 

What else is in the third stimulus package?

The relief package also includes other stimulus efforts, including:

  • Supplementary jobless benefits of $300 per week are extended through Sept. 6, 2021, and benefits will continue to go to the extended pool of those not typically eligible for unemployment insurance.
  • Recipients of unemployment insurance will not have to pay tax on the first $10,200 in jobless benefits they receive.
  • About $30 billion in aid will be available for restaurants.
  • There is an extension of the scope of the paycheck protection program, which aims to help employers retain their employees.
  • Monies to continue to combat the coronavirus, including about $20 billion for coronavirus vaccine manufacturing and distribution efforts, as well as about $50 billion towards testing and contact tracing efforts.
  • Enhanced child tax credits.

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