Complication of Closing and Available Stimulus Checks and Child Tax Credits in 2022

Americans will receive significantly less federal assistance as they enter the third year of the pandemic.

Stimulus checks will no longer be issued. Guaranteed sick leave and boosted unemployment benefits have ended. After several extensions, the pause on student loan payments will end in May as the last round of expanded child tax credit payments went out earlier this month.

The start of 2022 appears uncertain because of the rapid spread of the omicron coronavirus variant. Several economists are downgrading their forecasts for next year, as experts predict that the number of COVID-19 cases will continue to surge for at least another week. In addition to restaurant closures, thousands of flights have been cancelled and Broadway shows have been postponed.

Nevertheless, the good news is that there are still some options. In spite of omicron’s high contagiousness, research suggests that most people who obtain vaccinations and boosters will not develop severe illnesses from it. In November, unemployment dipped to 4.2%, a pandemic-era low. Early data also suggests that Americans spent more during the holiday season than in years past.

There’s still a possibility that lawmakers might approve a scaled-down version of President Joe Biden’s sweeping Build Back Better legislation that would help struggling Americans despite opposition.

According to ABC7News, over $5 trillion in federal spending was authorized in three COVID-19 relief packages passed by Congress in 2020 and 2021. The vast majority of these funds have already been spent.

Expired Federal Assistance

Stimulus Program: In the first three months of 2020, about $817 billion was sent to low- and middle-income households via the federal stimulus program. Three rounds of payments were made, with the final payment being made in spring 2021.

Also read: Child Tax Credit Update: Parents Concerned Regarding The Cessation Of Monthly Payments

Each round of qualifying had slightly different parameters, but lawmakers purposely did not place too many restrictions on the checks to speed up the process. Americans with the lowest incomes received the full amount, while the value gradually decreased for those with higher incomes.

In the first round of payments, each person had an initial benefit that was close to $1,200, the second close to $600, and in the third close to $1,400 in payments.

Boosted Unemployment Benefits: Over the last year, jobless individuals could anticipate several months of additional pandemic unemployment benefits, including a $300 kick-start to each week’s compensation.

As part of the American Rescue Plan Act last March, Democrats renewed the three pandemic programs once again.

Additional jobless benefits were also provided to gig workers, freelancers, independent contractors, self-employed individuals, and some Coronavirus-affected people. Those who exhausted their regular state benefits were also able to receive payments for a longer period of time.

COVID-19 cases have surged since then, but the unemployment rate has not increased nor had the number of people filing for unemployment benefits increased.

Monthly Enhanced Child Tax Credit Payments: Families eligible for the enhanced child tax credit received nearly $93 billion in monthly installments this year. However, the final distributions went out on December 15.

This program was enacted as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, which is only in effect until 2021. It was hoped that the Build Back Better package would extend it another year.

Each child under age 6 received $300, and each child under age 17 received $250 per month between July and December, so half of the enhanced credit was provided to parents of this child. When families or parents file their tax returns in 2021, they’ll receive the other half of this benefit.

Legislators also made the full amount refundable so that more low-income parents qualify. The credit was only partially refundable. According to estimates from the Treasury Department, approximately 26 million children were unable to receive full credit because of their low incomes.

Paid Sick and Family Leave: Employees were guaranteed two weeks’ pay in 2020 if they contracted COVID-19 or were quarantined. As part of the new law, those who stayed home while school was closed or were caring for ill family members were also granted an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave. More so, until October 1, the government provided tax credits to employers who offered the benefit on a voluntary basis.

Money for Small Businesses: The federal government no longer accepts applications for three major small business programs. Paycheck Protection Program ran out of loan money in May after providing nearly $800 billion in forgiven loans.

Just two months after it opened, a grant program specifically for restaurants distributed its entire $28.6 billion pot. The grant was given to more than 100,000 restaurants, but the demand didn’t match the funding.

Grant applications for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program are also no longer being accepted, but recipients may still apply for a second grant. Over 21,300 grants totaling $13.5 billion have been distributed.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans were available to struggling small businesses up until December 31.

Federal Aid Still Available

Student Loan Relief: Those with federal student loans have not had to make any payments since March 2020. During this time, interest has stopped adding up and collections on defaulted debt have been on hold. Borrowers’ balances have effectively been frozen if they chose not to continue making payments.

The pause on payments has been extended several times. Payments are now set to resume on May 1.

Also read: When the Social Security cost-of-living increase moves into effect? Check Here!

Rental Assistance: At the end of last year, Congress provided emergency rental assistance in the amount of $47 billion. These funds are still available for use.

The funds are available to households facing financial hardship due to the pandemic, earning less than 80% of their area median income, demonstrating the risk of becoming homeless or having income from unemployment benefits.

The money was distributed through hundreds of programs run by the state, counties, and cities. Some were extremely slow in getting money out, but they were successful in many communities. Currently, Treasury Department funds are being transferred to places that have run out of money and still need help.

After nearly a year, a federal eviction moratorium ended in August. Although the number of evictions has increased since then. They remain well below the historical average before the pandemic, according to The Eviction Lab at Princeton University.

Health Care Subsidies: You can still get a sum out of the Affordable Care Act policies in 2022 with generous federal subsidies.

An unprecedented number of consumers have accessed the Obamacare exchanges thanks to the enhanced assistance created by the American Rescue Plan Act. The number of people who selected plans for next year has reached more than 13.6 million. Registration is still open but closes on January 15.

According to public officials, the hiked subsidies are intended to address long-standing complaints that Obamacare is not affordable to a greater number, particularly for middle-class Americans.

The average cost of coverage has fallen to 8.5% of income from nearly 10%. Furthermore, policyholders with lower incomes and those who are unemployed receive subsidies that basically eliminate their premiums.

For the first time, people who earn more than 400% of the federal poverty level may also qualify for assistance.

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