In late December 2020, Congress passed an additional $900 billion pandemic relief bill – the second largest federal stimulus ever after the CARES Act in March 2020. Here, we break down what the relief bill means for you and your household – so check out the full details below. We’ve also noted the key highlights of each provision.

Stimulus payments

The government will send $600 stimulus payments to those who qualify, plus $600 per eligible child. Eligibility is generally based on your adjusted gross income (AGI) for 2019. Those who made $75,000 or less will receive the full $600.

Payments start phasing out for individuals whose 2019 AGI exceeds $75,000 (or $112,500 if you filed as head-of-household). For married couples filing jointly, payments start phasing out when combined income exceeds $150,000. For individuals without children, the payments go to zero when income reaches $87,000 (or $174,000 for married couples).

The IRS is expected to release more eligibility information soon. The IRS will begin sending payments to people whose bank account information is on file first, and then will send out paper checks after that – with the first payments likely to begin arriving in January.

Eligible people (based on 2019 income) will receive a $600 stimulus payment, plus $600 per eligible child, likely in January. If you’re eligible for a payment, you don’t need to do anything.


Unemployment benefits

People receiving state unemployment benefits will get an extra $300 weekly for 11 weeks, from the end of December 2020 through March 14, 2021.

The latest bill also extends two other pandemic unemployment programs originally set to expire around Christmas: the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program expands jobless benefits to gig workers, freelancers, independent contractors, the self-employed and certain other people affected by the coronavirus. The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program provides an additional 13 weeks of payments to those who exhaust their regular state benefits.

Both programs would close to new applicants on March 14, 2021, but benefits will continue through April 5, 2021 for existing claimants who have not yet reached the maximum of 50 weeks of unemployment benefits.

People receiving state unemployment benefits will receive an extra $300 weekly until March 14, 2021, and unemployment benefit provisions for the self-employed (gig workers, freelancers and independent contractors) will be extended.


Small business loans

The bill reopens the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) so that some of the hardest-hit small businesses can apply for another loan. PPP stopped taking applications for the first round of loans in August.

These additional loans are available only to small businesses with fewer than 300 employees that have seen drops of at least 25% of their revenue during the first, second or third quarter of 2020. Each borrower can receive up to $2 million, and businesses now have more flexibility on how they spend the money. The forgiveness process for loans under $150,000 has been simplified as well. More nonprofits are also eligible for this round of loans.

PPP is back for businesses with fewer than 300 employees that have had a revenue drop of 25% or more. Loans are limited to $2 million, and businesses now have more flexibility in how to spend the money.


Rental assistance

The bill extends until January 31, 2021 the eviction protection set to expire at the end of the year. It also provides $25 billion in rental assistance.

The $25 billion will be funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) and dispersed to individual states. Tenants will apply for aid through state or local relief organizations. How quickly the assistance becomes available will be dependent on where you live. To find out what’s available in your area, visit the government website for your city or county.

Typically, renters are eligible for relief if their household income is below 80% of the area’s median income, and someone living there:

  • has qualified for unemployment benefits or
  • has lost part of their income or
  • has experienced financial hardship because of COVID-19 or
  • can show that they are at risk of losing their home.

The eviction protection set to expire at the end of 2020 has been extended to January 31, 2021. The federal government will give out $25 billion to individual states for rental assistance – check out the website for your city government or county government to learn about what relief is available in your local area and how to apply.


Student loans

Unfortunately, the latest bill doesn’t extend the freeze on payments and interest for federal student loans. That break is scheduled to end on January 31, 2021, according to the most recent announcement from the Department of Education. This means your federal student loan payments will resume on January 31, 2021, interest will start accruing, and student loan debt collection may commence.

The pause on student loan repayments has not been extended by the latest bill – and federal student loans will start accruing interest again on January 31, 2021 along with payments coming due.


We’re here to help

We’re also here to talk one-on-one, confidentially and at no cost – about your stimulus check or any other financial concerns. Visit to talk to us.