While not as comprehensive as advocates had hoped, the new $900B COVID relief deal announced by Congressional leadership includes some much-needed help for American seniors. Here is what is in the relief bill and why it matters for seniors:
After initial resistance from Republicans, the relief package now includes another round of stimulus payments, $600 for adults and $600 per child for individuals earning up to $75,000. Though not as generous as last summer’s $1,200 payments, any additional money would no doubt help seniors living on fixed incomes who face rising costs for everything from housing to prescription drugs. Most Social Security beneficiaries will receive their stimulus payments automatically, though some will get paid sooner than others.
“How fast that money is received is largely dependent on whether the recipient already uses direct deposit for their monthly benefit payment. If they do, the stimulus cash will likely be credited to their account automatically. If Social Security benefits are sent by mail, however, a longer wait is expected.” – CNBC, 12/19/20
In its current form, the relief package includes extended unemployment benefits in the amount of $300 per week. Additional unemployment assistance will be a lifeline for older workers who may have been furloughed or fallen ill with COVID, who are not yet eligible for Social Security.
The proposal as it now stands provides $25 billion in emergency assistance for Americans struggling to pay rent; it would also extend a ban on evictions through January, 2021. This could represent real relief to seniors, who have been renting homes in greater numbers during the past decade or so.
According to The Hill newspaper, “The agreement includes $20 billion for the purchase of COVID vaccines, $8 billion for vaccine distribution, $20 billion for states to conduct testing and $20 billion in extra federal relief for health care providers.” This is good news for long-term care residents and staff – as well as for older Americans not in long-term – who await inoculation.
Nevertheless, the COVID package should be “welcome relief to millions of Americans, including seniors who have been hurt the most by the pandemic,” said Dan Adcock, the National Committee’s director of government relations and policy.