At TIAA Bank, we understand that uncertainty can easily set in with any change. And these days, we’re all facing it even more so given how quickly things are evolving. Which is why, now more than ever, we’re dedicated to bringing you a variety of resources that will help Americans get through this time, including information on the largest stimulus package that’s ever been passed in U.S. history.

On Friday, March 27, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. Including over $2 trillion in emergency aid, the CARES Act was created to help consumers and businesses deal with the financial impacts of COVID-19. Its widespread provisions include emergency aid in the form of stimulus payments and expanded unemployment benefits, as well as coverage for small businesses and other industries.

Stimulus payments—how it works

Through the CARES Act, Economic Impact Payments – also known as stimulus payments – will be coming to many people, including Social Security recipients, eligible unemployed Americans, veterans and more. While many people will receive a $1,200 one-time payment, the actual amount will be primarily based on last year’s income or potentially your income from 2018:

  • $1,200 payment for adults who earned up to $75,000
  • $2,400 payment for married couples who earned $150,000 or less and filed jointly
  • $500 payment for every qualifying child 16 or younger
  • Payments will scale down based on how much you earned over the $75,000 or $150,000 threshold
  • Income thresholds based on the adjusted gross income from your 2019 tax return—2018 if you haven’t yet filed

If you’d like to get an idea of what the stimulus may look like for you, take a minute to calculate your payment.

There’s nothing you need to do to receive your payment. The IRS will automatically send it to you—either by check or electronically if you’ve authorized direct deposit after 2017. While the bill doesn’t set a date for when the payments will start to go out, the Treasury Secretary is asking for “as soon as possible.” To get more details on a variety of payment-specific questions and other facts, please feel free to refer to this FAQ.

Greater unemployment benefits

The expanded benefits mean that unemployment assistance is available to more people than ever. It includes those who are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, have been diagnosed or are caring for a family member with it, have been quarantined and so many more. Plus it’s now available to self-employed people, including gig workers, freelancers and contractors.

One benefit that the expanded protection provides is a lengthened time frame for receiving aid, based on your 2019 income or possibly your 2018 income. It’s typically as much as 26 weeks in some states. But under CARES, eligible workers will get an additional 13 weeks of unemployment payments, which would mean up to 39 weeks for some. And on top of the state-provided benefit, the government has added a $600 weekly payment for up to four months of unemployment, ending July 31, 2020. Both the additional 13 weeks of coverage and the $600 weekly payment is available to workers newly eligible for unemployment benefits for weeks starting January 27 and through December 31, 2020.

Unemployment due to coronavirus impacts is predicted to reach levels not seen in many years. If you’re experiencing a loss, please know our hearts reach out to you. Should you need to apply for benefits, this guide will help you navigate the how-tos state by state.

Help for small businesses

Small businesses have been hit exceptionally hard by the pandemic due to mandatory closures, supply-chain disruptions, and extra safety precautions required to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. The CARES Act originally allocated billions in relief efforts aimed at helping small businesses, including the creation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and expansions to the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDLP).

Thankfully, an additional $310 billion of PPP funding has been approved as part of the Paycheck Protection Program Increase Act, meaning all eligible and interested businesses that have not already submitted an application should do so as soon as possible. There is a significant need and demand for these loans, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis only. The initial allocation of PPP funds was exhausted in just two weeks.

All small businesses can visit the SBA website to learn more about the program, including a directory of all approved PPP lenders.