What if you were receiving the $600 every week and then it stopped? Your COVID-19 money questions, answered

It’s hard out there. And, in this time of uncertainty, USA TODAY is working to find answers to your money questions – anything from stimulus checks or unemployment benefits to your 401(k) or retirement plans. You can submit your questions here and read earlier answers below.

We will be updating the Q&A, so check back often. But, also look to these places:

… Will it continue or has it stopped for New Jersey? Do you need to contact anyone?

If you are still receiving unemployment benefits, the extra $600 should continue until July 25 in New Jersey. If the missed money doesn’t show up in your next payment, you should contact the state’s unemployment benefits office.

If you are back to work full time, you will no longer receive jobless benefits. If you are back to work part-time, you can receive partial unemployment insurance which should include the extra $600 a week. But how much a person can earn from work and still receive unemployment differs greatly depending on the state, and the cutoff threshold can be quite low.  You can check page 17 of the following link to get a state by state breakdown.

The additional $600 in weekly jobless benefits provided by the federal government is officially set to end July 31. But states will pay it only through the week ending July 25 or July 26, a significant blow to unemployed workers counting on that money to bolster state benefits that average just $370 a week.

“The (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation) $600 can be paid for weeks ending no later than the week ending prior to Friday, July 31, 2020,” the U.S. Department of Labor said in a statement. “For all states except (New York), that is Saturday, July 25th. New York’s end date is Sunday, July 26th.”

The confusion lies in the fine print. Unemployment benefits are paid by states on a weekly or biweekly basis with a defined end date on Saturday or Sunday. But the federal legislation known as the CARES Act, which authorized the additional compensation, says the benefit will end “on or before July 31” – a Friday.

That means, given the payment schedules of most states, the last week of the extra $600 payments will end the prior Saturday or Sunday. 

No.

“Someone who has no earnings and no attachment to the workforce since August 2018, and is not unemployed or partially employed as a result of COVID is not eligible for benefits,” said Jason Moon, a spokesman for the Unemployment Insurance Agency in Michigan. And that’s likely to be the same response from most states, if not all states, according to experts.

Rachael Kohl, director of the Workers’ Rights Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School, said it’s highly unlikely anyone in that situation of voluntarily leaving the work force in 2018 and not returning would be able to collect any jobless benefits now.

“If you weren’t trying to work, you don’t get to collect unemployment benefits now,” Kohl said.

There are a few ways you can pay taxes on your unemployment.

You can choose to have them taken out when applying online for jobless benefits for some states. Or you can fill out Federal Form W-4V Voluntary Withholding Request and have federal taxes automatically have taxes taken out, according to Greene-Lewis. When you fill out the form you can request to have up to 10% taken out, she added. 

Once you are working again, if you have an employer you can adjust your federal tax withholding using Form W-4. If you are self-employed, you can make adjustments in your estimated tax payments when it is time to pay. The first and second federal estimated tax deadlines were extended to July 15.

At tax-time you may be able to offset your taxes which some of the credits you were not eligible for in the past if your income is lower like the Earned Income Tax Credit worth up to $6,660 in tax year 2020 for a family with three kids, the Saver’s credit worth up to $1,000 single and $2,000 married filing jointly, or the Child and Dependent Care Credit worth up to $1,050 with one child and up to $2,100 with two or more kids.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @JessicaMenton.

I am a massage therapist in NY and we’re allowed to open in Phase 3. Can I work two days a week and then claim PUA two days a week?  

… I don’t know how many of my clients are ready to come back and get a massage. Can I do this until I get a better idea of when my business will be back to normal?

In general, as long as you make less with your reduced schedule than the amount you are receiving in unemployment then you can claim Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, according to Lisa Greene-Lewis, a certified public accountant at TurboTax.

States have different rules on how much you can earn and still be eligible, so check those details with your individual state. Also, keep a record of how much you work and make sure you report the amount you make to your state, she added. 

… Would I still get the full $600 per week if I did this? 

Yes, if you qualify for unemployment based on your state requirements you should qualify for the additional $600 under Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @JessicaMenton.

What happens if I open, later one of my clients tests positive for COVID and I have to shut down my office? Would I be able to file for PUA again? 

You may as long as you haven’t exceeded the amount of weeks eligible for unemployment. Under PUA, the amount of weeks was extended to 39 weeks. With unemployment you don’t have to use all of the weeks consecutively.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @JessicaMenton.

I work in sales and not making commissions because of COVID-19. Do I have any government protection?

You should. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program allows a much larger pool of workers to get jobless benefits when their work is affected by the virus. Check online with your state’s unemployment office to get more clarity.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

I work in two different states and receive unemployment from both. How will the extra $600 be applied?

The $600 is in addition to the amount determined under state law, according to the CARES Act. This means you can calculate what you are eligible to receive by any state and add on the $600. It doesn’t say it is per claim or per state, says Toby Mathis, a partner and attorney at Anderson Law Group in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Department of Labor says that when you file for unemployment for two jobs where one of the jobs is outside of your state of residence, you should file with the state in which you reside and make them aware of the claim in another state, he added.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @JessicaMenton.

I have been furloughed and receiving unemployment. I have found part time work but if I take it, I’ll make less than on benefits. Can they only be reduced?

… I know I can’t say no to work and I know that if I make more than 50% of my unemployment my benefits will be reduced. Is that based off my state unemployment benefit?

If you are once again employed, you won’t qualify for jobless benefits

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

Why am I only receiving $516 a week instead of the full $600?

Unemployment benefits, including the $600 weekly federal benefit, are subject to both federal and state income taxes. In some cases, you can elect out of withholding. You will, however, still owe taxes on the benefit come tax time. Federal taxes are usually withheld at 10% and the state taxes depend on your state of residence.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @JessicaMenton.

I’m currently out of the U.S. Can I still apply for unemployment?

… I actually came to Nepal for vacation, but because of the pandemic I’m stuck here longer than I was supposed to be.

You can still apply with your state of residence, but the answer will depend on the rules they have in place. Most states have a number of hours requirement or compensation earned requirement prior to allowing benefits along with rules such as being unemployed through no fault of your own, and that you are actively seeking work, according to Toby Mathis, a partner and attorney at Anderson Law Group in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Many states have modified the last requirement during the pandemic to eliminate the seeking work requirement, but not all. Some states have added additional eligibility for those who are adversely affected by pandemic, Mathis says.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @JessicaMenton.

Why haven’t I gotten my stimulus money yet?

… Retired, income below $60000, filed taxes 2018 and 2019, same bank same account and received automatic deposits from IRS before. 

Tax professionals suggest checking the Get My Payment tool on the IRS website to monitor your status. There are several reasons the money hasn’t been received, either from someone hacking the account, a possible debt collector garnishing, to the bank simply denying the debit, says Toby Mathis, a partner and attorney at Anderson Law Group in Las Vegas.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @JessicaMenton.

I just got laid off and I collect a pension. Am I eligible for unemployment and the $600 a week?

It depends. If you are collecting the pension from the company that laid you off, you might not qualify for unemployment. But if you were laid off due to COVID-19, and you collect a pension from a previous employer, you should still be able to get unemployment, along with the extra $600 in federal aid

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

Will my PUA benefits be included in my total earnings when calculating maximum earnings allowable under Social Security? 

… I am 63, own a small business and receive Social Security benefits. I qualified for self-employment unemployment benefits Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. I get $160 in unemployment from Michigan and the extra federal $600.

Section 2104(h) of the CARES Act says to disregard the pandemic payments for social security. State unemployment benefits don’t affect social security, says Toby Mathis, a partner and attorney at Anderson Law Group in Las Vegas, Nevada, but social security may be included in how unemployment benefits are calculated.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @JessicaMenton.

Is now a good time to move or buy a house?

… Are rents going to be cheaper and more housing available?

It depends. The Federal Reserve signaled it won’t raise borrowing costs for the foreseeable future, a potential boon for homebuyers as mortgage rates slide. But finding a home at a favorable price could be a challenge.

While the pandemic has eased affordability, it has also prompted many sellers to delay listing their homes. That’s made finding a home in most markets more difficult as inventory has fallen. Tightening lending standards and limited inventory may create barriers for potential first-time buyers, who also typically have a harder time putting up money for down payment.

U.S. home prices haven’t budged much. One reason why: buyer demand will prevent U.S. home prices from falling more than 2% to 3% through the end of the year, according to real estate search site Zillow – it expects to see a steady price recovery in 2021. There has been a slowdown in the rental market. It’s still too early to see the full effects of the pandemic on rent overall, but prices in some areas are on the decline. In San Francisco, for instance, rent for a one-bedroom dropped 1.4% to $3,450 on a monthly basis and is down 6.8% from a year ago, rental platform Zumper said in its National Rent Report for May. New York City, meanwhile, saw rent rise 3.5% to $2,950 on a monthly basis after dropping 5% the prior month.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @JessicaMenton.

Will I still be eligible for the extra $600 after my unemployment benefits run out?

It depends. The $600 weekly benefit may still be paid after someone’s state unemployment runs out, depending on the circumstances that cause that person to remain unemployed, according to Christina Taylor, head of operations at Credit Karma Tax. 

If you were laid off by your employer due to the pandemic, you’re not in a COVID-19 high risk group, and your employer has called you back to work and you don’t go back, you will no longer receive state unemployment benefits, she says.  

You would also no longer receive the extra $600 per week benefit you’d been receiving up until that point. This is because choosing to be unemployed or not going back to work when your place of work is no longer closed due to the virus is not normally a qualifying reason for PUA benefits.

“If you were furloughed by your employer due to COVID-19 and you were called back to work, but you can’t go back because your child’s school or summer child care program is closed due to COVID-19, you would most likely still qualify for PUA benefits until the end of July 2020 or when your child’s care provider opens back up, whichever comes earlier,” Taylor says.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @JessicaMenton.

Is there a cutoff date to the additional $600 payments?

The extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits will expire after July 31, if the Senate doesn’t pass the $3 trillion HEROES Act – another emergency stimulus package that would extend the additional $600 benefit into January 2021.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @JessicaMenton.

If I resign from my job due to child care because of the COVID-19, am I eligible for unemployment?

If you are forced to resign from your job because you have a child that requires care and are unable to obtain child care because your care provider is closed due to the coronavirus, then you may qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, according to Christina Taylor, head of operations at Credit Karma Tax.

PUA is the federal portion of unemployment that is an additional $600 per week you can receive in addition to the State Unemployment Assistance you may receive. Every state’s unemployment program is different, so it’s important to check your state’s rules because some states may allow for state unemployment assistance if you’re in this situation.

If your child would normally be in school, but their school is closed due to the virus, then you could qualify for PUA if you resign due to not having childcare. Once the normal school year is out, however, you would no longer qualify for federal unemployment assistance, unless your child’s summer care provider, like a summer camp or a summer babysitter, is also closed due to the pandemic, Taylor says.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @JessicaMenton.

I was recently asked to return to work, but only for a few days a week. Would this affect the extra $600 in unemployment?

… Can I still receive the federal unemployment check due to my drastically cut hours?

As long as you’re receiving jobless benefits, you should get the additional $600 a week until that component of the federal program ends in July.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

Is the Visa debit card I got in the mail my stimulus check?

It’s likely. Nearly 4 million people are going to receive their Economic Impact Payment via prepaid debit cards, according to the Internal Revenue Service. The prepaid cards, which started rolling out May 18, are being used for some instead of a paper checks.

Pay attention if you get a plain envelope in the mail that’s marked “Money Network Cardholder Services.” The cards are marked Visa debit card, and the back of the card has the logo for MetaBank. 

No, it’s not a scam. You can call customer service at 800-240-8100 to report your lost or stolen card immediately. Your card will be deactivated so nobody can use it. More information here.

— Susan Tompor

Follow Susan on Twitter: @tompor.

My husband and I haven’t received our stimulus check yet. Who do we contact?

Answer: The IRS has set up a website to track the status of one’s stimulus check. You might want to start at: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment

— Alfred Miller

Follow Alfred on Twitter @alfredfmiller.

I received unemployment benefits for four weeks but only one $600 payment. How do I complain?

… I was under the impression the $600 was to be paid with each payment.

The $600 federal payments are typically included in the checks being dispensed by state unemployment offices. Email those administrators with a query about your missing payments. You can also try to call. That’s been difficult due to the volume of applicants, but many states have set up call centers to specifically respond to queries related to the coronavirus that operate seven days a week.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

What if I don’t qualify for unemployment insurance? Am I still eligible for the $600 weekly federal stimulus?

… My hours have been reduced, plus a 10% salary decrease. If I’m eligible for the extra $600, should I keep certifying with unemployment each week, so that I can receive that or should I stop certifying, as it will be sent to me anyway?

If you do not qualify for your state’s unemployment insurance, you might try applying for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program in your state. The program helps unemployed people who are business owners, self-employed, independent contractors, have limited work history or those not usually eligible for regular state unemployment benefits who are out of business or services are significantly reduced as a direct result of the pandemic. Once you are approved for PUA, the extra $600 would be added, as well.

— Josh Rivera

Follow Josh on Twitter: @Josh1Rivera.

I haven’t worked in over two years, can I receive unemployment?

That’s unlikely. Most states require applicants to have worked in the last 12 to 18 months to draw benefits.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

I’m furloughed with no return date, can I collect until the day I retire?

… If I am forced into retirement due to this unknown.

If you are at retirement age, you can actually collect unemployment and Social Security benefits at the same time. States no longer reduce unemployment benefits when claimants are also receiving Social Security. However, your Social Security benefits will be greater for every year you can delay until age 70.

Also, if you start taking Social Security, you only have one opportunity to withdraw. It must be within 12 months and you must repay all benefits.

 — Alfred Miller

Follow Alfred on Twitter @alfredfmiller.

Will the additional $600 payment be taxable?

Unemployment benefits are taxable income. Unlike the federal stimulus checks, which will reflect as tax credit. Any money you receive from the federal or state government unemployment fund is included in your gross income and taxed at your ordinary income rate.

… Do we have to pay back the $600 weekly federal disbursements when we claim unemployment? Will we need to pay it back when we return back to work?

You will have to pay taxes on that move as it is counted as taxable income.

(We are also looking to talk to people who have gotten additional unemployment insurance checks that they didn’t claim. If you or someone you know has had this experience, please fill this form and a reporter will contact you.)

— Josh Rivera

Follow Josh on Twitter: @Josh1Rivera.

I qualified for unemployment from three part-time jobs. I’ve been offered a new part-time position. I know my unemployment will be reduced but will I lose the extra $600?

… All my jobs in California were affected by the COVID-19. Two of these businesses are closed indefinitely and I was laid off from the other.

Answer: As long as you are certifying each week and receiving your state’s unemployment insurance check, the $600 federal will be added, regardless of the amount on your state’s check.

— Josh Rivera

Follow Josh on Twitter: @Josh1Rivera.

If I was getting $800 a week on unemployment, and landed a seasonal job paying $500 a week, do I still certify every week?

Depending on your state laws, and how long the job will last, you can “pause” your unemployment insurance for a few weeks while you’re employed, and then go back to certifying. In any case, you should report that you are employed for whatever time it is. You do not want to be in a situation where your claim is classified as fraud.

— Josh Rivera

Follow Josh on Twitter: @Josh1Rivera.

How long will I receive unemployment and how long will I receive the extra federal $600?

Answer: It depends on where you live. Workers in most states are eligible for up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits from regular state-funded unemployment compensation, but some states allow for fewer weeks. Under a new federal law, you can receive an extra $600 per week from April 5, 2020 until July 31, 2020.

— Michael Collins

Follow Michael on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS

I was laid off only a week. Would I be eligible for the $600 federal unemployment bonus? If so, I never received it, how can I request it?

If you qualified for unemployment benefits in your state, you should be eligible for the extra $600 per week. Check with your local unemployment office.

— Michael Collins

Follow Michael on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS

Why is the status of the IRS Get My Payment tool listed as: ‘No Payment Information is Available’?

… I filed my 2018 tax return and owed money. But I did not file my 2019 tax return. I fall within the income guidelines to receive a $1,200 check.

Ken Milani, professor of accountancy at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, notes that the IRS doesn’t have the information it needs to make a direct deposit of the stimulus payment when you’ve owed money on that 2018 tax return. The IRS had a noon May 13 deadline to use Get My Payment at IRS.gov to supply direct deposit information.

— Susan Tompor

Follow Susan on Twitter: @tompor.

How can I know if my direct deposit is right?

Everybody who receives a stimulus check will also get a letter from the IRS. The letter will tell you how much stimulus money you received and whether the money was sent by direct deposit or paper check. It also will explain how you can alert the IRS if anything needs to be corrected.

— Michael Collins

Follow Michael on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS

Will I get my CARES relief if the bank account on file with the IRS is closed and charged off? 

I checked the IRS website to see where my payment is and it said it was deposited in that account.

Ken Milani, professor of accountancy at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, suggests that you first contact the bank to see what happened there. If the bank has the money, be prepared to verify your identity. Most likely, the money may have been returned to the IRS.

The IRS states at its Economic Impact Payments Information Center, Question No. 33, that: “If the account is closed or no longer active, the bank will reject the deposit and you will be issued a check that will be mailed to the address we have on file for you. This is generally the address on your most recent tax return or as updated through the United States Postal Service (USPS). You do not need to call the IRS to change your Payment method or update your address at this time.”

In addition, the IRS states: “As required by law and for security reasons, a letter about the Payment will be mailed to each recipient’s last known address within 15 days after the Payment is made. The letter will provide information on how the Payment was made and how to report any failure to receive the Payment.”

— Susan Tompor

Follow Susan on Twitter: @tompor.

I don’t have the same bank account as I did in 2018. I was issued a stimulus check, minus back child support. Where is the remaining money and where will the IRS send it?

According to the IRS, if a stimulus check is sent to a recipient through direct deposit and the bank information is invalid or the bank account has been closed, the bank will reject the deposit. At that point, the IRS will mail the payment as soon as possible to the address they have on file for you, typically within 14 days. You can learn more about accessing your payment through the GetMyPayment page on the IRS web site.

— Ledyard King

Follow Ledyard on Twitter @LedgeKing.

I’m a health care worker. Can I qualify for unemployment if my coworker has tested positive for COVID-19 and I now fear working at the facility?

My coworker may have gotten Covid-19 from a patient at his second job. Because of this, I fear that I have been exposed to the virus and that if I continue to work at the facility, I will continue to be exposed. 

Generally, you can only qualify for unemployment if you lost your job due to COVID-19, you’ve left your job to take care of family member who’s been infected, or you’re quarantining on the advice of a health-care provider and you’re unable to perform your duties. The U.S. Department of Labor recommends that if you believe your employer’s response to the possible spread of COVID-19 creates “a serious safety hazard” or if you think your employer is not following federal work safety standards, you can file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

— Ledyard King

Follow Ledyard on Twitter @LedgeKing.

I file my taxes thru TurboTax and get refunds on a debit card. Will my stimulus funds be deposited to the card? 

Like many things relating to the Economic Impact Payments, there does not appear to be a clear cut answer here. TurboTax said: “We are seeing some TurboTax customers who chose to receive their refund on a debit card get their stimulus payments to these accounts. Any TurboTax debit card customer who receives a stimulus payment from the IRS to that account, will receive that stimulus payment without delay or fees.”

At the same time, TurboTax recommends that people check the IRS Get My Payment tool to find out how they will receive their stimulus payment from the IRS and when.

TurboTax noted that the IRS is responsible for determining taxpayer eligibility of receiving a stimulus and, if a taxpayer is eligible, how and when the stimulus payments will be delivered to them. 

The IRS is asking people to submit direct deposit information by noon May 13 at Get My Payment at IRS.gov before a steady flow of paper checks will be issued.

— Susan Tompor

Follow Susan on Twitter: @tompor.

How exactly do you return a stimulus check that was sent to a dead person?

… A family member just received her stimulus benefit via direct deposit. Thing is, she’s been dead for three years. Are we required to give the money back?

Here’s what the IRS said people need to do if they must return an Economic Impact Payment, such as one issued to a deceased person. 

If the payment was a paper check:

  • Write “Void” in the endorsement section on the back of the check.
  • Mail the voided Treasury check immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below.
  • Don’t staple, bend, or paper clip the check.
  • Include a note stating the reason for returning the check. 

And if you cashed that paper check already, or you received the stimulus money via direct deposit, the IRS said you should: 

  • Submit a personal check, money order, etc., immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed at IRS.gov.
  • Write on the check/money order made payable to “U.S. Treasury” and write 2020EIP, and the taxpayer identification number (Social Security number, or individual taxpayer identification number) of the recipient of the check.
  • Include a brief explanation of the reason for returning the EIP.

The IRS could try to charge you interest and penalties at some point if you do not return the money. 

— Susan Tompor

Follow Susan on Twitter: @tompor.

I was claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return. Can I file my own 2019 return and receive stimulus check?

If you were claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return for 2019, you are out of luck for now. However, the stimulus payments are technically an advance credit on your 2020 taxes, so you could possibly claim the payment when you file your 2020 returns early next year, as long as someone else does not claim you as a dependent for 2020.

— Michael Collins

Follow Michael on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS

Does the extra $600 added to your weekly unemployment affect your maximum benefit amount?

No. The maximum benefit is based on your previous income. The $600 is an extra that the unemployed can receive through the end of July.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

I was released from prison last year and have been trying to find a job. Do I qualify for any benefits under the new programs?

… The jobs I qualify for are considered nonessential and it’s dangerous to be out trying to find work right now while taking care of my elderly brother. We are receiving food stamps.

You may be eligible for a stimulus payment once you file a 2019 tax return. Current inmates cannot get a payment, but ex-offenders can qualify, even if they have no income. If you do not file with the IRS right now, you could be eligible for the stimulus payment when you file a 2020 return next year.

You also may be eligible for unemployment benefits, including the additional $600 per week in enhanced benefits  that the federal government has approved to help mitigate the financial impact of the coronavirus. Rules for unemployment benefits vary from state to state, but to qualify, you usually need to be actively looking for work and cannot turn down a job offer.

— Michael Collins

Follow Michael on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS

I haven’t gotten my stimulus check. Can I still get one?

The first thing to check is if you qualify to receive a stimulus check under the CARES Act guidelines. If you do, it’s important to remember that the government is sending out the payments in installments.

Payments were prioritized in order from lowest income to highest income.

For those with direct deposit information on file with the IRS, payments began going out on April 10. And last week to Social Security beneficiaries, railroad retirees and veterans who aren’t required to file a tax return, which will continue through May.

While the IRS started mailing checks in late April to those who qualify but do not have direct deposit information, that process might take several months.

— Sarah Skidmore

Associated Press

What do I do if I get an error message when tracking my stimulus check?

The IRS updated its “Get My Payment” tool to fix some headaches. But some people continue to get error messages in some cases.

The IRS advises that you go back and check your most recent tax return or consider whether there is a different way to enter your street address (for example, 123 N Main St vs 123 North Main St). 

“You may also verify how your address is formatted with the U.S. Postal Service by entering your address in the USPS ZIP Lookup tool, and then enter your address into Get My Payment exactly as it appears on file with USPS,” the IRS said. 

— Susan Tompor

Follow Susan on Twitter: @tompor.

What is being discussed for the unemployed keeping heath care at a reasonable price?

If you had health coverage through your employer and lost your job, or if you received coverage as the dependent of someone who lost their job due to the pandemic, you could qualify for a special enrollment period to access the Affordable Care Act’s health exchange. If your lack of coverage is not related to the virus, then you have to wait until the fall to access the exchange. Regardless, anyone is eligible to receive a free COVID-19 test even if they’re not insured.

— Ledyard King

Follow Ledyard on Twitter @LedgeKing.

What if I did a paper return. How does that affect my stimulus?

Electronic filers are generally getting their money before those who mailed in their latest tax return because it’s easy to transfer the money to bank accounts they have on record. Regardless of how you filed, you can track your expected payment using the IRS Get My Payment tool. The timing of checks for those who filed paper returns last year is being complicated by the IRS’ decision to stop processing paper returns due to COVID-19. That means there’s a delay not only in issuing checks but in determining how much you’re eligible to receive.

— Ledyard King

Follow Ledyard on Twitter @LedgeKing.

Do you get the extra $600 federal unemployment assistance per week?

… or $600 every two weeks added to your unemployment benefits?

You will receive $600 a week.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

My husband was laid off for two and a half weeks due to COVID-19 and he did get his unemployment. Will he receive the extra $600 for the time he was off?

… We live in New York. He went back to work the last two days of last week. 

Depending on when states entered an agreement with the federal government, the additional $600 benefit could be retroactive back to March 28. And so yes, he should be able to get the extra $600 payment.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

I was on vacation when the pandemic started. I’m unable to return home. Can I file for unemployment?

… I have an autoimmune disease. My employer is considered essential, but they have reduced hours for others.

Situations like this will likely be handled on a case by case basis. Employers have, of course, the right to protest a claim. But states are encouraging employers to make accommodations for individuals with health risks, whether it’s allowing them to work from home or in a safe work environment. If that’s not possible, then such individuals could be eligible for unemployment insurance.

 — Alfred Miller

Follow Alfred on Twitter @alfredfmiller.

As a person in early pregnancy, the CDC says stay home. Is my employer supposed to pay my salary?

It depends on whether your employer is required to offer paid leave. Large employers and very small ones generally aren’t required to offer it. You should check directly with your company.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

My husband is in the national guard and might get called to active duty. If he gets called and I have to stay home with our child, do I still qualify for unemployment?

… I wont lose my job because I’m an essential employee, but I will have to step away or lose hours due to our child being out of school.

The CARES Act allows people who must stay home because their child’s school or day has been closed due to the coronavirus to receive some financial assistance. You can apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for your state.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

My boss is hiring people to replace those of us who were laid off. He also ordered existing employees’ hours to be reduced by half! Is that legal?

… How can we find out if he applied for the paycheck loan? He said he was but we don’t trust him.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) does not require businesses to rehire the same people that were laid off. It only requires that the loan will be forgiven if at least 75% of the total amount is spent on personnel with the remainder on work-related costs, such as rent, mortgage or utilities. If you believe your boss has acted improperly or illegally, you could contact your local or state labor agency to file a complaint.

— Ledyard King

Follow Ledyard on Twitter @LedgeKing.

Can still receive unemployment if I owe an over payment of unemployment?

Different states may handle this situation differently. But it’s generally not the state’s desire to be punitive. In Kentucky, for example, the state is offering individuals who find themselves in this situation the opportunity to negotiate the amount that is withheld from their current benefits until the debt is paid back.

 — Alfred Miller

Follow Alfred on Twitter @alfredfmiller.

I was hired, but the company said it couldn’t bring me onboard because of COVID-19. Am I eligible for any benefits under the CARES Act?

Yes, under the CARES Act, people who lost jobs due to the coronavirus before they could start them can get financial assistance.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

I’m a new immigrant who got here at the end of 2019 and have not found a job yet. I haven’t filed my 2019 taxes, am I eligible for the stimulus check?

If you are a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident or a qualified resident alien, you are eligible for the payment. You do not need to have a job or other income to qualify. However, you first must provide the IRS with some payment information. You can do that by filling out the form for non-filers here.

— Michael Collins

Follow Michael on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS

Can we receive money or food? My husband was laid off from a restaurant in California and I also can’t work as a massage therapist.

… I applied for unemployment benefits on March 16 and still don’t receive any response or money. How can we can survive? 

Various organizations are offering more immediate assistance, including some specific to restaurant workers like chef Edward Lee’s Restaurant Workers Relief Program. That particular organization is distributing food and supplies from locations across the country, including Sqirl in Los Angeles. Food bank Second Harvest also provides search tool for people seeking aid near them: https://www.shfb.org/get-food/.

Additionally, Feeding America helps people identify local food banks across the nation.

 — Alfred Miller

Follow Alfred on Twitter @alfredfmiller

Would I be eligible for unemployment if I haven’t had a job in 7 months? I had to quit to care for my mother. I’m currently looking for work.

How unemployment benefits are calculated varies by state, but even those who don’t qualify for unemployment are automatically considered for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that was created as part of the CARES Act. PUA aids people who are unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic but do not qualify for traditional unemployment insurance. The PUA benefit rate is based on recent earnings, with recipients also getting the additional $600 per week.

 — Alfred Miller

Follow Alfred on Twitter @alfredfmiller

I am the director of a small business whose employees were furloughed. With the extra $600 a week plus state unemployment benefits, several people will be earning more on unemployment than working.

Bringing staff back at their regular wage through the Paycheck Protection Program will result in them earning less than they are getting on unemployment. This doesn’t seem right. Why would they return?

Several Republican senators brought up the very same issue during the debate on the first stimulus bill passed in March, saying it would encourage some people to collect unemployment rather than work. But both the Trump administration and most Democrats argued the $600 boost was necessary because unemployment benefits alone in many states would not restore their full pay before the crisis. They don’t believe most workers, such as front-line health care responders, would choose staying home over staying on the job.

— Ledyard King

Follow Ledyard on Twitter @LedgeKing

If you did not qualify for unemployment in your state because you haven’t worked long enough, can you still get the $600?

Yes, the federal government has created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. It aids people who are unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic but do not qualify for traditional unemployment insurance. People who don’t qualify for unemployment are automatically considered for PUA. The PUA benefit rate is based on recent earnings, with recipients also getting the additional $600 per week.

Alfred Miller

Follow Alfred on Twitter @alfredfmiller

Will parents of college students get the $500 in stimulus money?

No, people aged 17 and older who can be claimed as someone else’s dependent are left out of the plan. In other words, many college students won’t receive the $1,200 and their status won’t entitle their parents to receive an additional $500. 

Alfred Miller

Follow Alfred on Twitter @alfredfmiller

I got divorced in February. But I filed jointly for taxes in 2019 with my former spouse and our combined income was $170,000. Do I qualify for assistance?

An individual can go to the IRS and attempt to pursue a matter like this at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment.

Alfred Miller

Follow Alfred on Twitter @alfredfmiller

Will my stimulus check be taxed?

No. Stimulus checks aren’t taxable income. The checks are refundable tax credits, according to the Tax Foundation, a tax policy think tank. The credits will be applied to 2020 tax returns, but are advanced to taxpayers now based on their 2019 or 2018 adjusted gross income. 

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter @JessicaMenton.

My stimulus check was sent to an account I don’t recognize. Where’s my stimulus check?

While many people received their stimulus deposit, other payments may have gotten inadvertently sent to temporary accounts created during the tax filing process. The IRS said it is moving to provide additional information and resolve any issues as soon as possible.

After you file your taxes with a tax professional, transfer banks such as MetaBank, Republic Bank and Santa Barbara Tax Product Group set up temporary accounts for taxpayers who want a refund advance or to deduct tax preparation fees from a refund. 

“Those last four digits on the Get My Payment portal match the transfer provider’s information that has been submitted to the IRS,” said Natalie Parchment, a tax preparation consultant.

— Dalvin Brown and Jessica Menton

Follow Dalvin on Twitter @dalvin_brown and Jessica on @JessicaMenton.

Will the additional $600 unemployment payment be taxable?

Yes. Unemployment benefits are considered taxable income, according to the IRS. Those benefits typically last for 26 weeks, but Congress added 13 additional weeks on top of that for a total of 39 weeks. Unemployed workers will get an extra $600 per week of unemployment benefits on top of their unemployment checks, which will be paid retroactively to March 29 or when you became unemployed.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter @JessicaMenton.

If my income is higher in 2020, will I have to pay back my stimulus check?

No. If the amount of the credit a taxpayer qualifies for in 2020 is less than it was based on their 2019 return, it doesn’t have to be paid back, according to the Tax Foundation.

If your income is less in 2020, you will receive the difference of the credit if it is in your favor. If your income drops this year, for instance, you’ll be eligible for any remaining credit that you weren’t able to claim using your 2019 or 2018 return. 

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter @JessicaMenton.

How do you file for unemployment if you were supposed to start a job but it fell through because of the coronavirus?

… I was supposed to start a job in New York State but I live in Pennsylvania, with which state do I apply for unemployment insurance?

You should apply in the state where you were supposed to work. You might be able to get documentation from your prospective employer stating that the job was impacted by the virus.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

Is the $600 from the federal government retroactive?

… I have been out of work since March 17 and my wife applied for unemployment on March 18, before the CARES act. 

Answer: Depending on when your state entered into its agreement with the federal government, the $600 payment could be retroactive back to March 28.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

Will I get a stimulus check if I defaulted on my student loans?

Under the CARES Act, the government won’t withhold the money you owe for defaulted federal student loans out of your payment. It blocks the IRS from garnishing your tax refund for those late loan payments. Also, the government won’t ding your wages or withhold social security payments for six months under the relief package.

… What if my tax refund was already garnished?

If your tax refund was withheld because you defaulted on a federal student loan on or after March 13, which was the day President Donald Trump declared a national emergency, it will be returned to you, according to the Department of Education. That also applies to garnished wages and withheld Social Security benefits.

… Does it apply to private loans?

No. Private debt collectors could still garnish student loan debts.

If you have trouble paying, contact your lender for options.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter @JessicaMenton.

Will my stimulus check be affected if I owe taxes?

… or child support?

… or overdue on student loan payments?

While the CARES Act suspends debts like overdue student loans or back taxes that typically lead to the garnishment of tax refunds, it doesn’t apply to delinquent child support payments. That means the government’s relief checks will still be garnished if you’re overdue. And some spouses who are filing joint tax returns with their late-paying partners are upset their stimulus money is being trimmed or withheld, even if they typically qualify for relief in situations like tax refunds.

Even if your spouse is solely responsible for the debt, a shared tax refund or stimulus check could be at risk.

…. If I owe child support, does the stimulus money go to my ex?

The stimulus payment that is reduced or withheld by the child support owed will go to the appropriate collecting office for the taxpayer’s state. From there, that collecting office will issue the money to the custodial parent, the person due the child support. 

More information here.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter @JessicaMenton.

When will I get my stimulus check?

The Internal Revenue Service is expected to launch an online tool as soon as Wednesday to get a better clue on when you’ll see your Economic Impact Payment via IRS.gov/eip. The IRS said the tool will let you go online to check the status of a payment, including the date it’s scheduled to be deposited or mailed.

If you do not see the money in your bank account in two weeks, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said you can go to IRS.gov to see “Get My Payment.” If you filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return and did not receive a stimulus payment, he said, make sure to have your tax return information available to use at the “Get My Payment” tool later this week.

— Susan Tompor

Follow Susan on Twitter: @tompor.

Is that money in my account my stimulus check?

Taxpayers are telling their friends, and yes, posting news on social media, that they’re already seeing stimulus cash arrive in their bank accounts.

Some consumers spotted the first direct deposits as early as Saturday; others started seeing more information as of Monday. The IRS even tweeted Saturday evening that the agency deposited the first Economic Impact Payments into bank accounts on Saturday.

Some people in Michigan who checked their bank accounts online in the past few days spotted that $1,200 or more will be available in their bank accounts as of April 15.

Interestingly: The wording being used is “IRS Treas 310” (cut-in Michigan) so don’t expect to see words like “stimulus checks” or “recovery rebate” or “economic impact payment” on your bank statement. 

— Susan Tompor

Follow Susan on Twitter: @tompor.

Will Social Security recipients receive a stimulus check?

Social Security beneficiaries and other Americans who haven’t filed income taxes for the past two years won’t have to take any extra steps to receive one-time checks. 

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the IRS will use Social Security data to generate payments to recipients who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019. 

— Michael Collins

Follow Michael on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS

Will people in retirement get a stimulus check?

As long as your adjusted gross income in 2019 was no more than $99,000 (if you file separately) or $198,000 (if you file jointly), you will receive some money. The law does not make a distinction between those who are working and those who are retired.

— Ledyard King

Follow Ledyard on Twitter @LedgeKing.

One of my workers is asking if they can go on unemployment and not work because he is living with two elderly people. Can he do this?

… We have work for him, however, he does not want to work due to the chances of infection towards his elderly roommates.

If your employee has a specific reason to worry he may have been exposed to the virus and needs to stop work, he could be eligible for benefits. If not, quitting and filing for such benefits without cause can be deemed fraud by federal officials.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

I have a military pension, am I still eligible for unemployment from a civilian job?

… If so, will my benefits be reduced due to the pension?

Yes, you should be eligible for unemployment and a military pension should not offset it.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

I just started my job and have not received any commission. How do I file for unemployment with no proof of income?

You may qualify for state benefits if the reason you haven’t been able to get your new business off the ground is because of the coronavirus crisis, such as a government-ordered shut down or the need to care for a child whose school has closed, says Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow with the Century Foundation, a nonprofit think tank. She can apply for relief under the CARES Act and should prepare to demonstrate what she did in regard to her business and how COVID-19 affected it.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

How do I apply for the new small business loan to pay my rent and my employees?

Small businesses (those with 500 and fewer employees) can apply for a loan under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program that will cover eight weeks of operations and be fully forgiven if at least 75% of the money is used for payroll and the rest is for other other business-related expenses (such as rent/mortgage and utilities). You’ll have to download this form and then find an eligible lender, such as an SBA-certified local bank or commercial lender. You can still borrow the money if you don’t meet the 75% payroll requirement but you’ll have to pay it back with 1% interest within two years.

— Ledyard King

Follow Ledyard on Twitter @LedgeKing.

If I am afraid to go to work but haven’t been laid off due to coronavirus, can I quit and collect unemployment?

No. Not unless you can show you were possibly exposed to the virus. Guidance in regard to the federal relief act specifically states that quitting a job without cause to get benefits would be deemed fraud. 

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

Do I need to apply for the $600 extra federal unemployment?

You do not have to apply separately for the $600 federal unemployment check.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

Thinking about a small business loan to pay our employees, could that impact their unemployment claims?

At least 75% of the Paycheck Protection Program loan must be spent on payroll in order for it to be completely forgiven. If workers file for unemployment, that could compromise the small business or nonprofit organization’s ability to meet the requirement.

— Ledyard King

Follow Ledyard on Twitter @LedgeKing.

I got unemployment but my employer now wants to cover our salaries with the CARES stimulus. Do I have to cancel unemployment?

If you are getting your full pay, you are not eligible for unemployment benefits. Typically, you have to check in every week to let the state know you remain unemployed in order to continue getting assistance.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

My employer reduced my salary, can I apply for partial unemployment?

Yes. If the pay cut is related to the COVID-19 pandemic, you should be able to get some financial assistance.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

Should I withdraw money from my 401 (k)?

Pulling funds from retirement accounts out of fear isn’t the best immediate course of action, wealth advisors say. It’s a case-by-case basis. Do you have emergency savings? Are there opportunities to refinance student loan debt, mortgage or car payments? Investors should take advantage of lower rates first before they tap into their retirement funds, experts say.

More information on 401 (k) and the CARES Act here.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter @JessicaMenton.

I was furloughed and after applying for unemployment benefits, got two part-time temporary jobs. Am I now disqualified from any benefits?

You are not automatically disqualified from receiving benefits. However, the amount you would receive will be reduced due to the part-time income, and in some states, you may be earning too much, according to Andrew Stettner with The Century Foundation. You need to check with your state. And a word of caution: You cannot quit working without cause to boost your benefits. You would lose your financial assistance, and could be determined to have committed fraud.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

Will homeowners get relief with mortgages?

The CARES Act gives homeowners with federally backed loans two types of relief. First, it prevents lenders from beginning foreclosure proceedings on federally backed loans for at least 60 days after March 18. Second, homeowners who experienced financial hardship from the pandemic can request a forbearance for up to 180 days, which may be extended for an additional period of up to six months if borrowers are still under financial duress.

… How can I postpone my mortgage payments?

To receive forbearance through the CARES Act, you must contact your loan servicer. There won’t be any additional fees, penalties or interest added to your account through this deferment, but regular interest will still accrue.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter @JessicaMenton.

Will adults with disabilities, who are dependents on a caregivers’ tax returns, receive a stimulus check?

No. The new law that set up the stimulus check program says that individuals who are claimed as dependents by someone else are not eligible for a stimulus check.

— Michael Collins

Follow Michael on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS

Can I apply for unemployment benefits for a second, part-time job?

Losing a second job makes you eligible for partial unemployment insurance. States have different rules regarding part-time positions, but the federal CARES Act does say part-time workers who are affected by the ramifications of COVID-19 can get assistance. Check with your state, but you should be able to get some aid.

… I work 2 part time jobs, one of which I had my hours cut way back. I am still working about 20 hours a week in one job. Can I collect unemployment insurance on a part time job?

It depends on the state whether part-time workers can receive unemployment benefits. California for instance does pay out such funds. The federal CARES Act also says part-time workers are entitled to assistance if their hours are cut for reasons out of their control. So you may be able to get the $600 federal benefit as well, but again, it’s best to check with your state unemployment office

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

When will the $600 federal unemployment check be paid?

… I got my first unemployment check but not the $600.

The pipeline for these payments is still unclear.

… I’ve been unemployed since January 2020. Is the $600 weekly benefit retroactive from then or just from the date it was announced?

Depending on when your state entered into an agreement with the federal government, the $600 weekly benefit could be retroactive back to March 28. It ends July 31. 

… Are furloughs eligible for the federal $600?

Yes. If the person isn’t being paid, they are considered unemployed and can receive that federal assistance.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

My pay is based on commission, can I file for unemployment?

Specifically, if your hours have been cut or your office is closed for reasons related to COVID-19, you should be able to receive unemployment benefits. You would file in the state you work.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

My unemployment expired already. Will I be eligible for any benefits now? 

Yes. If you are still out of work, you should be eligible for the 13 weeks of unemployment benefits that the federal government will pay, along with the extra $600 federal payment per week.

… I’ve recently exhausted my unemployment about a month ago, but I’m not able to file online due to my initial claim.

A lot of websites are unfortunately still catching up with the additional benefits  offered by the CARES Act. Reach out to your phone company to tell them your situation. You may be able to get a reprieve on your payment. And continue to call. The log jam will hopefully lessen as more staff is brought in.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones 

Does a moratorium on rent mean I never have to pay rent for that month?

No, it just means the rent is deferred. That can leave tenants with several months of back payments due when the emergency is over. 

— Paul Davidson

Follow Paul on Twitter @PDavidsonusat

What is unemployment insurance and how do I get it?

Unemployment insurance is a joint program between the federal government and the states set up to provide some money to people who are trying to get a job but can’t find one. The benefit has been expanded by a $2.2 trillion relief package – called the CARES Act – passed by the federal government last week to help soften the blow of the coronavirus pandemic, which shutting down businesses across the country and forcing layoffs of millions of people.

“Every one of the 50 states has an online application system,” says Michele Evermore, senior researcher and policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

How much unemployment will I get?

The maximum weekly benefit varies by state. For instance, in Florida, it tops out at $275, while in New York the maximum is $504. But under the federal relief law, everyone will get an additional $600 a week until July 31.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

How long do unemployment benefits last?

Some states offer fewer weeks of benefits than others. But with unemployment now expanded, anyone who is still out of work when their state benefit period runs out will be able to get payments for an additional 13 weeks from the federal government.

Those who worked in states like Florida where the initial period is only 12 weeks, would be eligible for the unemployment insurance specifically pegged to the pandemic which tacks on another 14 weeks.

Through these various steps, all those who are out of work will be able to get assistance for up to 39 weeks.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

Can I file a jobless claim if I work for myself or in the gig economy?

Yes. Independent contractors, freelancers and gig workers will be able to get the same benefits through a new pandemic assistance program established by the CARES act.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

How much stimulus money can I get?

If you’ve already filed your 2019 taxes, the Internal Revenue Service will use those returns to determine your payment. If not, your 2018 returns will be used to calculate your check.

Individuals with an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less will be eligible for a one-time payment of up to $1,200 ($2,400 for joint tax returns) and $500 for each qualifying child. Those with little or no tax liability also will get $1,200 ($2,400 for joint returns).

The payments will start to phase out for Americans who earn more than $75,000, or $150,000 for a joint return. The amount you receive will be decreased by 5% of the amount your income exceeds $75,000.

You can use this calculator to estimate your check amount.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

Do freelancers, gig workers qualify for unemployment?

Under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, included in the stimulus bill, freelancers and gig workers can receive half the average unemployment benefit in their state and an extra $600 per week.  

— Coral Murphy-Marcos

Follow Coral on Twitter @CoralMerfi

What companies are hiring right now?

Companies in the health care industry, as well as food, grocer, convenience stores, retail and delivery companies are currently in the process of mass hiring. For a list of the employers, click here. 

— Jazmin Goodwin 

Follow Jazmin on Twitter @jazminkgoodwin.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What if you were receiving the $600 and then it stopped? Money Q&A

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