After months of negotiations, Congress overwhelmingly passed a $900 billion stimulus bill on December 21, 2020 that will provide billions of dollars of new assistance to struggling U.S. citizens and businesses.

The stimulus package, which follows the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that passed in March, 2020, provides much-needed aid to the nearly 11 million people who are still unemployed, as well as businesses still struggling with shutdowns related to the pandemic.

Here are key details:

  • Adults who earn up to $75,000 are slated to receive $600 direct payments, and married couples earning up to $150,000 will receive $1,200. Parents will receive an additional $600 per child.
  • The package will also reinstate supplemental federal unemployment payments, providing out-of-work individuals with an additional $300 per week through March 14, 2021.
  • The deal also allocates $284 billion for small businesses, $82 billion for schools and universities, $25 billion for rental assistance, $13 billion for food stamp support, and $10 billion for childcare facilities. 

Note: The president’s signature is required for the stimulus package to be approved.

How soon will you get your money?

Checks will reportedly start going out within the next week, perhaps as soon as Monday, December 28, 2020.

How people previously got direct payments under the CARES Act

Although details about the most recent round of payments are yet to come, here’s what happened in the spring. Recipients who qualified automatically received payments via direct deposit or mail. People who enrolled in direct deposit for their 2018 or 2019 tax returns also received stimulus payments that way. (So if you haven’t already done so, now might be a good time to consider filing your taxes for 2018 and 2019.)

It reportedly took about two weeks before the first direct payments started going out in April, 2020.

People who signed up for direct deposit of their tax refunds into their Stash banking accounts when they filed their 2019 taxes had relief money deposited into their Stash accounts*. The U.S. Treasury also has an online portal, where users could securely enter their bank account information for a direct stimulus payment. You’re likely to be able to access it here

For people who don’t typically file tax returns, a group that includes many senior citizens, Social Security recipients, and retired railroad workers, the IRS said it would use information on the form SSA-1099 or form RRB-1099 to generate payments.

If you didn’t file your tax return for some other reason, such as not earning enough income, you can probably still use the IRS online portal to apply for a stimulus check.

Note: People who still have not received their payments from the spring may be able to claim a rebate credit with their 2020 taxes, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Managing your money during the pandemic

Consider putting some of the payment towards savings. It might be a good idea to pad your emergency and rainy day funds with extra cash in case financial stress continues or if something unexpected like a layoff happens. Consider  maximizing your savings by contributing to your retirement fund, or paying off debt.

And remember that you can have your stimulus check directly deposited into your Stash account. Learn more about setting up Direct Deposit with Stash here.