The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of millions of people and many have filed for unemployment due to a loss of job or business. The governments from all over the world have decided to offer COVID-19 stimulus packages to prevent a financial crisis, or at least, delay it. The problem is that independent contractors have many questions regarding such stimulus packages as they are not employed and provide service under a stand-alone agreement. In this article, Handy looks at some of the most important questions that independent contractors are asking about the COVID-19 stimulus package. Let’s have a look at them below:
- Does the unemployment insurance cover independent contractors? – The American federal government has recently made independent contractors, self-employed individuals, freelancers, and even gig workers eligible to receive the unemployment benefits to cover the loss of income due to the pandemic. The amount you would receive will be calculated by a formula from the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program based on your previous income.
- Can they avail the benefits of health insurance? – If you cannot pay for your current healthcare or health insurance due to a loss of employment that is caused due to the pandemic, you have the option to enroll in Medicaid. You are also eligible for enrollment if your income drops below a certain threshold.
- How much money and how many times would you receive it? – At most, a single adult would get $1,200 and an extra $500 for every qualifying child under the age of 17. To get the full amount, you must have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less. For anything above, the payment will start to become less. You disqualify if your income is $99,000 or more.
Married couples with no children can receive a maximum of $2,400 if the total income is $150,000 or less. They disqualify if their earning is $198,000 or more. For couples with two children, the disqualification threshold is raised up to $218,000.
If you are the head of the household, you are eligible to receive the full amount unless you earn more than $112,500.
- What is the procedure to apply for receiving the benefits? – There is no need to apply for receiving the benefits if you have already filed your tax return for the year 2019 or 2018. In such a case, the Internal Revenue Service would have your bank account information and the money you are eligible to receive would be directly deposited into your bank account. Alternatively, you may receive access to a debit card with a pre-approved limit equal to the amount you are eligible to receive. You only have to apply if you have qualifying children to receive an extra $500 or if you didn’t file your tax returns. To apply, you have to visit the IRS.gov website.
There is no way to receive confirmation messages for qualified applicants. However, if you apply but you are not eligible, you will receive written notification.
Handy believes you must be proactive during this period and apply for the benefits at the earliest. Otherwise, the process would take longer as more and more people apply and it can take a lot longer to receive the benefits.