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How does the CARES Act stimulus package help me or my business? How do I get my economic impact payment?

Last Updated: 10/23/2020

The Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), signed into law on March 27, contains provisions that support individuals and small businesses in a number of ways.

Increased Unemployment Insurance Payments, Duration, and Eligibility

Until July 25, Unemployment Insurance provided an additional $600 per week, on top of regular and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits (known as "Pandemic Unemployment Compensation"). Benefits were issued for any eligible weeks, April 4 through July 25.

In addition, under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, individuals typically not eligible for unemployment compensation, such as independent contractors, self-employed workers, or those with limited employment history, will be able to receive unemployment benefits.

In total, eligible claimants can now receive up to 59 weeks of unemployment benefits. New Jersey is providing 20 weeks of extended unemployment to New Jersey workers who have exhausted their state and federal jobless benefits. The state extension kicks in after claimants exhaust 26 weeks of state unemployment plus 13 weeks of federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

Claimants must certify for these benefits online each week. The certification schedule -- based on Social Security number -- can be found at myunemployment.nj.gov.

Additionally, workers who left their job to provide coronavirus-related care to themselves, their family, or other relatives, will be eligible for unemployment benefits.

For more information and to learn how to apply for PUA, see the NJDOL's April 29, 2020 press release.

Direct Payments to Individuals and Households

Economic impact payments have been distributed automatically, with no action required for most people.

Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 automatically received an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples. Parents also receive $500 for each qualifying child.

You can check the status of your payment on the IRS's Economic Impact Payment webpage.

Small Business Support and Workforce Development

On October 21, Governor Murphy announced $14 million in additional CARES Act funding for workforce development programs. The programs are designed to help businesses impacted by COVID-19 replenish their workforce and help jobless residents learn new skills that lead to successful reemployment.

The CARES Act funding will be implemented by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development and has been divided as follows:

  1. Relief Employment ($4 million grant) – This funding will provide dislocated workers and the long-term unemployed the opportunity to perform temporary jobs related to the state's recovery from the pandemic. The first sector targeted for these jobs will be long-term care.
  2. Customized and On-the-Job Training ($3 million grant) – This funding will cover up to 50 percent of training costs of a new employee if an employer commits to hiring that employee upon completion of the training. Essential and struggling industries such as retail, grocery, hospitality, tourism, health care, transportation, and logistics will be targeted.
  3. Employment and Training Services ($7 million grant) – This funding will expand career support services supported by the Workforce Investment Boards throughout the State. The services include outreach, intake, assessment screening, resume critiques, virtual job referrals, and referrals for short-term training, which can be provided remotely.

Additional support for small businesses include:

Emergency grants: Under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, eligible businesses may pursue grants of up to $10,000 to cover immediate operating costs.

Forgivable loans: Businesses with less than 500 employees may be eligible for loans up to $10 million. Costs associated with payroll, mortgage interest, utilities, and rent are forgivable.

Tax Credits: Employers who have partly or entirely shut down may be eligible for a tax credit of a percentage of wages paid to employees during the coronavirus public health emergency.

Manufacturing Extension Program: Eligible small and medium sized manufacturers may receive funding to support cost reduction, workforce development, product development, and growth initiatives.

Retirement Accounts

The usual 10% penalty on early distributions of IRA and defined contributions plans (like 401(k) plans) has been waived for coronavirus-eligible distributions up to $100,000.

Federal Student Loan Forbearance

The CARES Act provides temporary relief to particular student loan borrowers. To determine if your loans are eligible, contact your loan servicer online or by phone. Your servicer is the entity to which you make your monthly payment. If you do not know who your servicer is or how to contact them, visit StudentAid.gov/login or call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243; TTY for the deaf or hearing-impaired 1-800-730-8913) for assistance.

For more information, please refer to this frequently asked questions page from the United States Department of Education.

Source: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/3548/text; https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know; https://blog.ssa.gov/commissioner-of-social-security-shares-update-about-covid-19-economic-impact-payments-for-beneficiaries/; https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments; https://www.nj.gov/labor/lwdhome/press/2020/20200429_puapayments.shtml; https://www.nj.gov/labor/lwdhome/press/2020/20200701_20weekextension.shtml