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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: 08/07/2020

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.

Direct Payments to Individuals and Households

Economic impact payments have been distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. However, some seniors and others who do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment.

Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive 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.

Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds. Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible.

If you have dependent children but are not required to file a federal tax return, you must register with the IRS by Tuesday, May 5th to receive the additional $500 for each qualifying child. You can register using the IRS's online Non-Filer tool.

You can check your eligibility, figure out if you need to take any steps to get your payment, and check your payment status on the IRS's Economic Impact Payment webpage.

Increased Unemployment Insurance Payments, Duration, and Eligibility

Those already receiving unemployment insurance benefits began receiving an additional $600 per week, which began arriving in mid April. It is issued separately from regular unemployment benefits.

Under the new 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.

Workers in this group, who have applied for regular unemployment and been denied, do not have to do anything further. The Department began reaching out April 29, 2020, and has started processing payments.

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

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

  • $600 in additional unemployment benefits for individuals currently qualifying under Unemployment Insurance
  • A federal match of state Unemployment Insurance + $600 for unemployed workers who are typically ineligible
  • A 13-week extension of unemployment compensation beyond the default state duration

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

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.

Small Business Support

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.

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 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.