August could be a difficult month for millions of Americans as state and federal unemployment benefits stall or expire with no guarantee of additional relief and stimulus check 2 still in limbo.
The Cares Act, which enacted the first stimulus check, allowed for 13 or 20 additional weeks of state unemployment benefits and a $600-per-week stipend from the federal government. The latter is set to expire on July 31, and many states are requiring jobless individuals to reapply to qualify for the extra 13 weeks rather than providing benefits automatically, CNBC (opens in new tab) reports.
This potentially lengthy process could leave people without any form of aid for some time, especially as stimulus check 2 and additional federal unemployment benefits remain uncertain. While some states provide up to 26 weeks of standard unemployment, others — like Florida and North Carolina — pay just 12 weeks, and workers in those states would need to get that extension soon.
The good news is that another stimulus package is on the horizon: the Senate plans to take up its own version of a bill as early as next week when it returns from its recess, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has hinted that lawmakers could finalize a plan by early August.
Legislation could include additional cash payments or unemployment relief, but aid may be limited to lower-income workers. And some senators have pushed back against the idea entirely.
If the Senate does not approve a proposal before its next recess begins on Aug. 10, Americans would be without relief until at least September. And even if additional benefits are approved soon, it could take a few weeks for stimulus check 2 or unemployment payments to go out.
Other proposals for stimulus check 2
It’s looking increasingly unlikely that the Senate’s stimulus bill will mirror existing proposals exactly, but there are a few options already on the table. In May, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Heroes Act, which would provide an additional $1,200 direct payment to many Americans and extra benefits for dependent children and certain workers.
The White House has also expressed support for stimulus check 2, with President Trump calling for “larger numbers” and White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow suggesting that "direct checks are probably going to be part" of a second stimulus package.
No stimulus check?
Most direct payments provided under the Cares Act have been sent out, but if you still haven’t received yours, check your status using the IRS's Get My Payment app or give the IRS stimulus check phone number a call.