Everything You Need to Know About the HEROES Act

Do you need more cash to help you through the Covid-19 crisis? If so, the HEROES Act could throw you a financial lifeline. The bill proposes a second round of stimulus checks, better unemployment benefits, and assistance for housing — something millions of us need during the coronavirus pandemic. If the Senate passes the HEROES Act, you could receive another $1,200 check as well as other financial benefits. 

We’re living in desperate times. Since the Covid-19 restrictions came into place, businesses have been forced to close, millions are claiming unemployment benefits, and others are scraping by on reduced hours. Chances are you’ve already received your first stimulus check. But it’s probably long gone now. In fact, most people found that it didn’t even cover their month’s rent. 

Will the HEROES Act give you enough money to survive the current crisis? How much can you expect to get if the Senate passes the bill? How long is the coronavirus going to last? We can’t answer the last question. But this article aims to answer your questions on the HEROES Act.

What is the HEROES Act?

The HEROES Act is a $3 trillion stimulus package to help hard-hit Americans financially. Its official name is the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act. The House of Representatives passed the financial relief package on Friday, 15 April. But no one knows if the Senate will approve it.

Of course, the proposed HEROES act isn’t the first Covid-19 relief package. Here’s an overview of the stimulus packages already approved:

  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act — This bill extended unemployment benefits, and it gave paid sick leave to those affected by the virus. Free Covid-19 testing was also included in the Act.
  • The CARES Act — A $2 trillion Coivd-19 stimulus package. Many Americans received a $1,200 stimulus check due to the CARES act as well as receiving better unemployment benefits.
  • Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement — This relief package helped small businesses and healthcare providers. 

What You Need to Know about the HEROES Act

Let’s look in more detail at the type of financial relief that the HEROES Act aims to provide. 

Second stimulus check

The HEROES Act includes a provision for most taxpayers to get another $1,200 stimulus check. The good news is this time, more people will qualify for it. So, adult dependents and many college students would receive the economic impact payment. Also, people with up to three dependents would be eligible for the relief rebate. In total, your household could receive up to $6,000. 

Student loan forgiveness

The HEROES Act would suspend student loan interest and payments until September 2021. This proposal extends the CARES Act provision, which suspended payments through September 2020. But the HEROES Act doesn’t stop there. It extends to all federal student loans. Also, the Act cancels some student loans up to $10,000.

Extend unemployment benefits

According to stats, a record number of Americans are unemployed. To help prevent a repeat of the Great Depression, the CARES Act provided an extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits — that’s in addition to the regular payments. For the first time, gig workers, self-employed, and part-time workers were able to claim for unemployment. 

If the government approves the HEROES Act, the provisions in the CARES Act will be extended. The unemployed can continue to receive benefits through January 2021. There is also good news if you’re self-employed or work in the gig economy — your benefits will continue until the end of March 2021. 

Help with rent and mortgage payments

Millions are struggling to pay rent during the Covid-19 nightmare. Many states have moratoriums on evictions for not paying rent during the pandemic. The HEROES Act provides about $100 billion in rental assistance. Hard-up tenants who can’t pay rent could qualify for vouchers to help cover rent and utilities. Moratoriums on evictions will be extended for a year. The Act also provides assistance up to the tune of $75 billion for homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages.

Hazard pay for essential workers

Also called pandemic premium pay, the HEROES Act proposes to pay key workers an additional $13 per hour. This pay boost would stay in effect until 60 days after the coronavirus pandemic ends. Essential workers earning less than $200,000 per year could get up to $25,000 extra. Frontline workers earning over $200,000 could receive an extra $5,000.

Increase in SNAP funding

Some of the hardest hit during the coronavirus are low-income families. Not only has income almost dried up, but food prices have also increased. To help reduce food insecurity, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — known as SNAP or food stamps, gets more funding. The average increase for households would be around 15%. The Act would also increase the minimum SNAP benefit for seniors to $30. 

Other provisions in the HEROES Act

Apart from individuals benefiting from the HEROES Act, there are also provisions to bolster the finances of state and local governments. Here are more facts about proposals in the HEROES Act:

  • Strike teams for nursing homes — To help restrict the coronavirus impact, $500 million in funding to tackle the virus in nursing homes. Teams of skilled healthcare workers would go to treat nursing home residents who’ve tested Covid-19 positive.
  • Local government assistance — Nearly one trillion dollars to help state, local, and tribal governments deal with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. 
  • Extra Covid-19 testing — To help reduce a second wave of outbreaks, $75 million of funding will be provided to test, trace, and isolate people with Covid-19. 
  • Assistance to farmers — Farmers and ranchers would receive financial support if coronavirus has affected their business. 

The HEROES Act: A Takeaway

The HEROES Act isn’t the first time that senators have proposed a second round of stimulus packages. We’ve already reported on the Emergency Money for the People Act. For the HEROES Act to take effect, the Senate still has to approve it. Rumblings among some politicians suggest that it probably won’t go through in its current form. However, even if the entire bill doesn’t make it through, it seems likely that other types of economic impact payments will.