About 300,000 Massachusetts residents are about to receive a $500 check in the mail.
Administration of Governor Charlie Baker said last week that it would begin sending the second-largest round of direct $500 automatic payments to low-income workers on Monday. It’s part of a $4 billion COVID relief bill passed last December.
A spokesperson for the state’s Executive Office of Administration and Finance said Monday that all eligible residents will likely receive their checks within the next two weeks.
The eligibility parameters are basically the same as those for the first round of payments, which were sent to around 240,000 residents in March and were based on 2020 tax returns.
However, this round of checks is based on 2021 tax returns and will only go to eligible people who did not receive a check in the first round of payments. The income test has also been tweaked slightly to accommodate this year’s increases in the Massachusetts Minimum Wage and federal poverty level calculations.
Under the updated guidelines, residents are eligible for the second of the payments if they have earned at least $13,500 (the equivalent of a minimum wage job for 20 hours per week for 50 weeks) but no more than $300. % of federal poverty line.
In other words, the income limit is $38,640 for individual filers, while a household of four could earn up to $79,500 and qualify. State officials also said married filers could each be eligible for a check, provided they qualify independently.
Household/family size — Total income in 2021:
- 1 — $38,640
- 2 — $52,260
- 3 — $65,880
- 4 — $79,500
- 5 — $93,120
- 6 — $106,740
- 7 — $120,360
- 8 — $133,980
Individuals are also not eligible for this round of verification if they have received any unemployment benefits in 2021, although it does not matter if they received such compensation in a previous year.
They are also not eligible if they received a different COVID-19 risk payment from the state (some state government employees who had to work in person during the pandemic received one-time bonuses of up to $2,000). However, receiving one of previous federal COVID-19 relief payments does not affect eligibility.
For anyone with additional questions about their eligibility, Baker’s administration has set up an online FAQ webpage and a dedicated call center available at (866) 750-9803 weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Officially called the COVID-19 Essential Employee Premium Pay program, lawmakers originally aimed the bonuses at in-person workers who were on the front lines of the pandemic, from grocery stores to retirement homes to public transit systems.
However, Baker vetoed the in-person work requirement and said the verification process would have delayed the distribution of payments. His office said the income limits and criteria excluding people who received unemployment benefits are meant to serve as a proxy for in-person work.
A total of $500 million has been allocated to the program – $460 million for the $500 checks, as well as $40 million for bonuses that were negotiated for some state government employees who worked in person .
The Baker administration said “more than $400 million” will have been distributed to residents through this round of checks, leaving about $60 million in the program. Officials said they would announce plans to disburse the remaining funds “in the future”.