Stimulus Checks for Seniors: NY Lawmakers Approve One-time Payment of $200

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The coronavirus pandemic and now inflation are having an impact on almost all sectors of society. One sector, however, has felt the impact much more than many others, and it is senior citizens. Some New York lawmakers realize this, and thus, have approved stimulus checks for seniors. Specifically, the resolution has been passed by New York’s Onondaga County to give a one-time cash payment of $200 to senior citizens in their county.

Senior Household Stimulus Program: what is it?

Last week, Onondaga County passed a resolution that provides a one-time cash payment to senior citizens who meet certain eligibility requirements. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon proposed this program, called the Senior Household Stimulus Program, in his 2022 State of the County address. Its primary objective is to financially support senior citizens to help them recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as offset the impact of rising prices.

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“We all know that many of our senior citizens are on fixed incomes and the current rate of inflation is making it increasingly difficult for them to pay the bills and put food on the table…. While these payments will not solve the larger economic headwinds we are all facing, it will provide some temporary relief for those who need it most,” McMahon said while announcing the proposal last month.

The resolution, which was put before the county legislature on Tuesday, says the fixed income of senior citizens "amidst the highest rates of inflation since the 1980s," makes them disproportionately harmed in terms of their "ability to maintain a stable and sustainable livelihood within the comfort of their home[.]"

The resolution was unanimously approved by the legislature and calls for setting aside $5.5 million from the county's fund balance for giving stimulus checks to seniors. Onondaga County’s balance, or rainy day savings, hit $200 million in December, and the county is expected to post another budget surplus this year.

Stimulus Checks For Seniors: Who Will Get Them?

To be eligible for the stimulus checks for seniors, residents must be already receiving New York's Enhanced STAR (School Tax Relief) exemption from school property taxes for the 2022-2023 school year. The STAR exemption is for households with income no more than $92,000 and where the property owner’s age is at least 65 years.

County officials estimate that 27,500 households would qualify for Enhanced STAR, and thus, will get the stimulus checks. The country will send only one check per household and the stimulus checks are expected to go out in December.

Though the program is much-needed relief for seniors, some legislators raised a concern that the money will only go to the seniors who own homes. Thus, they want this stimulus program to go to low-income families as well.