In the absence of federal stimulus checks, states and local governments are offering aid to residents to help them offset the record inflation and gas prices. The latest to do so is Massachusetts, where Governor Charlie Baker is sending stimulus checks to essential workers. These Massachusetts stimulus checks are part of the state’s “Essential Employee Premium Pay Program.”
Last week, Governor Baker informed that low-income essential workers would be among the first to get the stimulus payments. These one-time stimulus checks to essential workers are part of the Employee Premium Pay Program. Under the program, $500 would go to 500,000 people, with essential workers being the first to receive it.
“Distribution of the first round of $500 payments for low-income workers under the COVID-19 Essential Employee Premium Pay Program is finally happening! I am glad that these essential workers who worked through the pandemic are getting a little help!” Sen. Pat Jehlen said in a tweet.
Massachusetts’ Essential Employee Premium Pay Program was signed into law in December. About $460 million was allocated for premium payments to Massachusetts workers.
“The law provided for the Administration to design the program and develop eligibility parameters that will ensure this critical support is provided quickly to deserving workers across the Commonwealth,” the program’s website says.
Stimulus Checks To Essential Workers: Who Will Get It?
To qualify for the payment, recipients must have filed a 2020 tax return and earned an income of at least $12,750 in 2020. This income requirement is based on 20 hours a week for 50 weeks at a minimum wage of $12.75 in 2020.
Moreover, the recipient must have been a resident of Massachusetts in 2020, or lived in Massachusetts between March 10, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020. Further, the total household income of the eligible recipients must be at or below 300% of the federal poverty level in 2020.
If an individual meets all these requirements, they will automatically get the stimulus payment. Married filers can also get the payment, but only if they separately qualify for the payment.
A point to note is that people who got unemployment compensation in 2020 won’t qualify for the payment in the first round. However, the unemployment compensation from 2019 and 2021 would have no impact on the eligibility. Similarly, Commonwealth executive branch employees, who already received a one-time payment from the state (employer), will not get the stimulus payment as well.
These stimulus checks to essential workers are the first round of payment under the Essential Employee Premium Pay Program and it is based on the 2020 returns. The second round of payment will be sent after the ongoing tax filing season and will be based on the 2021 returns. After the two rounds, the authorities will evaluate the program for more rounds.
For more information on the stimulus checks to essential workers, you can visit the program’s website.