June 11, 2020

750,000 Floridians Could Miss Out on $742 Million in CARES Act Stimulus Payments

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

State leaders can help with strong outreach program

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - About 12 million Americans — including 750,000 Floridians — risk missing out on the stimulus payments provided through the federal CARES Act if they do not file a form to receive it by October 15, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

“The CARES act payments provide a much-needed boost to families trying to pay rent and put food on the table during this unprecedented health and economic crisis,” said Sadaf Knight, CEO of the non-partisan Florida Policy Institute. “Florida leaders must work to ensure hundreds of thousands of residents don’t miss out on this relief for their families and our community.”

Reaching and enrolling Floridians who are eligible for this payment is an important step in building an anti-racist, equitable, and inclusive economic recovery that extends to all people. Facing structural barriers like wealth and income disparities, inadequate access to health care, and racial discrimination built into the health system, communities of color and people who are experiencing poverty are being hit the hardest by the COVID-19 public health emergency and recession.

The payments are considerable, both for the recipients and by other standards of assistance. The IRS, working with the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs, has been automatically delivering these payments to tens of millions of people who regularly file federal income taxes or receive certain federally administered benefits. But the automatic payment method misses about 12 million people nationally —including people of color, children whose parents are paid low wages, people without secure housing, and others — because they aren’t required to file federal income tax returns due to their low incomes and they do not participate in one of those specified, federally administered programs.

The outstanding payments amount to roughly $742 million for Floridians, which — if delivered and spent — would help people who are struggling to make ends meet and give state and local economies a much-needed boost.  

Governors and other state leaders can play a central role in reaching eligible individuals with low income, roughly 3 in 4 of whom participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Medicaid, which states and counties administer. States and localities will also need to reach out to people eligible for payments who may be outside the reach of SNAP and Medicaid. This could include people who are experiencing job or earnings loss, housing insecurity, or homelessness. Stimulus checks do not count against Medicaid, SNAP, or cash assistance eligibility.  

“We strongly urge Governor DeSantis to implement a robust outreach program, which will help families struggling through these tough times and jumpstart the economy,” added Knight.

FPI is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing state policies and budgets that improve the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians.

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