Nearly two years after the pandemic began, many of the workers in critical industries are in line for new federal assistance to cover the expenses they incurred while working throughout the crisis.
Several of them had to pay for daily necessities such as protective equipment and child care out of their own pockets.
Now, the government is preparing to provide financial assistance in the amount of up to $700 million, a significant new type of stimulus check. They will begin accepting applications in the near future.
Funding for the Workers Who Keep America Running
Farm and meatpacking plant workers in the United States will be eligible for funds under a new Farm and Food Workers Relief grant program announced last fall.
Essential workers will also be eligible for a portion of the funds, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
All Americans working in food-related industries will be eligible for the payments, as taking cover in place or working from home during the pandemic has been impossible.
State agencies, nonprofits, and tribal organizations have until February 8 to apply to the government for the funds, which will be distributed in June to those panels. Workers will apply to those organizations in order to receive their payments.
Those who qualify will have the opportunity to receive funds to help with household expenses or debt repayment. Do you qualify?
Hundreds of Dollars in Stimulus Checks
According to the USDA, farmworkers and meatpackers are entitled to up to $600 per person for pandemic-related health and safety expenses, including personal protective equipment, child care, and testing and quarantining costs.
Almost $20 million of the $700 million pool will be set aside for grocery store employees. Although the amount to which employees in that industry are entitled is still unknown.
“Our farmworkers, meatpacking workers, and grocery workers overcame unprecedented challenges and took the significant personal risk to ensure Americans could feed and sustain their families throughout the pandemic,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release, adding, “They deserve recognition for their resilience and financial support for their efforts to meet personal and family needs while continuing to provide essential services.”
Workers will be required to present proof of employment and “self-certify” their pandemic-related expenses when the time comes to apply this year. Receipts for each item will not be required, according to Agriculture Department guidance.
How to Boost Stimulus Immediately
This new round of checks is focused on a very specific area. However, if your budget is tight these days as a result of the pandemic and higher living costs, or if you simply want to spend the extra money, there are a few options that can help you boost up your stimulus immediately.
Deal with your debt: Debt may appear to be simple, but carrying a balance on your credit card will result in a high-interest rate. Consolidate your debts into a single debt consolidation loan to solve this problem. With a lower interest rate, you’ll not only save money on your debt, but you’ll also be able to pay it off faster.
Trade-in your mortgage: A recent Zillow survey found that nearly half of homeowners who took advantage of the pandemic’s historically low mortgage rates are now saving $300 per month or more.
You’re overdue if you own your home and haven’t borrowed in the last year. Thirty-year mortgage rates are nearly 3% higher than they were a year ago, so compare several borrowing offers to see how much you could save.
Save money while you shop: If you do a lot of your shopping online, a free browser extension can help you find the best deals by scanning multiple retailers for you.
Convert your pennies into a portfolio: Even if you don’t have enough money, the stock market can still provide you with profits. There is a well-known app that can help you invest your “spare change” from daily purchases in order to build a diversified portfolio.