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AARP Michigan hosts Sen. Peters in a teletown hall on the federal stimulus package

Gary Peters
Sen. Gary Peters
Sen. Gary Peters office

AARP Michigan hosted a teletown hall with U.S. Sen. Gary Peters today to enlighten older adults about features of the federal stimulus package recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump to help offset the financial damage inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly 17,000 people across Michigan participated on the hour-long call. Many of the questions from listeners focused on the upcoming stimulus payments to individuals up to $1,200, with Peters explaining details and addressing false rumors.

Among the questions and responses:

· Is it true that senior retirees will get smaller checks than younger people with jobs? Will you get the payment if your only income is Social Security?

“Those on Social Security will get the same check as everyone else,” Peters said.

· Is the stimulus payment a loan or a gift? Will we have to be pay it back?

· “No, you don’t have to pay it back,” he said. The payment is meant to compensate people who are experiencing additional expenses, losing jobs or income due to the pandemic, he added.

· Will we have to pay taxes on it?

“It is not taxed,” Peters explained. The money is intended to “get the economy back on its feet as quickly as possible.”

· When will the checks get out?

Those who paid federal income taxes in 2018 and/or 2019 will get their checks first, he said, possibly in late April. Those who did not file in those two years will get their payments later.

In response to other questions, the Senator said small businesses will get relief in the form of Small Business Administration loans that would be forgiven if they’re used to maintain payroll, make mortgage, lease or rent payments, or other costs of doing business. Non-profits also are eligible for this relief, he said.

“There is help for small businesses (and non-profit organizations) so they can keep people on the payroll,” Peters said.

Companies with less than 500 employees will be required to provide two weeks of family leave. Unemployment has been extended to up to 39 weeks for those receiving benefits before the pandemic hit. Also, waivers are in place for individuals who have been recently laid off.

Leaders are looking at increasing SNAP (food stamp) benefits under the next stimulus package, he said, which is certain to come.

Peters emphasized that everyone has a part to play to return the nation to “normal,’ including staying home, and practicing hygiene.

“I’m confident we’re going to get through this,” he said. “It’s frustrating and scary,’’ but surviving this novel virus “can be a sign of great things ahead for this country.”

Peters invited constituents to contact his office for additional information at (202) 224-6221 or Peters.Senate.gov.

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