Approximately 500,000 low-income workers in Massachusetts will receive a $500 payment from the state government next month when the Baker administration implements the first phase of the first-of-its-kind premium payment program in the nation, the Executive Office of Management and Administration announced Tuesday. Finance.
The premium payment program was created in the $4 billion COVID-19 relief law that Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law in December. His team has been putting together the program after he vetoed sections favored by the Legislature that would have created a 28-member panel to design the program and determine eligibility. His veto has been maintained.
Residents will be eligible for the payment if their 2020 earned income was at least $12,750 (the equivalent of working 20 hours a week for 50 weeks at the 2020 minimum wage of $12.75 an hour) and their total income puts them below 300% of the federal poverty level ($38,280 for a single filer). An A&F official said there will be a state website to help people determine their own eligibility, but most people will find out when they get a check in the mail. No one who received unemployment payments in 2020 will be eligible.
“I was pleased to enact the COVID-19 Essential Employee Premium Payments program in December, and our Administration has worked quickly to design the parameters of the program with plans to efficiently begin the distribution of these payments in late March,” he said. Baker. saying. “This program will support those workers who served our communities, especially early in the pandemic.”
One of the sections Baker vetoed would have required eligibility “to include, but not be limited to, essential workers: (i) with a household income at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level as calculated by the US Department of State; the United States Health and Human Services; and (ii) who worked in person and not in a remote setting during the state of emergency declared by the Governor on March 10, 2020.”
An administration official said Tuesday that eligibility for the first round of payments was limited to income thresholds because it was a faster, easier and more inclusive way to make payments. The official also said the spirit of the vetoed section is preserved because low-income workers were much more likely to have worked in person early in the pandemic.
The first round of payments will disburse a total of about $250 million of the $460 million authorized for the premium payment program. Future rounds will be based on information from the 2021 tax return and anyone who receives a payment in the first round will not be eligible for payment in a future round, officials said.
For more information about the program, visit www.mass.gov/premiumpay.