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Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
The Baker-Polito administration today announced its plan for a second round of $500 payments to low-income workers under the COVID-19 Essential Employee Premium Pay program, which was enacted last December as part of a $4 billion spending plan for American Rescue Plan Act funds.
These payments will deliver approximately $165 million to an estimated 330,000 eligible individuals in June. Municipal employees who meet the income qualifications are among those eligible for this program.
The first round of payments, distributed in March, provided $500 checks to approximately 480,000 people. Individuals in the second round of payments did not receive payments in the first round. With the second round of payments, more than $400 million of the $460 million program will have been distributed to eligible individuals.
The eligibility parameters for the second round of payments largely mirror those of the first round, but criteria have been updated for annual changes in minimum wage and federal poverty level calculations.
Eligibility will be based on filed 2021 Massachusetts tax returns. Individuals will be eligible for payments if their 2021 income from employment was at least $13,500 and their total income put them at or below 300% of the federal poverty level. The lower end of this range equates to working 20 hours a week for 50 weeks at minimum wage as of 2021 ($13.50).
The maximum total income for a single filer with no dependents will be $38,640; a resident who files with a spouse and two dependents, or with no spouse and three dependents, could be eligible with a household income up to $79,500. Married filers can each be eligible, provided each independently qualifies.
Individuals who received a Round 1 payment through this program or received unemployment compensation in 2021 are not eligible for the second round of payments, nor are Commonwealth executive branch employees who received or will receive a one-time COVID-related payment from the state as their employer.
The legislation creating the Premium Pay program included $500 million for low-income essential workers; this $460 million program comprises the majority of those funds, and $40 million was allocated to fund previous agreements with state employee unions.
The administration said it will release additional information in the future on plans to disburse funds remaining after June.