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Many Americans say those $1,200 relief checks won't be enough

CNBC logoCNBC 4/6/2020 Lorie Konish
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The government is just getting started in sending out $1,200 in relief money it promised to millions of Americans.

Many already say it won't be enough.

A recent survey from SimplyWise, a retirement income technology company, found that 63% of respondents said they will need another check within the next three months.

Currently, the government is slated to make one-time payments of $1,200 to individuals and $2,400 to couples, provided they meet specific qualifications. The payments are targeted at individuals who earn up to $75,000 and couples with income up to $150,000. Eligible dependents could get $500.

Beyond those limits, the payments are reduced and completely phase out at $99,000 in income for individuals and $198,000 for couples who file tax returns jointly and have no children.

Paper checks could be delayed by up to 5 months 

But the dramatic economic decline prompted by the coronavirus has made it difficult to make ends meet. About 10 million Americans filed for unemployment in the past two weeks. Meanwhile, $1,200 won't cover monthly rents in many parts of the country.

"People are feeling like they've lost everything," said Allie Fleder, chief operating officer at SimplyWise.

Of those individuals who said the government money won't be enough, 30% said they plan to look for part-time work, 16% will borrow from family or friends, 15% will sell assets, 15% will apply for unemployment insurance, 14% will withdraw money from their retirement accounts and 10% will take a loan from the bank.

Admittedly, it can be tough to find part-time work now amid a nationwide shutdown.

To secure additional aid money, Congress would need to pass new legislation, said Mark Mazur, director at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

That process could be relatively quick, because they now have a precedent for how to structure those payments, Mazur said. The $1,200 rebates were included in the $2 trillion aid package in the so-called CARES Act passed by Congress last month.

Additional funds would still take time to get into Americans' hands, based on the current round of payments.

One Congressional timeline estimates that direct deposit payments will start the week of April 13. On the other hand, individuals who receive paper checks by mail could be waiting a lot longer – up to five months – before they receive their money. Those checks aren't slated to start going out until May 4.

"I think folks have expectations that they will be getting the money a lot faster than they actually will be," Mazur said.

SimplyWise's online survey included more than 500 people ages 18 and up. It was conducted May 26 through May 28.

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