COVID-19 Stimulus Checks: How Millions of Young Adults Are Being Left out

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The first wave of stimulus checks has been sent out, but millions of young adults are missing out on the $1,200 payment.

Young adults who are older than 17 do not qualify for a stimulus check if their parent or guardian claims them as a dependent. This means many college students and recent graduates are falling through the cracks. Their parents also won’t get the $500 payment, either, as it only applies to children ages 16 and younger.

Speaking to US News, a recent graduate of Marshall University shared, “I was working two jobs on a campaign and a delivery job, and both of those have evaporated as this all started. I was like, ‘OK, this check will come through and kind of keep me afloat for a month or so,’ so I’m really disappointed to find out that I won’t get it. We’ve been kind of forgotten, underrepresented.”

Young Americans often work in retail and foodservice industries, so this group of individuals has been disproportionally affected by coronavirus layoffs. The Pew Research Center recently found that younger workers make up 24% of employment in “high-risk service businesses.” In fact, of the 19.3 million workers in the economy between ages 16 and 24, 9.2 million are employed in service-sector establishments.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, “There are a lot of populations that are left out. And one of the most left-out populations are young people, which has been an extreme disappointment. We fought for so much more in this bill because essentially there’s this huge gap right now. And as we know, young people are some of the most economically vulnerable, especially when you’re just starting off in your life.”

A Petition Is Circulating to ‘Close the Doughnut Hole’ for Young Adults

A petition created by Students Can’t Wait, part of the West Virginia Can’t Wait Movement, asks that the federal coronavirus stimulus package include young adults.

The petition, aimed at US Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, reads, “Under this stimulus package, thousands of West Virginia young adults, many of whom are trying to work their way through college, will be left out. Many of these students are already doing everything they can to juggle employment, health bills, and the costs of higher education.”

Rep Ocasio-Cortez Has Offered Tips for Those Being Left Out

Speaking in a virtual town hall earlier this month to help people apply for coronavirus relief benefits, Ocasio-Cortez discussed those being forgotten in the stimulus relief plan. She suggested that families who have not yet filed taxes in 2019 consider not claiming their older children as dependents in their returns.

“My personal piece of advice would be that if … you have not yet filed in 2019, talk to the person who is claiming you as a dependent and figure out if your personal situation would be better if you all filed separately, or if it ends up being still being the best thing to do to file together. So make sure you have that conversation,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

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