Americans in Poverty Will Get an Extra $3,340 in Stimulus Money in 2021

by Dana George | Published on Sept. 9, 2021

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Federal funds are earmarked to help Americans get through the worst of the pandemic.

According to the Urban Institute, the poverty rate in the U.S. is projected to hit 13.7% this year. That means that roughly 1 in 7 of us lives below the poverty line, and most have no savings to help get through the tough times. But thanks to stimulus funds, the average family living in poverty can expect to receive around $3,340 through the end of the year.

To better illustrate what constitutes poverty in the U.S., here are the federal poverty guidelines for the District of Columbia and contiguous 48 states:

People in Household Maximum Annual Income
1 $12,880
2 $17,420
3 $21,960
4 $26,500
5 $31,040
6 $35,580
7 $40,120
8 $44,660
More than 8 Add $4,540 for each additional person
Data Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Federal Register

Assumptions leading to this estimate

We cast a wide net to estimate how much money will be hitting people's bank accounts. Our assumption includes families with three to six members, earning between $21,300 and $39,800 annually. In addition, we pulled data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy to calculate how much Americans living in poverty can expect to receive. All told, that comes to $3,340.

Income Range Total Stimulus
Up to $21,300 $3,590
$21,300-$39,800 $3,340
$39,800-$65,000 $3,370
$65,000-$111,300 $3,540
$111,300-$247,400 $2,830
$247,400-$601,700 $280
$601,700 or more $50
Calculations by author based on figures from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

What the future may hold

At this point, we can only speculate as to any additional stimulus funds that may be sent. We do know that no Republican member of the House of Representatives or Senate voted in favor of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. Given their unity in standing against federal spending to help fight the effects of the pandemic, it's difficult to imagine anything that would sway the GOP to support more direct assistance.

And yet, some fight on. In addition to economists and Democratic members of Congress calling for more aid, nearly 3 million people have signed a Change.org petition requesting Congress act on behalf of those in need. The petition asks that regular monthly payments of $2,000 be sent to each adult and $1,000 to each child in households still suffering the financial effects of COVID-19.

However, there are no indications that Congress will pass such legislation. Plus, the White House has a slew of other pressing issues, including a relatively low vaccination rate, racial inequality, climate change, access to affordable healthcare, and a crumbling infrastructure.

We do know that most of those pushing for additional federal financial assistance would like it to be targeted toward the poorest Americans, which would surely include those living in poverty.

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