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Will assistance affect my Social Security check? Is it a good time to buy a house? Your COVID-19 money questions, answered

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It’s hard out there. And, in this time of uncertainty, USA TODAY is working to find answers to your money questions – anything from stimulus checks or unemployment benefits to your 401(k) or retirement plans. You can submit your questions here and read earlier answers below.

We will be updating the Q&A, so check back often. But, also look to these places:

We answer your coronavirus money questions.

I just got laid off and I collect a pension. Am I eligible for unemployment and the $600 a week?

It depends. If you are collecting the pension from the company that laid you off, you might not qualify for unemployment. But if you were laid off due to COVID-19, and you collect a pension from a previous employer, you should still be able to get unemployment, along with the extra $600 in federal aid

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

Will my PUA benefits be included in my total earnings when calculating maximum earnings allowable under Social Security? 

… I am 63, own a small business and receive Social Security benefits. I qualified for self-employment unemployment benefits Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. I get $160 in unemployment from Michigan and the extra federal $600.

Section 2104(h) of the CARES Act says to disregard the pandemic payments for social security. State unemployment benefits don’t affect social security, says Toby Mathis, a partner and attorney at Anderson Law Group in Las Vegas, Nevada, but social security may be included in how unemployment benefits are calculated.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @JessicaMenton.

Is now a good time to move or buy a house?

… Are rents going to be cheaper and more housing available?

It depends. The Federal Reserve signaled it won’t raise borrowing costs for the foreseeable future, a potential boon for homebuyers as mortgage rates slide. But finding a home at a favorable price could be a challenge.

While the pandemic has eased affordability, it has also prompted many sellers to delay listing their homes. That’s made finding a home in most markets more difficult as inventory has fallen. Tightening lending standards and limited inventory may create barriers for potential first-time buyers, who also typically have a harder time putting up money for down payment.

U.S. home prices haven’t budged much. One reason why: buyer demand will prevent U.S. home prices from falling more than 2% to 3% through the end of the year, according to real estate search site Zillow – it expects to see a steady price recovery in 2021. There has been a slowdown in the rental market. It’s still too early to see the full effects of the pandemic on rent overall, but prices in some areas are on the decline. In San Francisco, for instance, rent for a one-bedroom dropped 1.4% to $3,450 on a monthly basis and is down 6.8% from a year ago, rental platform Zumper said in its National Rent Report for May. New York City, meanwhile, saw rent rise 3.5% to $2,950 on a monthly basis after dropping 5% the prior month.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @JessicaMenton.

Will I still be eligible for the extra $600 after my unemployment benefits run out?

It depends. The $600 weekly benefit may still be paid after someone’s state unemployment runs out, depending on the circumstances that cause that person to remain unemployed, according to Christina Taylor, head of operations at Credit Karma Tax. 

If you were laid off by your employer due to the pandemic, you’re not in a COVID-19 high risk group, and your employer has called you back to work and you don’t go back, you will no longer receive state unemployment benefits, she says.  

You would also no longer receive the extra $600 per week benefit you’d been receiving up until that point. This is because choosing to be unemployed or not going back to work when your place of work is no longer closed due to the virus is not normally a qualifying reason for PUA benefits.

“If you were furloughed by your employer due to COVID-19 and you were called back to work, but you can’t go back because your child’s school or summer child care program is closed due to COVID-19, you would most likely still qualify for PUA benefits until the end of July 2020 or when your child’s care provider opens back up, whichever comes earlier,” Taylor says.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @JessicaMenton.

Is there a cutoff date to the additional $600 payments?

The extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits will expire after July 31, if the Senate doesn’t pass the $3 trillion HEROES Act – another emergency stimulus package that would extend the additional $600 benefit into January 2021.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @JessicaMenton.

If I resign from my job due to child care because of the COVID-19, am I eligible for unemployment?

If you are forced to resign from your job because you have a child that requires care and are unable to obtain child care because your care provider is closed due to the coronavirus, then you may qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, according to Christina Taylor, head of operations at Credit Karma Tax.

PUA is the federal portion of unemployment that is an additional $600 per week you can receive in addition to the State Unemployment Assistance you may receive. Every state’s unemployment program is different, so it’s important to check your state’s rules because some states may allow for state unemployment assistance if you’re in this situation.

If your child would normally be in school, but their school is closed due to the virus, then you could qualify for PUA if you resign due to not having childcare. Once the normal school year is out, however, you would no longer qualify for federal unemployment assistance, unless your child’s summer care provider, like a summer camp or a summer babysitter, is also closed due to the pandemic, Taylor says.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @JessicaMenton.

I was recently asked to return to work, but only for a few days a week. Would this affect the extra $600 in unemployment?

… Can I still receive the federal unemployment check due to my drastically cut hours?

As long as you’re receiving jobless benefits, you should get the additional $600 a week until that component of the federal program ends in July.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

Is the Visa debit card I got in the mail my stimulus check?

It’s likely. Nearly 4 million people are going to receive their Economic Impact Payment via prepaid debit cards, according to the Internal Revenue Service. The prepaid cards, which started rolling out May 18, are being used for some instead of a paper checks.

Pay attention if you get a plain envelope in the mail that’s marked “Money Network Cardholder Services.” The cards are marked Visa debit card, and the back of the card has the logo for MetaBank. 

No, it’s not a scam. You can call customer service at 800-240-8100 to report your lost or stolen card immediately. Your card will be deactivated so nobody can use it. More information here.

— Susan Tompor

Follow Susan on Twitter: @tompor.

My husband and I haven’t received our stimulus check yet. Who do we contact?

Answer: The IRS has set up a website to track the status of one’s stimulus check. You might want to start at: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment

— Alfred Miller

Follow Alfred on Twitter @alfredfmiller.

I received unemployment benefits for four weeks but only one $600 payment. How do I complain?

… I was under the impression the $600 was to be paid with each payment.

The $600 federal payments are typically included in the checks being dispensed by state unemployment offices. Email those administrators with a query about your missing payments. You can also try to call. That’s been difficult due to the volume of applicants, but many states have set up call centers to specifically respond to queries related to the coronavirus that operate seven days a week.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

What if I don’t qualify for unemployment insurance? Am I still eligible for the $600 weekly federal stimulus?

… My hours have been reduced, plus a 10% salary decrease. If I’m eligible for the extra $600, should I keep certifying with unemployment each week, so that I can receive that or should I stop certifying, as it will be sent to me anyway?

If you do not qualify for your state’s unemployment insurance, you might try applying for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program in your state. The program helps unemployed people who are business owners, self-employed, independent contractors, have limited work history or those not usually eligible for regular state unemployment benefits who are out of business or services are significantly reduced as a direct result of the pandemic. Once you are approved for PUA, the extra $600 would be added, as well.

— Josh Rivera

Follow Josh on Twitter: @Josh1Rivera.

I haven’t worked in over two years, can I receive unemployment?

That’s unlikely. Most states require applicants to have worked in the last 12 to 18 months to draw benefits.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

I’m furloughed with no return date, can I collect until the day I retire?

… If I am forced into retirement due to this unknown.

If you are at retirement age, you can actually collect unemployment and Social Security benefits at the same time. States no longer reduce unemployment benefits when claimants are also receiving Social Security. However, your Social Security benefits will be greater for every year you can delay until age 70.

Also, if you start taking Social Security, you only have one opportunity to withdraw. It must be within 12 months and you must repay all benefits.

 — Alfred Miller

Follow Alfred on Twitter @alfredfmiller.

Will the additional $600 payment be taxable?

Unemployment benefits are taxable income. Unlike the federal stimulus checks, which will reflect as tax credit. Any money you receive from the federal or state government unemployment fund is included in your gross income and taxed at your ordinary income rate.

… Do we have to pay back the $600 weekly federal disbursements when we claim unemployment? Will we need to pay it back when we return back to work?

You will have to pay taxes on that move as it is counted as taxable income.

(We are also looking to talk to people who have gotten additional unemployment insurance checks that they didn’t claim. If you or someone you know has had this experience, please fill this form and a reporter will contact you.)

— Josh Rivera

Follow Josh on Twitter: @Josh1Rivera.

I qualified for unemployment from three part-time jobs. I’ve been offered a new part-time position. I know my unemployment will be reduced but will I lose the extra $600?

… All my jobs in California were affected by the COVID-19. Two of these businesses are closed indefinitely and I was laid off from the other.

Answer: As long as you are certifying each week and receiving your state’s unemployment insurance check, the $600 federal will be added, regardless of the amount on your state’s check.

— Josh Rivera

Follow Josh on Twitter: @Josh1Rivera.

If I was getting $800 a week on unemployment, and landed a seasonal job paying $500 a week, do I still certify every week?

Depending on your state laws, and how long the job will last, you can “pause” your unemployment insurance for a few weeks while you’re employed, and then go back to certifying. In any case, you should report that you are employed for whatever time it is. You do not want to be in a situation where your claim is classified as fraud.

— Josh Rivera

Follow Josh on Twitter: @Josh1Rivera.

How long will I receive unemployment and how long will I receive the extra federal $600?

Answer: It depends on where you live. Workers in most states are eligible for up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits from regular state-funded unemployment compensation, but some states allow for fewer weeks. Under a new federal law, you can receive an extra $600 per week from April 5, 2020 until July 31, 2020.

— Michael Collins

Follow Michael on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS

I was laid off only a week. Would I be eligible for the $600 federal unemployment bonus? If so, I never received it, how can I request it?

If you qualified for unemployment benefits in your state, you should be eligible for the extra $600 per week. Check with your local unemployment office.

— Michael Collins

Follow Michael on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS

Why is the status of the IRS Get My Payment tool listed as: ‘No Payment Information is Available’?

… I filed my 2018 tax return and owed money. But I did not file my 2019 tax return. I fall within the income guidelines to receive a $1,200 check.

Ken Milani, professor of accountancy at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, notes that the IRS doesn’t have the information it needs to make a direct deposit of the stimulus payment when you’ve owed money on that 2018 tax return. The IRS had a noon May 13 deadline to use Get My Payment at IRS.gov to supply direct deposit information.

— Susan Tompor

Follow Susan on Twitter: @tompor.

How can I know if my direct deposit is right?

Everybody who receives a stimulus check will also get a letter from the IRS. The letter will tell you how much stimulus money you received and whether the money was sent by direct deposit or paper check. It also will explain how you can alert the IRS if anything needs to be corrected.

— Michael Collins

Follow Michael on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS

Will I get my CARES relief if the bank account on file with the IRS is closed and charged off? 

I checked the IRS website to see where my payment is and it said it was deposited in that account.

Ken Milani, professor of accountancy at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, suggests that you first contact the bank to see what happened there. If the bank has the money, be prepared to verify your identity. Most likely, the money may have been returned to the IRS.

The IRS states at its Economic Impact Payments Information Center, Question No. 33, that: “If the account is closed or no longer active, the bank will reject the deposit and you will be issued a check that will be mailed to the address we have on file for you. This is generally the address on your most recent tax return or as updated through the United States Postal Service (USPS). You do not need to call the IRS to change your Payment method or update your address at this time.”

In addition, the IRS states: “As required by law and for security reasons, a letter about the Payment will be mailed to each recipient’s last known address within 15 days after the Payment is made. The letter will provide information on how the Payment was made and how to report any failure to receive the Payment.”

— Susan Tompor

Follow Susan on Twitter: @tompor.

I don’t have the same bank account as I did in 2018. I was issued a stimulus check, minus back child support. Where is the remaining money and where will the IRS send it?

According to the IRS, if a stimulus check is sent to a recipient through direct deposit and the bank information is invalid or the bank account has been closed, the bank will reject the deposit. At that point, the IRS will mail the payment as soon as possible to the address they have on file for you, typically within 14 days. You can learn more about accessing your payment through the GetMyPayment page on the IRS web site.

— Ledyard King

Follow Ledyard on Twitter @LedgeKing.

I’m a health care worker. Can I qualify for unemployment if my coworker has tested positive for COVID-19 and I now fear working at the facility?

My coworker may have gotten Covid-19 from a patient at his second job. Because of this, I fear that I have been exposed to the virus and that if I continue to work at the facility, I will continue to be exposed. 

Generally, you can only qualify for unemployment if you lost your job due to COVID-19, you’ve left your job to take care of family member who’s been infected, or you’re quarantining on the advice of a health-care provider and you’re unable to perform your duties. The U.S. Department of Labor recommends that if you believe your employer’s response to the possible spread of COVID-19 creates “a serious safety hazard” or if you think your employer is not following federal work safety standards, you can file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

— Ledyard King

Follow Ledyard on Twitter @LedgeKing.

I file my taxes thru TurboTax and get refunds on a debit card. Will my stimulus funds be deposited to the card? 

Like many things relating to the Economic Impact Payments, there does not appear to be a clear cut answer here. TurboTax said: “We are seeing some TurboTax customers who chose to receive their refund on a debit card get their stimulus payments to these accounts. Any TurboTax debit card customer who receives a stimulus payment from the IRS to that account, will receive that stimulus payment without delay or fees.”

At the same time, TurboTax recommends that people check the IRS Get My Payment tool to find out how they will receive their stimulus payment from the IRS and when.

TurboTax noted that the IRS is responsible for determining taxpayer eligibility of receiving a stimulus and, if a taxpayer is eligible, how and when the stimulus payments will be delivered to them. 

The IRS is asking people to submit direct deposit information by noon May 13 at Get My Payment at IRS.gov before a steady flow of paper checks will be issued.

— Susan Tompor

Follow Susan on Twitter: @tompor.

How exactly do you return a stimulus check that was sent to a dead person?

… A family member just received her stimulus benefit via direct deposit. Thing is, she’s been dead for three years. Are we required to give the money back?

Here’s what the IRS said people need to do if they must return an Economic Impact Payment, such as one issued to a deceased person. 

If the payment was a paper check:

  • Write “Void” in the endorsement section on the back of the check.
  • Mail the voided Treasury check immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below.
  • Don’t staple, bend, or paper clip the check.
  • Include a note stating the reason for returning the check. 

And if you cashed that paper check already, or you received the stimulus money via direct deposit, the IRS said you should: 

  • Submit a personal check, money order, etc., immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed at IRS.gov.
  • Write on the check/money order made payable to “U.S. Treasury” and write 2020EIP, and the taxpayer identification number (Social Security number, or individual taxpayer identification number) of the recipient of the check.
  • Include a brief explanation of the reason for returning the EIP.

The IRS could try to charge you interest and penalties at some point if you do not return the money. 

— Susan Tompor

Follow Susan on Twitter: @tompor.

I was claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return. Can I file my own 2019 return and receive stimulus check?

If you were claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return for 2019, you are out of luck for now. However, the stimulus payments are technically an advance credit on your 2020 taxes, so you could possibly claim the payment when you file your 2020 returns early next year, as long as someone else does not claim you as a dependent for 2020.

— Michael Collins

Follow Michael on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS

Does the extra $600 added to your weekly unemployment affect your maximum benefit amount?

No. The maximum benefit is based on your previous income. The $600 is an extra that the unemployed can receive through the end of July.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

I was released from prison last year and have been trying to find a job. Do I qualify for any benefits under the new programs?

… The jobs I qualify for are considered nonessential and it’s dangerous to be out trying to find work right now while taking care of my elderly brother. We are receiving food stamps.

You may be eligible for a stimulus payment once you file a 2019 tax return. Current inmates cannot get a payment, but ex-offenders can qualify, even if they have no income. If you do not file with the IRS right now, you could be eligible for the stimulus payment when you file a 2020 return next year.

You also may be eligible for unemployment benefits, including the additional $600 per week in enhanced benefits  that the federal government has approved to help mitigate the financial impact of the coronavirus. Rules for unemployment benefits vary from state to state, but to qualify, you usually need to be actively looking for work and cannot turn down a job offer.

— Michael Collins

Follow Michael on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS

I haven’t gotten my stimulus check. Can I still get one?

The first thing to check is if you qualify to receive a stimulus check under the CARES Act guidelines. If you do, it’s important to remember that the government is sending out the payments in installments.

Payments were prioritized in order from lowest income to highest income.

For those with direct deposit information on file with the IRS, payments began going out on April 10. And last week to Social Security beneficiaries, railroad retirees and veterans who aren’t required to file a tax return, which will continue through May.

While the IRS started mailing checks in late April to those who qualify but do not have direct deposit information, that process might take several months.

— Sarah Skidmore

Associated Press

What do I do if I get an error message when tracking my stimulus check?

The IRS updated its “Get My Payment” tool to fix some headaches. But some people continue to get error messages in some cases.

The IRS advises that you go back and check your most recent tax return or consider whether there is a different way to enter your street address (for example, 123 N Main St vs 123 North Main St). 

“You may also verify how your address is formatted with the U.S. Postal Service by entering your address in the USPS ZIP Lookup tool, and then enter your address into Get My Payment exactly as it appears on file with USPS,” the IRS said. 

— Susan Tompor

Follow Susan on Twitter: @tompor.

What is being discussed for the unemployed keeping heath care at a reasonable price?

If you had health coverage through your employer and lost your job, or if you received coverage as the dependent of someone who lost their job due to the pandemic, you could qualify for a special enrollment period to access the Affordable Care Act’s health exchange. If your lack of coverage is not related to the virus, then you have to wait until the fall to access the exchange. Regardless, anyone is eligible to receive a free COVID-19 test even if they’re not insured.

— Ledyard King

Follow Ledyard on Twitter @LedgeKing.

What if I did a paper return. How does that affect my stimulus?

Electronic filers are generally getting their money before those who mailed in their latest tax return because it’s easy to transfer the money to bank accounts they have on record. Regardless of how you filed, you can track your expected payment using the IRS Get My Payment tool. The timing of checks for those who filed paper returns last year is being complicated by the IRS’ decision to stop processing paper returns due to COVID-19. That means there’s a delay not only in issuing checks but in determining how much you’re eligible to receive.

— Ledyard King

Follow Ledyard on Twitter @LedgeKing.

Do you get the extra $600 federal unemployment assistance per week?

… or $600 every two weeks added to your unemployment benefits?

You will receive $600 a week.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

My husband was laid off for two and a half weeks due to COVID-19 and he did get his unemployment. Will he receive the extra $600 for the time he was off?

… We live in New York. He went back to work the last two days of last week. 

Depending on when states entered an agreement with the federal government, the additional $600 benefit could be retroactive back to March 28. And so yes, he should be able to get the extra $600 payment.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

I was on vacation when the pandemic started. I’m unable to return home. Can I file for unemployment?

… I have an autoimmune disease. My employer is considered essential, but they have reduced hours for others.

Situations like this will likely be handled on a case by case basis. Employers have, of course, the right to protest a claim. But states are encouraging employers to make accommodations for individuals with health risks, whether it’s allowing them to work from home or in a safe work environment. If that’s not possible, then such individuals could be eligible for unemployment insurance.

 — Alfred Miller

Follow Alfred on Twitter @alfredfmiller.

As a person in early pregnancy, the CDC says stay home. Is my employer supposed to pay my salary?

It depends on whether your employer is required to offer paid leave. Large employers and very small ones generally aren’t required to offer it. You should check directly with your company.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

My husband is in the national guard and might get called to active duty. If he gets called and I have to stay home with our child, do I still qualify for unemployment?

… I wont lose my job because I’m an essential employee, but I will have to step away or lose hours due to our child being out of school.

The CARES Act allows people who must stay home because their child’s school or day has been closed due to the coronavirus to receive some financial assistance. You can apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for your state.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

My boss is hiring people to replace those of us who were laid off. He also ordered existing employees’ hours to be reduced by half! Is that legal?

… How can we find out if he applied for the paycheck loan? He said he was but we don’t trust him.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) does not require businesses to rehire the same people that were laid off. It only requires that the loan will be forgiven if at least 75% of the total amount is spent on personnel with the remainder on work-related costs, such as rent, mortgage or utilities. If you believe your boss has acted improperly or illegally, you could contact your local or state labor agency to file a complaint.

— Ledyard King

Follow Ledyard on Twitter @LedgeKing.

Can still receive unemployment if I owe an over payment of unemployment?

Different states may handle this situation differently. But it’s generally not the state’s desire to be punitive. In Kentucky, for example, the state is offering individuals who find themselves in this situation the opportunity to negotiate the amount that is withheld from their current benefits until the debt is paid back.

 — Alfred Miller

Follow Alfred on Twitter @alfredfmiller.

I was hired, but the company said it couldn’t bring me onboard because of COVID-19. Am I eligible for any benefits under the CARES Act?

Yes, under the CARES Act, people who lost jobs due to the coronavirus before they could start them can get financial assistance.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones.

I’m a new immigrant who got here at the end of 2019 and have not found a job yet. I haven’t filed my 2019 taxes, am I eligible for the stimulus check?

If you are a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident or a qualified resident alien, you are eligible for the payment. You do not need to have a job or other income to qualify. However, you first must provide the IRS with some payment information. You can do that by filling out the form for non-filers here.

— Michael Collins

Follow Michael on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS

Can we receive money or food? My husband was laid off from a restaurant in California and I also can’t work as a massage therapist.

… I applied for unemployment benefits on March 16 and still don’t receive any response or money. How can we can survive? 

Various organizations are offering more immediate assistance, including some specific to restaurant workers like chef Edward Lee’s Restaurant Workers Relief Program. That particular organization is distributing food and supplies from locations across the country, including Sqirl in Los Angeles. Food bank Second Harvest also provides search tool for people seeking aid near them: https://www.shfb.org/get-food/.

Additionally, Feeding America helps people identify local food banks across the nation.

 — Alfred Miller

Follow Alfred on Twitter @alfredfmiller

Would I be eligible for unemployment if I haven’t had a job in 7 months? I had to quit to care for my mother. I’m currently looking for work.

How unemployment benefits are calculated varies by state, but even those who don’t qualify for unemployment are automatically considered for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that was created as part of the CARES Act. PUA aids people who are unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic but do not qualify for traditional unemployment insurance. The PUA benefit rate is based on recent earnings, with recipients also getting the additional $600 per week.

 — Alfred Miller

Follow Alfred on Twitter @alfredfmiller

I am the director of a small business whose employees were furloughed. With the extra $600 a week plus state unemployment benefits, several people will be earning more on unemployment than working.

Bringing staff back at their regular wage through the Paycheck Protection Program will result in them earning less than they are getting on unemployment. This doesn’t seem right. Why would they return?

Several Republican senators brought up the very same issue during the debate on the first stimulus bill passed in March, saying it would encourage some people to collect unemployment rather than work. But both the Trump administration and most Democrats argued the $600 boost was necessary because unemployment benefits alone in many states would not restore their full pay before the crisis. They don’t believe most workers, such as front-line health care responders, would choose staying home over staying on the job.

— Ledyard King

Follow Ledyard on Twitter @LedgeKing

If you did not qualify for unemployment in your state because you haven’t worked long enough, can you still get the $600?

Yes, the federal government has created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. It aids people who are unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic but do not qualify for traditional unemployment insurance. People who don’t qualify for unemployment are automatically considered for PUA. The PUA benefit rate is based on recent earnings, with recipients also getting the additional $600 per week.

Alfred Miller

Follow Alfred on Twitter @alfredfmiller

Will parents of college students get the $500 in stimulus money?

No, people aged 17 and older who can be claimed as someone else’s dependent are left out of the plan. In other words, many college students won’t receive the $1,200 and their status won’t entitle their parents to receive an additional $500. 

Alfred Miller

Follow Alfred on Twitter @alfredfmiller

I got divorced in February. But I filed jointly for taxes in 2019 with my former spouse and our combined income was $170,000. Do I qualify for assistance?

An individual can go to the IRS and attempt to pursue a matter like this at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment.

Alfred Miller

Follow Alfred on Twitter @alfredfmiller

Will my stimulus check be taxed?

No. Stimulus checks aren’t taxable income. The checks are refundable tax credits, according to the Tax Foundation, a tax policy think tank. The credits will be applied to 2020 tax returns, but are advanced to taxpayers now based on their 2019 or 2018 adjusted gross income. 

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter @JessicaMenton.

My stimulus check was sent to an account I don’t recognize. Where’s my stimulus check?

While many people received their stimulus deposit, other payments may have gotten inadvertently sent to temporary accounts created during the tax filing process. The IRS said it is moving to provide additional information and resolve any issues as soon as possible.

After you file your taxes with a tax professional, transfer banks such as MetaBank, Republic Bank and Santa Barbara Tax Product Group set up temporary accounts for taxpayers who want a refund advance or to deduct tax preparation fees from a refund. 

“Those last four digits on the Get My Payment portal match the transfer provider’s information that has been submitted to the IRS,” said Natalie Parchment, a tax preparation consultant.

— Dalvin Brown and Jessica Menton

Follow Dalvin on Twitter @dalvin_brown and Jessica on @JessicaMenton.

Will the additional $600 unemployment payment be taxable?

Yes. Unemployment benefits are considered taxable income, according to the IRS. Those benefits typically last for 26 weeks, but Congress added 13 additional weeks on top of that for a total of 39 weeks. Unemployed workers will get an extra $600 per week of unemployment benefits on top of their unemployment checks, which will be paid retroactively to March 29 or when you became unemployed.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter @JessicaMenton.

If my income is higher in 2020, will I have to pay back my stimulus check?

No. If the amount of the credit a taxpayer qualifies for in 2020 is less than it was based on their 2019 return, it doesn’t have to be paid back, according to the Tax Foundation.

If your income is less in 2020, you will receive the difference of the credit if it is in your favor. If your income drops this year, for instance, you’ll be eligible for any remaining credit that you weren’t able to claim using your 2019 or 2018 return. 

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter @JessicaMenton.

How do you file for unemployment if you were supposed to start a job but it fell through because of the coronavirus?

… I was supposed to start a job in New York State but I live in Pennsylvania, with which state do I apply for unemployment insurance?

You should apply in the state where you were supposed to work. You might be able to get documentation from your prospective employer stating that the job was impacted by the virus.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

Is the $600 from the federal government retroactive?

… I have been out of work since March 17 and my wife applied for unemployment on March 18, before the CARES act. 

Answer: Depending on when your state entered into its agreement with the federal government, the $600 payment could be retroactive back to March 28.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

Will I get a stimulus check if I defaulted on my student loans?

Under the CARES Act, the government won’t withhold the money you owe for defaulted federal student loans out of your payment. It blocks the IRS from garnishing your tax refund for those late loan payments. Also, the government won’t ding your wages or withhold social security payments for six months under the relief package.

… What if my tax refund was already garnished?

If your tax refund was withheld because you defaulted on a federal student loan on or after March 13, which was the day President Donald Trump declared a national emergency, it will be returned to you, according to the Department of Education. That also applies to garnished wages and withheld Social Security benefits.

… Does it apply to private loans?

No. Private debt collectors could still garnish student loan debts.

If you have trouble paying, contact your lender for options.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter @JessicaMenton.

Will my stimulus check be affected if I owe taxes?

… or child support?

… or overdue on student loan payments?

While the CARES Act suspends debts like overdue student loans or back taxes that typically lead to the garnishment of tax refunds, it doesn’t apply to delinquent child support payments. That means the government’s relief checks will still be garnished if you’re overdue. And some spouses who are filing joint tax returns with their late-paying partners are upset their stimulus money is being trimmed or withheld, even if they typically qualify for relief in situations like tax refunds.

Even if your spouse is solely responsible for the debt, a shared tax refund or stimulus check could be at risk.

…. If I owe child support, does the stimulus money go to my ex?

The stimulus payment that is reduced or withheld by the child support owed will go to the appropriate collecting office for the taxpayer’s state. From there, that collecting office will issue the money to the custodial parent, the person due the child support. 

More information here.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter @JessicaMenton.

When will I get my stimulus check?

The Internal Revenue Service is expected to launch an online tool as soon as Wednesday to get a better clue on when you’ll see your Economic Impact Payment via IRS.gov/eip. The IRS said the tool will let you go online to check the status of a payment, including the date it’s scheduled to be deposited or mailed.

If you do not see the money in your bank account in two weeks, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said you can go to IRS.gov to see “Get My Payment.” If you filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return and did not receive a stimulus payment, he said, make sure to have your tax return information available to use at the “Get My Payment” tool later this week.

— Susan Tompor

Follow Susan on Twitter: @tompor.

Is that money in my account my stimulus check?

Taxpayers are telling their friends, and yes, posting news on social media, that they’re already seeing stimulus cash arrive in their bank accounts.

Some consumers spotted the first direct deposits as early as Saturday; others started seeing more information as of Monday. The IRS even tweeted Saturday evening that the agency deposited the first Economic Impact Payments into bank accounts on Saturday.

Some people in Michigan who checked their bank accounts online in the past few days spotted that $1,200 or more will be available in their bank accounts as of April 15.

Interestingly: The wording being used is “IRS Treas 310” (cut-in Michigan) so don’t expect to see words like “stimulus checks” or “recovery rebate” or “economic impact payment” on your bank statement. 

— Susan Tompor

Follow Susan on Twitter: @tompor.

Will Social Security recipients receive a stimulus check?

Social Security beneficiaries and other Americans who haven’t filed income taxes for the past two years won’t have to take any extra steps to receive one-time checks. 

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the IRS will use Social Security data to generate payments to recipients who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019. 

— Michael Collins

Follow Michael on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS

Will people in retirement get a stimulus check?

As long as your adjusted gross income in 2019 was no more than $99,000 (if you file separately) or $198,000 (if you file jointly), you will receive some money. The law does not make a distinction between those who are working and those who are retired.

— Ledyard King

Follow Ledyard on Twitter @LedgeKing.

One of my workers is asking if they can go on unemployment and not work because he is living with two elderly people. Can he do this?

… We have work for him, however, he does not want to work due to the chances of infection towards his elderly roommates.

If your employee has a specific reason to worry he may have been exposed to the virus and needs to stop work, he could be eligible for benefits. If not, quitting and filing for such benefits without cause can be deemed fraud by federal officials.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

I have a military pension, am I still eligible for unemployment from a civilian job?

… If so, will my benefits be reduced due to the pension?

Yes, you should be eligible for unemployment and a military pension should not offset it.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

I just started my job and have not received any commission. How do I file for unemployment with no proof of income?

You may qualify for state benefits if the reason you haven’t been able to get your new business off the ground is because of the coronavirus crisis, such as a government-ordered shut down or the need to care for a child whose school has closed, says Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow with the Century Foundation, a nonprofit think tank. She can apply for relief under the CARES Act and should prepare to demonstrate what she did in regard to her business and how COVID-19 affected it.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

How do I apply for the new small business loan to pay my rent and my employees?

Small businesses (those with 500 and fewer employees) can apply for a loan under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program that will cover eight weeks of operations and be fully forgiven if at least 75% of the money is used for payroll and the rest is for other other business-related expenses (such as rent/mortgage and utilities). You’ll have to download this form and then find an eligible lender, such as an SBA-certified local bank or commercial lender. You can still borrow the money if you don’t meet the 75% payroll requirement but you’ll have to pay it back with 1% interest within two years.

— Ledyard King

Follow Ledyard on Twitter @LedgeKing.

If I am afraid to go to work but haven’t been laid off due to coronavirus, can I quit and collect unemployment?

No. Not unless you can show you were possibly exposed to the virus. Guidance in regard to the federal relief act specifically states that quitting a job without cause to get benefits would be deemed fraud. 

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

Do I need to apply for the $600 extra federal unemployment?

You do not have to apply separately for the $600 federal unemployment check.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

Thinking about a small business loan to pay our employees, could that impact their unemployment claims?

At least 75% of the Paycheck Protection Program loan must be spent on payroll in order for it to be completely forgiven. If workers file for unemployment, that could compromise the small business or nonprofit organization’s ability to meet the requirement.

— Ledyard King

Follow Ledyard on Twitter @LedgeKing.

I got unemployment but my employer now wants to cover our salaries with the CARES stimulus. Do I have to cancel unemployment?

If you are getting your full pay, you are not eligible for unemployment benefits. Typically, you have to check in every week to let the state know you remain unemployed in order to continue getting assistance.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

My employer reduced my salary, can I apply for partial unemployment?

Yes. If the pay cut is related to the COVID-19 pandemic, you should be able to get some financial assistance.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

Should I withdraw money from my 401 (k)?

Pulling funds from retirement accounts out of fear isn’t the best immediate course of action, wealth advisors say. It’s a case-by-case basis. Do you have emergency savings? Are there opportunities to refinance student loan debt, mortgage or car payments? Investors should take advantage of lower rates first before they tap into their retirement funds, experts say.

More information on 401 (k) and the CARES Act here.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter @JessicaMenton.

I was furloughed and after applying for unemployment benefits, got two part-time temporary jobs. Am I now disqualified from any benefits?

You are not automatically disqualified from receiving benefits. However, the amount you would receive will be reduced due to the part-time income, and in some states, you may be earning too much, according to Andrew Stettner with The Century Foundation. You need to check with your state. And a word of caution: You cannot quit working without cause to boost your benefits. You would lose your financial assistance, and could be determined to have committed fraud.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

Will homeowners get relief with mortgages?

The CARES Act gives homeowners with federally backed loans two types of relief. First, it prevents lenders from beginning foreclosure proceedings on federally backed loans for at least 60 days after March 18. Second, homeowners who experienced financial hardship from the pandemic can request a forbearance for up to 180 days, which may be extended for an additional period of up to six months if borrowers are still under financial duress.

… How can I postpone my mortgage payments?

To receive forbearance through the CARES Act, you must contact your loan servicer. There won’t be any additional fees, penalties or interest added to your account through this deferment, but regular interest will still accrue.

— Jessica Menton

Follow Jessica on Twitter @JessicaMenton.

Will adults with disabilities, who are dependents on a caregivers’ tax returns, receive a stimulus check?

No. The new law that set up the stimulus check program says that individuals who are claimed as dependents by someone else are not eligible for a stimulus check.

— Michael Collins

Follow Michael on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS

Can I apply for unemployment benefits for a second, part-time job?

Losing a second job makes you eligible for partial unemployment insurance. States have different rules regarding part-time positions, but the federal CARES Act does say part-time workers who are affected by the ramifications of COVID-19 can get assistance. Check with your state, but you should be able to get some aid.

… I work 2 part time jobs, one of which I had my hours cut way back. I am still working about 20 hours a week in one job. Can I collect unemployment insurance on a part time job?

It depends on the state whether part-time workers can receive unemployment benefits. California for instance does pay out such funds. The federal CARES Act also says part-time workers are entitled to assistance if their hours are cut for reasons out of their control. So you may be able to get the $600 federal benefit as well, but again, it’s best to check with your state unemployment office

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

When will the $600 federal unemployment check be paid?

… I got my first unemployment check but not the $600.

The pipeline for these payments is still unclear.

… I’ve been unemployed since January 2020. Is the $600 weekly benefit retroactive from then or just from the date it was announced?

Depending on when your state entered into an agreement with the federal government, the $600 weekly benefit could be retroactive back to March 28. It ends July 31. 

… Are furloughs eligible for the federal $600?

Yes. If the person isn’t being paid, they are considered unemployed and can receive that federal assistance.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

My pay is based on commission, can I file for unemployment?

Specifically, if your hours have been cut or your office is closed for reasons related to COVID-19, you should be able to receive unemployment benefits. You would file in the state you work.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

My unemployment expired already. Will I be eligible for any benefits now? 

Yes. If you are still out of work, you should be eligible for the 13 weeks of unemployment benefits that the federal government will pay, along with the extra $600 federal payment per week.

… I’ve recently exhausted my unemployment about a month ago, but I’m not able to file online due to my initial claim.

A lot of websites are unfortunately still catching up with the additional benefits  offered by the CARES Act. Reach out to your phone company to tell them your situation. You may be able to get a reprieve on your payment. And continue to call. The log jam will hopefully lessen as more staff is brought in.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones 

Does a moratorium on rent mean I never have to pay rent for that month?

No, it just means the rent is deferred. That can leave tenants with several months of back payments due when the emergency is over. 

— Paul Davidson

Follow Paul on Twitter @PDavidsonusat

What is unemployment insurance and how do I get it?

Unemployment insurance is a joint program between the federal government and the states set up to provide some money to people who are trying to get a job but can’t find one. The benefit has been expanded by a $2.2 trillion relief package – called the CARES Act – passed by the federal government last week to help soften the blow of the coronavirus pandemic, which shutting down businesses across the country and forcing layoffs of millions of people.

“Every one of the 50 states has an online application system,” says Michele Evermore, senior researcher and policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

How much unemployment will I get?

The maximum weekly benefit varies by state. For instance, in Florida, it tops out at $275, while in New York the maximum is $504. But under the federal relief law, everyone will get an additional $600 a week until July 31.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

How long do unemployment benefits last?

Some states offer fewer weeks of benefits than others. But with unemployment now expanded, anyone who is still out of work when their state benefit period runs out will be able to get payments for an additional 13 weeks from the federal government.

Those who worked in states like Florida where the initial period is only 12 weeks, would be eligible for the unemployment insurance specifically pegged to the pandemic which tacks on another 14 weeks.

Through these various steps, all those who are out of work will be able to get assistance for up to 39 weeks.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

Can I file a jobless claim if I work for myself or in the gig economy?

Yes. Independent contractors, freelancers and gig workers will be able to get the same benefits through a new pandemic assistance program established by the CARES act.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

How much stimulus money can I get?

If you’ve already filed your 2019 taxes, the Internal Revenue Service will use those returns to determine your payment. If not, your 2018 returns will be used to calculate your check.

Individuals with an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less will be eligible for a one-time payment of up to $1,200 ($2,400 for joint tax returns) and $500 for each qualifying child. Those with little or no tax liability also will get $1,200 ($2,400 for joint returns).

The payments will start to phase out for Americans who earn more than $75,000, or $150,000 for a joint return. The amount you receive will be decreased by 5% of the amount your income exceeds $75,000.

You can use this calculator to estimate your check amount.

— Charisse Jones

Follow Charisse on Twitter @charissejones

Do freelancers, gig workers qualify for unemployment?

Under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, included in the stimulus bill, freelancers and gig workers can receive half the average unemployment benefit in their state and an extra $600 per week.  

— Coral Murphy-Marcos

Follow Coral on Twitter @CoralMerfi

What companies are hiring right now?

Companies in the health care industry, as well as food, grocer, convenience stores, retail and delivery companies are currently in the process of mass hiring. For a list of the employers, click here

— Jazmin Goodwin 

Follow Jazmin on Twitter @jazminkgoodwin.

Ask more questions!

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Trump’s Tulsa rally: Lighter-than-expected crowds and other takeaways

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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump held his first campaign rally since March in Tulsa, Oklahoma Saturday following days of speculation about the impact the event would have on spreading the coronavirus and how large the crowd would be. 

The president used the opportunity to brag about his coronavirus response while downplaying its current threat, slam the media and some of his Democratic rivals, as well as to defend confederate statues. 

Here are some of the takeaways from Trump’s rally:

Smaller crowd in attendance, majority did not wear mask

Trump’s rally to revive his campaign during the coronavirus pandemic boasted a smaller crowd than his usual campaign events, with much of the upper sections of the 19,000-seat BOK Center stadium remaining empty. 

An overcrowd event outside was cancelled and broken down by Secret Service before the president started speaking inside, due to low attendance. 

Prior to the event, the Trump campaign had boasted one million tickets were requested, and Trump predicted there would not be an empty seat.

More:Trump distances himself from Geoffrey Berman firing after AG Barr says president was behind decision

Trump’s campaign blamed the low turnout for the rally, as well as the scratched event, on “radical protesters” as well as members of the media, who they claimed “attempted to frighten off the President’s supporters.”

Journalists on the ground have refuted seeing large numbers of individuals turned away because of rowdy protesters. 

Trump, who often kicks off his campaign rallies by crowing about the size of the crowd, was forced to use his high stakes rally to explain why turnout was less than expected. 

Echoing a line from his campaign manager, Trump blamed the smaller than expected crowds on media coverage leading up to the event, and blamed protesters for his decision to not deliver expected remarks at the scheduled outdoor overflow event. 

More:‘Turning point’ or massive risk? Trump gambles with a rally in Tulsa that could shape his campaign

“You are warriors,” Trump told the crowd, suggesting that they had turned out despite the coverage leading up to the rally. “I’ve been watching the fake news for weeks now. And everything is negative. Today it was like, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Additionally, the majority of attenders did not wear masks despite the campaign handing them out. However, they were not enforced. Several U.S. lawmakers in attendance did not wear masks, as well.  

‘I did a phenomenal job’

Trump shrugged off the looming threat from the coronavirus, despite several states reporting record-high numbers of cases and hospitalizations in the past few days, including Oklahoma. 

Local health officials had called for the rally to be postponed out of concern about the spread of the virus. 

More:Oklahoma coronavirus cases surge, hospitalizations rise ahead of Trump’s Tulsa rally

He continued to boast of his administration’s response to the pandemic, and again blamed China for spreading the virus.

“We – I – did a phenomenal job with it,” Trump declared. 

Trump said he told his administration, “slow the testing down, please” reiterating his argument that higher test numbers led to higher case counts. 

He imitated a doctor talking about a 10-year-old with “sniffles” who would conclude “that’s a case!” 

The president said the governor of New Jersey told him only one person under the age of 18 died, which the president said shows that young people have a “great immune system”

“Let’s open the schools please!” he said.

More:Why it’s okay to admit you’re struggling amid coronavirus

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a member of the president’s coronaivrus task force, said earlier this week while more testing does result in more cases, the recent surge in some states “cannot be explained by increased testing.” 

Coronavirus slur

The president at one point also called COVID-19 the “kung flu” and the “Chinese virus.”

“It’s a disease without question,” Trump told the audience. “I can name 19 different versions of names. Many call it a virus, which it is. Many call it a flu. What’s the difference?”

Public health officials have discouraged terms that associate a pandemic with a place. Trump frequently used “Chinese virus” in the early weeks of the pandemic but stopped using it as frequently.

More:President Trump on players kneeling during national anthem: ‘I thought we won that battle with the NFL’

One of his own advisers, Kellyanne Conway, in March called reports of a White House official referring to the coronavirus as the “kung flu” as “highly offensive.” 

COVID-19 deaths neared 120,000 Saturday in the U.S. 

‘Demolish our heritage’: Trump defends Confederate statues 

Trump’s rally, just a day after Juneteenth and located in a city with the site of one of the worst race massacres in US history, defended confederate monuments around the country.

 ‘We’re fighting violence,’ Sharpton says on Juneteenth; discipline records for charged Atlanta ex-cop

Trump claimed the left and protesters only desired “to demolish our heritage” as demonstrators have been tearing down confederate statues following weeks of protests over racial injustice.

Protesters continue to target historical symbols of the Confederacy. Late Friday, protesters in Washington, D.C., and in Raleigh, North Carolina, toppled statues. 

The protests were sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a Black man whose neck was pinned under the knee of a white police officer for nearly nine minutes in May. 

More:After George Floyd, students sick of ‘lip service,’ want action from colleges over racism

Trump barely spoke about race, and did not mention Floyd. 

Trump targets Democratic politicians and critics

Trump used his rally to hit back at some of his Democratic critics, including DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar. 

The president swiped at Bowser for the Black lives Matter demonstrations in Washington, D.C, and Ocasio-Cortez for her environmental views. 

Bowser responded, tweeting that there’s “a lot of empty room” in Trump’s head, “just like tonight’s half empty Tulsa arena.” 

Trump called Omar a “hate-filled America-bashing socialist” whose goal is to make America “just like the country from which she came, Somalia. No government, no police, no safety, no nothing.”

Omar, a representative from Minnesota, fled Somalia as a refugee and has been a citizen since she was 17. Her father died from COVID-19 a few days ago.

More:Rep. Ilhan Omar’s father dies of coronavirus-related complications

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Miami Dolphins great Jim Kiick dies at 73

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Jim Kiick, one-third of what NFL Network called “The Perfect Backfield” and one-half of the Dolphins’ legendary “Butch and Sundance” tandem with Larry Csonka, died Saturday.

He was 73.

The Dolphins on Saturday evening announced the death of Kiick, who in recent years battled memory issues and resided in an assisted living facility.

His daughter, Allie, an accomplished tennis player, on Thursday wrote a post on social media saying she’d been informed that her father was “declining rapidly.” For months, she was not permitted to visit his room because of the coronavirus pandemic, although it’s unclear if Kiick was tested for the disease.

“I miss my dad,” she wrote. “Every time I see him, he says, ‘I miss you.’ It’s pretty hard when you’re sitting on the outside of the glass and you can’t do anything to cheer him up. He’s lost the spark in his eyes as would anyone in his situation.”

Although Kiick was overshadowed by his best friend, Csonka, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Mercury Morris, a dynamic 1,000-yard rusher, he will forever be ingrained in Dolphins history, both for his skill on the field and escapades off it.

Without him, the 1972 perfect season and 17-0 record might never have happened. Kiick scored the winning touchdown in all three of that team’s postseason victories.

The Dolphins were trailing 14-13 with five minutes remaining in their first playoff game, against the visiting Cleveland Browns. After driving to the Cleveland 8-yard line, the Dolphins would have been expected to turn to Csonka or Morris but instead ran a trap up the middle that Kiick converted into a touchdown and a 20-14 victory.

It was a moment of pride for the three members of the backfield, who contended that the celebration of the TD, with Morris running off the bench to Kiick, personified the selflessness of the entire team. Before that season, coach Don Shula had made a calculated gamble by giving more playing time to Morris despite knowing how close (and effective) the Csonka-Kiick tandem had been.

“He’s the first person that jumped on me, congratulated me,” Kiick told the Palm Beach Post in a 2017 interview. “It just showed we were about the team and not about individual statistics or who scored the winning touchdown or who didn’t.”

Kiick also scored the winning touchdown on a 1-yard run in the 14-7 victory over Washington in Super Bowl VII to complete the 17-0 season.

Kiick scored the winning touchdown on a 3-yard run with 7½ minutes left in the AFC championship game, a 21-17 victory over Pittsburgh.

The Dolphins drafted Kiick in the fifth round in 1968 out of Wyoming. His seven-year rushing total of 997 yards fails to do justice to his value to Shula as a versatile complement to the bullish fullback Csonka. Kiick caught 221 passes for 2,210 yards and totaled 31 touchdowns from scrimmage.

Before Kiick, Csonka and receiver Paul Warfield jumped to the World Football League, signaling the end of the Dolphins’ dynasty after the 1974 season, Kiick and Csonka literally rode the streets of South Florida as celebrities. A legendary clip in Dolphins history shows Kiick and Csonka riding horseback along South Beach, playing to their “Butch and Sundance” personas.

“Somebody came up with the idea at Sports Illustrated,” Kiick said. “They put a deal together, we rode horses down Collins Avenue in Miami and it just blew up from there. Butch and Sundance was a big deal.”

Adding to the legend: Kiick and Csonka were often glib on the obvious question of which one was Butch Cassidy and which was the Sundance Kid.

“Same answer I tell everybody,” Kiick said. “I was the better-looking guy. Whether it’s Butch or Sundance, which was Paul Newman and Robert Redford, either way, you couldn’t lose.”

Although defensive tackle Manny Fernandez caught a small alligator during a trip to the Everglades one day, Kiick took the heat after the creature ended up in Shula’s shower, another legendary piece of Dolphins lore.

“I didn’t get an alligator. I didn’t do anything,” Kiick said. “But I was Shula’s goat and whatever he could do, he could blame me. I said, ‘Listen, I’m from New Jersey. I don’t fish and I had nothing to do with it.’ ”

Csonka once explained: “It seemed like Kiick was always the easiest one to catch up to. Me and Merc were kind of quick to be out of Shula’s way and be out of earshot.”

As for Kiick?

“He just didn’t care about getting out of the way.”

The Dolphins' Jim Kiick carried the ball during a December 1970 game against the Jets.

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Opinion: Will Louisiana wake up now that COVID-19 has hit LSU football?

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BATON ROUGE — It ain’t over, until it’s over.

The late Yankee catcher great Yogi Berra was not talking about COVID-19 when he said that in the summer of 1973. He was talking baseball as the manager of the New York Mets, who proved him prophetic as they rallied from 12.5 games out of first in the National League East in July to win the division and later advance to the World Series.

Too bad Berra is not around for a public service message where he could repeat perhaps the most famous of his multitude of Yogi-isms.

Someone needs to get that message across concerning the coronavirus pandemic that, yes, it’s still a pandemic.

“People keep talking about a second wave,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the preeminent authority on COVID-19, told the Wall Street Journal last week.

“We’re still in a first wave,” said Fauci, who has served every United States president since Ronald Reagan in 1984 and helped create President George W. Bush’s successful emergency plan for AIDS relief in 2003.

Maybe another bit of news on Saturday will get Louisianans — and everyone hopefully — to wake up and put on their masks and stop pretending it’s over, or acting out over some sense of rebellion that is more juvenile than courageous.

At least 30 LSU football players have recently been quarantined because they have tested positive for COVID-19 or have had contact with someone who did.

LSU Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron.

They are all young and in great shape, so they likely will be done with the virus in a couple of days if they have not already gotten over it. But maybe the fact that COVID-19 has now hit home in Louisiana at that most sacred part of the house — LSU Football — people will get it that it is not over.

“The reality is every Louisianan needs to do a gut check on whether he or she has been slacking off on taking proper precautions,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Thursday as the first wave rolled onward in Louisiana.

There were another 870 new cases and 20 deaths reported in the state on Saturday.

LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said on ESPN’s Paul Finebaum Show on Friday that people going to LSU football games at Tiger Stadium this fall may be required to wear a mask.

“This isn’t a political statement,” said Woodward, who worked with Democrat political strategist James Carville under Baton Rouge mayor Pat Screen in the 1980s. His comments echoed that of Fauci, who said this about his job:

“You stay completely apolitical and non-ideological. I’m a scientist, and I’m a physician. And that’s it.”

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UCLA:Football players make demands to protect their health

When Woodward wears a mask, he thinks of his elders.

“This is a health statement,” he said. “We’re trying to save lives here. I think about my parents. I think about elderly folks and people with immune systems that are compromised. We have to do these things to curtail this pandemic.”

In an interview last week with USA TODAY-Louisiana, LSU associate athletic director for health and wellness Shelly Mullenix said she expected to see several LSU football players test positive for COVID-19.

“Sure, there will be some, maybe many. It’s a pandemic,” she said as players were being tested. “We’re prepared for every scenario. We want to keep our community healthy, not just us.”

They may not have expected 30, but they were ready and swiftly quarantined everyone involved, which is sort of like applying one large mask over the football facility. The players will be fine, but they do not need to be out and about where they could infect others.

Meanwhile, the Tigerland bar circuit near campus should be off limits to all LSU football players and other student-athletes. In fact, for the time being it is not a good idea for anyone to go there.

State health officials on Friday said there was a cluster of COVID-19 outbreaks stemming from patrons at bars in and near the Tigerland area, which is where some of the LSU football players had been frequenting after just returning to campus June 9.

LSU is not unique in the rash of COVID-19 cases. At Clemson, 21 football players tested positive. Kansas State had 14 test positive, while Texas had 13.

The first wave continues, perhaps because Phase One of the prevention plan was discontinued early this month in Louisiana. Suddenly, it was TGIPT — Thank God It’s Phase Two — throughout the state.

I saw more unmasked people than I see masked people at Mardi Gras. They were everywhere. They were in large groups in backyards. They were not social distancing. They thought it was over — or close to it.

Not a good strategy. Former LSU pass game coordinator Joe Brady would have kept his mask on and kept passing disinfectant.

It ain’t over, until it’s over. True. But forget that. We’re not even at halftime yet. 

Source: http://rssfeeds.usatoday.com/~/628207352/0/usatoday-newstopstories~Opinion-Will-Louisiana-wake-up-now-that-COVID-has-hit-LSU-football/

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Belmont Stakes 2020: New York-bred Tiz the Law scripts storybook win amid pandemic

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ELMONT, N.Y. – The starting gate was in the backstretch chute, rather than in front of the grandstand. And the sound of hooves impacting the Belmont Park track replaced the deafening roar of the crowd.

But while so much was different about the 152nd Belmont Stakes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what’s timeless is a victory in a Triple Crown race and an emotional outcome.

And as Tiz the Law came roaring down the stretch, the New York-bred achieved both, scripting a storybook victory in the state that’s been hit harder than any other by the caronavirus, while giving himself a chance to make history after a win in what served as this year’s first leg of the series, rather than the last.

It was only fitting that Tiz the Law became the first New York-bred to win the Belmont Stakes in 138 years, going postward as the 4-5 favorite and proving himself to be the class of the field. He sat just off the pace before accelerating around the turn and drawing off for a comfortable victory in the $1 million event.

“It’s tremendous,” said Jack Knowlton, who heads Sackatoga Stable, which purchased Tiz the Law for $110,000. “We just buy New York-breds. That’s our game.” 

Tiz the Law, ridden by Manuel Franco, completed the 1⅛-mile test, shortened from the traditional 1½-mile distance, in 1:46.53 in front of an empty grandstand due to restrictions related to the coronavirus.

The winning margin was four lengths. Tiz the Law paid $3.60, 2.90 and 2.60. Runnerup Dr. Post paid $5.80 and 4.20. Max Player — from the stable of Rumson, New Jersey, native George Hall — paid $5.20. The exacta paid $19.60 for $2 wagers.

Tiz the Law, ridden by jockey Manuel Franco, crosses the finish line to win the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes.

Unlike the traditional three races in five weeks, Tiz the Law must now bridge an 11-week gap to the Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5. And the Triple Crown concludes on Oct. 3 with the Preakness, even though the 13 previous Triple Crown winners have been crowned in the Belmont Stakes. Tiz the Law would be the third horse since 2015 to complete the Triple Crown, joining Bob Baffert trainees American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018).

And with Tiz the Law emerging as such a compelling New York story, the plan is to take him to Saratoga to run in the Travers Stakes on Aug. 8 as a stepping-stone to the Kentucky Derby.

It’s the first Belmont Stakes win for the team of trainer Barclay Tagg and owner Sackatoga Stable. They finished third with Funny Cide in 2003 after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

From the moment Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” echoed through the grandstand as the horses made their way onto the track, Tiz the Law was all business. And then in a stirring performance he showed why he’s a threat to win the Triple Crown.

The son of Constitution has gate speed and he broke cleanly, joining the leaders immediately, then settled to sit comfortably just off the pace set by Tap It to Win on the inside, with Pneumatic in second between horses. And as he surged to the front rounding the turn before quickly opening up several lengths on the field, he showed he’s capable of going the distance.

COLUMN: Belmont Stakes – Empty granstand full of hope 

HASKELLMonmouth Park offers $1 million bonus for Haskell, Derby, BC sweep

BELMONT STAKES:All-time winners from 1867-2020

EARLY ODDS:Kentucky Derbyy 2020 contenders; Tiz The Law early favorite

And unlike the previous Triple Crown winners, Tiz the Law will never have to prove himself at 1½-miles. But he appeared capable of handling the 1¼-mile Kentucky Derby distance.

“It looked to me like everything just worked like clockwork,” Tagg said. “That’s the way the horse likes to run, that’s the position he likes to be in. Manny knows the horse very well. We discussed it very quickly before I put him up on the horse and I felt very confident Manny would ride him that way.

“I thought it looked pretty solid when he got halfway down the lane. It’s a good feeling.”

It was the first victory for Franco in a Triple Crown race.

“I was really confident when we got the 7/8th poll. He was so comfortable,” Franco said.

 It marked the third win in as many starts for Tiz the Law and fifth victory in six career starts. His wins in the Florida Derby and Champagne Stakes were the only two Grade 1 victories among the 10 starters entering the race.

“We’ve been with Barclay Tagg for 25 years,” Knowlton said, “and I keep telling everybody, Barclay doesn’t get a lot of big horses, big opportunities. But when he gets them he knows what to do.”

Stephen Edelson is a USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey sports columnist and horse racing writer. Contact him at: @SteveEdelsonAPP; sedelson@gannettnj.com.

Source: http://rssfeeds.usatoday.com/~/628198010/0/usatoday-newstopstories~Belmont-Stakes-New-Yorkbred-Tiz-the-Law-scripts-storybook-win-amid-pandemic/

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