MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Johnathan Turner watched last spring as Congress showered millions of dollars of “stimulus” payments on Americans – but not him.
The 18-year-old Wilmer man’s mother claims him as a dependent, so he was not eligible for the $1,200 payment under the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. He also was too old for his mother to claim the $500 child credit.
Now that Congress has passed a second round of relief, Turner will not qualify for the new $600 payment, either.
“It’s messed up, you know?” he told FOX10 News. “Whenever you can’t really, can’t really find a good job to work at, you know?”
Turner is one of millions of Americans who will not get any of the “economic impact payments,” as the government calls the direct payments.
Aside from income limits – the benefits begin to phase out for singles with adjusted gross incomes of $75,000 and married couples making $150,000 – the relief program excludes two groups:
- Children older than 16 whom parents claim as dependents.
- Elderly and disabled people with no income whom relatives claim as dependents.
After the CARES Act, some members of Congress had said leaving out older children and adult dependents was an oversight that could be corrected with future legislation. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) sponsored legislation in April to make adult dependents eligible, but it never passed.
The hastily constructed relief package that cleared the House and Senate on Monday left the previous rules intact. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), who represents the Mobile area in Congress, was at a loss to explain the rationale.
“I can’t answer that question,” he told FOX10 News. “I didn’t know why they did it that way the first time. I’m not sure why we continued it there. There are some parts of this that we don’t get very good explanations for.”
Jim McCormick, of Semmes, is another person on the outside looking in. He has a bad back and doesn’t work. He would have been eligible for the stimulus if his mother had not claimed him as a dependent on her latest tax return.
“I feel it’s very unfair because there’s people out there who are getting this money,” he said. “And there’s people out there who are not who need it, and I’m one of them. I need money. I have no vehicle. I stay here with my mom, take care of her, and I have no transportation, and I can’t get any kind of transportation because all I get is disability every month.”
McCormick questioned whether lawmakers have even considered the impact of the eligibility rules.
“There’s a lot of people who are not getting it that should be,” he said.
Turner said an extra $600 would mean a lot to his family.
“It would help us out a lot and, obviously, help us pay our bills, you know?” he said.
It is possible some people in the 17-24 age range who were left out of the stimulus might be able to claim the money retroactively. That would require them to file their tax returns next year, meet the government's test of financial independence next year and make sure no one else claims them as dependents.