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CRA: Do You Qualify for the New $500 Canada Sickness Recovery Benefit?

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The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the federal government’s flagship COVID-19 program, ended on September 27, 2020. Five days later, on October 2, 2020, Bill C-4 received Royal Assent. The said bill is an Act relating to certain measures in response to COVID-19. Bill C-4 contained three recovery benefits that replace CERB, although each one applies to a specific situation or circumstance.

The first is the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) that provides income support to displaced workers not eligible for or can’t transition to Employment Insurance (EI). The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) is the second. Workers can’t go to work because they must perform caregiving duties on children or family members can apply for this benefit.

The third and equally crucial benefit or income support is the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB). If you qualify for this benefit, you could receive $500 for each one-week period. Like CRB and CRCB), CRSB’s benefit period is from September 27, 2020, to September 25, 2021.

Circumstance to receive CRSB

CRSB is specific to people who can’t work at least 50% of their scheduled workweek during each week of the total claim period. Your situation or circumstance must be any of the following:

  • Contracted COVID-19 or might have contracted the virus
  • Have underlying health conditions, are undergoing treatments, or have contracted other sicknesses that would make you more susceptible to COVID-19
  • Must isolate on the advice your employer, a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority for reasons related to COVID-19

Eligibility and benefit amount

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) administers the three new recovery benefits. For CRSB, the CRA assumes you’re not receiving paid leave from your employer. You must be at least 15 years old with a valid Social Insurance Number to be eligible.

Your income (employment or self-employment) in 2019, 2020, or 12 months before the application date must be $5,000, at least. If you meet the eligibility requirements, the CRA will pay you $500 ($450 net after a 10% tax) for each one-week period. You need to apply again if your situation is the same after one week.

Extra monthly income

Did you know that if you buy AltaGas (TSX:ALA) shares, you can earn extra income support besides the federal aid? The $5.23 billion diversified energy infrastructure company from Calgary pays a 5.34% dividend. Since the payouts are monthly, a $50,000 investment will produce $222.50 in monthly income.

Utility companies like AltaGas are relatively safe investments, because the nature of their business is recession-resistant. The company delivers natural gas through regulated distribution utilities. It also provides interstate natural gas transportation and storage facilities. Allied services energy efficiency contracting and retail power marketing.

From a pure midstream player 26 years ago, AltaGas has transformed into a diversified energy infrastructure company. Its utility segment (42% of operations) serves 1.7 million customers in key U.S. markets like Alaska, Maryland, and Michigan. The share price is flat year to date, which means the utility stock is holding ground amid the market turbulence in 2020.

Fair warning

When you’re applying for CRSB, you shouldn’t be receiving CRB, CRCB, EI, Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP), and short-term disability benefits. If you are, the CRA will reject your application.

Speaking of the new $500 CRSB available to covid-infected and sick workers...

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This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Christopher Liew has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends ALTAGAS LTD.

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