Stimulus check delivery update: Payment methods, distribution dates, IRS scorecard – CNET

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If you don’t have your stimulus check, when’s it coming? If you got the latest one, are you sure you got the right amount? Here’s what you need to know.


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The IRS and the Department of the Treasury have added a new payment group to the schedule for sending $1,400 stimulus checks: People who receive federal benefits, like veterans and Social Security, SSI and SSDI recipients. This group could lead to 30 million more stimulus checks going out this week and next (they’ll start April 3). In the meantime, other qualified individuals and families are also in line to receive paper checks and EIP debit cards in the mail. (You can track your check with the IRS and also follow your payment to your mailbox.)

However, your situation may be anything but simple. For example, you might be missing all or part of your check, and it isn’t always obvious what to do to hunt down your stimulus money. If your check doesn’t arrive, you may need to request a payment trace.

Tax season could also wreak havoc on your stimulus check delivery, which is why it’s critical you know how much money you should expect. For example, if the IRS uses your 2019 taxes to calculate your payment, but you’re entitled to more based on a change to your AGI or new dependents (like a 2020 baby), you may not get the remainder of your money for months. We’ll share possible delays below. While you’re here, here’s the lowdown so far on a fourth stimulus check and what to know about the child tax credit payments if you have eligible dependents and qualify for the CTC. This story was updated recently.

Stimulus check delivery: The IRS scorecard and timeline

SSI and SSDI recipients and veterans who are waiting for stimulus money now have a target pay date (more below). Most people who didn’t receive a direct deposit by March 24 will receive a stimulus payment in the mail as a paper check or EIP debit card. However, if you receive federal benefits, you’ll see your stimulus money either as an electronic transfer to an existing benefits card like Direct Express, or in the mail. The IRS will not send EIP cards to this group, the Social Security Administration said.

Note that it could take days between the date the IRS or Treasury processes your particular payment and when you receive it, especially if your check is delivered through the mail. If your life circumstances changed between your second check and now, any complications could hold up your payment. If you moved recently, you’ll need to tell the IRS and USPS.

Here’s how the checks have been sent so far:

Stimulus check scorecard: Payments so far

Direct deposit Paper check EIP card Direct Express card
First payment batch (by March 17) 90 million ($242 billion) 150,000 ($442 million) Not released Not released
Second payment batch (by March 24) 17 million ($38 billion) 15 million ($34 billion) 5 million ($11 billion) Not released
Social Security, including SSI, SSDI Not disclosed Not disclosed Not used for payment Up to 30 million, starting April 3 and 4

2 ways to track your third stimulus payment status

The IRS updates its Get My Payment tracker tool for stimulus checks daily. This online app shows you the status of your payment, including when a check is scheduled for delivery. The IRS portal can also flag if there’s a problem with your payment you may need to address, but it doesn’t tell you the amount you’ll receive. You can use a free tool from the USPS to track your mailed stimulus payment.

More details for Social Security, SSI, SSDI, veterans and other federal beneficiaries to know

After a weeks-long holdup, the IRS said it is ready to start making payments for SSDI and SSI recipients, retired railroad workers and veterans, many of whom automatically qualify for the third check. The first payments are set to arrive the weekend of April 3, with most going out electronically through a Direct Express card (PDF) on April 7, according to the IRS.

Note that you’ll only get the electronic payment transfer if this is how you normally receive benefits, and if you didn’t file taxes in 2019 or 2020. However, some in this subset of nonfilers could receive an automatic payment sooner if they got a previous check by using the IRS’ Non-Filers tool, which is now closed. The SSA says this group will not receive an EIP debit card. Here’s our complete guide to stimulus checks for people receiving Social Security benefits.

Stimulus check delivery start and end dates

Stimulus bill passed Congress March 10
Stimulus bill signed into law March 11
First direct deposits made March 12 (provisional), March 17 (official)
First paper checks sent Week of March 15
First EIP cards sent Week of March 22
Last day to get direct deposit March 24
First Social Security, SSI, SSDI payment sent Weekend of April 3, most arriving April 7
IRS deadline to finish sending checks Dec. 31, 2021 (mandated by the bill)
Last date to receive a check January 2022 (if mailed checks sent late December)
Claims for missing stimulus money open 2021 tax season likely (in 2022)

Here’s what could delay or split your stimulus check delivery

Here’s more information on problems you might encounter with your stimulus check.


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Stimulus check 3: How much money you’ll get

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If there’s an issue with your payment, don’t call the IRS. Do this instead

Sorry, but the IRS really doesn’t want you to call if you have any issue with the delivery or amount of your stimulus check. So what to do instead? See our guide that walks you through how to report stimulus check problems, including checks that never arrive (try filing a payment trace), direct deposit payments that go to the wrong account and other issues. 

Why your tax return could present a delivery snag

Taxes are now due May 17. So how will the IRS figure out how much it owes you? It will calculate your total (you can also do that here) based on the most recent tax filing it’s processed at the time it’s ready to tabulate your check.

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If you don’t get all your stimulus check money right away, you may need to address the issue down the road.


Sarah Tew/CNET

If you filed your 2020 taxes early and you know your tax return was already processed, your total will likely be based on your 2020 adjusted gross income, not on your 2019 AGI. That presents complications if the difference between the two years disqualifies you from getting a third stimulus check

On the flip side, if the IRS uses your 2019 taxes and you’re owed more money based on your 2020 AGI and dependents, you’ll need to claim the difference at a later date. (Learn more about some of the stimulus check exceptions and catches here.)

You’ll need to claim any missing money from your stimulus check later

There are several reasons the IRS may owe you stimulus money after it sends out the third round of checks. Maybe the agency processed your 2019 tax return instead of 2020 and there was a discrepancy? Or maybe you had a baby in 2020 that you still need to claim as a dependent? Maybe a clerical error accidentally left out a new dependent? Perhaps your payment never arrived or was accidentally garnished?

Whatever the reason, the IRS may provide a way to file for missing stimulus money before the Dec. 31 deadline. If not, you might have to wait a year to claim it, when you file your 2021 taxes in 2022 (even if you’re a nonfiler who isn’t typically required to file taxes.)

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Millions may wind up getting a smaller check than they’re owed, depending on their 2020 taxes.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Stimulus payments could technically arrive into December

Although the IRS and Treasury are sending stimulus checks now, the agencies have until Dec. 31 to complete distributing the third payments. That’s good news in the sense they aren’t facing a compressed deadline to send out all the checks, as they did with the second stimulus check in December, which only gave them a 17-day window to get the payments out. 

On the other hand, the nearly nine-month delivery window also means some people may find themselves waiting for their payment, for a variety of reasons. We’ll have to wait and see how the IRS deals with any fringe issues that arise, such as the need to claim missing money. 

More stimulus details these groups should know

Stimulus checks aren’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation. Here are additional guides for:

And here’s everything you need to know about the third stimulus check, how to calculate your stimulus total and every way the stimulus bill can bring you more money.

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