Why You’re Still Waiting on Your Stimulus Check if You Get Social Security

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If you’re on Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and you aren’t required to file a tax return, you’ll almost certainly qualify for the third stimulus check. But there’s a good chance you’re still waiting on that money.

The third round of stimulus checks began hitting bank accounts two weeks ago. But about 30 million Social Security and SSI recipients have yet to receive those $1,400 payments, according to a March 24 letter to Social Security Commissioner Andrew M. Saul from the Democrat-led House Ways and Means Committee. So why are so many of the people who need stimulus checks most still waiting?

Why Haven’t 30 Million Social Security, SSI Recipients Gotten Stimulus Checks?

In the past two weeks, the IRS has sent out about 127 million stimulus checks. But the payments that have already gone out were based on 2019 or 2020 tax returns. If you receive Social Security or SSI and you also file a tax return, you may have already gotten your third stimulus check.

But millions of people who get Social Security, SSI, Railroad Retirement System or VA benefits don’t need to file a tax return. The IRS gets the information it needs to process stimulus payments from the appropriate agency, including direct deposit information, with no action required from the recipient.

The IRS asked the Social Security Administration for updated bank account and address information for recipients back in late February, two weeks before the $1.9 American Rescue Plan became law. But Social Security didn’t fork over that information until March 25 after a 24-hour ultimatum from the House Ways and Means Committee. The VA and Railroad Retirement System delivered the same information earlier this week.

In short, the IRS now has the information it needs to make your payment if you receive federal benefits. But as of March 29, it still hadn’t announced when you can expect to receive your check.

An Economic Impact Payment FAQ on IRS.gov states: “More information about when these payments will be made will be provided on IRS.gov when the timeline is finalized.”

5 Things to Know if You Haven’t Gotten Your Check

If you’re on Social Security or SSI and you haven’t gotten your stimulus check, we get it: It’s hard to sit back and be patient when you need that money for bills. Here’s what we know so far about the status of your stimulus check.

1. You’ll probably get your stimulus check the same way you get your federal benefits. That means most recipients will receive their payments via direct deposit or Direct Express Debit Mastercard. If you’ve recently closed the bank account that’s on file, your bank will reject the deposit and you’ll receive your payment in the mail. There’s no way you can update that information online.

2. You may need to file a tax return if you have dependents. Most Social Security and SSI recipients don’t need to take action to receive their payments. But the IRS won’t automatically get information about your dependents from Social Security or SSI — and this time around, you can get $1,400 for each dependent regardless of their age.

This probably won’t be an issue if you filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return and claimed your dependent, or if you used the non-filer tool from the first round of payments to submit their information. Otherwise, you may need to file a tax return to get the payment on their behalf, even though you aren’t normally required to. You may not receive dependent payments with your payment, but once the IRS has updated information, it will send you any extra money it owes you after it processes your return. Submitting a return could also help you qualify for the expanded child tax credit.

3. The IRS typically makes payments on Wednesdays. Though you may see direct deposits listed as pending a few days earlier, usually they become available for you to spend on Wednesdays.

4. You can track your check using Get My Payment. You can look up the status of your check using the Get My Payment feature on IRS.gov. If your payment hasn’t been scheduled yet, it will show up as Payment Status Not Available. The information is only updated once a day, so it won’t do you any good to constantly monitor the site. Using it multiple times in a day could get you locked out.

5. Any issues with your payment will need to be addressed with the IRS. Unfortunately, there are no easy ways to resolve issues surrounding missing payments or payments that are lower than they should have been. But ultimately, you’ll need to take the matter to the IRS, not Social Security or the agency that gives you benefits.

You can try calling the IRS with questions about your stimulus check at 800-919-9835, but your odds of getting through at this point are slim. For now, the best way to get up-to-date information is to check Get My Payment once each day and monitor the FAQ on the IRS website.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].

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