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Stimulus check status update: IRS delivery schedule, when your plus-up payment could arrive

Veterans are next in line to receive stimulus payments this week, as the IRS sends batches of checks -- including plus-up payments. Whether your check has arrived or you're waiting still, here's what to know about delivery dates, partial payments and delays.

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The $1,400 stimulus checks continue to go out, but what happens if you only get a partial payment?

Sarah Tew/CNET

Maybe you're waiting for the arrival of your third stimulus check. Perhaps you're expecting a plus-up payment because the IRS underestimated the amount of money you and your family qualify for. (Here's how to calculate the amount of stimulus money you could receive.) Either way, we can help you figure out when your check could arrive, based on the IRS schedule and any issues that could hold up your payment. For example, checks began going out last week to people who receive Social Security benefits and are teed up to start this week for veterans who get VA benefits.

There's a lot of detail to know, including:

We explain all that and more below. For more information, here's the current discussion on a fourth stimulus check and student loan forgiveness. You might also get more stimulus money from the American Rescue Plan Act through child tax credit 2021 payments (here's how much money you can get and who's an eligible dependent), and savings on health care and insurance. This story is frequently updated.

Stimulus plus-up payments: What they are and when yours could arrive

A plus-up payment is a supplement to the stimulus money the iRS already paid out. But if you didn't get the right amount the first time, the agency is sending automatic pay bumps to correct the error. You might get a plus-up payment if the IRS used your 2019 taxes to calculate your third stimulus check and then finds it underpaid you after processing your 2020 taxes. For example, perhaps you had a lower AGI this time -- or added a new dependent.

If you got your stimulus payment via direct deposit, that's how you'll get your plus-up money, too. If the IRS doesn't have your details on file, you may receive a paper check instead.

Plus-up payments will continue on a weekly basis as the IRS processes 2020 tax forms and reevaluates checks. The batch going out this week includes 1 million plus-up payments totaling more than $2 million.

Stimulus check payments made so far


Direct deposit Paper checks EIP Card Direct Express Card Plus-up
First payment batch -- March 17 90 million ($242 billion) 150,000 ($442 million) Not released Not released Not released
Second payment batch -- March 24 17 million ($38 billion) 15 million ($34 billion) 5 million ($11 billion) Not released Not released
Third payment batch, including Social Security -- April 3 2 million ($5 billion) 2 million ($5 billion) Not disclosed Up to 30 million to come Not released
Fourth payment batch, including "plus-up" money -- April 7 24 million ($33 billion) 1 million ($3 billion) Not disclosed 3.1 million 1 million ($2 million)
Fifth payment batch, including nonfiler veterans -- April 14 TBA TBA TBA TBA TBA

How the IRS will send your stimulus payment now

If you're getting your new stimulus check delivered now (and not a plus-up), expect to receive it in the mail (how to track it) as a paper check or EIP debit card. However, if you're an SSI or SSDI recipient who has a Direct Express benefits card, you should get an electronic transfer. Otherwise, look for a check in the mail, but not an EIP card, according to the SSA. (More details below.)

Note that it could take days between the date the IRS or Treasury processes your stimulus money and when you receive it, especially if your check is arriving through the mail. If you moved recently, you need to tell the IRS and USPS.

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Track your payment online and in the mail using these tools

The IRS updates its Get My Payment tracker tool for stimulus checks daily. This online app shows the status of your payment, including when a check is scheduled for delivery. You can also use a free tool from the USPS to track your mailed stimulus payment.

The IRS portal also flags if there's a problem with your payment that you may need to address, but it doesn't tell you the amount you'll receive. You'll see your payment status in the tracker if you receive SSI and SSDI benefits. VA beneficiaries who are veterans and don't file taxes can check the status of their payments the weekend of April 10 and 11. 

Why all or some of your stimulus money may be delayed

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

Stimulus check delivery start and end dates

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, unless you receive a "plus-up" adjustment for 2020 taxes
First Social Security, SSI, SSDI payment sent Weekend of April 3, most arriving April 7
First plus-up payments Weekend of April 3
VA benefits for veteran nonfilers April 14
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)
Final claims for missing stimulus money 2021 tax season likely (in 2022)

How to report a payment problem, and what not to do

The IRS 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? Our guide 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.

What if you're missing stimulus money from your $1,400 check?

There are several reasons the IRS may owe you stimulus money after it sends out the third round of checks.

For example, the agency may have processed your 2019 tax return before it received 2020 tax forms and you're entitled to a bigger payment. If this is your situation, the IRS said it will automatically evaluate if you qualify for more money after it receives your 2020 tax return. It will then send you a supplemental payment for the difference between what you originally received and the amount you now qualify for. You don't need to take any action to receive this supplemental payment, according to the IRS.

If you had a baby or added a dependent in 2020, the IRS said it will also automatically send you a supplement payment once it receives your taxes this year.

But what if a clerical error accidentally left out a new dependent? Or perhaps your payment never arrived or was accidentally garnished? 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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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

Social Security, SSDI, SSI and veterans: More to know about your stimulus money

After a weeks-long holdup, the IRS is now making payments for SSDI and SSI recipients and retired railroad workers, many of whom automatically qualify for the third check. The first payments started going out April 3, with the majority of payments made electronically -- either through direct deposit or to existing Direct Express cards (PDF) -- by April 7, according to the IRS.

For those who receive veterans benefits, the IRS said it's reviewing data for Veterans Affairs benefit recipients and expects to start making payments by April 14. VA beneficiary payment information will be available in the Get My Payment tool this weekend, the IRS said.

Note that you'll most likely get the electronic payment transfer if this is how you normally receive benefits, and if you didn't file taxes in 2019 or 2020. But 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.

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

Sarah Tew/CNET

Why your 2020 tax return is tied to this stimulus check

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 the amount of your stimulus check.

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. Note that if you filed your 2020 taxes after you got your stimulus payment, this IRS is now sending the catch-up payments now. (Learn more about some of the stimulus check exceptions and catches here.)

Stimulus money could still arrive through the end of 2021

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 for 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. 

Additional information for people in these payment groups

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.