The IRS continues to send out batches of the third stimulus payments -- and some are going to people who receive SSI or SSDI benefits. If you qualify for Social Security benefits and you're one of the few who hasn't received their check already, you might want to start tracking it down. If your benefits come on a Direct Express card, your payment should have arrived already. But you might still be waiting for your payment if it's expected to come in the mail or by direct deposit.
If you stopped or started receiving SSI or SSDI in 2019 or 2020, or think your first or second stimulus payment is missing, you may need to request a payment trace. Also, payments started going out to those who receive benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs last month. For those who qualify for retired railroad worker benefits, stimulus payments of up to $1,400 should be arriving soon.
If stimulus money is missing for your dependents, you might need to file a 2020 tax return, although you only have until Monday (the tax deadline) to do so. If you have kids, read more about eligibility for the new child tax credit, including if your child is a qualified dependent. You could get up to $3,600 with the revised child tax payment. You may also be able to save up to $50,000 this year with new pandemic-related credits and benefits. This story is updated regularly.
I receive Social Security benefits. What do I need to know about my third stimulus payment?
If you receive Social Security SSI or SSDI benefits, your check should have arrived or be on the way by now. Here are the details:
- Many who receive Social Security payments and most SSI and SSDI recipients and retired railroad workers will qualify to receive a stimulus check (see the general eligibility requirements here.) Tens of millions have already received theirs.
- You should have received your payment around April 7 if you have direct deposit set up or were sent a Direct Express card.
- Recipients of veterans' benefits should have received their stimulus money on April 14 if they don't usually file taxes.
- If you used the Non-Filers tool in 2020 and didn't have a change in life circumstances, you may receive a check automatically as part of the ongoing stimulus payment batch. Going forward, your money could arrive as a paper check.
- You could get a larger check this time around, especially if you claim dependents.
- Are you part of a mixed-citizenship family? There are some things you should know.
- Stimulus checks can once again be seized by private debt collectors, but not from past-due child support.
- You'll need to file a 2020 tax form to claim missing stimulus money from the previous checks, even if you don't usually file taxes.
- You may also need to file a 2020 tax form (for free) to claim your dependents for the third stimulus check.
- The government says it will conduct outreach letting taxpayers know if they're eligible for any funds and offering help if needed.
- Any missing payment amount from the third check may be paid out as part of tax season 2021 (in 2022), a year from now. You'll likely have to file a tax return to claim it, if the IRS follows the same pattern for missing stimulus check money as now (more info on this below).
- There's no fourth stimulus check yet, but some are advocating for more direct payments to Americans.
When is the latest round of stimulus payments expected for SSI, SSDI beneficiaries and veterans?
Federal beneficiaries who filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return or used the Non-Filers tool in 2020 may have already received a stimulus payment, or could get one in a future batch of checks being sent out by the government. (The IRS has been sending payments weekly.)
For most everyone else, payments started going out on April 7 by direct deposit or on your Direct Express card. For those receiving payments through the mail, those checks began on April 9. If you have a foreign address and don't typically file a tax return, electronic payments went out around April 21 and paper checks on April 23. Veterans who don't file taxes ordinarily should have received their payment on April 14.
The IRS and Treasury will use the information it has on file to automatically send you a check (even if you didn't file a return). People who have already filed a 2020 tax return this year to claim missing stimulus money may find that the IRS will use this information instead of your 2019 details if it has processed your latest return (here's how to see).
Some people may need to file a 2020 tax return, even if they don't usually file, so the IRS has all the information needed to send payments to cover eligible dependents.
If I haven't received my stimulus check, what should I do?
If there's a problem with your stimulus check, the SSA and VA refer you back to the IRS. However, the IRS doesn't want you to call if you have an issue with your payment, and points out repeatedly on its FAQ pages that phone staff don't have additional information beyond what's available to you in the IRS tracking tool. So, what then?
Depending on the situation, there may be a few self-service options if you run into stimulus check trouble or are looking for an explanation of what's holding up your check. Otherwise, you may need to request a payment trace with the IRS, but there are specific timing rules for that.
How will I be receiving my third stimulus check?
If you didn't submit a 2019 or 2020 tax return or used the Non-Filers tool in 2020 and you receive your monthly Social Security benefits by Direct Express card, it's likely your third payment will be added to your Direct Express card, according to the Social Security Administration and this informational PDF from Direct Express. Note that you'll receive one free withdrawal in addition to your usual free monthly withdrawal for monthly benefits.
For the first two 2020 stimulus payments, most SSI and SSDI recipients received them through a non-Direct Express bank account or as a paper check if they didn't have current bank account information on file with the IRS. The IRS said SSI and SSDI recipients should have gotten their latest round of stimulus money the same way they received their earlier payments, including Direct Express for some. (Here's how to claim missing stimulus money from the first rounds.)
Can I still sign up for a new Direct Express account?
You can sign up for a new Direct Express account at any time to receive monthly federal benefits electronically, but if you don't currently have an account, you'll receive your third stimulus check a different way, likely by mail.
If you closed your Direct Express account or there's an error sending money to an inactive account, the payment will be returned to the IRS, which will reissue the stimulus money another way -- probably via mail sent to your last known address. If you moved, make sure to inform the IRS and USPS of your new address.
To contact Direct Express to enroll in a new account for monthly benefits, call 1-800-333-1795, Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT (9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET). Note that Direct Express representatives may not be able to answer stimulus check questions.
Do I qualify for the full $1,400 amount? Maybe more or less?
As part of the new administration's American Rescue Plan, people who receive SSI and SSDI will once again automatically qualify to receive a third stimulus check, for up to $1,400, as they did for the first and second round of payments approved in March and December 2020.
In the first two rounds, those individuals were eligible so long as they had a Social Security number and weren't claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return -- and so long as their household income didn't exceed the threshold ($75,000 single, $112,500 head of household, $150,000 married).
The most recent March stimulus package expands stimulus payment eligibility to dependents of all ages, including young adults ages 17 to 24 and older adult dependents. It also increases the amount set aside for those dependents to $1,400 each. Another change: This time around, the checks will be more "targeted" than in the first two rounds, meaning that single taxpayers who earn $75,000 or less per year will be eligible for the full amount, while those who earn more than $80,000 per year won't get any money. That means some families could get more money, while others will get less or none at all.
People receiving Railroad Retirement and VA benefits also automatically qualify for a payment, as they did in the first and second round of stimulus checks, the IRS said.
Will my stimulus check arrive as an EIP card?
The IRS projects that 5 million stimulus payments will be made by Economic Impact Payment debit card, but checks going out to Social Security recipients won't take the form of an EIP card. According to the SSA support website: "The IRS does not plan to issue prepaid debit cards to beneficiaries for this third round of EIPs ... The Social Security Administration does not administer the EIP debit card program, and did not decide who received an EIP debit card instead of a paper check."
How can I get the right amount of stimulus money for my dependents?
The third stimulus check changes the rules and makes dependents of all ages eligible for up to $1,400 each toward the household's total payment. That includes older adult relatives and college-age children. However, some beneficiaries with dependents will need to file a 2020 tax return to receive the $1,400 per dependent, so that the IRS knows how many dependents you claim.
"People in this group should file a 2020 tax return to be considered for an additional payment for their dependent as quickly as possible," the IRS said in a March 22 press release.
There are ways you could get more money with the third check and things to know if you had a baby in 2020. There are also tax breaks for anyone caring for children and older adults, and details on whom the IRS counts as an adult to receive their own stimulus check.
For the first stimulus check approved under the CARES Act in March 2020, qualified people with dependents age 16 or younger were eligible for up to $500 per child dependent, but not everyone actually received that extra money. For the second stimulus check, as long as your children were 16 years old or younger, they contributed $600 toward the final total of your household's second stimulus check.
If someone else oversees my federal benefits account, how will I get my stimulus check?
If someone, also known as a representative payee, helps manage your Social Security benefits on your behalf, that person -- a relative, friend or someone appointed on behalf of an organization -- should discuss your benefits with you, the beneficiary. That's according to guidance from the Social Security Administration. So if you'd like to use your money, the person managing your account should provide you with the stimulus payment.
"Your Individual Representative Payee (PDF) should have received your EIP to the same direct deposit account or Direct Express card as your monthly Social Security or SSI payment," the SSA says on its site. "For an Organizational Representative Payee, the payee likely received the EIP electronically or by paper check in the mail."
The SSA says representative payees aren't required to account for the stimulus payment when they complete their annual accounting form, as it's not considered a Social Security benefit.
What should I know if I'm not currently living in the US?
If you're a Social Security beneficiary with a foreign address whose monthly benefit is deposited in a foreign bank account, you should receive your third stimulus payment through either direct deposit, Direct Express card or a check in the mail, according to the SSA (however, not that the IRS doesn't usually deposit money into foreign banks). The IRS began sending out payments to this group through direct deposit and Direct Express card on April 21, and began sending paper checks in the mail for this group on April 23 (track your stimulus check here.)
If you live abroad but receive your monthly benefits through a US bank, you should have received your first two payments by direct deposit to that account. If you still haven't gotten your money, it will have to be claimed as part of a tax return. Find out everything you need to know about stimulus checks, citizenship and living abroad here.
What if the IRS didn't send me the full amount for the first or second stimulus payment?
According to the IRS, people who receive Social Security retirement, SSDI, SSI and Railroad Retirement benefits, as well as Veterans Affairs beneficiaries, were automatically eligible for the first two stimulus payments. If you receive these federal benefits as your only form of income, you weren't required to file a federal income tax return in 2018 or 2019. Under the CARES Act, you should have received a stimulus check automatically. (No need to file a simple tax return, as the IRS had originally said.)
If that money didn't arrive, it's possible you might have had a payment garnished for child support or funds diverted to pay a specific kind of creditor, but the rules changed with the second check. However, an IRS error could also be a potential culprit or the IRS may have needed more information about your eligibility.
To receive your money now, you need to claim the additional amount as part of tax season 2020, using the Recovery Rebate Credit. Even if you don't usually file taxes, you'll have to file to get the funds. The deadline for filing your 2020 taxes was extended to May 17, 2021.
In some cases -- if you received a letter from the IRS confirming that your payment was sent, but you never actually got the money, for instance -- you may need to contact the IRS to request a payment trace.
The IRS says you can create and then check an IRS account to see more information about your eligibility around the first two stimulus payments.
How should I claim missing stimulus money for my dependents?
If you used the IRS' Non-Filers tool from May 5 to Aug. 15, 2020, the IRS should have automatically issued a catch-up payment for your dependents in October 2020. If you received your original stimulus money by direct deposit, you should have gotten the catch-up payment the same way. Others would have received it in the mail.
If you filed for your missing dependent money by Nov. 21, 2020, the payment should have arrived by the end of 2020 in the same way you received your first payment (likely direct deposit or by mail). If you missed the deadline, your payment should be included on your 2020 tax return in 2021 if you file for a Recovery Rebate Credit.
To see the status of your or your dependent's payment for the first or second payments, check your IRS account.
Here's everything else we know about the third stimulus checks, including what to do if there's a problem with your payment.