Payment Amounts and Eligibility

How to Get Your Payment

Other Issues

Payment Amounts and Eligibility

What are these stimulus payments I’ve heard about?Back to Top

The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was recently passed into law, provides for many individuals to receive a payment of up to $1,200 ($2,400 for married couples filing jointly). Eligible individuals will also receive an additional $500 for each qualifying child 16 or younger.

Do I qualify for a stimulus payment?Back to Top

To qualify for a stimulus payment, you must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident of the U.S., you must have a Social Security number that is valid for employment[1] , and you must not be claimed as a dependent by someone else on their taxes.  If anyone on your tax return has an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), you are not eligible for a payment unless at least one spouse served in the U.S. military and that spouse has a valid Social Security number.

Are there income limits to qualify for a stimulus payment?Back to Top

There is no minimum income threshold to qualify for a stimulus payment, but payments do phase out for individuals above certain incomes.  Payments decrease for individuals with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $75,000 per year ($150,000 for married couples filing jointly).  Payments phase out completely for individuals with an AGI of more than $99,000 per year ($136,500, if they filed taxes as head of household) and $198,000 for married couples filing jointly. 

What is a “qualifying child”?Back to Top

The CARES Act provides a $500 payment for each “qualifying child.”  A qualifying child must be age 16 or younger.  Payments will not be made for children that are 17 or 18, even if they still live with a parent.

I’m a full-time college student.  Am I eligible for a payment?Back to Top

Maybe. If you have a valid Social Security number and meet the AGI limits described above, you are eligible for a payment if a parent or someone else did not provide more than half your support and did not claim you as a dependent on their tax return.  A full-time college student under the age of 24 is generally considered a dependent if their parent provides more than half their support.  If a parent claimed you as a dependent, you are not eligible for a payment.

How to Get your Payment

Do I need to apply for a payment?Back to Top

If you filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 and are eligible for the payment, you will get the payment automatically and do not need to do anything.  If the IRS has your bank information from a 2018 or 2019 tax return, they will direct deposit the money in that account. The IRS began making these payments on April 11, and plans to complete them by the end of April.

If you did not give the IRS your direct deposit information, they will send a paper check to the address on your most recent tax return.  To get your payment quicker, you can give the IRS your bank information through a web portal that they have set up.  Go to  https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment

On the left side of the screen is a box titled “Get My Payment.”  The IRS should make your payment fairly soon after you provide your direct deposit information.

If you did not file a tax return for 2018 or 2019, you may need to apply for a payment.  Look at the questions below to determine whether you need to apply.

I filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019, but I didn’t provide my direct deposit information.  What can I do to get my payment more quickly?Back to Top

You will get your payment automatically if you filed in 2018 or 2019 without direct deposit information, but you need to give the IRS some information if you want to get your payment quickly.  The IRS will issue paper checks to all eligible individuals who filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019 and didn’t provide direct deposit information, but those checks will not begin going out until late May.  It will take several months to issue all paper checks.  You can get your payment quicker by giving the IRS your bank information through a web portal that they have set up.  Go to https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-paymentOn the left side of the screen is a box titled “Get My Payment.”  The IRS should make your payment fairly soon after you provide your information.

Do not give your bank information anywhere but the IRS web portal.  If someone calls you on the phone or otherwise asks for your information, it is probably a scam.

I didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 because my income was low.  Can I still get a payment?Back to Top

Yes, but you may have to give the IRS your information. Some “non-filers” (people who did not file a tax return) will get their full payment automatically.  If you get income from any of the following sources, and do NOT have any children age 16 or younger, you do not need to do anything to get your full payment:

  • Social Security Retirement or Dependent benefits
  • Social Security Disability benefits
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits
  • Railroad Retirement benefits
  • Veterans’ Pension and Compensation

If you get any of these benefits, you will automatically get your payment in the same method as you receive your benefits.

My only income is Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  Am I eligible for a payment?Back to Top

Yes, as long as you meet the other requirements.  You will receive your individual payment automatically without filing a tax return or applying for a payment on the IRS website. You will receive your payment in the same form as you receive your Social Security or SSI payments (i.e., direct deposit, pre-paid card, or paper check).  If you have a child under age 16, you will need to give the IRS some information to get the $500 payment for each child. Follow the steps described in the next question for “non-filers.

I get Social Security Retirement (or Social Security Disability, SSI, Railroad Retirement of Veterans’ benefits), but I also have children age 16 or younger.  Do I need to do anything?Back to Top

Maybe. If you have dependent children age 16 or younger, and you did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019, you will need to give the IRS some information about your household to get your full payment.  The IRS will automatically send your individual payment (i.e., the $1,200), but you will need to give the IRS more information to get the $500 per child benefit.  The IRS has set up a web portal for “non-filers” to provide their information and get an electronic payment. Go to https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here. Scroll down and select the box titled “Enter Your Information.”  On the next page, click to box that says, “Get Started.” If you do not enter your information at this web portal, you will not get the $500 per child payment until you file your 2020 taxes next year. The portal requests the following information:

  • Full name, current mailing address and an email address
  • Date of birth and valid Social Security number
  • Bank account number, type and routing number, if you have one
  • Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) you received from the IRS earlier this year, if you have one
  • Driver’s license or state-issued ID, if you have one
  • For each qualifying child: name, Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number and their relationship to you or your spouse

TAKE NOTE: The IRS set a deadline of April 22, 2020 at 12 p.m. EST for recipients of Social Security and Railroad Retirement benefits with children under age 17 to provide their information. If you did not provide information by this deadline, and you started receiving your Social Security benefits before January 1, 2020, you will get your $1,200 payment, but you will not get the $500 for each qualifying child until you file your taxes next year. If you started receiving your Social Security benefits on or after January 1, 2020, you can continue to use the non-filer tool to get your full payment (including the $500 for each qualifying child).

TAKE NOTE: The IRS set a deadline of Tuesday May 5, 2020, for SSI recipients who did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes and who have dependents under the age of 17 to provide their information.  If you do not provide your information by this deadline, you will have to wait to get the payment for your qualified dependents until you file your taxes next year.

I didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019, and I don’t get Social Security, SSI, Veterans’, or Railroad Retirement benefits.  How do I get my payment?Back to Top

If you did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019, you will need to give the IRS some information about your household. The IRS has set up a web portal for “non-filers” to provide their information and get an electronic payment. Go to https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here. Scroll down and select the box titled “Enter Your Information.” On the next page, click to box that says, “Get Started.”

The portal requests the following basic information:

  • Full name, current mailing address and an email address
  • Date of birth and valid Social Security number
  • Bank account number, type and routing number, if you have one
  • Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) you received from the IRS earlier this year, if you have one
  • Driver’s license or state-issued ID, if you have one
  • For each qualifying child: name, Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number and their relationship to you or your spouse

Filling out this website does not mean that you will owe taxes; it simply gives the IRS information about who you are, how many people are in your household, and how to send you a payment.

When will I get my payment?Back to Top

The IRS began making direct deposit payments to people that had filed taxes and provided their direct deposit information in mid-April.  The IRS expects to complete payments to this group of people by the end of April.  The IRS has said it will make payments to SSI recipients in early May.

Paper checks will be sent out after the electronic payments are made.  Paper checks will be processed in batches as follows:

  • April 24 – checks mailed to people with incomes up to $10,000;
  • May 1 – checks mailed to people with incomes up to $20,000
  • May 8 – checks mailed to people with incomes up to $30,000
  • And continuing in weekly batches, with incomes increasing $10,000 per batch.

Other Issues

Will my stimulus payment be counted in my eligibility for food stamps, Medicaid, or housing assistance?Back to Top

No. These payments do not count as “income” or “assets” for federal means tested programs, including Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), TANF (monthly cash assistance), subsidized housing (Section 8 or public housing), or SSI. The payment will not reduce your benefits so long as you spend the payment within a year.

I owe money for back taxes and student loans.  Will my stimulus payment be used to pay those debts?Back to Top

Stimulus payments will not be intercepted or garnished to pay back taxes, student loans, or other debts to federal or state agencies. Stimulus payments may, however, be used to pay past due child support payments that have been reported to the U.S. Treasury Department. 

Will my stimulus payment still be protected from creditors once it’s in my bank account?Back to Top

Probably not.  Once the payment is in your bank account, it will be treated like other money in that account.  If a creditor has a judgment against you and a garnishment order for your bank account, that creditor can probably get the payment once it’s in your account.

What if I don’t get a check even though I am eligible?Back to Top

If you filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 (or file a 2019 tax return soon), and the IRS has your correct address or direct deposit information, you will most likely receive your payment.  Approximately 15 days after the payment is issued, the IRS will send letters out to everyone who got a payment, giving details about where, when, and how the payment was made.  If you do not receive a payment or letter from the IRS within a reasonable timeframe, you should follow up with the IRS.  See “Payment recipients: watch for an IRS letter” at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment-frequently-asked-questions

Should I be on the lookout for scammers to take my payment?Back to Top

Absolutely.  Any time that money is being handed out, there will be those who try to cheat people out of it.  Do not give your bank account or personal information to anyone who contacts you claiming to need that information for your payment.  The IRS portal is the only place you should provide your bank information.  Do not give your bank information the phone


[1]If someone is an immigrant, they could have a Social Security Cart marked “Not Valid For Employment” which would make them ineligible for a stimulus payment. See ‘who is eligible’ FAQ noting “work eligible” SSN at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment-frequently-asked-questions. I have one current client who ran into this type of problem for child tax credits, which has the same rule. Our clients are more likely than most taxpayers to get caught on this.