Since President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan was signed into law in early March, the Internal Revenue Service has worked tirelessly to send out a hundred twenty-seven million coronavirus relief checks that could potentially be a lifesaver for many financially struggling Americans.
Despite that success, know that there are still millions of cash-strapped Americans who are sitting empty-handed, wondering daily if their $1,400 stimulus check will ever arrive in their bank accounts or mailboxes.
If you happen to be one of those unlucky individuals, take note that fewer Americans will receive checks this time around, so make sure to confirm if you even qualify for the stimulus funds. According to the details of the American Rescue Plan, individuals who earn as much as $75,000 in adjusted gross income (AGI), or couples making $150,000—in addition to their children or adult dependents—qualify for the full $1,400 per individual.
Moreover, single parents with at least one dependent who earn $112,500 or less also get the full amount. Families in which some members have different citizenship and immigration classifications are eligible for a payment, if at least one person has a Social Security number. The payments, however, phase out much more quickly than in previous rounds—an individual with an income of $80,000, or a couple with $160,000, will not be receiving any check.
If you have confirmed your eligibility and want to take the next step, then head over to the IRS “Get My Payment” tool at www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment. To use it, you will just need to enter your full Social Security or tax ID number, date of birth, street address, and ZIP code. Be aware that you don’t have to waste your days by constantly checking on the site, as the IRS says that the tool “updates once per day, usually overnight.”
However, keep in mind that some individuals will receive the dreaded message that says, “Payment Status Not Available.” “If you get this message, either we have not yet processed your payment, or you are not eligible for a payment,” the IRS says. “We will continue to send the 2021 Economic Impact Payment to eligible individuals throughout 2021.”
Since you’ve already verified your eligibility to receive the stimulus check, most likely you’ll have to wait a few days for the direct deposit or a couple of weeks for the post office to deliver a physical check or a prepaid debit card to your mailbox.
Know that others will get a “Need More Information” message, which means that the stimulus check was returned to the IRS because the post office was unable to deliver it. If your address has recently changed, the best way to update it is to “file your 2020 tax return with your current address, if you haven’t already done so. Once we receive your current address, we will reissue your payment,” the IRS noted.
You can also speak to a live human regarding your missing or late check by dialing 800-919-9835, but you should know that “IRS live phone assistance is extremely limited at this time,” according to the agency’s website.
Finally, if you get a confirmation letter (Notice 1444 or Notice 1444-B) from the agency stating that your payment was issued but you didn’t receive it, you can request an IRS payment trace. You can learn more about how to successfully do that here.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.