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5 possible reasons why you don’t have your coronavirus stimulus check yet

Updated May 29th, 2020 11:10AM EDT
Stimulus check
Image: ERIK S LESSER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
  • Millions of Americans still haven’t received their coronavirus stimulus check 2020 payment, which is unfortunate considering the current climate.
  • The economic situation for millions of Americans has deteriorated rapidly over the past several weeks. One in four Americans is now unemployed as a result of fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
  • There are several reasons why stimulus checks still haven’t arrived yet, such as recipients accidentally throwing away the prepaid debit card being sent out to them as well as banks encountering an issue with processing the direct deposit.

Here are two of the many frustrating facts related to the federal government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. One, the economic fallout from the virus is now so acute and so widespread that around 1 in 4 Americans is now out of a job. Two, one of the government’s most high-profile and dramatic moves in the wake of the pandemic was to approve the disbursement of stimulus checks to most Americans — payments that, for individuals, could be as much as $1,200, while married couples could get up to $2,400, plus an extra $500 for each eligible child.

Except, well, that money started to be sent out a couple of months ago now. In waves, which means the checks are going out in batches to only groups of people at a time — leaving millions of you still waiting on your check. A perfect time for the federal government to be taking its time, isn’t it, while the US approaches Great Depression-level joblessness?

If you’re one of the unlucky ones still waiting on your stimulus check, in this post we’ll go over some reasons for why that might be the case. But first, some important background details to know:

You can check the status of your stimulus check at any time by visiting a web tool the IRS set up, called “Get My Payment.” The information there is updated once a day, so there’s no need to check that page more often than that — and, in fact, if you do check multiple times in 24 hours, the page will probably lock you out for a period of time (it did to me, and to plenty of other people).

Most people are going to get their payment in one of two forms — either electronically, as a direct deposit into your bank account, or as a paper check that will be delivered in the mail. We say “most people,” because the Treasury Dept. earlier this month started sending out payments in a new, third form earlier this month: As prepaid debit cards. Check your mail closely, if you see your stimulus payment status informing you that you’re getting a debit card. Because some people have been receiving their cards without realizing it and accidentally throwing them away. The IRS on Wednesday sent out a news release to remind “taxpayers that some payments are being sent by prepaid debit card. The debit cards arrive in a plain envelope from ‘Money Network Cardholder Services.'”

All that out of the way, let’s now run through some of the reasons you might not have received your stimulus payment yet:

You submitted your direct-deposit information too late. The IRS set a deadline of May 13 for it to receive everyone’s bank information who wanted to get their stimulus check in the form of a direct deposit. However, the IRS had already started sending out both paper checks and direct deposits before that point, since some people had already submitted their bank details well before the May 13 deadline. It’s possible the IRS had already sorted you into the paper check pile before it received your bank information for a direct deposit.

You owe child support. This is one of the exemptions to receiving the stimulus money. For example, even if you owe back taxes, you’ll still get your full IRS stimulus check — but not if you owe child support. If you’re behind on child support, you may only get a partial stimulus check. Or nothing at all.

Confusion around claimed dependents. This might be a case of parents who aren’t married to each other, and who thus don’t file a joint tax return, both claiming the same dependent (you can’t do that for purposes of this stimulus check). Whichever parent claimed the child on their 2019 tax return, that’s who may do so here. Also, a college-age child whose parents still claim them as a dependent is not eligible for a stimulus payment themselves.

Your bank had an issue processing the direct deposit. If your bank ran into a problem processing your stimulus check as a direct deposit, the payment would have been essentially “returned” to the IRS, which is now going to do it the long way for you — sending out your money as a paper check, through the mail, instead.

You accidentally threw your debit card away. As we noted above, some people have been actually receiving their prepaid debit card in the mail — the card that’s already ready to go, with their stimulus money loaded onto it — and not understanding what it is and thus throwing it away. If you fall into that camp, don’t worry. The card can be replaced, but you’ll need to call 1-800-240-8100 or click here for more information. The first card will be deactivated, and a new one will be sent out to you.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.