The Coronavirus “Stimulus Payments” – Who Is Eligible And How Are They Paid?

Last Updated On: 5/12/2020 9:40:29 AM

On March 27, 2020 Congress passed the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act.  One major part of this bill will provide direct Stimulus Payments to Americans.   

People have a lot of questions.  We’ll try to answer them.  We’ll update this information whenever there are changes or clarifications.

WHO GETS THE STIMULUS PAYMENT?

Who Qualifies for The Stimulus Payment?

There are several requirements to qualify:

  • Be either a US citizen or a legal resident of the US, and
  • Have a Social Security Number, and
  • Meet the income limits (see next question), and
  • Are not claimed as the “dependent” of another taxpayer.  

What Are The Income Limits?

For Individuals: 
  • $1,200 to each qualified individual who earns less than $75,000 per year;
  • Decreasing size payment to each individual earning between $75,000 and $99,000 per year;
  • No payment to individuals earning more than $99,000 per year.
For Couples:
  • $2,400 to qualified couples who earn less than $150,000 per year;
  • Decreasing size payments to couples earning between $150,000 to $198,000 per year;
  • No payment to couples earning more than $198,000 per year.
For Children:
  • $500 per child under age 17
  • Who Qualifies As A “Child”?

    Payments will not be made for children age 17 or 18, even if they are living in your home.

    Children who are in college could receive a payment if you did not claim them as dependents on your tax return.  If you DID claim them as dependents, then they are not eligible for a payment. 

    I Have A Child In College.  Can She Get A Stimulus Payment?

    Yes, but only if you do not provide more than half her support and do not claim her as a Dependent on your tax return.  Generally, a full-time college student under the age of 24 is considered a dependent if her parent(s) provide more than half of her support.  If you are not providing more than half of her support, and not claiming her as a dependent on your taxes, she could qualify for a Stimulus Payment as an individual.

    WILL I GET A PAYMENT? WHEN?

    I Receive Social Security Retirement payments. Can I Qualify To Get The Stimulus Payment?

    Yes. As long as you aren’t claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.  You will receive an electronic payment automatically.  You do not need to submit further information to the IRS to get your payment. 

    I Recieve Social Security Disability and/or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) payments.  Can I Qualify To Get The Stimulus Payment?

    Yes. As long as you aren’t claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.  You will receive an electronic payment automatically.  You do not need to submit further information to the IRS to get your payment.

    I Receive federal Railroad Retirement Benefits. Can I Get A Stimulus Payment?

     Yes. As long as you aren’t claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.  You will receive an electronic payment automatically.  You do not need to submit further information to the IRS to get your payment.

    I Recieve Veteran’s Administration benefit payment.  Can I Get A Stimulus Payment?

     Yes. As long as you aren’t claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.  You will receive an electronic payment automatically.  You do not need to submit further information to the IRS to get your payment.

    I worked a little bit in 2018 and 2019.  Can I Get A Stimulus Payment?

    Yes.  As long as you aren’t claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

    • If you filed a tax return for either year, you will receive an electronic payment automatically.  You do not need to submit further information to the IRS to get your payment.
    • If you did NOT file a tax return for either year, you will need to submit information to the IRS as soon as possible. The IRS has created a website where people can submit this information.  The website is https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments. Click on "Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info Here." You will need to get some information together before you start.  For more information on this process read this article.    

    I didn't have any income at all in 2018 and 2019.  Can I Get A Stimulus Payment?

    Yes.  As long as you aren’t claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return If you filed a tax return for either year, you will receive an electronic payment automatically.  You do not need to submit further information to the IRS to get your payment.

    I filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 with direct deposit information. When will I get my payment?

    The IRS began making electronic direct deposit payments in mid-April, to “tax filers” with direct deposit information. The IRS expects to complete this group of electronic payments by the end of April.  The IRS estimates that 50 million to 70 million Americans will receive payments in this group.  You do not need to take any other step. 

    I filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019, but I didn't provide direct deposit information.  When will I get my payment?

    There are three answers here.

    First, you will get an electronic payment automatically, likely in April, if you receive income from any of the following sources:

    •  Social Security Retirement or Dependent benefits; or
    •  Social Security Disability benefits; or 
    • SSI (“Supplemental Security Income”) benefits; or 
    • Railroad Retirement benefits;or
    • Benefits from the Veteran's Administration.

    Second, if you do not have any of those types of income but you have a bank account, you can give the IRS your bank account information by May 13, 2020, and ask for an electronic payment.  Go to https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments and use the "Get My Payment" button.  This will allow you to give the IRS the information needed to do an electronic payment to your bank account. If you miss this deadline, instead, you will get a paper check, likely at the end of May or in June. 

    Third, if you filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return with no direct deposit information, the IRS will send you a paper check to the most recent address on your tax return. These will be processed in weekly batches: 

    • 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, through late June.

    I didn’t file a tax return for either 2018 or 2019.  Can I get a Stimulus Payment?

    Yes.  Yes, you can.  The good news is that some “non-filers” will get payments automatically, and don’t have to do anything.  The bad news is that some “non-filers” will have to submit additional information to the IRS to get their payment. 

    •  Automatic payment. This applies to “non-filers” (people who did not file tax returns) who received Social Security, Social Security Disability, SSI (Supplemental Security Income), Railroad Retirement benefits or VA benefits. The IRS will send an electronic payment to the same account or benefit card where you get your regular monthly payment.  
      • HOWEVER if you have a child in the household you will not receive the $500 child payment automatically.  Unfortunately, the deadline to provide information about children in your household to the IRS has passed.  But you aren't out of luck.  You will just have to wait to get it next year, when you file a tax return for 2020 income. 
    • No automatic payment.  This applies to “non-filers” with other kinds of income, or no income at all. You will need to submit additional information to the IRS as soon as possible. Go to https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments.  Click on "Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info Here." You will need to put some information together before you start. For more information on this process read this article.  

    SHORT RULE:  When in doubt, submit your information to the IRS. If you aren't sure whether you need to, then don't take chances. If you don't, the IRS will look for you.  The IRS may find you.  If it finds you, it will eventually send you a paper check.  That will certainly take a long time.  And it’s possible the IRS may never identify you as a person who should get a Stimulus Payment.  Why take that chance?  Go to https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments.  Click on "Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info Here."   For more information on this process read this article

    IMPACT OF STIMULUS CHECKS

    Will Stimulus Payments Be Counted Later Against My Food Stamps or Medicaid or HUD Assistance?

    These payments will not count as “income” or as “assets” during the next twelve months for any of the federal means tested programs.  That includes: 

    • Medicaid
    • SNAP (food stamps)
    • TANF/WV WORKS (monthly cash welfare assistance)
    • Subsidized housing assistance (like Section 8 or Public Housing)
    • SSI
    • Affordable Care Act premium assistance.

    The Stimulus Payment will not affect or reduce your SSI, food stamps, Medicaid, or any other federal benefit program based on income for twelve months after you receive the payment.  If you have not spent the money after a year, it may be considered against your "asset" limit. 

    Will The Stimulus Payment Be Counted As Taxable Income?

    No.

    Will My Stimulus Check Be “Intercepted” To Pay Back Taxes, Student Loans, Or Another Debt To A Federal Or State Agency?

    No, except for past due Child Support payments that have been reported to the US Treasury Department by the WV Bureau for Child Support Enforcement.  Otherwise, your Stimulus Payment will come to you with no “offset” or interruption due to back taxes and other debts.   

    Can the money from my Stimulus Check be taken out of my bank account by a creditor?

    Yes. Once the payment hits your bank account, it is money subject to “attachment” by creditors.  The CARES Act did not protect these funds from court debt collection process.

    At this time money from a CARES Act payment in your bank account could be “attached” by a creditor who has taken ALL of the following steps:

    • Sued you for a debt; AND
    • Won a “judgment” that you owe the money; AND
    • Had a “suggestee execution” issued by the court to your bank to “attach” funds in your bank account.

    Are there things I can do to protect my Stimulus Check money from a creditor?

    There are steps you can take that may help:

    • If the IRS does not already have direct deposit information for you, request that your payment be issued by paper check.
    • If a CARES Act payment is deposited in your account, and you know that you have a court judgment against you, withdraw the funds in cash as soon as possible to hold for rent, groceries, utilities and other necessities during the coronavirus emergency.
    • If an “attachment” has already been placed on your bank account, file a “Personal Property Exemption” under West Virginia law to protect up to $1,100 in the account.  For more information read this article about Personal Property Exemptions. 
    • If the CARES Act funds have already been “attached” by the bank, ask the court to issue an emergency “stay” of the attachment to allow you to use the money for your rent, groceries, utilities and other necessities during the emergency.  

    What if my check gets sent to the wrong place? What if they say I didn’t qualify? Will I even know?

    The U.S. Treasury plans to send out letters to each recipient within weeks of issuing the payment. The letters will say if a payment was made, to whom, where, when and how. Follow up with the IRS if you fail to receive payment or a letter within a reasonable timeframe (i.e. within a few weeks of your friends and neighbors getting letters or payments). 

    If you think you qualify, but don't get the payment, contact the IRS. If you wait until the money is distributed before providing your information to the IRS you may be able to get a check at a later date, or you may have to wait until next year to claim the tax credit on your 2020 taxes. 

    Will scammers and fraudsters try to cheat me out of my Stimulus Payment?

    Yes. Liars, cheaters, users and manipulators show up anytime money is being handed out. You’ve got to protect yourself. Be careful and be skeptical.

    Suppose you get information over the internet, phone, email, text message, Twitter, Snapchat or whatever, claiming to be from a government agency or official, and offering you a “deal.” Find that agency’s website (without using any link included in the message you received). Check whether that government agency really is offering you a “deal.” Most of the time, they aren’t. It’s just someone trying to lie to you and scam you out of your money.

    Legal Aid has a separate set of FAQs about “Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Scams.” 

    FAMILY LAW ISSUES

    I share custody with another parent or other family member.  Who will get the child's portion of the check?

    Basically, whichever parent claimed the child as a dependent in the most recent tax return likely will get the $500 child Stimulus Payment.  If you or the other parent has already filed a 2019 tax return based on the shared custody arrangement, we believe the $500 child Stimulus Payment will go to the parent who claimed the child on the tax return. 

    If the shared custody arrangement is new since the last time you or the other parent filed taxes, you should file your 2019 as soon as possible based on the new arrangement.  

    I am currently going through a divorce; and my ex was responsible for filing taxes; what should I do?

    If you currently going through a divorce, you can still file your 2019 tax return and may not need your ex to do so. You may need to change your filing status if you are concerned about your ex withholding your stimulus check from you. This may happen if your ex controls the account that your stimulus check will be deposited in. Depending on your situation, you can file your own tax return, even if you are married, but your filing status may impact other credits (like the Earned Income Tax Credit) that you may be entitled to. It’s important to consult with a tax professional when deciding what your filing status will be. 

    If you do not have a bank account, open one as soon as possible and use the new checking account when you file your 2019 tax return. If you qualify for a stimulus check, it will be direct deposited into your new account quicker than receiving a paper check.

    If you have never done your taxes yourself, there are resources that you can still utilize to help you, including free tax services. You should also consider speaking with a tax professional about your particular situation. 

    What should I do if I haven’t filed taxes for 2019, and I had a child last year?

    If you had a child last year, you will be eligible for the $500 additional stimulus payment. The best thing to do would be to file your 2019 tax return as soon as possible so that the IRS is aware of your new child.

    What if my partner and I had a child last year, but then separated and are no longer together, who would get the $500 for our child?

    The money will be sent to the person that claims the child as a dependent on the 2019 taxes. If parents filed a joint return, the money will be sent to the person who provided the direct deposit information (or address) on the tax return.

    What if I have guardianship over children or am a foster parent; am I still entitled to the $500?

    If you have guardianship over children or are a foster parent and have claimed them on your taxes as dependents previously, you should be entitled to the additional $500 per child.

     

    This is general legal information. For guidance about your situation, talk to a lawyer.