COVID-19 Stimulus Checks - What You Need to Know
Authored By: Alaska Legal Services
Common questions about the first and second stimulus checks.
*January 7, 2021 update- Second round of stimulus checks.*
What is the stimulus check?
The CARES Act of March 2020 ordered money to be paid directly to most people in the U.S. to help the economy. The CARES Act called the payment a “Recovery Rebate.” The IRS calls it an “economic impact payment.” This website, and others, call it a stimulus check.
A second stimulus check was passed by Congress in late December 2020.
For information on the second stimulus check, see the updated FAQ on the IRS website.
Where will my stimulus check go?
- If you do not have a bank account, or if the IRS does not have your direct deposit information, your stimulus check will be mailed. Expect delays for mailed checks to arrive.
- If you filed a tax return for 2019, your stimulus check will be directly deposited into the bank account listed on that tax return.
- If you have notified the IRS of your direct deposit payment information, your stimulus should be direct deposited to that account.
For the most up to date information about where the IRS will send the second stimulus check, see the updated FAQ on the IRS website.
Who is eligible for the stimulus checks?
People with very high incomes may not be eligible for a stimulus check. Some students and young people may not be eligible either. For the most up to date information about eligibility for the second stimulus check, see the updated FAQ on the IRS website.
How big are the stimulus checks?
The first stimulus checks were $1,200 per person, $2,400 for married couples, and an extra $500 for each dependent who is 16 or younger.
The second stimulus checks were $600 per person, $1200 for married couples, and an extra $600 for each dependent who is 16 or younger.
Will stimulus checks count as income for benefits eligibility?
For the first stimulus check, no. Congress established that the first stimulus checks did not count as income for state or federal benefits programs that receive federal money. That means almost all benefit programs will not count stimulus checks as income. The Social Security Administration has said that for SSI beneficiaries, stimulus checks will not be counted as an asset for 12 months.
We are waiting for confirmation on the second stimulus check. SSA will likely post the answer on the SSA second stimulus check FAQ page.
How does the IRS know if I have dependents?
For both stimulus checks, only from the IRS's non-filer's tool, or from 2018 and 2019 tax returns. The non-filer's tool is no longer available.
If you have dependents, but you did not file a 2018 or 2019 tax return, you should fill out the the IRS Payment information form or file your 2020 taxes.
If you received Social Security retirement, disability Insurance (SSDI), or survivor benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 2019 but did NOT fill out the the IRS Payment information form or file a 2018 or 2019 tax return, you will NOT get the additional stimulus payment for dependents. This is because the SSA will not report dependents to the IRS.
To receive the additional payment of up to $500 per dependent, you will need to fill out the the IRS Payment information form or file a 2020 tax return.
How long will stimulus checks available?
The IRS says that both the first and second stimulus checks will be available by filing a 2020 tax return if you have not received them yet.
For the most up to date information on the second stimulus check, see the updated FAQ on the IRS website.
Can my stimulus check be garnished?