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12 Million Americans Are Still Entitled to a Stimulus Check -- Here's How to Make Sure You Get Yours

By Matthew Frankel, CFP® – Jun 16, 2020 at 6:26AM

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Millions of lower-income and other American households could be missing out on their stimulus payments.

At this point, the vast majority of Americans who are eligible have received their stimulus checks. However, 12 million people could still be entitled to their $1,200 payments authorized as part of the CARES Act, according to a recent estimate by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. 

The stimulus checks –- formally known as economic impact payments –- were designed to provide help to low- and moderate-income American households. But if this estimate is correct, some of the households who need the money the most could end up missing out if they don't take action.

Money on top of a U.S. Treasury check.

Image source: Getty Images.

Who is still waiting for a stimulus payment?

Through June 5, nearly 160 million economic impact payments (the official name for the stimulus check) have been issued. This includes 120 million direct deposits, 35 million paper checks, and four million debit card payments that have been sent. Many of these were sent automatically to people who filed tax returns for either 2018 or 2019, or people who receive government payments like Social Security.

However, there are some groups of Americans who may not receive a stimulus check unless they take action. Specifically:

  • People who haven't worked for a long time (or at all): If you haven't worked in a long time and aren't receiving any sort of government benefits like SSI or Social Security, you may not be in the Treasury's system. This could also apply if you haven't worked at all. For example, if you're 22, unemployed, and nobody else can claim you as a dependent, you can be eligible for a stimulus payment.
  • Low-income adults and families: If you are under age 65 and earn less than $12,200 (single) or $24,400 (joint returns) in 2019, you generally aren't required to file a tax return. While it's often still in your best interest to file and get a refund, another drawback to non-filing is that you aren't on the recipients list for stimulus payments.

To be clear, there is an upper income limit to receive stimulus checks, but there is no lower limit. One of the popular misconceptions is that people who don't work or have any other sources of income are ineligible, and that's simply not the case.

In short, there are 12 million Americans at risk of missing out on their stimulus payments who didn't file tax returns in both 2018 and 2019 and who don't receive Social Security or other types of income from the federal government.

What to do if you haven't received a stimulus payment yet

If you are among the 12 million people who didn't file tax returns in 2018 and 2019, and you haven't received a stimulus check yet, or if you know someone who might be in that situation, it isn't too late to take action. The IRS has a non-filers portal that allows Americans who haven't filed a recent tax return to enter their information and register for a stimulus payment. And as long as eligible individuals enter their information by October 15, they can get a stimulus payment in 2020. (If not, they can still get it by filling out a 2020 tax return next year.)

To use the portal, you'll need to provide information such as your full name, current mailing address, date of birth, and Social Security number. If you have a bank account, using it to get your payment via direct deposit is the quickest method, but it isn't required. Once you've filled out and verified your information, the Treasury will determine your eligibility and if you qualify, will get your money to you as soon as possible.

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