Stimulus Check Update: Millions Waiting on Checks as Fourth Stimulus Direct Payment Gains Support From Lawmakers

by Angelica Leicht | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on March 29, 2021

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.
Newspaper headlines about a stimulus plan and a $100 bill.

Image source: Getty Images

Still waiting on your stimulus payment to arrive? You aren't alone. Millions of people are waiting on their direct payments -- even as talks of a fourth stimulus check pick up steam.

The third stimulus checks were signed into law just a few short weeks ago by President Joe Biden, but millions of qualifying Americans have already received their direct payments from the IRS. That's a record time for stimulus payments, which took at least a week or two to start processing with the prior two stimulus packages under the former administration.

As of Wednesday, March 25, the IRS had issued payments to about 127 million qualifying Americans via direct deposit and paper checks. And, even more paper checks and debit cards will be on the way in the upcoming weeks.

These direct cash stimulus payments have helped to buoy the millions of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But while this money is necessary for many to help cover empty bank accounts and essential bills, not everyone has received their payment yet. Millions of Americans are still waiting on their checks, even as talks of a fourth direct payment gain support from lawmakers. Here's why you may still be waiting for your money -- and what we know about the possibility of a fourth stimulus check.

Why are millions still waiting on stimulus checks?

While nearly 130 million Americans have already received, or are in line to receive, their direct stimulus payments, millions of others are still waiting on their payments to land in their bank accounts or mailboxes.

There are a couple of reasons for the delay. The first delay is caused by the type of payment you're slated to receive.

As with other rounds of stimulus payments, this round of checks, which totals up to $1,400 for each qualifying adult or child in the household, have been primarily distributed by direct deposit up to this point.

Those whose bank account information was not on file with the IRS are stuck waiting for a paper check or debit card, which will have to make its way through the maze of the USPS mail system before it lands in your mailbox.

This can add significant delays to your payment. Luckily, you may not have to wait as long as you did with prior stimulus payments if you're expecting to receive a paper check or debit card this round. According to the IRS, the Treasury Department mailed out millions of paper checks and debit cards last week in conjunction with the direct deposits it made to the accounts on file. More are expected to be mailed out in the coming weeks, which means there may not be as long of a delay as there was with the last two rounds of stimulus money.

The other cause for delay is directly related to Social Security, Veterans Affairs, or Railroad Retirement Board payments. There are nearly 30 million beneficiaries of Social Security, SSI (Supplemental Security Income), Veterans Affairs, and Railroad Retirement Board who have not received their third checks -- and there is still no update on when they will receive them.

This problem may originate from the Social Security Administration (SSA) itself, according to a letter from the House Ways and Means Committee to the IRS last week.

"As of today, SSA still has not provided the IRS with the payment files that are needed to issue [stimulus checks] to these struggling Americans," the letter stated. "Because SSA has inexplicably not sent the necessary payment files to the Internal Revenue Service, tens of millions of beneficiaries have yet to receive their desperately needed EIPs."

The SSA sent the payment information for the 30 million Americans to the IRS following the receipt of the letter late last week, but it's still unclear how long it will now take for the IRS to send the payments to those who are in line to receive them.

This delay in payment could end up causing even further financial issues for those who remain out of work due to the pandemic. Millions of Americans were relying on the direct stimulus payment to help cover rent, mortgage payments, or other essential costs, which have been difficult to manage in the midst of a pandemic.

A possible fourth stimulus payment?

The delays on the third stimulus payments are also happening at a time when there are renewed talks by lawmakers of a possible fourth stimulus payment -- and unlike the past payments, this time, it could be an ongoing cash infusion for those who need it most.

Last week, over 60 Democratic U.S. representatives -- including Elizabeth Warren, Ilhan Omar, and Bernie Sanders -- signed a letter asking the president to issue recurring checks to Americans throughout the pandemic. The idea is to help those in need of funds to cover their bills and other expenses as the economy recovers from the hit it sustained due to COVID-19.

According to the letter, these lawmakers believe that "one more check is not enough during this public health and economic crisis."

They're urging Biden to issue recurring direct payments instead, stating that "this crisis is far from over, and families deserve certainty that they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads."

"It was very encouraging to see the inclusion of direct cash assistance in your current economic rescue plan. However it is clear that during this unprecedented time in our nation's history that we must take additional unprecedented action," the group of lawmakers stated in their letter.

The letter urged Democratic leaders to continue sending stimulus checks to Americans in need until the economy recovers.

It also called for the president to send "equal payments to adults and dependents, prioritize those who need it most and will spend it quickest, and include older dependents such as disabled and elderly dependents and those over the age of 16 still claimed as dependents."

Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen. There are a number of significant hurdles that a fourth stimulus bill would need to clear in order to gain traction, including bipartisan support at a time when the nation is divided over partisan politics.

What to do if you haven't received your third stimulus payment

While it's unclear whether a fourth stimulus payment will make any headway past a call to Biden, what is clear is that your third stimulus payment may still be on the way if you haven't received it yet.

Those who qualify for this Economic Impact Payment but didn't receive a direct deposit last week may want to keep their eyes open for a paper check or a prepaid debit card in the mail, the IRS said.

You can use the USPS Informed Delivery system tool to keep an eye on any paper checks or debit cards headed your way. You can also track your payment through the IRS's Get My Payment tool.

To use the Get My Payment tool, you'll need to input your Social Security or tax ID, along with your birthday, street address, and zip code. If the Get My Payment tool confirms that you're eligible to receive a third stimulus payment, be sure to watch the USPS portal or your mailbox for your card or check to arrive.

Alert: highest cash back card we've seen now has 0% intro APR until 2023

If you're using the wrong credit or debit card, it could be costing you serious money. Our expert loves this top pick, which features a 0% intro APR until 2023, an insane cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee. 

In fact, this card is so good that our expert even uses it personally. Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes. 

Read our free review

About the Author