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Why 35 million Americans are still waiting for their coronavirus stimulus check

Why 35 million Americans are still waiting for their coronavirus stimulus check
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Up to 35 million Americans are still waiting for their coronavirus stimulus payment to arrive, according to the latest official data (opens in new tab) revealing progress of the payments. 

While some 159 million Economic Income Payments have already been delivered, the House Ways and Means Committee said that somewhere between 30 - 35 million payments were still to be issued, mainly due to processing delays or not having the information required. 

The news will come as a blow to households who might be relying on the payment to help bridge financial gaps caused by the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. A recent YouGov survey (opens in new tab) revealed that almost a third (30%) of Americans had paid bills with their stimulus payment, one in ten (10%) had used it to buy essentials including food, and 8% had paid off debt (opens in new tab) with the money.

Under the scheme, eligible individuals (opens in new tab) can expect to receive a payment of up to $1,200, and joint-filers up to $2,400, with an additional $500 payment made to families per each qualifying child. The Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have coordinated the process and by June 4 had successfully delivered 120 million electronic payments directly to individual’s bank accounts. A further 35 million had received a paper check in the mail, while some 3.7 million had been sent a prepaid debit card (opens in new tab) holding their payment. 

Who is yet to receive their stimulus payment

However, millions more payments are still to be delivered, leaving those in most desperate need to look for alternative ways to pay bills (opens in new tab) and pay down debt. 

According to the data, those still waiting include 13 - 18 million taxpayers who have filed tax returns and are below the CARES Act income thresholds, 7.5 million recipients of Social Security and Railroad Retirement Benefits who do not file tax returns, and millions more who are in receipt of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Veterans Administration benefits who do not file tax returns. It is thought the Treasury has all the information it needs to get the stimulus payments to these groups. 

Why 35 million Americans are still waiting for their coronavirus stimulus check

(Image credit: Getty / iStock)

However, those who might be waiting a little longer, and may need to take further action (opens in new tab) to make sure they receive their payment, are the 10.7 million taxpayers who are not required to file tax returns and who do not receive Federal government benefits. The Treasury said it is unable to distribute payments to these people as it holds little of the information that it needs, but acknowledged that the IRS still has 10 million pieces of mail to open and process. Within this are an estimated 4.7 million tax returns, some of which will likely be from first-time filers who would qualify for the payment.

What to do if you haven’t received your stimulus payment

If you are yet to receive your stimulus payment, there are a number of reasons why it may be delayed. Some payments may already be in the mail and can be tracked (opens in new tab) using the U.S. Postal Service, but if you have any doubts as to whether the IRS has all the details that it needs to process your payment, you should take action.  

If you have filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019, receive Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, or are an SSI or Veterans Affairs beneficiary, you should receive your payment automatically.

Don't confuse your payment for junk

Find out (opens in new tab)how to tell if your stimulus payment is genuine or a potential scam.

However, for those who should file (opens in new tab) but have not yet done so for 2018 or 2019, your payment should be authorized once you have filed a 2019 tax return - the deadline this year has been extended to July 15 because of the coronavirus, so you still have time to make use of the best tax software (opens in new tab) to get this sorted.  

For the millions of Americans who don’t usually file but qualify for a stimulus payment, you have until October 15 to register using the Non-Filer tool (opens in new tab) at  

With over 20 years’ experience in the financial services industry, Tim has spent most of his career working for a financial data firm, where he was Online Editor of the consumer-facing Moneyfacts site, and regularly penned articles for the financial advice publication Investment Life and Pensions Moneyfacts. As a result, he has an excellent knowledge of almost areas of personal finance and, in particular, the retirement, investment, protection, mortgage and savings sectors.