Attorney Huong Lam

Frequently Asked Questions About the COVID-19 Stimulus Check

Are you struggling to make ends meet because of a COVID-19-related layoff or medical emergency? Congress passed the CARES Act to help individuals and businesses facing financial hardship during the pandemic. It includes several forms of relief, one of which is the economic impact payment, otherwise known as the stimulus check.

If you are in debt and being hounded by creditors, you may be wondering how your stimulus check might be impacted. The following is a compilation of answers to the most frequently asked questions about the federal stimulus payment.

How much is the stimulus check?

If you make $75,000 or less per year (and are otherwise eligible), you will receive $1,200 for yourself and $500 per dependent. If you are the head of your household, you can make up to $112,500 and still qualify for the full amount. If you are married, and you and your spouse make $150,000 or less, you will receive a total of $2,400, plus additional payments for dependents.

If you make more than these thresholds, the amount you receive will decrease. If you make $99,000 as a single filer, $136,500 as the head of your household, or $198,000 as a married couple, you will not receive a payment.

Are these incomes the only requirements to receive a check?

No. You will not receive a check if:

  • You were claimed as a dependent on someone’s recent tax return
  • You are not a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • You do not have a Social Security number (even if you have a Taxpayer Identification Number)

I receive benefits from the government. Will I still receive a check?

Generally, yes. You can still qualify for a payment if you receive:

  • Social Security benefits (retirement, survivor, or disability)
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Railroad Retirement benefits
  • VA Compensation and Pension

Do I need to file taxes to receive a check?

It depends. If you are not required to file a tax return because you receive any of the above benefits, you will automatically receive your payment.

Additionally, you may not need to file a return if you make little to no income. In this case, you will need to register using the non-filer tool on the IRS website.

If neither of these scenarios apply to you, the IRS will most likely need your tax return to determine your eligibility. Because the tax deadline for 2019 has been extended, the IRS may use your 2018 return if you have not yet filed your taxes this year.

For comprehensive information about who needs to file, visit the IRS website.

Do I need to apply for the check?

No. The only step you may need to take is filing a tax return or registering as a non-filer. See the above question for more details.

The IRS contacted me asking for my bank account information. Is this a scam?

Yes. The IRS will not call, email, text, or use social media to get personal information from you regarding the stimulus check. You should receive a letter in the mail within 15 days of the IRS sending the payment, and it will have instructions you can use to report failure to receive the payment.

When will I receive my check?

If the IRS has your direct deposit information on file, you will likely receive your check within a matter of weeks (by mid-April). Others will receive checks in the mail over the coming months. The lower your income, the sooner you are likely to receive your check.

A debt collector is suing me. Can they take my stimulus check?

Possibly—if they obtain a judgment against you. The federal government cannot take your check to pay back taxes or student loans, but banks and other creditors may be able to freeze your bank account after taking you to court. If this occurs, they may have access to your stimulus check funds.

To prevent this, withdraw your check or spend it on essentials as soon as you receive it. If you are struggling with an exorbitant amount of debt, bankruptcy may be a viable option as well. It will trigger an automatic stay, which halts all collection actions, and it may discharge some or all of your debt.

Contact Us Today for More Information and Support

At Lam Law Firm, we understand that the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to financial hardship for many. If you are facing overwhelming debt and need relief, we can help determine if filing for bankruptcy makes sense for you. We can evaluate your financial situation to establish your eligibility and represent you in each step of the process.

Call (843) 695-7700 or contact us online to get started today. We are conducting all consultations over the phone to help protect our community during COVID-19.