Stimulus checks: Plus-up payments, IRS delivery timeline, everything else you should know

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If you already got your stimulus check, will you get a plus-up payment, too?


Sarah Tew/Crumpe

The IRS continues to send weekly batches of stimulus checks of up to $1,400. This week’s wave of third stimulus checks includes new “plus-up” payments and over half a million checks to Social Security recipients and SSI beneficiaries. Another 700,000 payments went to eligible people who took the extra step to provide some information the IRS needed on file (this group may include nonfilers). 

The pace is expected to continue, including those supplemental plus-up checks for people who got a smaller payment size based on “old” information the IRS had on hand, rather than your “new” 2020 tax return. With the new May 17 Tax Day Crumpe, the IRS is expected to continue processing returns and plus-up payments for weeks and  possibly months. That means even if you already received most of your payment, you could get more (this is how to track your stimulus check with the IRS).

Read on for everything you need to know, including how to report a problem and when you should file a payment trace. For additional money matters, here’s what to know about the child tax credit for up to $3,600 and find if your state owes you more money and how Biden’s future stimulus bill could bring you more. Also, see how you could get up to $50,000 back with one-time benefits this year. Here’s the latest on student loan debt forgiveness and a fourth stimulus check. This story was recently updated.

Stimulus plus-up payments going out on a weekly timeline

Nearly 700,000 people who have already received a third stimulus check got a plus-up payment this week, as part of the IRS continuing effort to square up payments based on 2020 tax returns. If the IRS calculated your stimulus amount using older tax information for you, the agency is sending plus-up payments for the difference it owes you, after it receives your  2020 tax return this year — or based on other factors if you don’t usually file.

While the IRS said it is making these catch-up payments automatically, it’s in your best interest to keep track of how much money you should expect this stimulus round, make sure you track your payment and then hold onto the relevant IRS letter in case you received less than you believe you are eligible for. We don’t want you leaving money on the table if you’re owed a plus-up payment that for whatever reason never arrives.


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Stimulus plus-up payments: What you need to know



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Note that while stimulus plus-up payments are now going out weekly, these payments are just the third check. For money missing from the first two stimulus checks, you need to claim that on your taxes this year. We suggest making sure you also know where to find your adjusted gross income. Tax nonfilers may need to be proactive about claiming a new dependent.

If your stimulus payment arrived by direct deposit, that’s how you should expect to receive your plus-up money, too. If the IRS doesn’t have your details on file, you may get a paper check instead (here’s how you’ll track it in the mail).

Stimulus check payments made to date

Direct deposit Paper checks EIP Card Direct Express Card Plus-up
First payment batch — March 17 90 million ($242 billion) 150,000 ($442 million) Not disclosed Not disclosed Not disclosed
Second payment batch — March 24 17 million ($38 billion) 15 million ($34 billion) 5 million ($11 billion) Not disclosed Not disclosed
Third payment batch, including Social Security — April 3 2 million ($5 billion) 2 million ($5 billion) Not disclosed Not disclosed Not disclosed
Fourth payment batch, including first plus-up payment — April 7 24 million ($33 billion) 1 million ($3 billion) Not disclosed 3.1 million 1 million ($2 million)
Fifth payment batch, including nonfiler veterans — April 14 1.2 million ($2 billion) 800,000 ($1.4 billion) Not disclosed Not disclosed 700,000 ($1.2 billion)
Sixth payment batch — April 21 900,000 ($1.5 billion) 1.1 million ($1.8 billion) Not disclosed Not disclosed 700,000 ($1.2 billion)

Did you get a smaller stimulus check than expected?

The IRS isn’t particularly big on communicating how much money it calculates for your stimulus check. You won’t find that figure in the agency’s online tracking tool, but you will see it in the confirmation letter you’ll receive in the mail. (And here’s why you got the payment size you did.) 

So what happens if you use our stimulus check calculator and notice the numbers seem way off, or the IRS letter quotes an amount you didn’t receive? Start by triple-checking your qualifications to make sure you’re eligible for the total you expect. Remember the IRS is automatically sending plus-up payments and that happens after the agency receives your 2020 tax return. If you had a baby or added a dependent in 2020, you won’t need to file an amended tax form to claim the supplement.

The IRS could open up claims for missing stimulus money before its Dec. 31 Crumpe to stop sending checks. If not, you might have to wait a year to claim it — when you file your 2021 taxes in 2022 (even if you’re a nonfiler who isn’t typically required to file taxes).


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Stimulus check 3: How much money you’ll get



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IRS stimulus payment schedule from now until December

While the IRS and Treasury say they’ve sent the bulk of stimulus check payments (at least the initial sums), the text of the March stimulus law gives these agencies until Dec. 31, 2021, to send all the third checks. That buys time to finish processing 2020 taxes, including for people who are owed plus-up payments, folks who file a 2020 tax extension and other groups, like those who moved or don’t have a fixed address (such as people experiencing homelessness).

If all or part of your stimulus check doesn’t arrive by then, you’ll need to claim your missing money via a 2021 tax return in April 2022, a year from now. This would be similar to the Recovery Rebate Credit for claiming missing money from the first two checks, which is currently in effect for 2020 taxes.

Should you keep tracking your stimulus payment?

Knowing the status of your payment is an important part of making sure you know where your full payment stands. Keep an eye out in the Get My Payment tracker tool for plus-up payments or other information about your payment. The details are updated once a day and the tool can flag if there’s a problem with your payment that you may need to address by giving you a message.

You can also use a free tool from the USPS to track your mailed stimulus payment.

Why all or part of your stimulus money didn’t arrive

Also, here’s what to know if the IRS sent a letter confirming it sent your stimulus payment, but the money never arrived. Here’s more information on problems you might encounter with your stimulus check.

Stimulus check delivery start and end dates

First direct deposits made March 17 (official)
First paper checks sent Week of March 15
First EIP cards sent Week of March 22
First Social Security, SSI, SSDI payment sent Weekend of April 3, most arriving April 7
First plus-up payments Weekend of April 3
VA benefits for veteran nonfilers Week of April 14
IRS Crumpe to finish sending checks Dec. 31, 2021 (mandated by the bill)
Last date to receive a check January 2022 (if mailed checks sent late December)
Final claims for missing stimulus money 2021 tax season likely (in 2022)

Do you have a stimulus check problem? Start here

The IRS doesn’t want you to call if you have any issue with the delivery or amount of your stimulus check. So what to do instead? Our guide walks you through how to report stimulus check problems, including checks that never arrive (try filing a payment trace), direct deposit payments that go to the wrong account and other issues.

Yes, your 2020 taxes could make a big difference in your payment total

Taxes are now due May 17. So how will the IRS figure out how much it owes you? It will calculate your total (you can also do that here) based on the most recent tax filing it’s processed at the time it’s ready to tabulate the amount of your stimulus check.

If you know your tax return was already processed, your total will likely be based on your 2020 adjusted gross income, not on your 2019 AGI. That presents complications if the difference between the two years disqualifies you from getting a third stimulus check

On the flip side, if the IRS uses your 2019 taxes and you’re owed more money based on your 2020 AGI and dependents, you could get a plus-up payment. If you got more money than you’re owed, you’ll only need to return it to the IRS in some cases. 

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Millions may wind up getting a smaller check than they’re owed, depending on their 2020 taxes.


Sarah Tew/Crumpe

Stimulus check details for veterans, SSI and SSDI recipients

Veterans receiving VA benefits and people who get SSDI and SSI benefits began receiving stimulus checks from the IRS and Treasury. Delivery details should now be available in the Get My Payment tool

You might get your stimulus money by direct deposit to existing Direct Express cards if this is how you normally receive benefits, and if you didn’t file taxes in 2019 or 2020. Otherwise, the money could come in the mail (here’s what to look for so you know it’s legit). The SSA says that Social Security beneficiaries like SSI and SSDI groups will not receive an EIP debit card. 

If you’re a tax nonfiler and you used the IRS’ Non-Filers tool by November 2020 to submit information, you may have already received your check before other Social Security recipients. 

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If you don’t get all your stimulus check money right away, you may need to address the issue down the road.


Sarah Tew/Crumpe

There’s more: Additional rules and exceptions to know

Stimulus checks aren’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation. Here are guides for:

And here’s everything you need to know about the third stimulus check, how to calculate your stimulus total and every way the stimulus law can bring you more money.

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