Seniors Are Wondering What Happened to Their Third Stimulus Check

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Two economic stimulus checks were sent to most Americans in 2020. The first was for $1,200 and the second for $600, although those amounts varied depending on income and the number of dependents claimed on tax forms. Individuals or families with high incomes may not receive a payment.

Most Americans should receive a third payment in 2021. Most single people will receive $1,400 while married couples who file joint tax returns will receive $2,800. Each dependent adds another $1,400 to the payment.

Again, the amount may vary with income. Single people who have an adjusted gross income of $80,000, and married couples with an AGI of $160,000 or more, will receive no payment. Individuals who file taxes as “head of household” will receive no payment if their AGI exceeds $120,000. Individuals receive reduced payments if their AGI is above $75,000 (for single people), $150,000 (for married couples), or $112,500 (for heard of household).

Seniors who depend on Social Security as their primary income should nearly always qualify for the full payment. Unfortunately, many people who receive Social Security have not received their stimulus payments. The delayed payment is stressful for seniors who were counting on the stimulus check to make ends meet.

Watch Your Mail

Most stimulus payments were made in mid-March. Tax filers who make electronic tax payments from their bank accounts, and those who have bank account information on file with the IRS, often received direct deposits. Others were sent a check or a debit card that is loaded with the stimulus payment.

The debit card, known as an Economic Impact Payment (EIP) card, is mailed in an envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services.” The AARP is cautioning seniors to watch their mail for the EIP card.

People who are used to receiving credit card solicitations might mistake the EIP card for junk mail. It isn’t unusual for solicitations to contain a plastic “replica” card that resembles a card that a bank is offering. Mistaking an EIP card for a credit card solicitation might cause seniors to throw $1,400 in the trash.

The U.S. Treasury seal is on the envelope containing an EIP. To be safe, every piece of mail that seems to have a card should be opened. An EIP card will say “VISA debit.” The name of the issuer, MetaBank, will be on the back of the card.

Delayed Payments to Social Security Recipients

About 30 million people who receive income from Social Security or disability payments from Supplemental Security Income did not receive the third stimulus check. Social Security recipients who do not file tax returns should have received EIPs in the mail.

The problem originated with interaction between the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the IRS. The IRS did not issue EIPs to Social Security recipients, even those who received their earlier stimulus payments, because it was awaiting payment files from the SSA.

The SSA blamed budget restrictions for its failure to assemble and transmit the files on time. The SSA explained that it took time to update the files to removed deceased recipients and to update address and bank account changes.

The SSA recently sent “test files” to the IRS to assure that the IRS would be able to process the information that the SSA sends. The IRS confirmed that the test was successful, paving the way for EIPs to eventually make their way to Social Security recipients. The IRS has not provided a timeline to complete the stimulus payment distribution.

If the EIP does not arrive this year, all is not lost. The stimulus payment is an advance against a new “recovery tax credit” that will apply to 2021 tax returns. Social security recipients who do not receive their stimulus payment should file a 2021 tax return in 2022, even if they have no taxable income and owe no taxes. They can then claim the full recovery tax credit and will receive their stimulus payment in the form of a tax refund.

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