What’s holding up the money for some?

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Weeks after the first round of $1,400 stimulus checks went out, millions of Social Security and SSI recipients have been wondering when it’ll be their turn.

A letter issued to the Social Security Administration (SSA) at the end of March from four high-ranking members of the Ways and Means Committee reveals the reason for the hold up was the agency had not yet sent the IRS the necessary recipient records.

This bureaucratic snarl delayed the distribution of nearly 30 million stimulus payments.

But the day after receiving the letter from members of Congress, the SSA forwarded along the details the IRS needed. Those checks started to go out over the weekend, with the bulk of them promised to be delivered by April 7.

That means if you’re still waiting on the funds to pay household expenses, pay down debt, save or invest for the future, your money may already be on its way.

What if you deserve more than you received?

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As with the previous two rounds of checks, the IRS determined your eligibility for the $1,400 payments based on your most recent income tax return.

Millions of Americans saw significant income drops in 2020 because of the pandemic. But if you didn’t get your taxes filed before the IRS began distributing checks in mid-March, the agency would have used your 2019 income as eligibility, meaning you may not have received all you were entitled to.

With more than 130 million stimulus checks already distributed, the IRS is now circling back to send out another 4 million payments to people whose income or family situations changed enough in 2020 tax returns to warrant a stimulus “top-up”.

Most people won’t have to do anything to receive their money from the IRS.

However, some federal benefits recipients who don’t usually file their taxes will have to do so this year to provide the IRS with information that would qualify you for a stimulus check or rebate.

That includes anyone experiencing homelessness, the rural poor and folks who earn too little to have to file federal taxes. And if you didn’t get the first two stimulus payments, you may qualify for the Recovery Rebate Credit, which would put even more money back in your pocket.

(Although you have until May 17, if you need one more reason to get on filing your taxes, here it is.)

What if your stimulus check is already gone and you need more money?

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Starting year two of the pandemic with the virus still raging on, $1,400 checks aren’t going to cut it for most families. While lawmakers continue to press Biden to include more stimulus checks in future bills, it’s looking more and more likely that the third round may be the last.

If your stimulus funds are long gone and you need to free up more cash right now, you have a few options.

  • Slash your debt payments. Your credit card balances may seem manageable until you factor in compound interest. If you’re stuck in a cycle of debt, paying interest on your interest, there’s a better option. Make your debt easier to shoulder — and unload sooner — by folding your balances into a single debt consolidation loan at lower interest.

  • Stop paying a higher price for insurance. Having car insurance is a must, but overpaying is not. If you think your insurer is taking you for a ride, it may be time to shop around for a better deal. And while you’re looking, why not also save hundreds on homeowners insurance by comparing rates to find a lower price?

  • Trim your budget and “make your own” stimulus check. By finding a few creative ways to cut back, you can possibly rearrange your budget to find another $1,400. Plan your meals for the week ahead to reduce food (and money) waste. And after you’re done at the grocery store, earn some cash back just by taking photos of your receipt. Have a hobby or special talent? Set up a freelancer profile and turn it into a side hustle to bring in extra income. And, download a free browser extension that will automatically scour for better prices and coupons whenever you shop online.

About the Author

Sigrid Forberg

Sigrid Forberg

Staff Writer

Sigrid is a staff writer with MoneyWise. A graduate of Carleton University's journalism program, she spent the better part of the last six years writing about business and retail. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, baking and riding her bicycle.

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