The Stimulus Check: What It Is and How To Use It

The roughly $2 trillion coronavirus response bill was enacted in late March and was said to offer help for millions of Americans whose lives were upended by this devastating pandemic. Luckily, many Americans will be eligible to get a stimulus check.

Most likely, people will not be receiving their money for several weeks. But according to USA Today: “Americans could start receiving stimulus checks starting on April 9.”  Click here to read the article.

The First Direct Deposits

There was an announcement sent out by U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell stating the first direct deposits would drop in mid-April. The first group will cover about 50 million- 60 million Americans. According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, most people should expect to get their payments by April 17.

But be aware that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website states: “For security reasons, the IRS plans to mail a letter about the economic impact payment to the taxpayer’s last known address within 15 days after the payment is paid. The letter will provide information on how the payment was made and how to report any failure to receive the payment. If a taxpayer is unsure, they’re receiving a legitimate letter, the IRS urges taxpayers to visit first to protect against scam artists.” For more information, click here.

So, how do I receive this check?

Most people do not need to take any form of action. If you filed your tax returns from either 2019 or 2018, the IRS will automatically transfer the money via direct deposit into the account reflected on the return filed.

Do I even qualify for this stimulus payment?

You are for tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples. Social Security and railroad retirement benefit recipients also qualify. They will automatically receive the payments without having to file a tax return.

If you as an individual have an income exceeding $99,000, or you as a couple with no children have an income exceeding $198,000, then you are not eligible for this relief check.

How much do I get?

The amount each person will receive will vary as it is based on your most recent income-tax figures. Eligible recipients who have filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 can expect to receive up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for carried couples and up to $500 for each eligible child under the age of 16. The amount will then be reduced by $5 for each $100 above $75,000 or $150,000.

What is the IRS does not have my direct deposit information?

The IRS states, “In the coming weeks, Treasury plans to develop a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information to the IRS online so that individuals can receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail.”

For more information and commonly asked questions, click here for the IRS website and click here for the New York Times article “F.A.Q. on Stimulus Checks, Unemployment, and the Coronavirus Plan”.

What happens if my previous tax returns made in ineligible, but I have become eligible as of recent?

Immediately, file for unemployment and apply for unemployment insurance benefits. The CARES Act provides a state with money for people who have lost their jobs or have gotten furloughed. You can apply here.

The Washington Post states: “The Cares Act also provides emergency money to states to fund another $600 a week in payments — on top of regular weekly payments — from the time a worker lost his or her job until July 31. It also funds an additional 13 weeks of payments from states, which typically cap unemployment benefits between 12 and 30 weeks.” Click here to read the full article.

Great! I’m eligible, now what?

This waiting period will give you some time to look over your financial situation and hopefully build a plan to lessen the stress.

First, make a budget. Try using NerdWallet’s Free Budget Worksheet. Put down your expense such as rent, utilities, loan repayments. Once you have a big picture, you can start cutting down on unnecessary expenses. The focus of your necessities. Housing, food, and your basic need are most important.

If you are in the right place, you can also consider putting your check into your savings or investing it.

What do I do if I’ve lost my job?

For those who’ve lost their jobs, the money from the government might not be enough. But it might provide the little boost you need to keep moving forward.

If you’ve lost your job, please contact your creditors and explain your situation. Try to work out a way to delay payments or create new minimum payments. Many creditors are willing to make payments for manageable for their customers.

If you have money saved up, don’t be afraid to dip into it. You can also call 211 to find local health services and social services for help.

Lastly, taking out a loan may be necessary. Kristen Holt, CEO of GreenPath Financial Wellness, states: “If you’re going to get further in debt, do it with a plan and make sure you’re utilizing the best available options for you.” She suggests exploring local credit unions but being wary of high-interest loans.

What can I do to help?

If you have a job and some money saved up and you qualify for the relief payment, consider donating it to charities. Some trusted organizations you can donate to our Meals on Wheels, Feeding America, Relief International. You can also donate using this Charity Navigator if you are looking for more options.

If you are up for it, you can also donate blood to the American Red Cross. There is a severe blood shortage due to a high number of blood drive cancellations during the outbreak. If you are a healthy individual, consider scheduling an appointment to donate blood, platelets, or AB plasma.


Bernard, Tara Siegel, and Ron Lieber. “F.A.Q. on Stimulus Checks, Unemployment, and the Coronavirus Bill.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 Mar. 2020,

Bogage, Jacob. “Coronavirus Unemployment Guide: What to Do If You Get Laid-off or Furloughed.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 3 Apr. 2020,

“Economic Impact Payment Information Center.” Internal Revenue Service, 30 Mar. 2020,

Harroch, Richard. “How To Get Your $1,200 Stimulus Payment Direct Deposited To Your Bank Account.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 8 Apr. 2020,

Pyles, Sean, et al. “How to Prep for and Spend Your Government Relief Check.” NerdWallet, 27 Mar. 2020,

Taylor, Derrick Bryson. “How You Can Help Victims of the Coronavirus Pandemic.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 21 Mar. 2020,

Tompor, Susan. “Americans Could Start Receiving Stimulus Checks Starting on April 9.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 8 Apr. 2020,

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