Why Some People Are Getting a $500 Stimulus Check This Week

A granddaughter hugs her grandmother.
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Even if you don’t file taxes, you probably received your coronavirus stimulus check several months ago.

But a lot of people — many of whom receive government benefits like Social Security and SSI — who have dependents under age 17 found that their checks came up short. While most people received the $1,200 for themselves, many found their checks were missing the $500 child credit.

At first, the IRS said people in this situation would have to wait and file a tax return next year to get the $500 payments. Fortunately, the IRS reversed course.

Now many non-filers whose checks came up short won’t have to wait until next year — and the $500 payments have already started going out.

Why So Many Non-Filers Didn’t Get the $500 Child Credit

If you aren’t required to file taxes and you don’t receive government benefits, you had to use the non-filer tool at IRS.gov to get your stimulus payment.

But if you receive benefits like Social Security or SSI, the IRS was able to process the $1,200 payment on your behalf by pulling the information directly from the relevant agency. It didn’t work that way for dependents, though.

To get the $500 child stimulus credit, you had to go to IRS.gov and use the non-filer tool to submit the names and Social Security numbers of qualifying dependent children.

Due to a programming error in the IRS system, many people who used the non-filer tool on or before May 17 didn’t receive the additional $500.

But for a lot of people receiving benefits, the missing $500 wasn’t due to an error. It was because they missed a deadline the IRS announced with little advance warning.

Social Security and Railroad Retirement recipients were given just two days’ notice that they needed to use the non-filer tool to submit information on behalf of dependent children by April 22. SSI recipients also got little notice.

Unfortunately, the IRS isn’t sending out $500 payments to those who missed these deadlines yet.

When Will I Get My $500 Credit?

So far, the IRS is only sending out payments to people who used the non-filer tool on or before May 17 to provide information for a dependent child and didn’t receive the $500 credits.

The IRS says you probably already received the $500 payment if you used the non-filer tool after May 17. And if you haven’t? So far, there’s no word on what you can do or when you’ll get the payment.

For those who used the non-filer tool on or before May 17, the IRS says additional $500 child credits have gone out according to the following schedule:

  • Aug. 5: Direct deposits were scheduled.
  • Aug. 7: Paper checks and debit cards were mailed.

You can track the payment using the Get My Payment feature at IRS.gov. Can’t get an answer from Get My Payment? Try these nine hacks for tracking your stimulus payment.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected]