Stimulus payments bring needed financial relief

Anyone who did not receive their stimulus check needs to apply online by Oct. 15.

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  • | 5:00 a.m. October 1, 2020
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By Glorian Maziarka & Natalie Maxwell

Natalie Maxwell
Natalie Maxwell

The IRS has launched a nationwide campaign to help identify people who still have not received their Economic Impact Payment, also called “EIP” or “stimulus payment.”

Anyone who did not automatically receive their stimulus check needs to apply online by Oct. 15.

If a filer misses the deadline, they do not lose the stimulus payment, but have to claim it on their 2020 federal income tax return as an EIP credit.

Glorian Maziarka
Glorian Maziarka

The stimulus payment, $1,200 for individual adults and $500 for each dependent child, are critical to people experiencing financial hardship during the economic crisis. An estimated 9 million Americans who do not regularly file income tax returns have not received a stimulus check. 

Through the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, Three Rivers Legal Services is helping eligible clients address issues with applying for or receiving their stimulus payments. 

With the support of volunteer attorneys and law students, the project also helps eligible clients in disputes with the IRS, including audits, appeals, collections, tax debt relief and more. 

An individual is eligible to receive the stimulus payment if their income is less than $75,000 a year if they are single or married filing separately, or $150,000 a year if married filing jointly; and if the individual, and the spouse if applicable, has a Social Security number (with the exception of military married couples where only one spouse is required to have a Social Security number); and someone cannot claim the individual on their tax return.

The payment is not affected by student loan or IRS debt. It also does not affect any benefits the individual receives and is not taxed.

The only barrier to receive the IRS stimulus payment is child support debt. In that case, the stimulus payment will be intercepted and applied toward that obligation.

Most people should have received their payment automatically, including those who filed taxes in 2018 and/or 2019 or who receive Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance, Veteran Affairs benefits and/or Railroad Retirement Benefits.

The IRS typically will send the payments via direct deposit to the bank account or to the address that is on the taxpayer’s file.

For non-filers, individuals who do not usually file taxes because they are not required to do so by the IRS, they have to apply online for their stimulus payment. The IRS created the IRS Non-Filer Tool on the IRS website, which can be accessed at

For people who do not have internet access or are not comfortable using online tools, the IRS has a phone line available at (800) 919-9835, where individuals can call to check the status of their payment and/or apply for their stimulus check.

One group of non-filers that has been hard to reach are people experiencing homelessness. Not having a home address presents significant challenges both in applying for and receiving a stimulus payment. 

Another group of people that has not been receiving their payments are those who file taxes or receive benefits, but have moved or changed bank accounts since they last filed their return. 

If the information the IRS has on the taxpayer’s file has changed and the individual has not updated their file with the IRS, the payment may not be received.

If you have a question about stimulus payments, call (866) 256-8091 or visit

Glorian Maziarka is a contract attorney for Three Rivers Legal Services focusing on housing and stimulus payment issues.

Natalie Maxwell is director of advocacy and litigation at Three Rivers Legal Services.



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