COVID-19 FAQ – Federal Stimulus Checks (CARES Act)

CREE Team April 10, 2020




Last Updated: April 15, 2020

On March 27, 2020 the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act was signed into law. Part of this law authorizes the federal government to send one-time stimulus checks to working and non-working U.S. citizens and residents. Here is some basic information about the stimulus checks. For information on unemployment insurance, see “Coronavirus and Unemployment Insurance”


How much money will I receive?

The size of your check depends on your income and household size. Here are the maximum amounts of the stimulus payments:

  • A single adult with no children making $75,000 or less annually will receive $1,200.
  • A single adult with children making $112,500 or less will receive $1,200.
  • A married couple with no children making $150,000 or less annually will receive $2,400.
  • For every qualifying child under age 17, a family will receive an additional $500.

If you make more than these figures, your payment will decrease on a scale until it reaches $0. For each $100 that your income exceeds the maximum income amounts, the payment is reduced by $5. Applying this scale, here are the maximum income limits:

  • A single adult with no children making $99,000 or more will receive no stimulus payment.
  • A single adult with one child making $146,000 will receive no stimulus payment.
  • A married couple with no children making $198,000 or more will receive no stimulus payment.
  • A married couple with two children making $218,000 will receive no stimulus payment.


How is the stimulus amount determined?

Your income is based on your 2019 federal tax return. The deadline for filing your 2019 tax return has been extended until July 15, 2020, so if you haven’t filed your tax return yet the amount will be based on your 2018 tax return.

Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file any tax return to receive a stimulus payment. The IRS will use the information on the Form SSA-1099 to generate stimulus payments to Social Security beneficiaries who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019.


What if I haven’t recently filed taxes?

If you did not file a tax return for 2018 and 2019, you may not be eligible for a stimulus payment. If you are a resident of Monroe County and would like assistance filing your taxes, you may be eligible to receive help from Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope (“CASH”). While CASH is not presently accepting clients, they plan to resume intake soon. See the CASH website for more information.

If you are not required to file a tax return, and are a low-income individual and family whose income is below $12,200 ($24,400 for married couples), or your only source of income is Temporary Assistance or Safety Net Assistance), the IRS has created an online portal for you to provide your information, which you can find here:  https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here


You will need to fill out this online form to get your stimulus check. Information you need for the form:

  • full name, current mailing address and an email address
  • date of birth and valid Social Security number
  • bank account number, account type and routing number, if you have a bank account
  • Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) if you got one from the IRS earlier this year
  • driver’s license or state-issued ID, if you have one
  • for each qualifying child under age 17 who lives with you and who depends on you: name, Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number, and their relationship to you or your spouse.


Who is eligible to receive a stimulus payment?

You are eligible if you are a United States citizen or resident with a Social Security number and your gross annual income is less than the amounts above. You are eligible if you are working or receive Social Security, disability, unemployment, or other temporary public assistance payments, such as SNAP, TANF, or HEAP.


Who is not eligible to receive these payments?

If someone else has claimed you as a dependent on their tax return, you cannot receive a stimulus payment. Additionally, if you are an undocumented resident, you cannot receive a stimulus payment.


How will I get the stimulus payment?

You do not need to apply for this payment. You will automatically receive a direct deposit from the IRS to the bank account listed on your 2019 or 2018 federal tax return.  If the IRS doesn’t have your bank information, it will send a paper check to your last known address. You should receive a paper notice in the mail several weeks after your payment has been disbursed.


When will I get the stimulus payment?

The IRS will start sending stimulus payments as early as April 9, 2020. Most people should receive their money by mid-April.


Will my stimulus payment be reduced if I owe child support? YES.

Although the CARES Act exempts stimulus payments from some government tax offset programs, such as student loans, child support arrears are not exempt from tax offset.


Will the intercepted child support arrears go to my children? Maybe.

If your children were on public assistance, and you owe child support arrears that were assigned to the social services district, the rule in New York is that tax offsets first go to the state to pay off these assigned arrears and then the family gets paid child support that it is due. This means that families may not get child support from intercepted taxes until the state is paid.

This could change. The federal government is considering whether this rule should be changed so that families could be paid first. We will update this Q and A as soon as we learn whether this rule will be applied.


More questions about stimulus payments during the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Please contact Empire Justice Center at (585) 295-5835. 


Please note: Do not send us any nonpublic information about any legal matter for which you seek legal representation until we request that you do so. Empire Justice attorneys will inform you if and when your matter is considered for legal representation. Until that time, any information you provide WILL NOT be considered confidential, and NO attorney-client relationship is formed by communications received through this website. Any information available on the website is for general legal education purposes only, and is not legal advice.