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WashingtonLawHelp.orgWashington LawHelp

Questions and Answers: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Stimulus Payments in Washington State

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project LSC Funded
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Learn more about the money you will get from the government to help you during the pandemic. #0908EN




*We updated this fact sheet in December 2020.


1. What is the stimulus payment?

You will get this money from the government to help you during the pandemic. You can use it as you wish. You can use it to pay bills, rent, or mortgages, or to buy food and supplies.

Congress has now approved 2 stimulus payments in 2020. The first was in the spring. The second was in December. This fact sheet talks about both payments.  


2. How much will I get?

The first stimulus Congress passed awarded $1,200 tax rebate to individuals, plus an extra $500 per child under 17 with a Social Security Number. The payment phases out starting with incomes over $75,000, or $150,000 for joint tax filers.

The second stimulus Congress passed awards up to $600 to individuals, plus an extra $600 per child under 17 with a Social Security number.


3. When will I get it?

First stimulus: The government started sending the money as of mid-April. Or you can receive it as a credit on your 2020 tax return next year.

Second stimulus: The government says payments will start to go out before the end of 2020.


4. How will I get it?

If you filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019, or you get certain government benefits, you do not have to do anything. See questions 6 and 7.

If you have dependents, or you do not have a bank account and do not file taxes, you may need to fill out a short IRS form to get the money quickly. See question 8.

*December 2020 update: If you still haven’t gotten your first stimulus payment, or only got part of it, you can claim what is called a recovery rebate credit when you file your 2020 tax return. The IRS has a page on its website that explains.


5. Do I have to pay anything to get it?

No! The government will not call or email asking for money or your Social Security Number. If you get any threatening phone calls asking you to give up your stimulus payment, report them here.


6. I filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019.  

If your tax return included direct deposit information, the money will be directly deposited. If not, it will be mailed to you.

If you filed a tax return in 2018, and you have not received the money yet, you can fill out a "get my payment" form to update information, like new direct deposit information or a change of address, from your 2018 filing.


7. I do not file taxes. How will I get the money?

You will not have to do anything and the money will be directly deposited if you get direct deposit of Veterans benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance, retirement, or survivor's benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Railroad Retirement and Survivor Benefits.

*Veterans benefits here and in the next section means any type of veterans' benefits.


8. I do not file taxes and I do not get any of those benefits.

Fill out this form [form does not work on mobile phones] if

  • You get SSI or Veterans benefits and you have dependent children under 17. This will help make sure you get the extra money per child.

  • You do not file taxes. You do not get SSI, SSDI, or retirement benefits.



9. I do not have a bank account. How can I get the money?

Ask the IRS to mail you a check using the form listed above in question 8. Or think about opening a bank account. Bankon.org has a list of low-cost, safe options available even for people who do not have a good credit history.


10. Will the IRS send me a prepaid card?

Maybe. The IRS has sent some people their stimulus money through a new prepaid card called the EIP Card.


11. Can I get the money for a foster child I take care of?



12. I am an immigrant. Can I get the money?

It depends on the stimulus payment:

  • First stimulus: Most people with ITINs are not eligible for the payment. If one spouse has an ITIN, your whole family is ineligible. There is an exception. Military families can receive the payment even if one spouse has an ITIN.

  • Second stimulus: two people who are married and filing taxes jointly, and only one spouse has a Social Security number, would be eligible for a single $600 payment. Each of their children with Social Security numbers would also be eligible for the $600. 


13. I am an immigrant. Does getting the money cause a public charge problem?



14. I am in jail. Can I get the money?

Yes. Learn more at Cares Act Relief for Incarcerated People.


15. I get public benefits, Social Security benefits, or Veteran’s benefits, or I live in public housing. Will this money affect my eligibility?

No, not for any of those. It does not count as income when you receive it. It also does not count as a resource for twelve months.

Programs such as SSI have strict rules about how much in resources you can have and still receive the benefit. We recommend you spend the money within 12 months of getting it.


16. Can the money be garnished?

Only for child support you owe. They can take the entire amount for that. It cannot be garnished for taxes you owe, student loans you owe, unemployment overpayments, or public benefits overpayments.


17. I owe someone money. Will the IRS give the money to them?

No. The money will go directly only to you. The IRS will take money from your check only if you owe child support. (See question 15.)

If you were sued in court and a judge has ordered you to pay someone money, that person or business could take the money from your bank account if it is directly deposited. You can stop that from happening by asking the IRS to mail the check to you. It might take longer to get your check if it is mailed.


18. I got a prepaid card in the mail. It claims to be my stimulus payment. Is it a scam?

Maybe not. If it is the card shown on this website - www.eipcard.com - then it is not a scam.  Call 800-240-8100 to activate the card and set a 4-digit PIN.  If the letter tells you to call a different number, it might be a scam.  


19. If you accidentally threw away the card, call that same number.

Ask for a replacement card.  If you need the card right away, there is a $17 fee


20. Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help.

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Last Review and Update: Dec 22, 2020