IRS has no information on missing stimulus checks

stimulus checksAfter the popular "stimulus checks" issued as part of efforts to jump start the economy in 2001 and 2008, many taxpayers were again looking forward to a check in 2009. This year, however, checks weren't in the cards for most Americans.

Most of the taxpayer relief for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) focused on the Making Work Pay credit. The Making Work Pay credit allows up to $400 per individual worker and $800 per working married couple and is figured on your tax return. Those who did not work during the year are not eligible for the credit.


The Making Work Pay credit did not provide for the retired and disabled. As a result, Congress included the Economic Recovery Payment (ERP). The payment, which has been referred to as a "stimulus check," is only available to:
  • Retirees, disabled individuals, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration;
  • Disabled veterans receiving benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; or
  • Railroad Retirement beneficiaries.
Those who meet the criteria should have received a one-time check in the amount of $250 during 2009 directly from the agency that normally provides their benefits. This means checks would have been mailed from the Social Security Administration, the Veterans Administration or the Railroad Retirement Board.

No action was required on your part during 2009 to receive this payment. For the most part, individuals who were eligible for Social Security disabled or retirement benefits, Railroad retirement benefits, or Veterans benefit in November 2008, December 2008, or January 2009 were eligible to receive the special payment. Most checks were mailed out in May and June 2009.

If you believe you were eligible and did not receive your check, you'll need to contact the respective agency. Contact information for those agencies is as follows:
  • Social Security Administration: Web site; 800-722-1213
  • Veterans Administration: Web site; 800-827-1000
  • Railroad Retirement Board: Web site; 877-772-5772
Do not contact the IRS about your check. It's important to note that the check would not have been issued by the IRS. The IRS will not investigate the status of your check for you and will, instead, refer you to the agency responsible for issuing your check.

The IRS does have an interest in your check, however. In the event you are eligible for both the Economy Recovery Payment and the Making Work Pay Credit, the amount of your credit must be reduced by the amount of any check you received. You'll report the amount you have already received on Schedule M of your form 1040.

If you file a return indicating to the IRS that you're eligible for the entire credit and you did, in fact, receive a check, your return will not be processed. If you e-file your return and erroneously claim the full credit without noting that you received your check, your return will be bounced. This will delay any refund you might be owed, so be sure to check your records before completing your tax return.

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