Are you waiting for your CARES Act aid payment?

More than ten weeks have passed since Congress passed the CARES Act, providing, among other things, aid to low income Americans to supplement their household income during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. According the House Ways and Means Committee the IRS has sent out nearly 160 million Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) – some by direct deposit (120 million), some by check sent by traditional mail, (35 million) and some by mailed Visa debit card (4 million).

If you are eligible for an EIP but have not received it, it might still be coming.

There are still 30 – 35 million EIPs yet to be issued. The recipients are:

  • 13-18 million taxpayers who file returns below the CARES Act income thresholds;*
  • 5 million Social Security and Railroad Retirement Benefit (RRB) recipients who do not file tax returns;*
  • 7 million taxpayers who are not required to file tax returns and who do not receive Federal government benefits; and
  • Unknown millions of SSI-only or Veterans’ Affairs (VA) benefit recipients who do not file tax returns.*

* Treasury should have the necessary information for most of these individuals to make these payments.

What if your EIP has not arrived

Many have learned from the IRS’ Get My Payment tool that they are to receive a EIP, but have yet to receive anything. Many have received the Trump-signed letter suggesting their EIP has already been issued, but have yet to receive anything.

Democrats Abroad has contacted the IRS repeatedly to recommend an online tool be established urgently for CARES Act aid recipients living abroad to report lost or missing EIP checks or debit cards. A system of this nature does not appear to be in the works, unfortunately.

Instead, we have received this advice from the IRS about missing EIP checks:

If you received your EIP by check and it was either lost, stolen or destroyed, you should initiate a trace on your Payment by calling the IRS at 800-919-9835 or you may submit Form 3911. If you call, please be advised that you may experience long wait times or recorded assistance due to limited staffing. If you submit the form and you are Married Filing Joint, both spouses must sign the form.
Your claim for a missing Payment is processed in one of two ways:

  • If the check wasn’t cashed, you’ll receive a replacement check once the original check is canceled.

Note: If you find the original check and receive a replacement, you MUST return the original as soon as possible.

  • If the refund check was cashed, the Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS) will provide you with a claim package that includes a copy of the cashed check. Follow the instructions for completing the claim package.

Note: Do not request a Payment Trace if you are trying to determine eligibility for the Payment or the amount of Payment you should have received.

There is no advice at this point about EIPs issued via Visa debit card. We therefore recommend you follow this advice that the IRS provided earlier about missing EIPs:

If an EIP is lost or missing, IRS recommends the recipient contact their member of Congress, and fill out that office's privacy release form so the office can submit an inquiry to the IRS. The subject matter experts can then take a look at the constituent’s account and provide assistance.

Although the advice is less than ideal in that the IRS will not deal directly with an inquiring recipient, it gives members of Congress a way to directly advocate for their constituents rather than just referring us to the IRS and hoping for the best. Sometimes the IRS can be more responsive if they feel the Congressional pressure.

Contacting your Representative

If you don’t know your Representative you can look them up using this online tool. All you need is the zip code of the last place you lived in the U.S. There are also some Frequently Asked Questions on this page about how to contact your member of Congress.

In the message about your lost/missing EIP, we recommend you provide -

  • your story - who you are, where you live and where you vote;
  • whatever information you have obtained, if any, from the IRS Get My Payment tool about when your EIP was to be sent and in what form (direct deposit, check or Visa debit card);
  • a request that your member submit an inquiry EIP on your behalf to the IRS about the lost or missing EIP per the IRS’ advice; and
  • a request for a privacy release form to enable your Representative to make this inquiry on your behalf.

You can use also this opportunity to send a message of support for policy initiatives important to you and to thank them for their service.


Please send questions or comments to [email protected].