COVID Pandemic Stimulus Payments

Read this in:
Spanish / Español


Congress passed laws giving three stimulus payments to eligible people.

The original stimulus payment was $1,200 for individuals and $500 for minor dependents. This was passed as part of the CARES Act and was paid in the spring of 2020.  The second payment was $600 per adult and $600 per child and was paid in January 2021. The third payment was $1400 per adult, $1400 per child and was paid in March 2021.

The IRS has a comprehensive information page about these payments.

What if I have not received any payment?

If you did not receive any advance stimulus payments, you need to file a 2020 tax return. You need to claim the Recovery Rebate Claim on your return.

If you mailed a tax return in order to claim the stimulus payment, the IRS may still be processing your paper return. The IRS is very behind on processing mail, so you may have to wait until your return is processed before you receive the payment.

You may be able to efile your own tax return by going to

If I owe taxes, child support, or other debt owed to the government, won't they just take the payment to pay what I owe?

Often, tax refunds and other payments from federal and state governments can be offset (taken) to pay a debt you owe to or that is collected by the government. Although the advance payments were protected from most offsets, payments claimed as part of your tax refund may be applied to unpaid back taxes or other debts such as back child support or delinquent student loans.

Will the stimulus payment effect my public benefits or debts?

Because the stimulus payments are structed as tax refunds, they do not count as income for the purposes of Medicaid, Hawk-I, healthcare Marketplace, or other public benefit program.  For Medicaid eligibility groups that have asset limits, the stimulus payment is only counted as resource 12 months after you received it.  

In addition, for the purposes of SSI, the stimulus payments will not be counted as resources for 12 months after they are received.

The IRS’s full FAQ on stimulus payments can be found here:




Iowa Legal Aid Provides Legal Help to Low-Income Iowans

To apply for help from Iowa Legal Aid:call 800-532-1275.

  • Iowans age 60 and over, call 800-992-8161 or apply online at
  • If Iowa Legal Aid cannot help, look for an attorney on “Find A Lawyer” on the Iowa State Bar Association website A private attorney there can talk with you for a fee of $25 for 30 minutes of legal advice.
  • As of March 18, 2020, our offices are closed for walk-ins until further notice, due to the coronavirus outbreak.


*As you read this information, remember this article is not a substitute for legal advice.

Last Review and Update: Jun 08, 2021