What you need to know about the new stimulus plan

  • Learn how to receive your payment
  • Discover how to protect your stimulus payment from garnishment
  • Find out how to troubleshoot issues receiving your payment

Last week, President Biden signed the American Recovery Act into law.  The bill is over 250 pages long, and we have condensed the part everyone is most excited about: the new stimulus payments! This provides much needed help for thousands of Nebraska families impacted by the pandemic. A qualifying individual will receive $1,400. A qualifying family of four will get $5,600 providing the opportunity to meet basic needs and begin to build for the future.

The new stimulus payments will be distributed in the coming days. Those first in line for payments will be ones who the IRS has bank account information for (much like with the last two stimulus payments). If you have entered your bank account information in previous tax filings to receive a tax refund, your stimulus payment will be deposited directly into that bank account. You will know that the IRS has your bank account information if you have received a tax refund in the last two years or one of the first two stimulus payments as a direct deposit.

The IRS will calculate your stimulus amount based on the most recent tax return that has been processed. This means if your 2020 return has not been processed, your payment will be based on your 2019 return including income and family size. If you have not filed your 2020 taxes yet, you may want to do so as soon as possible

“Those first in line will be ones who the IRS has bank account information for (much like with the last two stimulus payments).“

Who is eligible?

Eligibility is very similar to the last two payments. You are eligible if you are a citizen, a lawful permanent resident residing in the United States or a qualifying immigrant with a valid Social Security number and if no one has claimed you as a dependent. 

Qualifying income is based on your filing status.  If you file as “Single,” you will receive the full amount if your income is below $75,000.  For “Head of Household” filers, that amount is $112,500 and for “Married Filing Jointly,” it is $150,000.  If you make more than that, you will receive either a smaller stimulus payment or no stimulus payment. 

If your income has decreased since your last tax return, or if your family size has changed, you might not get the correct stimulus amount.  Unfortunately, other than filing your 2020 return as soon as possible, there is no way to update the IRS about the changes in your life. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t get the correct stimulus amount, but it will take time.  When you file your 2021 taxes, there will be a question asking how much stimulus money you received in 2021. If you didn’t get the full payment, you will be able to receive the remaining amount you are due as part of your 2021 tax refund. 

What if you are having trouble receiving your check?

There were some issues with the prior rounds of stimulus payments, including where one spouse was eligible but the other was not, resulting in neither spouse getting a payment. The IRS has fixed this problem, but if you have that issue, your can contact Legal Aid of Nebraska for help. 

If you received your last stimulus payment on a pre-paid debit card, the next stimulus will not be added to the same card as before. Much like before, if they don’t have your bank information on file, the IRS will mail a check or pre-paid card to the address they have on file. 

This stimulus cannot be garnished to pay past due child support, or pay back state income tax or debts to federal agencies.  However, if you owe your bank fees, the bank may offset (take) those fees when the stimulus payment is deposited in your account.

“There were some issues with the first couple of stimulus checks … the IRS has fixed this problem, but if you have that issue, please contact Legal Aid of Nebraska and we can help.” 

Additionally, your stimulus check can be garnished (taken) from your bank account to pay court judgments of past debts.

If you receive a notice that your bank account has been garnished, or your account is frozen, you must act fast. You must file documents with the court and request a hearing to protect these funds. You can apply for Legal Aid by calling our COVID-19 Legal Hotline at 1 -844-268-5627.

Individuals who are experiencing or at risk of bank garnishment should do the following:

  • Monitor bank account activity to determine whether funds have been deposited or garnished.
  • Consider withdrawing the cash or using a pre-paid debit card to store the stimulus payments.
  • Contact Legal Aid of Nebraska immediately if stimulus funds are garnished. Legal Aid makes protection from bank garnishment a priority and will provide qualifying individuals with an attorney to help.
  • To apply please call Legal Aid’s COVID-19 Legal Hotline: 1-844-268-5627.

Discover important resources regarding your stimulus payment

DISCLAIMER: The information provided by Legal Aid of Nebraska is for informational purposes only. You should not rely solely upon this information in regards to you and your unique circumstances. You should always consult with an attorney regarding the laws and your rights. As the COVID-19 public health situation changes and evolves, different branches of our government will continue to issue new laws and regulations. While Legal Aid of Nebraska strives to keep the information on this page up to date, the information provided here may change on a day-to-day basis.


Shailana Dunn-Wall (she/her/hers), Christine A. Brunswick Public Service Fellow and Fellowship Staff Attorney at Legal Aid of Nebraska, is the author of this article.

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