Many Americans may have to wait months for coronavirus relief checks

The first Americans to get relief payments from the government won't see checks till mid-April, and many will have to wait longer.
U.S Treasury Facility Prints Social Security Checks
William Thomas Cain / Getty Images file

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By Kasie Hunt and Alex Moe

The first Americans to get relief payments from the government under the coronavirus legislation signed into law last month won't see the money until at least the week of April 13, according to new estimates from the Trump administration provided to House Democrats.

Many people who don't have direct deposit information on file with the IRS might have to wait months to get the money.

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A memo circulated this week by Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, obtained by NBC News, says Americans who have direct deposit information on file will get their payments in mid-April, "likely" the week of April 13. The document estimates that 60 million Americans will get checks at that point.

About three weeks after those deposits go out, the IRS will start issuing paper checks, most likely the week of May 4, according to the memo. The office that issues paper checks can process about 5 million a week, so it could take 20 weeks — nearly five months — to get them all out.

However, late Thursday a Treasury Department official told NBC News they believe the IRS will begin sending paper checks starting in at an unspecified date in April, not May.

Additionally, they said, direct deposit payments will be swift.

“We expect 50 million to 70 million Americans will receive Economic Impact Payments through direct deposit by April 15,” the official said. "The overwhelming majority of eligible Americans will receive Economic Impact Payments within the next three weeks."

The Treasury Department official said it is building a web portal for Americans to provide direct deposit information if it's not on file with the government. The official couldn’t provide a timeline but said an estimated timetable would be available as soon as Friday.

The IRS will process paper checks for the lowest-income Americans first.

The congressional memo also says people on Social Security won't have to do anything to get their payments — the rebate will be sent to them just as their Social Security checks are.

"If we have your information you'll get it within two weeks," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday. "Social Security, you'll get it very quickly after that. If we don't have your information you'll have a simple web portal, we'll upload it. If we don't have that, we'll send you checks in the mail."