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If you didn't get your stimulus checks, check your Social Security card

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  • If you didn't get your stimulus checks, check your Social Security card

    Even if you have been a US citizen or green card holder for decades, if your Social Security card says "Not Valid for Employment" on it, you are not eligible for the stimulus check, and you are also not eligible to claim the stimulus credit on your tax return, unless you get your Social Security record updated before the tax filing deadline (including extensions).

    If you got your Social Security card as a citizen, permanent resident, asylee, or refugee, it will not have any restriction text on it. If you got it as a nonimmigrant who was authorized to work, it would say "Valid for Work only with DHS/INS authorization", which is also okay for the stimulus. However, if you got it when you were not authorized to work, it would say "Not Valid for Employment" on it, and this is not eligible for the stimulus. It is rare to issue Social Security Numbers to people who are not authorized to work now, but my understanding is that back before ITINs existed, they more often issued "Not Valid for Employment" SSNs to people not authorized to work who needed to file tax returns. So if you came to the US before the mid-90s, as a dependent nonimmigrant who wasn't authorized to work, filing taxes with someone who was authorized to work, there is a good chance that you got a "Not Valid for Employment" Social Security card. You might have neglected to update your Social Security card when you got your green card or citizenship, since it is not obvious it needs to be updated, and it has no effect on most things -- you can still use your green card or US passport for the I-9 when starting a job, and it didn't affect your ability to file a tax return and claim tax deductions and credits until now.

    The IRS Get My Payment tool would just show "Payment Status Not Available" for someone who is not eligible, making it impossible to tell whether the IRS is just missing data on your stimulus, or whether they have determined you are ineligible for some reason, unless you bothered to call the IRS and wait on hold for hours. The problem is that a US citizen or green card holder who would otherwise be eligible for the stimulus and didn't get it, and perhaps saw the message "Payment Status Not Available", would assume that it was just some technical fluke (which has been quite common) and they can simply claim it on their tax return, as that has been the messaging from the government and tax software, etc. Almost nobody has mentioned that the Social Security card could be a problem that could prevent you from getting the credit, and if you don't update it before the tax filing deadline, you will lose the eligibility for the first two stimulus payments forever, so by the time you get denied the credit it will be too late to fix it.

    This is my personal opinion and is not to be construed as legal advice.