Stimulus Checks: What the 'Payment Status Not Available' Message Means

With discussions set to begin on Capitol Hill later this month regarding what could be the final relief package amid the coronavirus pandemic, some Americans are still awaiting their first stimulus check. As of June 8, the federal government had distributed approximately 159 million payouts, according to CNBC. Some of the estimated 30 million to 35 million other payments yet to be issued left some people clamoring to the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) "Get My Payment" tool, where they were met with a message "payment status not available."

The message has been a recurring issue ever since the IRS launched the online portable in April. Hundreds of people who had flocked to the tool to track their payout put in the requested information only to receive the message. Beginning with "payment status not available," the message went on to explain that "according to information that we have on file, we cannot determine your eligibility for a payment at this time." It also directed users to the IRS FAQ page, which explained that the error message could be a result of several things, among ineligiblity of an economic impact payment; are required to but have not yet filed taxes for the year 2018 or 2019; they recently filed their return or provided information through Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info tool; or they are a SSA or RRB Form 1099 recipient, SSI or VA benefit recipient.

Not long after users began experiencing the error message, the IRS issued a statement addressing the concerns, stating that the tool "is operating smoothly and effectively" and that millions of taxpayers had "successfully received their payment status." The statement added that the IRS "is actively monitoring site volume; if site volume gets too high, users are sent to an online waiting room; for a brief wait until space becomes available, much like private sector online sites." The IRS also claimed that "media reports saying the tool 'crashed' are inaccurate."

Despite the IRS' claim at the time that the tool was functioning properly, social media users suggested that it could have been a "generic catch-all error for the system, instead of a useful or actionable error message" or "more a backlog/glitch than it is an actual indication that you are not going to receive payment or something is wrong."

For those still waiting on their payments and may encounter the error when they attempt to track their stimulus check, there are a few tricks that have proven successful. Many users had success by entering their address in all caps. Others found that entering, for example, "Unit 2" rather than "#2" for their apartment worked. You can see a full list of potential workarounds by clicking here.