Who Received Stimulus Checks? How Much Was Spent?

Did You Miss Your Stimulus Check?

Older woman reading on sofa
This woman just realized she received a stimulus check. Cultura/Seb Oliver/Riser/Getty Images

The Economic Stimulus Act sent out $13 billion in stimulus checks to recipients of Social Security, Supplemental Security Income and veterans in 2009. It was only a portion of the $787 billion budgeted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Most taxpayers did not receive checks. Instead, the ARRA gave them more than $20 billion in income tax credits for the 2009 tax year. Some were granted $5 billion for other tax credits.

Unemployed workers were budgeted to receive $14 billion in COBRA copayments.

In total, the Obama Stimulus Plan budgeted $65 billion for stimulus checks, credits for taxpayers and credits for the unemployed in Fiscal Year 2009. That's less than the $96 billion in stimulus checks distributed by the Bush tax rebate. But, the ARRA disbursed it between May and October 2009. That's two months sooner than the Bush stimulus checks that were sent out between May and December 2008. 

When Did Stimulus Checks Go Out?

The government sent economic stimulus checks of $250 each to more than 52 million Social Security and SSI recipients in May 2009. If you did not receive your check, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contact your local Social Security office. For more information, see Social Security.

Stimulus checks were also sent to some recipients of Veterans Affairs or Railroad Retirement Board benefits.

If you did not receive your check, call 1-800-827-1000 for the VA or 1-877-772-5772 for the RRB or contact your local office. Those were one-time payments for 2009. 

Did Everyone Receive Stimulus Checks?

The average taxpayer received a tax cut in 2009 of $400 per individual or $800 per family. They did not receive stimulus checks.

Instead, the tax cuts appeared in each paycheck starting in June 2009. Each employee saw about 6 percent less withholding. 

That put money in people's hands sooner. That would turn the recession around quicker. Unfortunately, many people didn't realize they had received a tax cut. They expected checks in the mail. As a result, they didn't spend the extra money because it didn't feel like a bonus.

The self-employed and others who made estimated payments didn't get their tax cuts until April 2010. They received a total of $20 billion when they paid their 2009 taxes. They also received tax relief in 2010. That totaled $66 billion. 

Many of these small business owners didn't notice the tax cut. By the time they received it, the recession was over. They should have gotten a tax break sooner, so they could use it to hire workers.

What Other Stimulus Benefits Did Taxpayers Get in 2009?

Certain taxpayers were eligible for relief as follows:

  • Deduction of sales taxes on new car purchases.
  • Nearly $1 billion was budgeted for suspension of taxes on unemployment benefits in 2009.

Stimulus Checks in 2008

In 2008, the Bush administration spent $168 billion on its economic stimulus package. It rebated taxes on the first $6,000 of income for individuals or first $12,000 of income for couples. Stimulus checks were mailed out as follows:

  • Individual taxpayers, up to $600.
  • Married couples, up to $1,200.
  • Households with children received $300 per dependent child.
  • Rebate were reduced for higher incomes ($75,000 individuals/ $150,000/couples).

Twenty million retirees on Social Security and disabled veterans also received checks for $300 ($600 for couples) if they earned at least $3,000 in 2007 in benefits. For more, see Bush Economic Stimulus Package.