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Why the IRS and unemployment websites may not be working for you

Web portals for obtaining financial assistance during the coronavirus pandemic have caused problems for many people. Here's how you can deal with them.

SPOKANE, Wash. — For people struggling financially right now, state and federal governments are offering assistance.

But sometimes that assistance requires navigating various web portals that may return errors and leave people wondering whether they'll ever see the money they were promised.

Here are some of the reasons behind, and ways to deal with, commonly reported problems.

Payment status not available

For people wanting to make sure they get their stimulus check, the IRS created a fairly easy to use website. It's probably the first thing that comes up when you Google "get my payment.” Enter your social security number, birthday and address, and it tells you if your payment is on the way.

Except for some people, it doesn't.  Many are reporting an error message that says, “payment status not available.”

The IRS responded to that error over the weekend. If you get that message, these might be the reasons why. 

First, the IRS might not be done processing your tax return.

Second, if you're on Social Security or some other benefit program, you normally — and still —  don't need to file a return. But another government agency, such as the Social Security Administration, still has to send your info over to the IRS before they can send you your payment, and that data might not be processed yet.

RELATED: Receiving SSI benefits? You'll get your stimulus check automatically, IRS says

Third, if you don't file a tax return or get benefits, you have to fill out a specially created form,  which also might not be processed yet.

For any of these issues, the only real solution is patience. The government is attempting to process millions of people’s data simultaneously.

You can check your status again later to see if they are closer to cutting your check. However, don’t check the status more than once per day, as security measures might lock you out if you make too many attempts.

Need more information

Another common problem has arisen wherein people who have filed their tax return, and included direct deposit information, are told by the IRS site that there’s no direct deposit info on file.

That could be for a couple reasons.

First, delays in processing your tax return.

Second, if you used a system like TurboTax or H&R Block, they might have created a one-time deposit account to handle your refund. But since that's a one-time account, the stimulus money can't go there —  only the refund can. The IRS believes that could be creating a complication.

RELATED: Why is your stimulus check delayed?

Either way, if the website asks for it, go ahead and re-enter your direct deposit info. And again, check back later.

Unemployment website crashes

People are also having issues trying to get money they're owed through unemployment insurance.

In Washington, the state's website is so overloaded it sometimes crashes. The department says they're making progress in fixing that.

Here are some tips to avoid such issues.

First, don't file on a Sunday. That's when the most people file claims, but you can file any day during the eligible week. Using the website during off-hours may help reduce crashing.

Second, make sure you review the checklist of info the agency needs from you. That way you don't enter wrong or incomplete info and end up with problems – problems that may result in you having to call an extremely overloaded help line.

Third, there’s a save button at the bottom of the screen while your filling out the form. Try clicking that regularly so your information doesn't get lost if you are kicked out of the web portal.

RELATED: 'People should keep trying:' Washington unemployment site overwhelmed after update

RELATED: Out of work due to coronavirus crisis? See Washington's new unemployment rules

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