Marlene Arsola received the check this week from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
She tells the Albuquerque Journal that her sister bought a couple of metal ammunition boxes for $1 each at an auction about eight years ago.
One box was empty but the other had shredded currency.
Arsola's sister took the bills that were partially intact to the bank and received $400 to $500 for them. She turned over the smaller shreds to Arsola, who enjoys doing puzzles.
She didn't put the pieces together but eventually contacted the Treasury Department about the mutilated money.
She discovered the check in her mail Thursday.