Stimulus checks: Some Social Security recipients to get checks starting today

Posted at 7:47 AM, May 18, 2020

Many Americans that receive extra Social Security benefits for low-income aged, blind or disabled people are likely to receive their stimulus payments today or through the mail beginning on Friday, according to the Social Security Administration.

Some 8 million people get Supplemental Security Income, many with disabilities that typically prevent them from working. The average monthly benefit is $541. That means the stimulus payments — authorized under the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to offset the impact of the coronavirus pandemic — amounts to a significant cash influx for most SSI recipients.

The stimulus payments are $1,200 for single people who earn less than $75,000, while married couples who earn less than $150,000 will receive $2,400. Children under 17 are eligible to get $500.

Although experts say the government money should help people in the short term, simply distributing the funds in a timely way has proved problematic. The Social Security Administration this month published a seven-page "how-to" for Social Security recipients, which provides guidance on which steps beneficiaries should take to make sure they get their payments.

Among the tips from the Social Security Administration is guidance on when SSI recipients who don't file tax returns will start receiving their payments. "You should receive your $1,200 payment in the same way you receive your monthly SSI payment: Direct Deposit and Direct Express by May 13; Paper checks will begin May 15," according to the guidelines.

Confusion for Social Security recipients

Social Security recipients have faced a number of hurdles to getting their stimulus payments. Early on, the Treasury Department said Social Security recipients who aren't required to file tax returns would need to file a "simple tax return" to qualify. But after an outcry from lawmakers, the Treasury reversed the decision.

Even with that shift in policy, there have been plenty of questions for Social Security recipients who don't file tax returns. For one, families with children under the age of 17 are eligible for $500 per child under the stimulus package. But because some SSI recipients are exempt from filing taxes, the IRS may not have information about those kids.

The IRS had urged people who don't file taxes to use a special "non-filer tool," which was created for the stimulus check program, to provide details about their dependents. But the deadline for non-filers to tell the IRS about their dependents was on May 5 — that means those consumers will receive their stimulus payments of $1,200, but not the $500 per child.

They'll have a chance to claim the $500 next year however, the Social Security Administration says. If they file a tax year 2020 tax return, they'll get the $500 per-child payment next year.

Many Social Security recipients likely already got their checks. The IRS began direct deposit of stimulus checks to beneficiaries of the mainstay program who file their taxes at the end of April, the retirement program said.

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