Social Security beneficiaries are eligible for cash payments under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act enacted by Congress last week. Like other Americans, recipients of Social Security retirement and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can receive up to $1,200 per individual adult or $2,400 per couple, dependent on income.
According to CNBC, “If you earn more than $75,000 as an individual or $150,000 as a couple, the total amount you’re eligible to receive starts to decrease. If you earn $99,000 or more as an individual or $198,000 as a couple, you aren’t eligible to receive a stimulus check.”
We asked our top Social Security expert, Webster Phillips, to answer some commonly asked questions about beneficiaries’ cash stimulus payments.
Q: Can Social Security beneficiaries receive stimulus payments even if they haven’t filed taxes for 2018 or 2019?
A: Yes. If beneficiaries have not filed 2018 or 2019 federal income taxes, the Treasury Department will use their annual 1099 forms to determine payment elibility.
Q: Are Social Security beneficiaries subject to the same income eligibility requirements as other adults?
A: Yes. Beneficiaries whose Adjusted Gross Incomes (AGI’s) exceed $75,000 (or $150,000 a couple), will see their stimulus payments reduced. Individuals with AGI’s of more than $99,000 or couples with AGI’s exceeding $198,000 will receive no stimulus payments.
Q: Will it likely take a long time for Social Security beneficiaries to receive their payments?
A: No. Beneficiaries should receive their payments fairly quickly because 99% of them already are paid through electronic deposits.
Q: What percentage of Social Security beneficiaries likely will receive stimulus payments?
A: We don’t have those numbers right now. The National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) found in a recent study that 40% of older Americans rely solely on Social Security income in retirement. Anyone in that category would certainly receive a stimulus payment, if not millions of others whose incomes do not exceed the AGI thresholds.
Q: Is a stimulus payment of up to $1,200 per individual and $2,400 per married couple going to truly help Social Security beneficiaries?
A: I would think it would be a considerable payment when you consider that $1,200 is close to the average monthly retirement benefit of $1,500. For a married couple receiving the full cash payment, $2,400 is almost double the average monthly retirement benefit. If you’re living close to the edge financially, this is a significant amount of additional money. You could use it to buy extra groceries, an extended supply of prescription medications, pay down debts… there are a multitude of important things you could do with it.
Q: If I have a large, retroactive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) award, could it make me ineligible for a stimulus payment?
A: If you received that award in 2019, yes it could. But if you receive it in 2020, no.
If you have a Social Security question relating to the stimulus payments or anything else, you can get answers from the National Committee. Submit a question on our Ask Us page, and receive a timely response from one of our experts!