Under pressure from advocates including the National Committee, the Treasury Department has reversed course and will allow SSI beneficiaries to receive stimulus payments without filing tax returns. On Wednesday, Treasury announced:
“SSI recipients with no qualifying children do not need to take any action in order to receive their $1,200 economic impact payment. The payments will be automatic.” – Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, 4/15/20
As CNBC reported, “The announcement clears up confusion for individuals who rely on these benefits, who are generally elderly, disabled or blind, and have little to no taxable income.”
However, SSI recipients with qualifying children under age 17 still must visit IRS.gov and click on the “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” button. “The tool will request basic information to confirm eligibility, calculate and send the Economic Impact Payments” in the amount of $500 per qualified dependent child.
Treasury’s reversal of course is a victory for seniors’ advocates, including the National Committee, who had pressured the administration to clear the way for automatic payments for SSI recipients.
“The Trump administration did the right thing by allowing recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to receive relief payments without filing a tax return. The administration’s decision removes an unnecessary barrier that would have made it difficult for millions of our most vulnerable citizens to obtain the same cash payments available to other Americans under the CARES Act.” – Max Richtman, National Committee president, 4/15/20
On April 2nd, the National Committee sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie, urging the administration not to require tax returns from SSI or Veterans benefits recipients. The National Committee is gratified that SSI beneficiaries will receive stimulus payments without filing tax returns, but still strongly urges that VA beneficiaries be afforded the same treatment – something that has not yet been forthcoming.
“Seniors and people with disabilities are among the hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. They struggle to make ends meet on fixed incomes, many living with debilitating conditions and many without families who can provide support. These federal relief payments improve their chances of surviving the next few months both physically and financially. Now we know that these poor, disabled, and elderly will receive their relief payments automatically just like everyone else – without undue burdens or delays.” – Max Richtman, 4/15/20
The Treasury Department says that SSI beneficiaries should receive their automatic relief payments no later than early May. But those with qualifying children who do not provide information via the online portal soon will have to wait until later to receive their $500 per qualifying child.
The administration’s policy reversal regarding SSI beneficiaries follows an earlier decision to allow Social Security and SSDI recipients to receive stimulus payments automatically — which also was the result of a successful pressure campaign by seniors advocates and members of Congress.