Social Security recipients will now get automatic coronavirus stimulus checks
WASHINGTON — Social Security beneficiaries will now automatically receive their coronavirus stimulus checks after a change made by the Trump administration late Wednesday night.
Lawmakers on Wednesday decried a policy enacted by the Internal Revenue Service earlier this week that would have required Social Security beneficiaries to file a simple tax return to receive the benefit although many of the beneficiaries — mostly seniors and the disabled — are not normally required to pay taxes.
Now, these Social Security recipients will receive their payments as a direct deposit or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their benefits.
“Social Security recipients who are not typically required to file a tax return do not need to take an action, and will receive their payment directly to their bank account,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin announced.
The $1,200 payments will be automatically sent to most taxpayers in the next few weeks. But about 15 million Americans do not file taxes each year, according to IRS estimates.
The change made Wednesday ensures that a portion of those 15 million Americans will now get an automatic stimulus check like taxpayers. But chairman of the House tax-writing committee, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., said Wednesday night the administration still needs to do more.
“Now, Treasury should build on this progress and make the same automatic payment to some veterans and those who receive Supplemental Security Income,” Neal said. “I urge the Trump Administration to make it easier for all individuals eligible for aid to access this new, vital support during the coronavirus pandemic.”
Thirty-nine Democratic senators — including Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy — and two Independents wrote to Mnuchin and Social Security Administration Andrew Commissioner on Wednesday urging them to resolve the situation.
“We strongly urge you to ensure that economic stimulus payments are automatically sent to vulnerable seniors and individuals who experience disabilities, without these individuals needing to file a tax return,” the senators wrote.
Rep. John Larson, D-1, and 32 other House Democrats sent a similar letter to Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig sent a similar letter Wednesday.
“These people haven’t filled out taxes in forever and the very organizations that would normally assist with something like this are prevented from doing so because they are shut down due to the COVID-19 virus,” Larson said. “The SSA has all this information.”
Normally, free tax in-person tax services funded by the federal government are available to assist low and moderate-income individuals, as well as seniors with their tax needs. But the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program had to cancel appointments in March and April due to the coronavirus.
The coronavirus payments are $1,200 for individuals making $75,000 or less a year, plus $500 per child. People making more than $75,000 will receive less, while people making over $99,000 a year will get nothing.