Social Security, SSI, SSDI: Why the delay and everything else to know – CNET

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The stimulus check rules can be a little different for people who receive SSI and SSDI. 


Angela Lang/CNET

This week, 37 million new stimulus checks for up to $1,400 per person will have gone out to eligible people, the Treasury said. However, many of the 8 million people who receive Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance and other federal income benefits, including veterans, are still waiting for their stimulus payment to arrive — and that also includes dependents. So what’s the holdup? It all comes down to whether or not you used a particular tool in 2020 and if your details have changed since then.

“Many federal beneficiaries who filed 2019 or 2020 returns or used the Non-Filers tool were included in these first two batches of payments, if eligible,” the Treasury said in a statement Wednesday. “For federal beneficiaries who did not file a 2019 or 2020 tax return or did not use the Non-Filers tool, the IRS is working directly with the Social Security Administration, the Railroad Retirement Board, and the Veterans Administration to obtain updated 2021 information to ensure that as many people as possible are sent fast, automatic payments.”

Having a separate payment track from others is only one important distinction for SSDI and SSI recipients. For example, you’ll also receive your money in a different form of payment this time than with the second check (you can calculate how much of the $1,400 your household could get and eventually track your payment here.) The checks are arriving during tax season, which could also complicate matters, especially if you gained a new dependent in 2020. If you stopped or started receiving SSI or SSDI in 2019 or 2020, or are missing money from the first two stimulus checks, you could also face another obstacle. We’ll explain. This story has been updated.

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Stimulus check 3: How much money you’ll get

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When will I know when I’ll get my third stimulus check?

The IRS said on March 22 that a payment date for those who receive Social Security and other federal benefits will be announced as soon as the information “becomes available.” The Social Security Q&A webpage for the third stimulus payment says it will expand its question and answer section soon. The IRS told CNET it’s working directly with other federal agencies to obtain updated 2021 information for recipients.

House Democrats are “demanding immediate answers from the IRS and Social Security Admin why they’re taking so damn long sending stimulus payments to many Social Security, SSI, and VA recipients,” Rep. Bill Pascrell tweeted Tuesday. “This money needs to go out NOW.”

The IRS and Treasury will use the information it has on file to automatically send you a check (even if you didn’t file a return). People who have already filed a 2020 tax return this year to claim missing stimulus money may find that the IRS will likely use this information instead of your 2019 details if it has processed your latest return (here’s how to see).

Some people may need to file a 2020 tax return, even if they don’t usually file, so the IRS has all the information needed to send payments for all eligible dependents.

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The rules surrounding the third stimulus check can get confusing, fast.


Sarah Tew/CNET

How will my third stimulus check money arrive?

The IRS said it is adjusting how it will make payments to those who receive some federal benefits as it processes the third stimulus payments.

Most SSI and SSDI recipients didn’t receive their first payments via their Direct Express card, though this is usually what the government uses to distribute federal benefits. Instead, the payment arrived through a non-Direct Express bank account or as a paper check, if you didn’t have your bank account information on file with the IRS. 

For the second round of payments approved in December, the IRS said that SSI and SSDI recipients should have gotten their stimulus check money the same way they received their first stimulus checks. People who received the first round of payments via Direct Express should have received the second payment the same way, according to the IRS.

However, with this third check, the IRS said Social Security and other federal beneficiaries will likely receive the new payment the same way as their usual benefits, noting it will announce a payment date for this group shortly.

Will I absolutely get the full $1,400 payment? Could I get more?

In President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, people who receive SSI and SSDI will once again automatically qualify to receive a third stimulus check, for up to $1,400, as they did for the first and second round of payments approved in 2020. 

In the first two rounds, those individuals were eligible so long as they had a Social Security number and weren’t claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return — and so long as their household income didn’t exceed the threshold set ($75,000 single, $112,500 head of household, $150,000 married). 

The March 11 bill that authorized the third check expands stimulus payment eligibility to dependents of all ages, including young adults age 17 to 24 and older adult dependents. It also increases the amount set aside for those dependents to $1,400 each. Another change: This time around, the checks will be more “targeted” than they were in the first two rounds, meaning that single taxpayers who earn $75,000 or less per year will be eligible for the full amount, while those who earn more than $80,000 per year won’t get any money. That means some families could get more money, while others will get less or none at all.

People receiving Railroad Retirement and Veterans Affairs benefits also automatically qualify for a payment, as they did in the first and second round of stimulus checks, the IRS said

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If you’re missing stimulus money for yourself or your dependents, you’ll need to claim it on your tax return.


Angela Lang/CNET

What do I need to do to claim money for my dependents?

The third stimulus check changes the rules and makes dependents of all ages eligible for up to $1,400 each toward the household’s total payment. That includes older adult relatives and college-age children. However, some beneficiaries with dependents will need to file a 2020 tax return to receive the $1,400 per dependent, so that the IRS knows how many dependents you claim.

“People in this group should file a 2020 tax return to be considered for an additional payment for their dependent as quickly as possible,” the IRS said in a March 22 press release.

Here are all the ways you could get more money in a third check and what to know if you had a baby in 2020. Here are tax breaks for anyone caring for children and older adults. And here’s who the IRS counts as an adult to receive their own stimulus check.

For the first stimulus check approved under the CARES Act in March 2020, qualified people with dependents age 16 or younger were eligible for up to $500 per child dependent, but not everyone actually received that extra money. For the second stimulus check, as long as your children were 16 years old or younger, they contributed $600 toward the final total of your household’s second stimulus check. 

I don’t live in the US. What do I need to know?

If you’re a Social Security beneficiary with a foreign address whose monthly benefit is deposited in a foreign bank account, you should receive your third stimulus payment as a check in the mail. (The IRS doesn’t usually deposit money into foreign banks.) 

If you live abroad but receive your monthly benefits through a US bank, you should have received your first two payments by direct deposit to that account. If you still haven’t gotten your money, it will have to be claimed as part of a tax return. Find out everything you need to know about stimulus checks, citizenship and living abroad here.

I didn’t get my full stimulus check from the first two checks and I don’t file taxes. What can I do now?

According to the IRS, people who receive Social Security retirement, SSDI, SSI and Railroad Retirement benefits, as well as Veterans Affairs beneficiaries, were automatically eligible for the first two stimulus payments. If you receive these federal benefits as your only form of income, you weren’t required to file a federal income tax return in 2018 or 2019. Under the CARES Act, you should have received a stimulus check automatically (no need to file a simple tax return, as the IRS had originally said.)

If that money didn’t arrive, it’s possible you might have had a payment garnished for child support or funds diverted to pay a specific kind of creditor, but the rules changed with a second check. However, an IRS error could also be one potential culprit or the IRS needed more information about your eligibility. 

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It isn’t too late to claim missing stimulus money, but you have to file a tax return to do so. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

To receive your money now, you’ll need to claim the additional amount as part of tax season 2020, using the Recovery Rebate Credit. Even if you don’t usually file taxes, you’ll have to file to get those funds. The deadline for filing your 2020 taxes was extended to May 17, 2021.

In some cases — if you received a letter from the IRS confirming that your payment was sent, but you never actually got the money, for instance — you may need to contact the IRS to request a payment trace.

The IRS says you can create and then check an IRS account to see more information about your eligibility around the first two stimulus payments.

How do I claim the stimulus money I still never received for my dependents?

If you used the IRS’ Non-Filers tool from May 5 through Aug. 15, 2020, the IRS should have automatically issued a catch-up payment for your dependents in October 2020. If you received your original stimulus money by direct deposit, you should have gotten the catch-up payment the same way. Others would have received it in the mail. 

If you filed for your missing dependent money by Nov. 21, 2020, the payment should have arrived by the end of 2020 in the same way you received your first payment (likely direct deposit or by mail.) If you missed the deadline, your check should be included on your 2020 tax return in 2021, if you file for a Recovery Rebate Credit.

To see the status of your or your dependent’s payment for the first or second payment, check your IRS account.

Here’s everything else we know about third stimulus checks, including what to do if there’s a problem with your payment.