Supplemental Security Income recipients to get stimulus cash directly

The Detroit News

The Internal Revenue Service announced Wednesday it would send stimulus payments to Supplemental Security Income recipients, less than two weeks after Michigan Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow called on federal officials to do so.

U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters had called for SSI beneficiaries to receive coronavirus stimulus payments without filing tax returns.

“The IRS was right to reverse course and make it easier for millions of seniors and people with disabilities to get their stimulus checks automatically," Stabenow, D-Lansing, said in a statement. "Now those who need help should get it fast, without having to file a tax return."

The $2.2 trillion stimulus package signed into law last month as part of the COVID-19 relief efforts allocates $1,200 to every adult earning as much as $75,000 and $500 for each of their minor children. The payments phase out for individuals earning up to $99,000.

After some back and forth with lawmakers, the Treasury and IRS ultimately decided Social Security recipients and railroad retirees, who aren’t typically required to file taxes, would not need to file a simple tax return to get the payment.

In a letter this month, Peters and Stabenow called on federal authorities to "use your authority to provide stimulus payments automatically to recipients of benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Supplemental Security Income program, without requiring them to file a tax return. This is the fastest, most-effective way to provide desperately needed help to more than 3 million low-income veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities."

The senators had previously called on the Treasury to provide Social Security recipients the direct cash assistance included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Protection Act without having to file a tax return. 

Following work with federal officials, SSI recipients will now receive the money "with no further action needed on their part," the IRS said in a statement Wednesday, adding it projects the payments would go out no later than early May.

"Since SSI recipients typically aren't required to file tax returns, the IRS had to work extensively with these other government agencies to determine a way to quickly and accurately deliver Economic Impact Payments to this group," IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in the release. "Additional programming work remains, but this step simplifies the process for SSI recipients to quickly and easily receive these $1,200 payments automatically. We appreciate the assistance of SSA and the Bureau of Fiscal Services in this effort."

Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, welcomed the decision Wednesday night.

“This is more effective and should help provide faster relief to the low-income seniors and people with disabilities in Michigan," he said in a statement. "Now the same must be done for veterans who rely on VA benefits for income.”

The IRS said eligible taxpayers with qualifying children under age 17 can receive an extra $500. For taxpayers who filed tax returns in 2018 or 2019, the child payment is automatic.

"However, many benefit recipients typically aren't required to file tax returns," the agency said Wednesday. "If they have children who qualify, an extra step is needed to add $500 per child onto their automatic payment of $1,200 if they didn't file a tax return in 2018 or 2019."

Those receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits or SSI and have a qualifying child can register through a tool on the IRS website

"If beneficiaries in these groups do not provide their information to the IRS soon, they will have to wait until later to receive their $500 per qualifying child," officials said Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed.