The Internal Revenue Service will start sending stimulus payments to low-income Social Security recipients this weekend, and expects most of the money to be received electronically on April 7.
Most eligible households have already received the stimulus payments approved by Congress in the latest Covid relief bill passed earlier this month. Roughly 127 million payments have been sent out over the first two weeks.
But Social Security recipients who don’t have a 2019 or 2020 tax return on file – typically because their income is below the threshold for filing – are still waiting. The delay affects those who receive Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, or Railroad Retirement Board benefits.
They will receive their stimulus payment automatically and should start seeing the status of their payments this weekend using the government’s online Get My Payment tool.
The Social Security Administration shared the beneficiaries’ contact information with the IRS last week and the money will likely be delivered in the same manner as regular benefits, whether that’s a direct deposit or a check in the mail.
But the information wasn’t sent to the IRS until after some Democratic lawmakers raised alarm over the delay and sent a letter last week requesting the files be transferred within 24 hours.
On Thursday, Social Security Administration Commissioner Andrew Saul put out a statement to say his agency sent the files by 9 a.m. that day, noting that it was a week sooner than the agency was able to provide the information to the IRS last year when the first round of stimulus payments went out.
“Social Security employees have literally worked day and night with IRS staff to ensure that the electronic files of Social Security and SSI recipients are complete, accurate, and ready to be used to issue payments,” Saul said.
People who receive Veterans Affairs pension and don’t have a recent tax return on file are also still waiting for their stimulus payments. On Tuesday, the IRS said it was continuing to review data received for veteran benefit recipients and expects a forthcoming payment date “soon.”
Who gets a payment?
The new payments are worth up to $1,400 per person and are expected to reach 85% of households, according to the White House. Families will receive an additional $1,400 per dependent, so a couple with two children could receive up to $5,600. Unlike prior rounds, families will now receive the additional money for adult dependents over the age of 17.
The full amount goes to individuals earning less than $75,000 of adjusted gross income, heads of households (like single parents) earning less than $112,500 and married couples earning less than $150,000. But then the payments gradually phase out as income goes up.
Lawmakers narrowed the scope of the payments this time so that not everyone who received a previous check will be sent one now. It cuts off individuals who earn at least $80,000 a year of adjusted gross income, heads of households who earn at least $120,000 and married couples who earn at least $160,000 – regardless of how many children they have.
On what year are the income limits based?
The new income thresholds will be based on a taxpayer’s most recent return. If they’ve already filed a 2020 return by the time the payment is sent and it has been processed, the IRS will base eligibility on their 2020 adjusted gross income. If not, it will be based on the 2019 return or the information submitted through an online portal set up last year for people who don’t usually file tax returns.
If your 2019 income was less than your pay in 2020, you will not owe back any money. But if your income fell in 2020, filing your tax return now – before the payments go out – may mean you’ll get a bigger check.
Reaching those that need it the most
The IRS can easily reach people who have filed either their 2019 or 2020 tax return because their bank account information or address is on file. The agency will also automatically send the money to low-income people who don’t normally file taxes but submitted their personal information online to receive the stimulus payment last year.
That online portal is closed. Instead, officials are encouraging people to file 2020 tax returns even if they aren’t required in order to receive the stimulus money.
CNN’s Betsy Klein contributed reporting.