Stimulus for Disability Recipients: Issues With Getting the Payment

Update: Monthly SSI recipients with children under 17 have until May 5 to file a simple tax return with the IRS to receive $500 for each child.

The IRS has caused a lot of confusion over what recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and veterans disability compensation or pension payments need to do to get their economic stimulus payments in 2020. (All U.S. citizens are entitled to the $1,200, along with $500 for each child under 17 who can be claimed as a dependent.)

The IRS released two online tools to help the situation: the non-filer page for people who don't normally file tax returns to file "simple tax returns" and the Get My Payment tool for people to enter direct deposit information or find out information about their stimulus payment. But many disability recipients are wondering why the Get Payment tool won't work for them, and others are wondering why they haven't received their checks. Here are some answers.

Do I Have to File a Non-Filer Tax Return?

People who receive monthly SSDI or SSI checks who did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 are not required to do anything, including filing a simple tax return, unless they have children under 17. Parents who have children under 17 and who receive monthly SSDI or SSI checks and who did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 were required to file a simple "non-filer" tax return by a certain date, telling the IRS about their children, their ages, and their Social Security numbers.

Parents who receive SSDI had until noon on April 22 to submit the information and parents who receive SSI had until May 5. Those who missed the deadline will receive their $1,200 stimulus payment, but they will have to wait until spring 2021 to receive the extra $500 per child by filing a regular 2020 tax return.

Who else has to file a non-filer tax return? If you just started to receive SSDI, SSI, or veterans benefits in 2020 and you didn't file a tax return in 2018 or 2019, you have to submit a non-filer tax return.

How Do I File a Non-Filer Tax Return?

Go to Free File's non-filer page, where you'll be asked to create an account. Then you'll provide your Social Security number, driver's license number, filing status, and banking information (if you want direct deposit). Do not use the non-filer page if you have already submitted a 2019 tax return or if you receive SSDI, SSI, or veterans benefits in 2019 and you don't have children.

When Should SSDI and SSI Recipients Get Their Stimulus Checks?

The IRS sent stimulus payments to SSDI recipients by direct deposit starting April 29. SSI and VA benefits recipients should receive theirs in mid- May. The IRS also started sending paper checks in late April for those who don't receive their disability payments by direct deposit, but it will take months for the IRS to mail all of the paper checks.

SSDI recipients who receive their monthly payments by Direct Express debit card should have received their stimulus payments by now, and SSI recipients should receive theirs in mid-May. But if you use the non-filer page, you won't receive your payment on your Direct Express card. You will either receive a direct deposit, if you give the IRS bank account information during the non-filer process, or a paper check if you leave the bank account information empty.

Could Someone Else Have Received My Payment?

For some disability recipients who have representative payees, the IRS has deposited an SSDI or SSI recipient's stimulus money into the representative payee's bank account or sent the payee a check. But since the stimulus money isn't a Social Security or SSI benefit, the representative payee is not responsible for managing it. Disability recipients who want to use the money on their own can ask their payees for it. Recipients who want assistance in managing or saving the stimulus money can request help from the representative payee, but it will outside the normal role of representative payee, and the representative payee doesn't have to include the stimulus payment in their annual accounting to Social Security.

Some disability lawyers have reported receiving stimulus payments that were meant for former clients whom the lawyers helped get disability benefits. The Treasury Department is looking into this; this was an error that shouldn't have happened. Lawyers who received the money erroneously will reverse the direct deposits to the IRS, and the IRS should send out a paper check to the proper recipients.

Why Doesn't the Get My Payment Tool Work for Me?

The IRS's Get My Payment tool is supposed to allow you to get your payment status and the date you can expect to receive your stimulus money. (And up until May 13, you were supposed to be able to use this tool to provide new bank information to the IRS.)

This tool, however, has not been working for some SSDI and SSI recipients and veterans who don't file tax returns, as well as those who recently used the IRS's non-filer tool to file a simple tax return. People in those categories may see a "Payment Status Not Available" message.

The IRS loaded more data into the Get My Payment tool in early May, so if you check back, you may be able to can view your payment dates at that time, but the IRS has not clarified whether Social Security and SSI recipients who don't file a tax return will be able to use this tool.

Note: If you submit information to the IRS on the non-filer page, you do not need to submit new direct deposit information to the IRS through Get My Payment.

Check the Get My Payment Tool Again

When the IRS inputs data for the millions of people who receive SSDI, SSI, and veterans benefits, the tool should tell how you will receive your stimulus payment and when. If the tool says you'll get a direct deposit, double-check the bank account or card number that appears on the Get My Payment tool website.

If you aren't having luck with the Get My Payment tool, you'll have to keep checking your bank account or debit card, or wait for a letter from the IRS. The IRS will mail you a letter two weeks after the agency deposits your stimulus money or mails your paper check. The letter will tell you how and when the payment was made. If you didn't receive the money, the letter will tell you how to contact the IRS.

Deadline to Add Information to Get My Payment Tool

The deadline to add direct deposit information to the Get My Payment tool was Wednesday, May 13, at noon Eastern time or 9 a.m. Pacific time. If the IRS didn't have your bank information, and you didn't add it by May 13, the IRS will send you a paper check.

Beware of Stimulus Check Scams
Scammers claiming to be from the Treasury Department or the IRS have been calling, texting, and emailing disability recipients, asking for personal financial information or for a fee to expedite your stimulus payment. Do not respond; the IRS will not contact you for your information, and you do not have to pay a fee to receive your check.

Updated May 13, 2020

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