Stimulus for Disability Recipients: Issues With Getting the Payment

SSDI and SSI recipients who have not received a stimulus check may need to request a Recovery Rebate Credit by filing a tax return.

Recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are starting to receive their third stimulus payments. (All U.S. citizens are entitled to the stimulus payments, along with a payment for each child.)

Last week the IRS announced that many SSDI and SSI recipients will receive direct deposits on April 7. If you haven't received your payment, check the Get My Payment tool (see below). The IRS says the agency had to wait for up-to-date information from the Social Security Administration (SSA) about who is currently receiving benefits. SSA officials say that it took time to update their files to ensure that direct deposits go to correct bank accounts and mailed payments go to the correct addresses, and that those who are deceased were removed from the files. SSDI recipients who filed a tax return or used the IRS's non-filer tool last year to give the IRS their direct deposit information should have gotten their stimulus payments in March.

For those who have had trouble getting their stimulus payments, here are some answers.

How Will SSDI and SSI Recipients Get Their Stimulus Checks?

SSDI and SSI recipients who receive their monthly benefit payments by Direct Express debit card should receive their stimulus payments by Direct Express. This was not necessarily true for the first and second payments, but the IRS says most disability recipients should receive their third payments by Direct Express. Others might either receive a direct deposit (if the IRS has their bank account information), a paper check, or a prepaid Visa debit card.

The debit cards, issued by MetaBank, are called Economic Impact Payment (EIP) cards. After activating the card, you can use your EIP card for purchases or use it to withdraw cash (subject to a daily limit). You can also transfer the funds from your EIP card directly into your own bank account, after you register for online access. (The card will come with instructions on setting up online access.)

Check the Get My Payment Tool

The IRS has uploaded data for your third stimulus payment into a tool on its website called Get My Payment. Some people are still seeing a message that says either the IRS doesn't have enough information yet or that they aren't eligible for the payment. If you get this message, it doesn't necessarily mean you aren't eligible. If your payment status has not been updated yet, it may be updated this coming weekend.

Once your information is updated, you'll be able to see the date you can expect to receive your stimulus payment, or the date it was deposited or mailed. You should also be able to see whether your money was direct deposited or whether you'll be receiving the payment by mail.

When Should SSDI and SSI Recipients Get Their Stimulus Checks?

You can probably expect to receive your third stimulus payment by mid-April. Now that the IRS has Social Security's files of its active beneficiaries, the IRS will start to release payments to all SSDI and SSI recipients on April 7. The IRS will continue making payments throughout April.

Second stimulus checks. The IRS started sending second stimulus payments to SSDI and SSI recipients in early January. If you haven't received your second payment, you can create an account on the IRS website to get information on the first and second payments. You should be able to see where the payments were deposited or when they were mailed. The IRS says it may take three or four weeks to get the payment by mail.

When Will Veterans Receive Their Third Stimulus Check?

Many veterans who receive veterans disability compensation or pension payments and don't file tax returns have not received their third stimulus checks. The IRS estimates that veterans who receive VA benefits could be issued checks by mid-April. The agency expects to announce more details soon.

Do SSDI and SSI Recipients Have to File a 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 dependents. For those without minor children or other dependents, the IRS will look at Form SSA-1099 benefit statements to get the information it needs to send out the payments automatically.

Parents who have children under 17 or other dependents, who receive monthly SSDI or SSI checks, and who did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019, however, might need to file a tax return by May 17, 2021 to claim the "Recovery Rebate Credit" for their minor children or other dependents.

How Do I Request a Recovery Rebate Credit?

You can request a Recovery Rebate Credit for any portion of the stimulus payment that you should have received but didn't. You do this by filling out line 30 of Form 1040 (or Form 1040-SR, for seniors). The 2020 instructions for Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR include a worksheet you can use to calculate the amount of the credit you are eligible for.

"Payment Status Not Available" Message

If you aren't having luck with the Get My Payment tool, keep checking your bank account or Direct Express card, or wait for a letter from the IRS. The IRS will mail you a letter several 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.

Some disability recipients saw this message when they logged on to the IRS's Get My Payment tool in January or February: Payment Status #2 - Not Available. The IRS has indicated that these individuals will not receive a stimulus check by direct deposit or mail, and they will have to file a 2020 tax return to claim their Recovery Rebate Credit (the new deadline is May 17, 2021). See above for instructions on claiming the rebate on your tax return. These messages have now disappeared and will be replaced by information about the third payment.

What If My Stimulus Check or Was Lost, Destroyed, or Stolen?

If the Get My Payment tool says your payment was direct-deposited, but the money doesn't show in your bank account after five days, first check with your bank. If the bank says it hasn't received a payment, you can request a payment trace.

To request a payment trace, call 800-919-9835 or fill out IRS Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund.

Similarly, if the Get My Payment tool says your payment was mailed and you haven't received it, you can request a payment trace. The IRS will research what happened to your check; if the check wasn't cashed, you will need to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return. (See above for instructions on claiming the rebate on your tax return.) If the IRS finds that the check was cashed, you'll receive a claim package from the Treasury Department with a copy of the cashed check and instructions on filing a claim.

If you received your stimulus check by mail but then it was destroyed or stolen, make sure you request a payment trace. If you claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return without filing a payment trace, it will be denied, because the IRS will think that you already received the money.

Could Someone Else Have Received My Payment?

For some disability recipients who have representative payees, the IRS deposited the first stimulus payment 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 were instructed to ask their payees for it.

Similarly, some disability lawyers reported receiving first stimulus payments that were meant for former clients whom the lawyers helped get disability benefits. Lawyers who received the money erroneously were instructed to reverse the direct deposits to the IRS. The Treasury Department was expected to fix this error for the second stimulus payment.

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 April 5, 2021

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