Stimulus for Disability Recipients: Issues With Getting the Payment

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

By , Attorney · UC Law San Francisco

Recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) should have received their third stimulus payments in 2021. (All U.S. citizens are entitled to the stimulus payments, along with a payment for each child.)

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that millions of eligible individuals still haven't yet received their stimulus payments. People who may not have received their stimulus money include those without a stable home address, internet access, or much income.

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

How Can I Request Stimulus Money I Didn't Receive?

To find out if you are owed a stimulus payment, you'll have to create an online account with Social Security here using your Social Security number. (You can no longer use the IRS's "Get My Payment" tool to see if and when your payment was issued.) You should be able to see where the payments were deposited or when they were mailed.

You won't be able to get a new stimulus check, but you can get your stimulus money through a tax refund by claiming the 2021 "Recovery Rebate Credit." To claim the credit, you'll have to file a simplified tax return, even if you don't usually file taxes. You can file your tax return electronically for free on the IRS website, and the tax software will help you calculate your Recovery Rebate Credit. Your Recovery Rebate Credit will be included in a tax refund that the IRS will send to you (or it will reduce any tax you owed). You have until November 15, 2022 to file the tax return.

For more information, go to the IRS's web page for Economic Impact Payments.

How Should SSDI and SSI Recipients Have Gotten Their Stimulus Checks?

SSDI and SSI recipients who receive their monthly benefit payments by Direct Express debit card should have received their stimulus payments by Direct Express. The IRS says most disability recipients should have received their third payments (though not necessarily their first or second) by Direct Express. Others might have received a direct deposit (if the IRS had their bank account information), a paper check, or a prepaid Visa debit card. The debit cards, issued by MetaBank, were called Economic Impact Payment (EIP) cards.

When Should SSDI and SSI Recipients Have Received Their Stimulus Checks?

You should have received your third stimulus payment by April or May 2021 and your second stimulus payment in early January 2021.

Do SSDI and SSI Recipients Have to File a Tax Return to Get the Checks?

People who receive monthly SSDI or SSI checks who didn't file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 should not have had to file a tax return, unless they had minor children or 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 credit you are eligible for.

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

To request a payment trace, call 800-919-9835 or fill out IRS Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund. The IRS will research what happened to your check; if the check wasn't cashed, you'll need to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 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 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 was 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.

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 October 12, 2022

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