Stimulus for Disability Recipients: Issues With Getting the Payment

Update: The IRS has extended the deadline to November 21—only for people who don't file tax returns and who haven't received a stimulus check—to register for the stimulus money.

Update: Congress passed a bill approving a second stimulus check. The following article is a discussion of the first stimulus payment. It will be updated shortly, after the IRS releases its new Get My Payment tool for checking on the status of the second stimulus check.

Most recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and veterans disability compensation or pension payments should have gotten their economic stimulus payments already. (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 these individuals get their checks: the IRS non-filer page for people who don't normally file tax returns to file "simple tax returns" and the IRS Get My Payment tool for people to enter direct deposit information or find out information about their stimulus payment. But the Get Payment tool didn't work for many disability recipients, and some are still 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 late April to submit the information and parents who receive SSI had until early May. 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. The IRS has moved the deadline to submit the non-filer tax return to November 21, 2020 at 3 p.m. EST.

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 in late April. SSI and VA benefits recipients should have received theirs by mid-May. The IRS mailed paper checks to those who don't receive their disability payments by direct deposit.

SSDI and SSI recipients who receive their monthly payments by Direct Express debit card should have received their stimulus payments by now. But those who used the non-filer page won't receive their payment on their Direct Express card. They will either receive a direct deposit, if they gave the IRS bank account information during the non-filer process, or a paper check if they left the bank account information empty.

Could Someone Else Have Received My Payment?

For some disability recipients who have representative payees, the IRS 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 Didn'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 in April and May, you were supposed to be able to use this tool to provide new bank information to the IRS.)

This tool, however, was not 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 often saw a "Payment Status Not Available" message.

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

The IRS loads more data into the Get My Payment tool each night, so if you check back, you may view your payment information at that time, but the IRS has not clarified whether Social Security and SSI recipients who don't file a tax return can use this tool.

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 May 13. 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 November 5, 2020

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