Most recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will be eligible for the new $600 COVID-19 stimulus check, signed into law on December 27, 2020. SSDI and SSI recipients who have children under 17 are eligible for an extra $600 per child (as long as the child lives with them for more than half the year). The IRS says that it has started to send out the second stimulus payments to those who have direct deposit information on file with the IRS.
You are eligible for a stimulus check as long as you have a Social Security number (a taxpayer ID number doesn't count) and you are not claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return (or possibly incarcerated).
If you receive income in addition to your disability benefits that makes your combined income over $75,000, your stimulus payment will be reduced. Similarly, if you are married and file a joint return, and your income combined with your spouse's income is over $150,000, you'll receive a reduced payment. Your stimulus payment, including any payment for children under 17, will be reduced by 5% of the amount over those thresholds. If you have children, the extra $600 for each child under age 17 will be reduced as well.
What income does the IRS look at to determine if your payment should be reduced? The IRS will use your "adjusted gross income" from your 2019 tax return (line 8b of your 2019 Form 1040). If you didn't file a tax return, the IRS will use your income from your Social Security or SSI checks.
Individuals who receive Social Security disability or SSI will automatically get the stimulus money. If you don't file a tax return because your income is low and/or your only income is SSI or SSDI or veterans benefits, you are still eligible for the COVID-19 stimulus payment. If you received SSDI, SSI, or veterans compensation or pension in 2020, and you don't have children under 17, you don't have to do anything to get your $600; the government will send you your check automatically.
Disability recipients, however, may not get the $600 for each child under 17 if they haven't filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return and they didn't submit non-filer information to the IRS for the first stimulus check (more on this below).
If you received the first stimulus check, you should receive the second check without having to do anything (see below on how you'll receive the payment).
You will generally receive the automatic payment the same way you normally receive your monthly disability or pension payment—by direct deposit, Direct Express debit card, or paper check. Your stimulus payment, however, will come from the Treasury Department, not the Social Security Administration.
If you received the first check by direct deposit or Direct Express, you will automatically receive your payment the same way. If you received your first payment by paper check or EIP Debit Card, you should receive a new check or new card in the mail.
If you've moved since last filing your taxes, you should file a change of address with the IRS on Form 8822.
Those who filed tax returns in 2019 or 2020 and gave their bank information to the IRS so their refunds could be direct-deposited should receive their second stimulus payment in late December or January. The IRS hopes to complete mailing checks and EIP debit cards by the end of January.
The IRS has re-released its "Get My Payment" tool, so you can check to see whether your payment is scheduled to go out.
If you receive payments by a Direct Express card, you may not recognize the bank account information shown in the Get My Payment tool; it will be a number associated with your Direct Express card.
If you had decreased income in 2020 due to starting disability benefits and/or losing a job, you might not get a second stimulus check in early 2021, even though you're eligible for the money. If you filed a tax return for 2019 income that's above the $75,000 or $150,000 thresholds, but you made less income in 2020, you could get a stimulus payment as a rebate with a later tax return (as a Recovery Rebate Credit).
Your stimulus money is not subject to garnishment by the government, even for back taxes or student loan defaults. And unlike the first stimulus check, if you owe past-due child support payments, your second stimulus check cannot be reduced to pay the past due amount, and nor can your stimulus money can be levied or garnished by private debt collectors.
What about your own bank? If your bank account is overdrawn because of overdrafts or outstanding fees, your bank might take part or all of your stimulus check to bring your account even. Many large banks, however, have stated that they will bring customers' bank balances to zero, temporarily, so that customers can access their stimulus checks. This includes Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and JPMorgan Chase. Other large national and regional banks are likely to follow suit, though smaller banks and credit unions may not.
For the first stimulus check, the IRS required those who had just started to receive SSDI or SSI to use the "non-filer page" to file the simple tax return. Individuals who had already been receiving Social Security disability, SSI, or veterans benefits should have automatically received the stimulus money without filing a simple tax return, but they had to submit their non-filer information to the IRS to get $500 for each child under 17. The IRS has not yet announced whether the non-filer tool will be available for the second stimulus payment.
For SSI (and veterans pension) eligibility purposes, the stimulus check won't count as income to you, and you don't need to report it as income to the Social Security Administration. Plus, it's not taxable. In addition, for SSI, the stimulus money won't count as a resource (asset) unless you still have all or part of it 12 months after receiving it.
For SSDI eligibility purposes, income and assets don't matter, so the stimulus check will have no effect.
The Treasury Department is warning people about phone calls and emails from scam artists claiming to be from the Treasury Department or the IRS. You may be asked for personal financial information or an advance fee. 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.
For security reasons, the IRS will mail a letter to your last known address approximately 15 days after the agency deposits your stimulus money or mails your paper check. The letter will tell you how the payment was made and, if you did not receive the payment, how to request a replacement from the IRS.
Updated December 31, 2020