Will I Get a Coronavirus Stimulus Check If I'm Collecting Disability Benefits?

Update: SSI recipients with children under 17 have until May 5 to file a simple tax return to get an extra $500 for each child.

Most recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are eligible for the $1,200 COVID-19 stimulus payment (also called an economic impact payment).

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 incarcerated). If you have children, you are eligible for an extra $500 for each child who is under age 17, as long as the child lives with you for more than half the year.

But while individuals who receive Social Security disability or SSI will automatically get the stimulus money, these disability recipients will not get $500 for children under 17 if they haven't filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return and they didn't submit non-filer information to the IRS by a certain deadline (more on this below).

What If I Don't File a Tax Return?

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 2019, and you don't have children under 17, you don't have to do anything to get your $1,200; the government will send you your check automatically. You don't need to file a "simple tax return" as the IRS had initially said.

Who Should Use the Non-Filer Page to File a Simple Tax Return?

If you just started to receive SSDI or SSI this year, you do need to use the non-filer page to file the simple tax return. But you only have until October 15 to do so. But do not use the non-filer page if you have already submitted a 2019 tax return or if you plan to submit one. Doing so could delay any tax return you're due to receive for the 2019 tax year.

Individuals who receive Social Security disability, SSI, or veterans benefits will automatically get the stimulus money, but they won't get $500 for each child under 17 unless they submitted their non-filer information to the IRS (or they filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019). The deadline to submit non-filer information to the IRS, however, has passed for these parents.

What if you miss the non-filer deadline? Parents who receive SSDI had until noon on April 22 to file this information and SSI recipients had until May 5. If they missed the deadline, the IRS will send their $1,200 (or less) check now, without the $500, and they will have to wait until 2021 to claim the extra $500 on their 2020 tax return.

How Do I Submit Non-Filer Information, or File a Simple Tax Return?

The IRS has partnered with two free websites for non-filers to enter their personal information into a simple tax return to get the stimulus payment: Free File Fillable Forms and TurboTax. When you go to Free File's non-filer page or TurboTax's stimulus registration page, 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). It's really not a tax return at all, as you don't need to enter income information.

If you submit this non-filer information (or a tax return) this year, you'll get the stimulus payment this year. If you wait until 2021, you will get the stimulus money in 2021 (if you file a tax return for the 2020 tax year).

What About Disability Recipients Who Have Other Income?

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.

What income does the IRS look at to determine if your payment should be reduced? If you filed your 2019 tax return already, the IRS will use your "adjusted gross income" from your 2019 tax return (line 8b of your 2019 Form 1040). If you have not, the IRS will use your adjusted gross income from your 2018 tax return (line 8b of your 2018 Form 1040).

Will the Stimulus Money Affect My Eligibility for Disability Benefits?

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.

Your stimulus money is not subject to garnishment by the government, even for back taxes or student loan defaults. However, if you owe past-due child support payments that have been reported to the Treasury Department, your stimulus check will be reduced to pay the past due amount. In addition, your stimulus money can be levied or garnished by private debt collectors.

How Will I Get the Stimulus Payment?

If you do not use the non-filer page, 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 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 by mail if you leave the bank account information empty.

Note: If you submit non-filer information to the IRS (see above), you may be able to use the IRS's Get My Payment to find out your payment status. Are you confused about which tool you need to use? See our article on when disability recipients need to use the non-filer page or Get My Payment tool.

If you've moved since last filing your taxes, you should either provide the IRS with your direct deposit information through Get My Payment or file a change of address with the IRS on Form 8822.

When Will I Get the Stimulus Check?

Those who filed tax returns in 2018 or 2019 and gave their bank information to the IRS so their refunds could be direct deposited should have received their stimulus money in mid-April. The IRS processed payments for Social Security disability recipients who had not filed tax returns on April 29. SSI and veterans benefit recipients who did not file tax returns but who receive their monthly payment electronically should have received their stimulus payments by May 13.

Those who used the "Get My Payment" tool to enter their direct deposit information should have gotten their stimulus money 7-10 days later. If you didn't, you should be able to visit the IRS website and use the Get My Payment tool to find out what day your stimulus payment was supposed to be deposited. Many people, however, have reported problems with the Get My Payment tool.

For those who don't receive their monthly disability payment by direct deposit or Direct Express debit card, the IRS will send paper checks. The IRS should have already sent checks to those who filed tax returns and had incomes of less than $90,000. On June 26, the IRS sent checks to those with incomes between $90,000 and $100,000. The IRS will continue sending paper checks for those with higher incomes according to the following schedule.

July 3: $100,001 - $110,000

July 10: $110,001 - $120,000

July 17: $120,001 - $130,000

July 24: $130,001- $140,000

July 31: $140,001 - $150,000

The remainder of the checks will be sent in August and September.

What If My Stimulus Deposit or Check Is Missing?

Some disability recipients haven't received their payments when they thought they should have. First, go to the Get My Payment Tool and see if it tells you when and where your payment was deposited or sent. If you have a representative payee, check with the payee to see if he or she received it. The IRS has deposited stimulus money into some representative payees' bank accounts. Similarly, the IRS has deposited stimulus money into the bank accounts of some disability recipients' former lawyers who had helped the recipients get disability benefits. Read our article on issues disability recipients are having with their stimulus payments for more about these situations.

What If My Income Is Lower Than When I Filed My Last Tax Return?

If you expect to have decreased income in 2020 due to starting disability benefits and/or losing a job, you might not get a stimulus check this year, even though you're eligible for the money. If you filed a tax return for 2019 or 2018 income that's above the $75,000 or $150,000 thresholds (see above), but you end up making less income in 2020, you could get a stimulus payment as a rebate in 2021. You'll need to file a tax return by April 15, 2021, to get this stimulus rebate.

Beware of Stimulus Check Scams

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 June 23, 2020

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