We continue to receive questions from members about the impact stimulus check payments (up to $1,200 per person) will have on government benefits (SSI/Medicaid). As previously reported, because these payments are like tax rebates, they “shall not be taken into account as resources for a period of 12 months from receipt, for purposes of determining the eligibility of such individual (or any other individual) for benefits or assistance (or the amount or extent of benefits or assistance) under any Federal program or under any State or local program financed in whole or in part with Federal funds” (26 U.S. Code § 6409). This means that individuals who are receiving need-based government benefits will be able to accept these payments without putting Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid or other benefits at risk.
Another common question regarding the stimulus payment is how the payment will be issued. For most people, payment will be issued by the Treasury through the IRS based on their 2019 tax return (or 2018 if they have not yet filed their 2019 tax return due to the 3-month extension provided earlier). If you have a direct deposit on file, the check should be directly deposited to your account. If you do not have direct deposit information on file with the IRS, you will have the ability to add that information through the “Get My Payment” application the IRS will be releasing later this month.
For those individuals who have not filed a tax return because they are not required to file under existing IRS rules, the IRS has created a process to allow them to enter their information to request their payment at the following link: www.irs.gov/coronavirus/…
It is important to note that if an individual was not required to file a tax return based on their income level, but currently receives Social Security Retirement, Social Security Disability or Railroad Retirement benefits, they SHOULD NOT follow the “non-filer” process because the Treasury already has their information and will process their stimulus payment directly.
Notably missing from this list is those receiving Supplemental Security Income. The Social Security Administration reports that it is working with the Treasury to “make the issuance of economic impact payments as quick and efficient as possible,” but currently it appears SSI recipients may need to file a tax return to claim their benefit. Fortunately, all SSI recipients should be eligible to file their tax return for free using this IRS website: apps.irs.gov/app/freeFile
Although we hope the Treasury and Social Security will be able to work out a solution to streamline the stimulus checks to SSI recipients, if you represent a client interested in receiving their payment sooner, rather than later, you may encourage them or their Representative Payee to go ahead and use the free service to file a 2019 tax return.
We hope that you find this information helpful and that you and your loved ones stay healthy.
Randy C. Bryan, Esquire https://hoytbryan.com/