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Stimulus Checks: Who Is Eligible and How Much Will They Be?

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Stimulus Checks: Who Is Eligible and How Much Will They Be?

Social Security and SSI recipients will get payments automatically

by Kenneth Terrell, AARP, Updated April 15, 2020
April 16, 2020


Federal lawmakers enacted a $2 trillion economic stimulus package on March 27 that will send most Americans checks of up to $1,200, as a way to put money directly in the pockets of families struggling to manage the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

The legislation will give single adults who reported adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less on their 2019 tax returns a one-time check for $1,200. Married couples who filed jointly will receive $2,400. Families will get an additional $500 for each child under 17.

In a letter sent to Congress on March 17, AARP asked lawmakers to provide payments directly to Americans as part of any stimulus packages.

"We support direct cash payments to individuals whether working, unable to work, unemployed, or retired,” said AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond in the letter. “Unlike a payroll tax rebate, which helps only those who receive payroll checks, direct payments provide benefits more broadly, including to people most in need."

Social Security recipients eligible for stimulus checks

AARP worked to ensure that individuals who are collecting Social Security benefits for retirement, disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will be eligible for the stimulus payments. AARP also successfully fought to guarantee that low-income Social Security recipients will receive the full $1,200 check, not $600 as originally proposed.

The size of the check will decrease based on income for individuals who earned more than $75,000 based on their federal tax return for 2019 (or their 2018 return if they have not filed yet). The payment for individuals will shrink by $5 for every $100 earned over $75,000. For couples who filed jointly, the reduction will start once they earn more than $150,000; for heads of household, at $112,500.

Individuals who earned more than $99,000 and couples who earned more than $198,000 jointly will not receive checks. The income cut-off for heads of households is $136,500.

Payments to Social Security beneficiaries will go out automatically

According to the IRS, Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who weren’t required to file federal tax returns for 2018 or 2019 will receive $1,200 stimulus payments automatically based on information contained in their “1099” benefit statements. No additional paperwork is required, per the latest guidance from the IRS.

The IRS reversed an earlier decision and now says it will look at “1099” benefit statements (Form SSA-1099 and Form RRB-1099) to get the information it needs to send out the $1,200 payments automatically in the same manner monthly benefits are received. The vast majority of Social Security recipients receive monthly benefits by direct deposit.

"AARP fought hard to ensure these payments would go to people who rely on Social Security and aren't required to file taxes,” said Bill Sweeney, AARP's senior vice president for government affairs. “It was just wrong to ask them to fill out extra paperwork, especially in the middle of this crisis, to get the benefits they need. We are very thankful the IRS reversed course and agreed to work with Social Security to get these checks out automatically without extra paperwork or red tape."

SSDI disability beneficiaries also to get payments automatically

Stimulus payments will also go out automatically to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients who were not required to file tax returns for 2018 or 2019. Like Social Security beneficiaries, SSDI beneficiaries also receive SSA-1099 benefits statements every January, which the IRS will use to send the payments.

SSI recipients without dependents will get automatic payments

On April 15, the Social Security Administration announced that SSI recipients without dependent children will receive their stimulus payments automatically without having to file any additional forms. The stimulus payment will be sent to these SSI recipients the same way they get their normal benefits, either through direct deposit, Direct Express debit card, or paper check. The Treasury Department says it expects payments for SSI recipients to go out no later than early May.

SSI recipients with dependent children under the age of 17 who qualify for stimulus money should complete the IRS online form for non-filers soon in order to get the additional $500 per child payments for these dependents, the SSA says. If SSI beneficiaries in this group do not provide their information to the IRS soon, they will have to wait until later to receive the payments for dependents.

For those who weren’t required to file 2018 or 2019 tax returns, and who are not Social Security recipients, SSDI recipients, or railroad retirees, the IRS has created a free, online tool you can use to quickly register to receive your stimulus payment if you don’t typically file a tax return due to your income level. People who may fall into this category include some low-income workers and Veterans Affairs (VA) beneficiaries.

The tool is available only on You can access the registration by clicking this link or going to the IRS website and looking for “Non-filers: Enter Payment Info Here.” The tool will ask you for some basic information including your name, address, Social Security number, and dependents. The IRS then will confirm your eligibility, calculate how much you should receive, and send a stimulus payment. If you enter your bank account information, the IRS will deposit your payment directly in your account.  Otherwise, your payment will be mailed to you. Using the tool will not result in any taxes being owed.

If you receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits or are a railroad retirement beneficiary, you automatically will receive your $1,200 stimulus payment. You can, however, use the Non-Filers tool to claim the additional $500 you should receive for any eligible child dependents under the age of 17.

The IRS says it will continue look for ways to send stimulus payments automatically to those who receive veterans disability compensation, pension or survivor benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and people who did not file a tax return for the 2018 or 2019. The agency says people in these groups can either use Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info option now or wait as the IRS explores possible automatic payment options for these groups.

AARP urged the IRS to make automatic stimulus payments to SSI and VA beneficiaries without the burden of filing any additional paperwork.

The IRS started sending out stimulus payments in mid-April.

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