Will people on Social Security get a stimulus check? 5 things to know

December 21, 2020 : H&R Block

Editor’s Note: Looking for information about second stimulus payments? Check out our Coronavirus tax resource center for the latest information.

The article below was originally published on May 4, 2020. It covers information about the March 2020 CARES Act stimulus. This page will be updated once details from the new bill are available.

Since the CARES Act was crafted, the IRS has cleared up a lot of the murky questions about how it will work and how the stimulus checks will be disbursed. Many Social Security beneficiaries, however, are still unsure whether they qualify for the stimulus checks, how they’ll get them, and what they must do.

If you’re asking the question “Will people on social security or disability get a stimulus check/payment” and are looking for answers, we’ve got you covered. To help you understand what it means for you, we’ve distilled the most important information about the coronavirus stimulus checks for Social Security beneficiaries, railroad retirees, and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries into the top five things you should know.

Social Security beneficiaries reviewing stimulus check information.

1. Yes, Social Security beneficiaries, SSDI beneficiaries, and railroad retirement beneficiaries will get a stimulus check

Will Social Security beneficiaries get a stimulus check/payment? What about retired seniors? If I’m on disability, do I get a stimulus payment?

These are a few of the most common questions our tax pros have received from clients, and the answer to all of them is yes. Anyone who receives Social Security benefits—including railroad retirees, SSDI beneficiaries, and retired seniors— will get a stimulus check —in most cases in the form of a direct deposit payment.

If you haven’t received your stimulus payment yet, it may just be a matter of time. Read on and we’ll outline the details for you.

2. Social Security recipients and non-filers do not need to file a tax return to get their stimulus check

After the initial announcement about the stimulus checks, it seemed Social Security beneficiaries had to file a simple tax return in order to get their checks. The IRS later clarified that Social Security recipients do not have to file a tax return to get their payment.

The IRS will instead use your Social Security benefit information (Form SSA-1099 or Form RRB-1099) to determine where to send your payment if you didn’t file a tax return for 2019 or for 2018.

However, the IRS will need more information if you also want to claim a stimulus payment for qualifying children under 17 ($500 per child). To receive this payment in 2020, you must have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return and claimed the child as dependent. If you gain custody of a child in 2020, you’ll need to wait until you file your 2020 return to claim the qualifying child stimulus payment.

To illustrate this scenario, consider the following example: Charles, a Social Security recipient who normally doesn’t file a return, will receive his stimulus check ($1,200) in 2020. Charles gained custody of his 11-year old grandson, Dylan, in February 2020. When Charles files his return in 2021, he will be able to claim Dylan as a qualifying child and then receive an additional $500 in stimulus money.

3. The IRS started sending stimulus payments/checks to Social Security beneficiaries, railroad retirees, and SSDI beneficiaries in April 2020

Beneficiaries should start receiving payments by direct deposit in the last week of April. Because the Treasury requires all federal benefits to be paid through direct deposit, most beneficiaries should expect to receive their payment that way.

Still getting paper checks? You can update your information for your benefits, but not for your stimulus payment.

4. Social Security and Railroad beneficiaries who filed a tax return can check the status of their stimulus payment online

Find out the status of your payment by going to this new IRS website at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment and clicking Get My Payment. You’ll need to enter your personal information before you can click through to view your status.

5. Stimulus check scammers trying to trick Social Security beneficiaries are on the rise—Watch out!

As they always do, scammers are preying on Social Security beneficiaries, SSDI beneficiaries, and railroad retirees getting a stimulus check/payment. These scammers come in all forms–pretending to be doctors and government officials for example—to try and take advantage of unsuspecting victims.

One thing to remember—the IRS will not call you or email you regarding the stimulus payment for retirees and SSI beneficiaries. If you get a call, email, or letter from someone claiming to be the IRS and asking for your Social Security number or bank account information, you need to report them immediately to the Office of the Inspector General.

Need additional information about stimulus payment and Social Security beneficiaries?

We know you may have more questions beyond whether people on Social Security will get a stimulus check/payment. Visit our Coronavirus Tax Impact page for the latest news and facts regarding the stimulus bill, extension dates and more.

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