Will people on Social Security get a stimulus check? 6 things to know

April 07, 2021 : H&R Block

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on May 4, 2020, and was updated in April 2021 to reflect the third stimulus payment.

As the third round of stimulus checks roll out, many Social Security beneficiaries have questions about whether they qualify for the stimulus checks, how they’ll get them, and whether they need to take any action. Thankfully, the IRS has cleared up a lot of the confusion, so if you find yourself scratching your head 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 six 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 third stimulus check

Will Social Security beneficiaries get a third stimulus check/payment? What about retired seniors? If I’m on disability, do I get a third 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 eligible who receives Social Security benefits — including railroad retirees receiving Railroad benefits, SSDI beneficiaries, and retired seniors — may qualify for all three stimulus checks — in most cases in the form of direct deposit payments.

If you haven’t received your third 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 who typically don’t file do not need to file a tax return to get their stimulus check

Social Security recipients do not have to file a tax return to get their third payment.

The IRS is now working with the Social Security Administration and other federal agencies to obtain updated 2021 information, and if you didn’t file a 2019 or 2020 tax return, they will instead use your Social Security benefit information (Form SSA-1099 or Form RRB-1099) to determine where to send your payment.  

3. There are ways to claim missing money if you didn’t get the correct amount for yourself or dependents in any one of the stimulus payments

Social security beneficiaries who didn’t get the correct stimulus amount (from either payment) have a few ways of claiming it.

If your third stimulus was based on your 2019 return and the 2020 return you file would qualify you for money, the IRS will re-determine your eligibility and issue you an additional “top-up” payment for the difference. 

If you didn’t get the correct amount in your first or second payments, you may be able to claim the Recovery Rebate credit on your 2020 return this year. The Recovery Rebate gives you a tax credit instead of a direct monetary payment. Learn more about the Recovery Rebate Credit.

Dependents over age 16 are also eligible for the third stimulus payment. If you gained custody of a qualifying child in 2020, you can file your 2020 return now to claim the first and second stimulus payments as a Recovery Rebate Credit. Regardless of whether you received your third stimulus payment or not, filing your 2020 return will register that dependent for the third stimulus payment.

4. You will likely receive your stimulus payment the same way you receive your Social Security, railroad retirement, or SSDI benefits

You should receive your stimulus checks the same way you receive your benefits — by direct deposit, debit card, or paper check. The IRS has said that the majority of the payments to Social Security recipients and other federal beneficiaries who do not normally file a tax return would be sent electronically and received on April 7.

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

5. Social Security beneficiaries, railroad retirees, and SSDI beneficiaries can check the status of their stimulus payment online even if they didn’t file a 2019 or 2020 tax return

The IRS has updated its “Get My Payment” portal to accommodate non-filers. You’ll need to enter your personal information before you can click through to view your status.

If you are seeing “Payment Status Not Available” when you check the “Get My Payment” tool, there may be three reasons why, according to the IRS:

  • You’re not eligible
  • Your payment hasn’t been processed yet
  • The IRS doesn’t have enough information to issue your payment

6. 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 beyond the stimulus payments and Social Security beneficiaries?

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

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