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Following Higgins' call, Treasury agrees to provide direct payments automatically to SSI recipients

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Wed, Apr 15th 2020 04:45 pm

Reversal means most low-income seniors & disabled individuals on SSI will no longer need to take additional steps to receive COVID-19 relief

Congressman Brian Higgins announced Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients will now receive COVID-19 relief direct payments automatically. The U.S. Treasury had previously announced additional steps for SSI beneficiaries.

On April 3, Higgins and other members of the House Ways and Means Committee wrote a letter to the Treasury secretary and IRS commissioner urging the IRS to provide automatic COVID-19 relief payments to vulnerable elderly and disabled individuals receiving SSI.

The members wrote in part: “There are approximately 8 million SSI recipients. They all have extremely limited financial means. About 29 percent are 65 and older, and 86 percent are blind or have severe disabilities. Requiring these individuals to file any tax return, even a simplified one, would present disproportionate undue burden and harm to these very vulnerable and poor elderly and disabled individuals.”

The Treasury is now indicating SSI recipients will receive economic impact payments automatically through the same means as they receive SSI benefits: through direct deposit in a bank account, a Direct Express debit card, or by paper check. However, SSI recipients with qualifying child dependents will need to provide additional information through the IRS website: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here.

This is the second instance of Treasury reversing course following Higgins’ advocacy. In a separate letter, Higgins and other Ways and Means members pushed for automatic direct payments for Social Security retirees. The Treasury reversed course on an earlier directive requiring additional paperwork, and agreed on April 1 that it would provide senior retires with direct payments automatically.

A summary of COVID-19 relief available to seniors can be found in a fact sheet on Higgins’ website at: https://higgins.house.gov/issues/coronavirus-disease.

All Americans eligible to receive a direct payment can track the status of their payment through a “Get My Payment” portal on the IRS website at: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments.

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