April 1, 2020
Contact: Linda Benesch, [email protected]socialsecurityworks.org

UPDATE: Under pressure from activists around the country and our allies in Congress, the Trump Administration has reversed course. Social Security beneficiaries will now receive their $1200 CARES Act payments automatically, without needing to file a tax return. We will keep fighting for this to apply to recipients of SSI and veterans’ pensions as well.

(Washington, DC) — The following is a statement from Nancy Altman, President of Social Security Works, in response to the recently released IRS guidance indicating that Social Security beneficiaries, SSI recipients, and veterans receiving pensions can’t get their $1200 CARES Act payments without filing a tax return:

“This is outrageous. The $1200 payments could easily be added automatically to the benefits these people already receive every month. The CARES Act specifically gives the Treasury Department the authority to do so.

Instead, the Trump Administration is throwing up an unnecessary barrier that will make it harder for seniors, people with disabilities, and veterans to get the payments they desperately need. In the middle of a pandemic to which they are most vulnerable, the groups can’t afford any delay.

In 2008, 3.5 million Social Security beneficiaries and veterans never received a stimulus payment that they were owed. They were blocked by the nonsensical requirement that they file a tax return, even though they owed no taxes. The same will happen now; indeed, it is highly likely it will be worse due to the chaos of the pandemic.

Millions of people who need these payments won’t get them. At best, the payments will be delayed – even though the federal government pays these people benefits right now, each and every month.

The Trump Administration must reverse course immediately and make a clear public statement that all Social Security beneficiaries, SSI recipients, and veterans receiving pensions will get their $1200 payments without filing a tax return. And then the government should pay — without delay — what it owes.”