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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

An Update About Economic Impact Payments

Updated: April 9, 2020

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act authorized payments to be made to many people. These are referred to as “economic impact payments”.

There has been a lot of confusion about exactly how this will work. Because people with disabilities are facing increased costs during the pandemic and because our community is disproportionately poor to start with, NCIL and other advocacy organizations have been working to ensure that the confusion is cleared up and that everyone who is entitled to a payment can access it.

Last Friday, the Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul released a statement. He has cleared up some of our questions, but not all of them.

Individuals who make up to $75,000 a year, and married couples who file joint tax returns who make up to $150,000, are eligible to receive the full payment of $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married couples. There is also a $500 supplemental payment per child. People with higher incomes will receive smaller payments.

If you are required to file taxes, the government is requiring 2018 or 2019 tax returns in order to receive your economic impact payment. If you have filed taxes for 2018 or 2019, you have already done what you need to do. The IRS will automatically generate economic impact payments.

If you are required to file taxes but have not done so yet, you must do so in order to receive a payment.

Many people receiving Social Security benefits are not required to file taxes. The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns, and who receive an SSA-1099 form, will have the information on their SSA-1099 form used to determine their eligibility and automatically generate their economic impact payment. Therefore, if you are not required to file taxes and have received an SSA-1099 form, you have already done what you need to do.

People who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Veterans Affairs (VA) Disability Compensation or Veterans Pension do not get an SSA-1099 or similar form. While Commissioner Saul’s statement clarified that SSA is working with the Department of the Treasury to address questions regarding SSI recipients, there still is not a clear process from the government on how people who are not required to file taxes but do not receive SSA-1099s will receive their economic impact payments.

Earlier this week, the Social Security Advisory Board sent a letter to Commissioner Saul urging action related to relief payments for SSI recipients. NCIL also signed on to a Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities letter (PDF) to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, Social Security Commissioner Saul, and VA Secretary Wilkie urging them to work together to ensure people receiving SSI or VA Disability Compensation or Veterans Pension benefits can also receive their payments automatically, without being required to file taxes. We are still waiting for a process to be finalized.

Lastly, many people on means-tested programs like SSI and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have wondered whether the economic impact payments will put their benefits at risk. Because the economic impact payment is structured like a tax refund, it will not count as income, and recipients will have 12 months to spend the payment before it counts toward resource limits. The American Taxpayer Relief Act excludes Federal tax refunds and advance tax credits from resource counting for 12 months and applies to benefits or assistance “under any Federal program or under any State or local program financed in whole or in part with Federal funds”.

NCIL is following this all closely, and we will send an updated alert when we have additional information. The Commissioner has indicated that the IRS will provide additional information at

* A note to Centers for Independent Living (CILs)

Since this is not a good time for people to go to government offices to get their questions answered, we encourage CILs to either identify or provide resources to help people access and understand the information they need to receive their economic impact payments, and to publicize those resources as widely as possible. We also ask you to keep in mind that the websites we are sharing in this alert are not always accessible to people with cognitive disabilities, people who do not have strong reading skills for any reason, people who use screen readers, people without internet connections, and others. CILs will be instrumental in ensuring people with disabilities have the information they need to access these payments.

Keyword: COVID-19