February 26, 2021

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SSI, SSDI and stimulus checks: Third check changes, claiming missing money and more – CNET

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Good news for people in SSI and SSDI programs. Signs point to eligibility for a third stimulus check.

Angela Lang/CNET

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who receive Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance, the rules determining your eligibility for a third stimulus check are likely to be similar to the first two checks. However, there are sure to be some major changes around overall qualification rules, income limits, and the amount of money each person could get — as it stands right now, that amount is $1,400 maximum per person, and per child and adult dependent

We won’t know every detail until a final stimulus bill becomes law — the House of Representatives is actively working on details now, even as Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is underway in the Senate (how to watch live). In the meantime, there’s a lot to consider, like how soon you might expect to receive a third payment, and how tax season plays a role (even if you’re a nonfiler). And if you never received all or part of your $1,200 first or $600 second payment for whatever reason — or if the money for your eligible child dependents is missing — it’s time to start thinking about what you need to do to claim any missing money now.

Below, we’ve got everything you need to know, and will also answer important questions about stimulus checks through the SSDI and SSI lens, including eligibility. In addition, here’s how you could potentially speed up your next stimulus payment, especially if you moved or switched bank accounts. This story was updated with new information.

SSI, SSDI and third stimulus check eligibility: What you should know

While the details are still being finalized, it seems likely that people who receive SSI and SSDI will once again automatically qualify to receive a third stimulus check for $1,400, as they did for the first and second round of payments. For the first two rounds, those individuals were eligible so long as they had a Social Security number and weren’t claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return, and so long as their household income did not exceed the threshold set ($75,000 single, $112,500 head of household, $150,000 married). 

However, President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal expands stimulus payment eligibility for dependents of all ages, including young adults age 17 to 24 and older adult dependents. It would also increase the amount allotted for those dependents to $1,400 each. Congress is also debating how “targeted” the third checks should be — it’s possible that the income threshold will lower, so some families could get more money, while others could get less, or none at all.

Those receiving Railroad Retirement and Veterans Affairs benefits also should automatically qualify for a payment, as they did in the first and second round. 

Now playing: Watch this: Stimulus check No. 3: What you need to know


When might the third check arrive?

Other than the $1,400 maximum per adult and dependent, here are some other things you might like to know about how a third stimulus check is shaping up so far:

  • It could start being sent in early March (here’s a possible timeline for the third check).
  • The IRS and Treasury would use your previous information on file to automatically send you a check.
  • The Treasury would “conduct outreach to non-filers to inform them of how to file” for their third payment, if extra information is needed, according to this proposal (PDF).
  • Any missing payment from a third check would be paid out as part of tax season 2021, a year from now. You would likely have to file a tax return to claim it, if the IRS were to follow the same pattern for missing stimulus check money as now (more below).

Why didn’t I receive my first or second payment? 

According to the IRS, people who receive Social Security retirement, SSDI, Railroad Retirement benefits and Supplemental Security Income as well as Veterans Affairs beneficiaries were automatically eligible for both payments so far. With the first check, it’s possible you might have had a payment garnished for child support or to pay a specific kind of creditor, but the rules changed with a second check. However, an IRS error could also be one potential culprit.


The rules surrounding the second stimulus check can get confusing, fast.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What should I do if my first or second stimulus check is missing?

If you receive SSI or SSDI but still haven’t gotten a stimulus check either round — and the first one, especially — the IRS may still need more information about your eligibility. 

To receive your money now, you’ll need to claim the additional amount as part of tax season 2020, using the Recovery Rebate Credit. Even if you don’t usually file taxes, you will have to do so to get those funds. 

In some cases — like if you received a letter from the IRS confirming that your payment was sent, but never actually got the money — you may need to contact the IRS to request a Payment Trace

What about if I haven’t filed a tax return in the last several years?

If you receive federal benefits, including SSI and SSDI, as your only form of income, you weren’t required to file a federal income tax return in 2018 or 2019. Under the CARES Act, you were still eligible to receive a stimulus check, and should’ve received one automatically (no need to file a simple tax return, as the IRS had originally said).

How should I expect my stimulus money to arrive?

Most SSI and SSDI recipients didn’t receive their first payments via their Direct Express card, though this is usually what the government uses to distribute federal benefits. Instead, the payment arrived through a non-Direct Express bank account or as a paper check if you didn’t have your bank account information on file with the IRS. 

For the second round of payments, the IRS said on its website that SSI and SSDI recipients should have gotten their stimulus check money the same way they received their first stimulus checks, possibly faster, as the IRS already has the payment system set up. For those who received the first round of payments via Direct Express, they should have received the second payment the same way, the IRS said. It’s likely that the same will be true of a third check, if one is sent out (here’s a possible timeline for when the IRS could send out a third check). 

If you receive SSI but not Social Security benefits, and did not file for taxes in 2019, the IRS will automatically send your payment the same way you normally receive your SSI benefits, such as by direct deposit, Direct Express card or paper check


If you’re missing stimulus money for yourself or your dependents, you’ll need to claim it during the upcoming tax season.

Angela Lang/CNET

Are my children eligible for a stimulus check?

For the second stimulus check, as long as your children were 16 years old or younger, they would contribute $600 toward the final total of your household’s second stimulus check. You can use our stimulus check calculator to figure your family’s total estimate.

Under the CARES Act, qualified people with dependents age 16 or younger were eligible for up to $500 per child dependent, but not everyone actually received that extra money

The third stimulus check would make dependents of all ages eligible for up to $1,400 that would apply to the household’s total payment, not just children under 17. That would include older adult relatives and college-age children as well.

Here’s who the IRS counts as an adult to receive their own stimulus check.

Can I request a catch-up payment for my dependents?

If you used the IRS’ Non-Filers tool from May 5 through Aug. 15 of 2020, the IRS should’ve automatically issued the catch-up payment for your dependents in October 2020. If you received your original stimulus money by direct deposit, you should’ve gotten the catch-up payment the same way. Others would’ve received it in the mail. 

If you filed for your missing dependent money by Nov. 21, the payment should’ve arrived by the end of 2020 in the same way you received your first payment (likely direct deposit or by mail). If you missed the deadline, your check will be included on your 2020 tax return in 2021

To check the status of your or your dependent’s payment, use the IRS’ online tool to track it.

What if I get SSI or SSDI benefits and live outside the US?

If you’re a Social Security beneficiary with a foreign address whose monthly benefit is deposited into a foreign bank account, you’ll receive your stimulus payment as a check in the mail. (The IRS isn’t meant to deposit money into foreign banks.) The IRS planned to start sending the first raft of checks to those recipients at the end of July 2020. 

If you live abroad but receive your monthly benefits through a US bank, you should’ve received your first payment by direct deposit to that account by the end of July as well. It isn’t clear what will happen to this group with the second check, but if it wasn’t distributed by Jan. 15, it will have to be claimed as part of a tax return. Find out everything you need to know about stimulus checks, citizenship and living abroad here.


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