(Updated: April 26, 2020)

Are you receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Railroad Retirement benefits, or VA benefits? If you are and you are generally not required to file a tax return, and you have children, you need to be aware of a new deadline. 

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) previously announced that folks in those groups who do not file a tax return will automatically receive Economic Impact Payments (that’s the official name, although most taxpayers refer to them as stimulus checks). Those folks do not need to do anything further to receive their $1,200 stimulus check if they do not have children. 

Now, the IRS has announced that folks in these groups who have children and didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 have until Wednesday, April 22, 2020, to update their information to include qualifying children. Those groups include people who receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Railroad Retirement benefits, or VA benefits.

The $1,200 payments will be issued soon. To add the $500 per eligible child amount to these payments, the IRS needs your dependent information. If you don’t provide your information by the deadline, you will have to wait to receive your $500 for each qualifying child. That means your initial payment will be $1,200 and, by law, your $500 per eligible child amount will be paid once you file for the tax year 2020.

“We want to ‘Plus $500’ these recipients with children so they can get their maximum Economic Impact Payment of $1,200 plus $500 for each eligible child as quickly as possible,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “They’ll get $1,200 automatically, but they need to act quickly and register at IRS.gov to get the extra $500 per child added to their payment. These groups don’t normally have a return filing obligation and may not realize they qualify for a larger payment. We’re asking people and organizations throughout the country to share this information widely and help the IRS with the Plus $500 Push.”

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So, what do you need to do? If you receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits (SSDI), or Railroad Retirement benefits, you have children, make a quick trip to a special non-filer tool on IRS.gov by noon Eastern time, Wednesday, April 22, 2020, to help put all of your eligible EIP (stimulus check) into a single payment.

Payments will go out in waves. If you are a Social Security Administration (SSA) or RRB beneficiary, you need to register with the IRS by April 22, to receive the additional $500 per eligible child amount with your $1,200 payment. You will not be eligible to use the Non-Filer tool to add eligible children once your $1,200 payment has been issued. 

Those who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or VA benefits have until May 5, 2020, to add children. Those $1,200 automatic payments will be made at a later date:

  • SSI recipients will receive their automatic payments by mid-May; and
  • the VA payment schedule for beneficiaries who receive Compensation and Pension (C&P) benefit payments is also mid-May.

For recipients of Social Security retirement, survivors or disability insurance benefits (SSDI) and Railroad Retirement benefits (RRB), automatic payments of $1,200 are scheduled to begin arriving next week. No action is needed on their part. This includes people who don’t normally file a tax return.

For Social Security / RRB beneficiaries who don’t normally file a tax return, have a child and registered using the IRS Non-Filers tool by the April 22 deadline, more payments are scheduled to begin arriving next week as well.

For SSA/RRB beneficiaries who don’t normally file a tax return and have a child but did not register on the IRS Non-Filers tool by April 22, they will still receive their automatic $1,200 beginning next week. Given the deadline has passed, by law, the additional $500 per eligible child amount would be paid in association with filing a tax return for 2020. Once your $1,200 payment has been issued, you will not be eligible to use the Non-Filer tool to add eligible children: you will have to wait until you file for the tax year 2020 to receive the additional payment for your children. 

Checks will be paid out in the same manner as your benefits. For example, if you usually get your benefits by direct deposit, you will receive your stimulus check by direct deposit, but if you normally receive your benefits by Direct Express, you will receive your stimulus check by Direct Express.

Remember that the IRS will be sending those checks, not the VA or the SSA. Checks areNOT taxable and will not affect your 2020 refund. Checks will also not affect your benefits. 

To find out more information about your payment, you can use the Get My Payment Tool to track the status of your check. 

Things are happening at a rapid-fire pace these days. As tax updates become available, we’ll keep you updated. Keep checking back for details.

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Author

Kelly Erb is a tax attorney, tax writer and podcaster.

2 Comments

  1. Rotesha Roberson Reply

    I am an SSI recipient, married with one dependent. My spouse owes back child support arrears. Since he filed taxes jointly, I was unable to get a $1200 stimulus payment or the $500 per child payment. The payment was offset by New York state child support. The reason he filed jointly is because he was told that he would get a higher tax payment. I should have gotten my stimulus payment and dependent payment, we both get SSI payments, help me figure this out.

    • Typically, you can apply for injured spouse relief when you file with a spouse who will have their check seized. The IRS FAQs suggest that this should be done before filing your 2019 return:

      If you are married filing jointly and you filed an injured spouse claim with your 2019 tax return (or 2018 tax return if you haven’t filed your 2019 tax return), half of the total Payment will be sent to each spouse and your spouse’s Payment will be offset only for past-due child support. There is no need to file another injured spouse claim for the Payment.

      Of course, that information was posted after many folks had already filed. I know IRS is aware of this problem. I’ve heard stories that this has been corrected by phone for some taxpayers, so I would try that (assuming you can get through). I heard from a taxpayer just yesterday who had her check seized and was able to file a claim by phone to get her share.

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