Public health issues associated with the coronavirus outbreak appear to be waning. The Big Apple has become the worldwide epicenter of the pandemic. Yet New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced that “the worst is over.”
Economic issues are another matter. In the past few weeks, unemployment rates have skyrocketed and retail sales figures have plummeted. A recession seems inevitable, and no one knows how long it will last.
At the Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm, we are committed to the overall health and safety of our clients. That includes their physical health as well as their economic health. When lawmakers approved the CARES Act’s financial stimulus package, there was a great deal of uncertainty as to if, when, and how SSI and SSDI recipients would receive their checks.
Much uncertainty about the coronavirus economic recovery continues, but the government recently clarified the stimulus rules for SSDI and SSI recipients. In short, these individuals now have one less thing to worry about, at least in most cases.
Receiving Monthly Benefits
Some benefits recipients like the convenience of direct deposit. Other beneficiaries like the human interaction which comes from a trip to the bank. Both kinds of people usually rely heavily on monthly benefits. That’s especially true for SSI recipients. A fourth of married couples, and almost half of unmarried recipients, rely on these payments for 90 percent of their monthly income.
There has been much uncertainty regarding the United States Postal Service. Various news outlets report that the agency is near death and that Amazon might try to buy it.
This uncertainty does not affect SSA law firms or their clients. Both paper and direct deposit checks will keep coming as scheduled, pandemic or not.
Nevertheless, that old poem which says “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” is not absolutely true. If you receive paper checks and have not thought about direct deposit, now might be a good time to take the plunge and sign up.
Some Economic Stimulus Basics
Before we get to the rules about Social Security recipients and stimulus payments, we wanted to take a step back and answer some questions about stimulus packages in general. Do they work? Who ultimately pays for them? And how do they affect SSI disability lawyers in Memphis, as well as their clients?
The first federal stimulus packages were in the early 1930s. Both Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt tried to “jumpstart” the economy, which was reeling after the 1929 stock market crash. These efforts obviously did not work. The Great Depression continued for another dozen years.
Probably due to these lackluster results, George W. Bush and Barack Obama were the next two Presidents to use stimulus packages. Bush hoped that a stimulus would end the Panic of 2008, which was associated with the housing market collapse. It didn’t. A few years later, Obama hoped that a stimulus would boost the anemic economic recovery which followed. It didn’t.
But the coronavirus is completely unlike these prior events. A stimulus check should, hopefully, encourage people to get away for a weekend when things finally reopen. But, from the numbers of people filing for unemployment, they may be using the money to just buy groceries and pay a few essential monthly bills. We’ll eventually see how this works for the country.
Like all other government spending programs, taxpayers ultimately pay for stimulus checks. Therefore, the COVID-19 impact payment is more like a loan. But according to many, it’s a very responsible loan.
COVID-19 Stimulus Checks and Social Security Recipients
The rules about stimulus checks are rather complex. An SSI lawyer near you is certainly not an economist or banker. But we know something about cutting through government red tape and doublespeak. So, we’ll try to distill things.
Current Recipients Who Didn’t File a Tax Return in 2018 or 2019 and Have a Child Under 18
Many SSI and SSDI recipients do not earn enough money to file tax returns. They might file declarations stating that they owed no tax, but that’s not the same thing as a complete 1040 return.
Earlier this month these individuals were told they must go to the IRS website and register in the Non-Filers section. But recently it was announced that these recipients need not take any action to get their stimulus money as long as they were not requesting money for a dependent child. To receive the extra $500.00 per dependent child you must register and declare each child. Registration makes these people eligible to receive not only a $1,200 stimulus payment, but also a $500 per dependent child tax credit.
It might also be necessary to enter direct deposit payment information, so the government knows where to send the money. If you have moved within the past year, you’ll probably need to update your address. Benefits recipients can use the same webpage to verify their payment address.
These rules apply to people who began receiving benefits after January 1, 2020, filed a return in either of the past two years, and/or have no minor child dependents.
Technically, these people need not do anything. The IRS should automatically send stimulus payments to their addresses on file. If you added bank account information to your most recent return, the funds should be direct deposited. If not, the IRS should mail a paper check. That’s assuming the government sent Form SSA-1099 for 2019.
Nevertheless, and since there are a few “ifs” involved, it’s usually best to err on the side of caution in these situations. We advise all Social Security recipients to go to the aforementioned IRS coronavirus website and enter their direct deposit banking information.
The Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm is open during the coronavirus pandemic, and not just to answer your questions about stimulus checks. We also field inquiries from potential clients and diligently work on current cases for current clients. Even if the local SSA office is closed or operating with reduced hours, our commitment remains the same. The Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm hopes everyone will stay safe and remember we are here to help you while the wheels of justice are still turning. To begin your SSD claim or if you or someone you love has already taken steps and want the power of the professionals, contact us at (901) 244-0057 or fill in our contact form at Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm today.
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