The COVID-19 global pandemic has caused unprecedented hardship for almost every section of society, from small businesses closing, to the retail industry laying off most of its staff in one stroke. So the announcement of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) was eagerly anticipated by many – a one-off stimulus check sent to American citizens, to stave off the worst-case scenario.
However, for seniors, it hasn’t been clear if, how, and when they will receive the payment, which is $1,200 per adult. There is still confusion over the question will seniors get money from the stimulus package. Here is the essential information that lets seniors know they will get money from the stimulus package and what to do.
What Is The Cares Act?
The CARES Act set out a package of economic stimulus measures, the most talked-about of which has been the personal one-off stimulus payment. This is $1,200 per individual adult, with an additional $500 for each child. The payments are linked to incomes and get lower the more you earn, and are phased out completely at $99,000 for those who file on their own ($198,000 for those who are married and file jointly). These figures are based on 2019 tax returns. There are lots of useful tools to help you calculate what stimulus check you will receive.
What About Those On Social Security?
If you are one of the 20 million US citizens who receive Social Security, and don’t file a tax return you may be worried about what this means for you. The CARES Act has made special provision for this circumstance. It states that in these cases, the Treasury could work from information on the form SSA-1099s. That’s the paperwork filed when applying for Social Security benefits. However, confusion was caused when the IRS issued a statement saying, “some seniors and others who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment.” There are several potential issues with this – seniors may not have internet access or access support when filing a return, especially as tax businesses and support organizations are closed due to the crisis.
What Do Seniors Need To Do?
There has been a lot of misunderstanding and panic caused by the IRS announcement. On April 1st, an additional statement clarifying that tax returns would not be required from Social Security claimants was issued, after 41 US Senators wrote to the Treasury Secretary demanding guidance on the confusion.
This means that you do not need to file a tax return if you are claiming Social Security and do not usually do so. The Government has set up a tool on the IRS website called Free File, where you can enter banking information to get a payment deposited directly to your account. So, if you didn’t make enough in a year to file a tax return for 2018 or 2019, you receive money from the Department of Veteran Affairs. If you receive Social Security, Railroad Retirement benefits, SSDI and also have qualifying dependents you should use this tool. If not, then your check should arrive in the mail. Payments have not been given a date yet but are expected ‘within the next few weeks’. Stay tuned to further guidance from the Treasury.