Millions of Americans relying on Social Security benefits will finally get their third coronavirus stimulus checks next week, according to the feds.
The Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration say they have finally resolved a bureaucratic snafu that forced an estimated 30 million federal beneficiaries to wait for the $1,400 payments.
Those people get money from Social Security, Supplemental Security Income or Railroad Retirement Board programs and didn’t file tax returns for the last two years or submit payment information to the IRS last year, officials said.
Social Security officials didn’t send the IRS the full payment files for these beneficiaries until Thursday, by which time the tax agency had already distributed roughly 127 million payments to Americans whose information it did have on file.
The IRS says it expects to finish reviewing the Social Security data and start processing stimulus payments for the affected benefit recipients by the end of this week. Most of the checks will be sent electronically, so they’ll officially land in beneficiaries’ bank accounts or on their Direct Express debit cards on April 7, the agency said.
“Our teams immediately began processing data we received last week for federal benefit recipients,” IRS commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement Tuesday. “We know how important these payments are, and we are doing everything we can to make these payments as fast as possible to these important individuals.”
The Social Security Administration sent the needed payment data after the House Ways and Means Committee demanded the agency do so within 24 hours so nearly 30 million affected beneficiaries could get their much-needed money.
Democratic lawmakers on the panel pinned the delay on SSA commissioner Andrew Saul, saying he “defied congressional intent and imposed needless anxiety and pain on taxpayers.”
But Saul disputed those claims, saying his agency moved as fast as it could within the constraints of the Social Security Act and the American Rescue Plan stimulus bill, which did not provide a “direct appropriation” to the SSA.
“There is no one more committed to serving the public than the employees of this agency, and there should be no doubt whatsoever that they are striving each day to serve the vulnerable populations to whom they have committed their careers,” Saul said in a Thursday statement. “I find any insinuation to the contrary to be unacceptable.”
Not every Social Security recipient was caught up in the delay. The IRS said many beneficiaries eligible for stimulus checks got them in the last three weeks if they filed income tax returns for 2019 or 2020 or filled out the IRS’ form for non-filers last year.
The IRS is also working to review payment data for Veterans Affairs benefits recipients and could distribute checks to those who don’t regularly file tax returns by mid-April, officials said.