Direct stimulus payments under the CARES Act

Update April 16: this post has been updated to reflect new information regarding Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients and a payment tracking tool from the IRS.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Congress passed and the President recently signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion rescue package that provides economic relief to individuals and businesses, and contains numerous health provisions to address the coronavirus pandemic. The following is a brief summary of the direct stimulus payments to individuals and families that began this week.  

Adults with Social Security numbers who have an adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $75,000 will receive a one-time direct payment of $1,200. Married couples with an AGI less than $150,000 will receive a payment of $2,400. An additional $500 direct payment is added for each qualifying child age 16 and under. For income levels above those thresholds, direct payment amounts decrease $5 for every $100 that you earn above $75,000 and stop altogether for single people earning $99,000 or married people who have no children and earn $198,000.

Income levels will be based on 2019 tax returns, or 2018 if a person has not filed their 2019 taxes yet. This is a direct stimulus payment with no action required if you filed a tax return for 2019 or 2018. If the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has your bank account information based on your 2019 or 2018 returns, they will directly deposit your stimulus payment. Payments will also be automatic for Social Security retirement and disability recipients who do not normally file tax returns, as well as recipients of federally managed railroad retirement benefits. The stimulus payments are tax-free.

For people who are not required file tax returns, including those with too little income to file, the IRS has launched a new web tool that allows non-filers to enter basic information such as Social Security number, name, address and dependents. This will allow the IRS to confirm eligibility for a stimulus payment, calculate the amount, and send the payment. Non-filers can also enter bank account information to allow the IRS to directly deposit their stimulus payment; otherwise, a paper check will be mailed.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) also clarified in a recent announcement that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients will automatically receive $1,200 direct stimulus payments. However, SSI recipients who have qualifying dependent children are advised to provide their information on the non-filer web tool in order to receive their additional $500 per dependent child payment as soon as possible. If they do not provide this information on the web tool, they will have to wait until later to receive their qualifying child payment.

It should also be noted that the SSA’s announcement does not provide updated information on the status of automatic payments for those who receive veterans disability compensation, pension or survivor benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and who did not file a tax return for the 2018 or 2019 tax years. In a previous announcement, the IRS stated that individuals in this group can use the non-filer web tool now, or wait as the IRS continues to review automatic payment options to simplify delivery for this group.

The Treasury Department has indicated that mailed checks will start being distributed before the end of April. The IRS also launched a Get My Payment tracking tool that gives people an estimate of when they can expect their direct deposit or check in the mail.

This information is current as of April 16, 2020. You can find more information and resources for kidney patients by visiting our special coronavirus webpage at KidneyFund.org/coronavirus. AKF will update the page with important information for kidney patients and their caregivers as the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold.

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About the Author

Mike Ly

Mike Ly is the director of public policy at the American Kidney Fund.

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