Thanks to the advocacy of people with disabilities and their families and friends, the Treasury Department announced today that it would automatically issue Recovery Rebate payments to people with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) via the method by which they usually receive their SSI benefits. This change ensures that people with disabilities on SSI will automatically receive the Recovery Rebate payments authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This money will help millions of the lowest income people with disabilities deal with the economic strain of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The personal consequences of this public health and economic disaster are dire for many people with disabilities. From paying rent, to getting groceries safely, to sheltering in place, it all costs more than what many people have on hand. These stimulus payments are incredibly important to people with disabilities, and now, they won’t have to jump through needless hoops to have some breathing room in their bank accounts,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.
While many people with disabilities on SSI were deemed eligible to receive Recovery Rebates, and the payment would have been exempt from asset and income limits, there was a catch.
To access payments, Treasury initially said people must have filed 2018 or 2019 taxes, or now file them, even people with I/DD who receive SSI who earn too little to file taxes. The Arc led efforts to ensure that these payments were automatic, working with allies across the disability community and on Capitol Hill, to ensure that Treasury knew how critical it was that these payments be made to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families without the burden of filling out unnecessary paperwork.
“In the middle of a pandemic, when people are being told to stay home and away from other people to protect their health, the government was asking people with disabilities to take on unnecessary burden and waste time by filing taxes. It was a commonsense fix that had bipartisan support because it was just the right thing to do. We are delighted that Treasury has acted, and now urge them to do the same for some populations not captured in this announcement, including many of the lowest income veterans with disabilities,” said Berns.