The IRS has started making coronavirus stimulus payments, which are valued at up to $1,200 for adults and $500 for qualifying dependent children.
Most people will get their money automatically, but there are two groups of people who the IRS has announced must take action by May 5 to get their full payment. These include:
- SSI recipients who have dependent children under 17 and who did not submit a 2018 or 2019 tax return
- Recipients of Veterans Affairs benefits who did not file a 2018 or 2019 return and who have dependent children under 17
If you belong to one of these two groups and you do not act by May 5, you could receive a smaller stimulus payment than you're entitled to. This deadline is an updated one for recipients of Veterans Affairs benefits, who initially were told to submit their information by April 22.
Why do SSI and VA benefits recipients need to take action?
The IRS calculates eligibility for stimulus payments and determines payment amounts based on tax returns for those who filed in 2018 or 2019. But many SSI or VA benefits recipients don't make enough to file.
The IRS is able to obtain income details and bank information from the Social Security Administration or Department of Veterans Affairs. This enables them to send payments without benefits recipients being required to take any action.
However, the info the VA or SSA provides to the IRS does not include details on any dependents. In other words, if the IRS is relying on this info alone, they won't know if a benefits recipient has one or more dependent children who are eligible for a $500 stimulus payment.
The IRS is going to be processing payments for SSI and VA benefits recipients soon, so they need this info by May 5 to make sure they're aware of all dependents and can provide the correct amount of stimulus funds.
An updated deadline
The IRS initially set an April 22 deadline for Veterans Affairs beneficiaries, as well as for people receiving railroad retirement benefits, and certain Social Security benefits.
But the IRS had only reached a deal with VA leaders just a few days before that enabled direct payments to veterans without any action required. This left veterans with dependents with around two days to let the IRS know if they had qualifying dependents.
As advocacy groups scrambled to help, the IRS walked back the deadline for VA benefits recipients. The IRS first indicated simply that they would need to act soon and has now announced a May 5 deadline.
SSI beneficiaries were not subject to the initial April 22 deadline, although those receiving Social Security retirement, survivor, and disability benefits were.
How to take action
If you're an SSI or VA benefits recipient with dependent children and you didn't file a 2018 or 2019 tax return, you need to complete a simple online form for non-filers on the IRS website. You'll need to provide:
- The full name of each family member entitled to a stimulus payment
- Social Security numbers for each family member entitled to stimulus funds
- Your bank account details (unless you receive benefits via Direct Express)
- Your current mailing address
While you have until May 5 to do this, you should take action ASAP to make sure your details are submitted on time.
What if you miss the deadline?
If you miss the deadline, the IRS will process your stimulus payment without the $500 you're entitled to for each dependent.
You can still get this money, but will have to file a 2020 tax return. You can't file your returns until the 2021 tax filing season, so you could end up waiting a long time to get coronavirus stimulus funds you need during the great lockdown necessitated by COVID-19.
The good news is that you still have a little time to act to get the full amount of your money sent when the IRS starts processing payments after the May 5 deadline.