Millions of Americans can expect to receive stimulus checks in the coming weeks, thanks to the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The checks are intended as a form of relief for those who are facing economic hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and approximately 90% of Americans will receive them, according to research from the Tax Policy Center.
While the majority of U.S. adults will receive checks, if you're currently collecting Social Security benefits, there are a few things you need to know.
1. Social Security recipients are eligible for a stimulus check
If you're collecting Social Security benefits of any kind -- whether it's retirement benefits, disability benefits, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) -- you are eligible to receive a stimulus check. However, in order to receive one, you'll also need to meet the other eligibility requirements.
First, you cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return. Second, in order to receive the full $1,200 stimulus check, you must have an adjusted gross income of less than $75,000 per year (for individuals), $112,500 per year (for heads of household), or $150,000 per year (for married couples filing jointly). If you're earning more than those limits, you'll either receive a smaller check or no check at all.
2. You don't need to file a tax return
Most Americans will need to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return to receive their stimulus checks, but that rule doesn't apply to Social Security beneficiaries. Previously, Social Security recipients were told that they would need to file simple tax returns with information like their income and number of dependents.
However, the Treasury Department later walked back that rule, saying it will use the information the Social Security Administration already has on file to determine who is eligible to receive the checks. That means if you're currently receiving benefits, you shouldn't need to do anything to get your check. If you normally receive your benefits via direct deposit, that's how you'll receive your check as well. If your benefits come in the mail via paper check, you'll receive a paper stimulus check too.
3. Beware of scammers
With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans are feeling vulnerable -- making them prime targets for scammers. There has been an increase in coronavirus-related scams, with fraudsters selling fake "cures" for the virus and impersonating doctors and telling victims that they need to make payments to cover the cost of a loved one's treatment.
There has also been an increase in Social Security fraud, with scammers calling, emailing, or sending letters to beneficiaries to tell them their monthly checks have been suspended because of COVID-19. Scammers then tell you that you need to provide your personal information or make a payment to get your benefits reinstated.
If you get a call, email, or letter from someone saying you need to provide your Social Security number or bank account information or make a payment in order to receive your stimulus check, do not respond -- but do report it to the Office of the Inspector General.
The coronavirus stimulus checks can make a significant difference for those who are struggling to make ends meet right now. Social Security recipients are no exception, and as long as you meet the eligibility requirements, you can look forward to receiving your check soon.