While around 90 million Americans have already received their third-round stimulus checks, reports of delays for millions of others have prompted Democrat lawmakers to press the heads of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security Administration (SSA) to explain the holdup—and get the funds out faster.
“The people need their money now,” the House Ways and Means Committee wrote on Twitter.
“The fact that nearly 30 million Social Security and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries are STILL waiting for their EIPs is unacceptable,” the committee added, referring to the economic impact payments (EIP), as the stimulus checks are formally known, which are being paid out as part of the American Rescue Plan.
The IRS said on March 22 that it had started disbursing a second batch of stimulus cash, but even as the agency touted “record time” delivery of some checks to some people, there have been reports that some categories of recipients, such as Social Security beneficiaries, are still waiting for their emergency relief money.
“I’m having to put off everything—utility bills, cable. I had to be late on rent,” 65-year-old Mark Stevens, of Pensacola, Florida, told CBS MoneyWatch.
Like for prior rounds of emergency relief payments, the IRS stated it would automatically send third-round checks to people who don’t file a tax return but receive Social Security retirement, survivor, or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Veterans Affairs benefits. The IRS said it was working with the relevant agencies to obtain updated 2021 information for these groups of recipients “to ensure it is sending automatic payments to as many people as possible.”
But reports of delays among these groups of beneficiaries have sparked the ire of some Democrat lawmakers, who are blaming the holdup on poor coordination.
“We were alarmed to learn recently that most Social Security, SSI, RRB, and VA beneficiaries who are not required to file a tax return have not yet received their payments and that the IRS is unable to provide an expected timeline for these payments,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), John Larson (D-Conn.), and Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) wrote in a March 24 letter to IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig and SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul (pdf).
The lawmakers said that, under the Trump administration, the IRS and SSA “worked closely together to ensure that the previous rounds of direct payments were paid promptly and automatically to these beneficiaries.” They urged the two agencies “to move with all deliberate speed” to get the payments out quickly to all the categories of recipients whose payments were overdue.
“We are counting on your agencies to ensure that beneficiaries are not left behind in the seamless delivery of those payments. Some of our most vulnerable seniors and persons with disabilities, including veterans who served our country with honor, are unable to pay for basic necessities while they wait for their overdue payments,” they wrote.
The Treasury Department said on March 24 that, along with the IRS and the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, it is disbursing around 37 million payments in the second batch of checks, bringing the total to around 127 million payments worth some $325 billion.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, in a video statement, said that more than 85 percent of American households will be getting the checks under this round of relief. “We’ll be working hard over the next few days and weeks to get this money out to you,” she said.
The IRS has an online “Get My Payment” tool that people can use to see if their payment has been scheduled.
“The IRS continues to send the third round of stimulus payments in record time,” Rettig said in a statement. “Since this new set of payments will include more mailed payments, we urge people to carefully watch their mail for a check or debit card in the coming weeks.”
Rettig cautioned people to keep an eye out because many payments under this round will be delivered by mail, and in precious relief rounds, some people threw checks away, thinking they were junk mail.
The Treasury stated that this batch of payments includes nearly 15 million paper checks and 5 million prepaid debit cards, which began processing on March 19 and will continue to be sent by mail over the next few weeks.
If, for some reason, eligible recipients don’t receive a third-round payment at all, then they can claim the stimulus money that they should have received as a Recovery Rebate credit on their 2021 income tax return, which won’t be filed until next year.