U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, joined Senate colleagues to urge the Trump Administration to ensure that veterans and beneficiaries of the Supplemental Security Income program automatically receive stimulus payments even if they have not filed a tax return. The tax return requirement places a significant burden on low-income veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities. Processing direct cash assistance automatically would provide the fastest and most effective way to get desperately needed funds into the hands of those in need.
The CARES Act gives Treasury the authority to send direct cash assistance to social security recipients, low-income veterans receiving VA benefits, very low-income seniors and people with disabilities receiving SSI even if they have not filed a tax return. Recently, Senator Gillibrand successfully called on the Department of Treasury (Treasury) to ease burdens on social security beneficiaries by enforcing the guidelines in the CARES Act.
“Once again, the Trump Administration is putting America’s most vulnerable individuals at risk by not enforcing guidelines detailed in the CARES Act,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The administration must use their authority to ensure that more than 3 million low-income veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities receive their stimulus payment without the undue burden of filing a tax return. Our veterans deserve access to these direct payments and I urge the administration to act swiftly.”
In addition to Senator Gillibrand, the letter was led by Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and signed by Sens. Baldwin (D-WI), Blumenthal (D-CT), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Carper (D-DE), Casey (D-PA), Coons (D-DE), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Duckworth (D-IL), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Harris (D-CA), Heinrich (D-NM), Hirono (D-HI), Jones (D-AL), Kaine (D-VA), King (D-ME), Klobuchar (D-MN), Leahy (D-VT), Manchin (D-WV), Markey (D-MA), Menendez (D-NJ), Murphy (D-CT), Murray (D-WA), Peters (D-MI), Reed (D-RI), Rosen (D-NV), Sanders (I-VT), Schatz (D-HI), Schumer (D-NY), Shaheen (D-NH), Sinema (D-AZ), Smith (D-MN), Stabenow (D-MI), Udall (D-NM), Van Hollen (D-MD), Warner (D-VA), Warren (D-MA), Whitehouse (D-RI) and Wyden (D-OR).
Full text of the letter can be found here and below:
Dear Secretary Mnuchin, Secretary Wilkie, and Commissioner Saul:
We appreciate the swift attention you gave to our April 1st letter urging the Department of Treasury (“Treasury”) to automatically send rebates to Social Security retirement and disability beneficiaries that have not filed a tax return. Your decision will make receiving the rebate easier and faster for millions of seniors and people with disabilities across the country. Thank you.
Today, we write requesting that you again use your authority to provide stimulus payments automatically to recipients of benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Supplemental Security Income program, without requiring them to file a tax return. This is the fastest, most-effective way to provide desperately needed help to more than 3 million low-income veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities.
Treasury wisely decided to use its authority to take this step with regard to recipients of Social Security and Railroad Retirement benefits. Treasury can also make automatic payments to low-income veterans receiving VA benefits and very low-income seniors and people with disabilities receiving SSI. These are two groups with significant numbers of non-filers for whom the federal government has the data necessary to deliver the payments automatically — and they deserve the same treatment as Social Security recipients.
The process for getting SSI and VA beneficiaries payments would mirror the process that it is using for seniors and people with disabilities receiving Social Security: Treasury can match its data against the Social Security Administration’s and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ data to determine those SSI and veterans beneficiaries who aren’t part of a tax filing unit and then issue them automatic payments for the amounts which Congress intended them to receive. Treasury should not require people with disabilities and low-income veterans and seniors to file a form to receive stimulus payments when the federal government already has the information it needs.
The law also requires Treasury to conduct a public awareness campaign in coordination with other federal agencies to ensure those who don’t typically file a tax return receive these stimulus rebates. Please share information with us about your plans to design and implement this awareness campaign in a timely manner.