by Michelle Diament, Disability Scoop | March 19, 2021
For the first time since the start of the pandemic, stimulus checks are going out to many people with disabilities regardless of whether they’re considered dependents.
The COVID-19 relief bill known as at the American Rescue Plan that was signed into law earlier this month includes $1,400 direct payments to individuals earning less than $75,000 per year, with phased amounts for those making up to $80,000 annually.
Previous stimulus payments over the last year have specifically excluded people who are counted as someone else’s dependent for tax purposes. But, this time around adult dependents will be able to collect the relief funds.
“It’s a huge deal,” said Bethany Lilly, senior director of income policy at The Arc who has pushed for adult dependents to be included. “I know that many families have gone through tough economic circumstances this year in addition to all the increased costs of the pandemic and staying safe, so I’m very relieved that they will be getting help.”
Lilly cited a study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities suggesting that there are 400,000 adult children with disabilities who are claimed as dependents by their parents who will qualify for the payments. On top of that, she noted there are countless others with disabilities who are claimed as dependents by siblings, grandparents, cousins or others.
The payments are automatic for most people, according to the Internal Revenue Service, and about 90 million have already been sent. The majority will be paid via direct deposit, though some people will receive a check or debit card in the mail.
Stimulus payments for individuals who are considered dependents will be paid to the taxpayer who claims them.
Those who receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits do not need to take any action to get the extra money even if they don’t file a tax return. The funds will be sent the same way that people receive their regular benefits, the IRS said, adding that “a payment date for this group will be announced shortly.”
Though the Social Security Administration has yet to release information about the latest round of stimulus checks, the agency indicated that the previous payments would not count as income for SSI recipients and would be excluded from resources for 12 months.
Lilly said that while she and other advocates are pleased to see adult dependents included in the latest round of stimulus payments, they are continuing to press Congress to provide this group with checks retroactively to account for the two previous rounds of direct payments that other Americans have received during the pandemic.
People can check on the status of their stimulus payment on the IRS website.