NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker today called on the Trump Administration to issue stimulus checks automatically to recipients of benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Supplemental Security Income program. The Senators noted that these are two groups with large amounts of non-filers and groups that the federal government has the data necessary to deliver the stimulus checks automatically.
The senators successfully pushed the Administration to reverse its decision to make Social Security beneficiaries file a tax return in order to receive their direct cash payments.
“Treasury can also make automatic payments to low-income veterans receiving VA benefits and very low-income seniors and people with disabilities receiving SSI,”the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the heads of the Treasury Department, Veterans Affairs and Social Security Administration. “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 letter was also signed by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.),Kristin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Dough Jones (D-Ala.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (D-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mch.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
A copy 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.
April 22, 2021