Skip to main content

Common Dreams. Journalism funded by people, not corporations.

There has never been—and never will be—an advertisement on our site except for this one: without readers like you supporting our work, we wouldn't exist.

No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news and opinion 365 days a year that is freely available to all and funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

Our mission is clear. Our model is simple. If you can, please support our Fall Campaign today.

Support Our Work -- No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. Please support our Fall Campaign today.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin answers questions at a White House press briefing. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

'Not Enough': Trump Reversal on Coronavirus Relief Payments Still Leaves 'Unacceptable' Barrier for Millions

"They're still requiring SSI recipients and veterans receiving pensions to file a tax return before receiving their coronavirus stimulus payments."

Jake Johnson

After a wave of backlash from advocates and Democratic lawmakers, the Trump administration late Wednesday abruptly reversed policy guidance that would have required millions of Social Security recipients to file a tax return in order to receive the one-time $1,200 relief payment to which they are entitled under the newly passed coronavirus stimulus package.

But critics were quick to warn that the administration's reversal—announced in a statement by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin—does not cover low-income recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and veterans benefits. Leaving the roadblock in the way of these vulnerable groups, said advocates, could mean millions will not receive desperately needed relief.

"They're still requiring SSI recipients and veterans receiving pensions to file a tax return before receiving their coronavirus stimulus payments. That burden is unacceptable."
—Rep. Jan Schakowsky

"Under pressure, the Trump administration has reversed the cruel and needless requirement for Social Security beneficiaries to file a tax return to receive their $1,200 payment," tweeted advocacy group Social Security Works. "Now, they need to do the same for recipients of SSI and Veteran's Pensions."

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law last Friday, explicitly gives the Treasury Department authority to use Social Security Administration and Veterans Administration data already on file to distribute payments to those who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019 because they did not owe federal taxes.

Mnuchin said late Wednesday that "Social Security recipients who are not typically required to file a tax return do not to need take an action, and will receive their payment directly to their bank account."

"Recipients will receive these payments as a direct deposit or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their benefits," said Mnuchin. The Treasury Department is reportedly working to set up an online portal for people to update their direct deposit information.

Linda Benesch, communications director for Social Security Works, tweeted that the administration's change "should apply to people receiving [Social Security Disability Insurance]" but "doesn't appear to apply to people receiving SSI" because it is a separate program.

"We'll keep fighting to fix that," said Benesch.

In a tweet accompanied by a smiling elderly couple, the Internal Revenue Service Wednesday night publicized the Trump administration's policy change, noting that "Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file to receive an economic impact payment. It's automatic."

However, the IRS concedes in its fact-sheet on coronavirus relief that "some people who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment."

While the Trump administration has portrayed the filing as "simple," Democratic lawmakers and journalists have reported hearing complaints from dozens of seniors who say they have been unable to file the required return online because they have no taxable income. Volunteer tax clinics across the U.S. that help people navigate the filing process are closed due to the coronavirus crisis.

"Since my printer isn't working, I'm not able to print it out to send it in," Sue Bohl, a 63-year-old Social Security Disability Insurance recipient in De Pere, Wisconsin, told HuffPost. "It's hard for me, because I don't think it's smart to be going out to do anything right now, so I'm stuck!"

Rep. Jan Schakowski (D-Ill.), a member of the House Democratic Task Force on Aging and Families, tweeted Wednesday night that the Treasury Department's reversal "is not enough."

"They're still requiring SSI recipients and veterans receiving pensions to file a tax return before receiving their coronavirus stimulus payments," said Schakowski. "That burden is unacceptable."

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that "beyond the tax-filing hurdle, millions of other Americans are realizing that they don't qualify for a coronavirus relief check" as mass layoffs continue across the United States.

"Most high school seniors and college students won't get any money," the Post reported. "The bill gives nothing to families for their children older than 16, a shock to many households already reeling from canceled graduations, and college students readjusting to life at home with so many universities shut down. Many immigrant families are also learning that they are ineligible. In order for anyone in the family to receive a payment, each person in the household—including children—is supposed to have a valid Social Security number."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

House Progressives: 'When We Said These Two Bills Go Together, We Meant It'

"Moving the infrastructure bill forward without the popular Build Back Better Act risks leaving behind working people, families, and our communities."

Andrea Germanos ·


Wyden's New Billionaires Income Tax Plan Applauded as Step Toward Justice

"For too long, families have been denied basic supports... while billionaires evade taxes on obscene amounts of wealth. This dynamic is economically dangerous and morally unsustainable."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Tax Them All': Warren, Wyden Lead Push for Minimum Corporate Tax in Build Back Better Act

"Giant corporations have been exploiting tax loopholes for too long, and it's about time they pay their fair share to help run this country, just like everyone else," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Julia Conley ·


Brazil Senate Panel Backs Indictment of Bolsonaro for 'Terrifying' Covid-19 Crimes

"It is evident that the president of the republic is the main culprit for most of the more than 600,000 deaths."

Brett Wilkins ·


Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo