Cantwell, Murray & Colleagues Call for Veterans, SSI Beneficiaries to Receive Stimulus Checks Automatically Without Having to File Tax Return

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), joined Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and 40 of their Democratic colleagues in calling on the Trump Administration to issue the direct cash assistance included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act automatically to individuals who receive benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. In their letter, the senators point out that the federal government has the data necessary to deliver the stimulus checks automatically, and that many individuals in these groups do not file tax returns.

The senators’ letter follows successful efforts this week to push the U.S. Treasury Department to automatically send Social Security recipients – including approximately 1 in 6 Washingtonians – the direct cash assistance included in the CARES Act without having to file tax returns.

Over 144,000 veterans in Washington received benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available. Approximately 149,000 Washingtonians receive Supplemental Security Income. Overall, as a result of the CARES Act, more than 1.8 million Washingtonians who make $75,000 or less qualify for a one-time rebate check of $1,200, and nearly 970,000 married couples who make a combined $150,000 or less qualify for a one-time $2,400 rebate check. Single Washingtonians making between $75,000 and $99,000, and married couples making between $150,000 and $198,00, will also receive checks for a reduced amount, determined on a sliding scale of income.

“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,” the senators wrote.

In addition to Senators Cantwell, Hassan, and Brown, the letter was also signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Read the full letter below or HERE.

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.

Thank you.