Social Security recipients can get $1,200 COVID-19 payments without filing taxes; Treasury lifts roadblock

The Internal Revenue Service lifted a rule it imposed earlier this week making it harder for some Social Security recipients to get their $1,200 COVID-19 stimulus checks.

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The Internal Revenue Service lifted a rule it imposed earlier this week that would have made it harder for some Social Security recipients to get their $1,200 COVID-19 stimulus checks.

Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images

The Treasury Department, in a switch, lifted a roadblock on Wednesday night, clearing the way for individuals who live off of Social Security — and do not file federal income tax returns — to be eligible for the $1,200 payments being disbursed to the COVID-19 rescue legislation.

“Social Security recipients who are not typically required to file a tax return need to take no action, and will receive their payment directly to their bank account,” Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

The payments were included in the $2.2 trillion legislation signed into law last week, designed to rescue an economy wrecked by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Under the stimulus bill, payments of up to $1,200 would go to eligible U.S. taxpayers who filed 2018 and 2019 tax returns

However, there are those who live off their Social Security or railroad retirement payments – many senior citizens with no outside income – who are not required to file a federal income tax return.

The IRS earlier this week said non-filers would have to file a basic income tax form to trigger the stimulus benefits.

Enough concerns were raised that the IRS by Wednesday reversed itself.

A spokesman for Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., a member of the House Ways and Means Committee Social Security subcommittee, said he had been working “to push back on this unnecessary bureaucratic hurdle.”

The Treasury department said in the statement that “recipients will receive these payments as a direct deposit or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their benefits.”

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