March 13, 2021

SSI, SSDI and third stimulus checks: Qualifications, when and how your payment may arrive

The rules for a third stimulus check are set, and the payments are going out….

The rules for a third stimulus check are set, and the payments are going out. Here’s what that means to people who receive SSI and SSDI. 


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The IRS and US Treasury have begun to send the first rush of stimulus payments to some qualified individuals and family groups through direct deposit (here’s how to track your stimulus payment). But that early group may not apply to people who receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income. We can help answer questions about when you can expect your third stimulus check, and more. 

We’ll tell you how the rules for dependents have changed, as well as the qualifications overall. We have information about what could help you get a bigger check this time, and if the last-minute changes to the stimulus formula will affect you. Plus, here’s how the $1,400 stimulus check compares with the earlier $600 and $1,200 payments.

Not all the details are simple. For example, if you stopped or started receiving SSI or SSDI in 2019 or 2020, your situation could become complicated now that it’s tax season. We’ll explain how to claim any money you’re missing from the first two stimulus checks — even if you don’t usually file taxes — and can help answer how your third payment might arrive. Here also is what we know about whether you’ll be able to set up direct deposit for your payment as well as how to track your payment. This story was recently updated.

When will I get my third stimulus payment if I’m in the SSDI or SSI program?

On Friday, the IRS said a payment date for those who receive Social Security and other federal benefits will be announced shortly. Here’s what we know about the general timeline for when the IRS could start sending out the third stimulus check


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Stimulus check 3: How much money you’ll get



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SSI and SSDI: Third stimulus check eligibility requirements

In the just-approved American Rescue Plan, people who receive SSI and SSDI will once again automatically qualify to receive a third stimulus check, for $1,400, as they did for the first and second round of payments. 

For the first two rounds, those individuals were eligible so long as they had a Social Security number and weren’t claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return, and so long as their household income didn’t exceed the threshold set ($75,000 single, $112,500 head of household, $150,000 married). 

The new bill that authorized the third check expands stimulus payment eligibility to dependents of all ages, including young adults age 17 to 24 and older adult dependents. It also increases the amount set aside for those dependents to $1,400 each. Another change: This time around, the checks will be more “targeted” than they were in the first two rounds, meaning that single taxpayers who earn $75,000 or less per year will be eligible for the full amount, while those who earn more than $80,000 per year won’t get any money. That means some families could get more money, while others could get less or none at all.

Those receiving Railroad Retirement and Veterans Affairs benefits also automatically qualify for a payment, as they did in the first and second round, the IRS said

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The rules surrounding the third stimulus check can get confusing, fast.


Sarah Tew/CNET

How will I get my third stimulus payment? 

The IRS said it is changing how it will make payments to those who recieve some federal benefits with the third check.

Most SSI and SSDI recipients didn’t receive their first payments via their Direct Express card, though this is usually what the government uses to distribute federal benefits. Instead, the payment arrived through a non-Direct Express bank account or as a paper check, if you didn’t have your bank account information on file with the IRS. 

For the second round of payments, the IRS said that SSI and SSDI recipients should have gotten their stimulus check money the same way they received their first stimulus checks. People who received the first round of payments via Direct Express should have received the second payment the same way, according to the IRS.

However, with the third check, the IRS said Social Security and other federal beneficiaries will likely receive the new payment the same way as their usual benefits, noting it will announce a payment date for this group shortly.

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If you’re missing stimulus money for yourself or your dependents, you’ll need to claim it on your tax return.


Angela Lang/CNET

Dependents will be eligible for more money than ever in the third round of checks

For the first stimulus check under the CARES Act, qualified people with dependents age 16 or younger were eligible for up to $500 per child dependent, but not everyone actually received that extra money. For the second stimulus check, as long as your children were 16 years old or younger, they contributed $600 toward the final total of your household’s second stimulus check. 

The third stimulus check changes the rules, and makes dependents of all ages eligible for up to $1,400 each that will apply to the household’s total payment, not just children under 17. That includes older adult relatives and college-age children as well.

Here’s who the IRS counts as an adult to receive their own stimulus check.

If you’re still missing money from the first two stimulus checks and don’t file taxes, here’s what to do

According to the IRS, people who receive Social Security retirement, SSDI, SSI and Railroad Retirement benefits, as well as Veterans Affairs beneficiaries, were automatically eligible for the first two stimulus payments. If you receive these federal benefits as your only form of income, you weren’t required to file a federal income tax return in 2018 or 2019. Under the CARES Act passed in March 2020, you should have received a stimulus check automatically (no need to file a simple tax return, as the IRS had originally said).

If that money didn’t arrive, it’s possible you might have had a payment garnished for child support or to pay a specific kind of creditor, but the rules changed with a second check. However, an IRS error could also be one potential culprit, or that the IRS needed more information about your eligibility. 

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It isn’t too late to claim missing stimulus money, but you have to file a tax return to do so. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

To receive your money now, you’ll need to claim the additional amount as part of tax season 2020, using the Recovery Rebate Credit. Even if you don’t usually file taxes, you will have to do so to get those funds. 

In some cases — like if you received a letter from the IRS confirming that your payment was sent, but you never actually got the money — you may need to contact the IRS to request a payment trace

How to claim missing stimulus money for your dependents

If you used the IRS’ Non-Filers tool from May 5 through Aug. 15 of 2020, the IRS should’ve automatically issued the catch-up payment for your dependents in October 2020. If you received your original stimulus money by direct deposit, you should’ve gotten the catch-up payment the same way. Others would have received it in the mail. 

If you filed for your missing dependent money by Nov. 21, 2020, the payment should have arrived by the end of 2020 in the same way you received your first payment (likely direct deposit or by mail). If you missed the deadline, your check should be included on your 2020 tax return in 2021, if you file for a Recovery Rebate Credit.

To check the status of your or your dependent’s payment, use the IRS’ online tool to track it.

If you’re an SSI or SSDI recipient who doesn’t live in the US, here’s what to know

If you’re a Social Security beneficiary with a foreign address whose monthly benefit is deposited in a foreign bank account, you should receive your third stimulus payment as a check in the mail. (The IRS doesn’t usually deposit money into foreign banks.) 

If you live abroad but receive your monthly benefits through a US bank, you should have received your first two payment by direct deposit to that account. If you still haven’t gotten your money, it will have to be claimed as part of a tax return. Find out everything you need to know about stimulus checks, citizenship and living abroad here.

Here’s everything else we know about third stimulus checks, including how to track your new payment.

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