Following Calls From Udall And Heinrich, Trump Administration Reverses Course And Allows Social Security Beneficiaries To Receive COVID-19 Direct Cash Assistance Without Filing Tax Returns

WASHINGTON - Following calls from U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that Social Security recipients will automatically receive direct cash assistance included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act without having to file tax returns.

On Wednesday, Senators Udall and Heinrich, along with a group of 41 colleagues, sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressing alarm over guidance that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued earlier this week that said that Social Security beneficiaries would need to file tax returns in order to receive direct cash payments. This directly contradicted Congressional intent in drafting the CARES Act, which had made clear that the Treasury Department had the authority to send automatic direct cash assistance to Social Security beneficiaries regardless of whether they file taxes.

“Now is the time for the federal government to do all it can to assist Americans financially, especially Americans most in need,” said Udall. “I’m relieved the Trump administration reversed course on requiring Social Security recipients to file tax returns in order for them to receive their direct assistance benefit, after we pushed them to do so. Many Social Security recipients are retired and living on fixed incomes or are disabled, and do not file tax returns because they’re not required to. Congress wrote the law with these people in mind -- and specifically intended that these individuals receive their direct payment without having to file a return. I’m glad the Treasury Department is following the law so these Social Security recipients are assured they will receive their check promptly.”

“The seniors and people with disabilities who receive Social Security benefits are particularly vulnerable during this time. Congress made it explicitly clear in drafting the CARES Act that Social Security beneficiaries did not need to take any additional actions in order to receive their direct payments,” said Heinrich. “While I am pleased that Secretary Mnuchin realized the need to reverse course, it should not require this much political pressure to do the right thing. I will continue to hold the Trump Administration accountable every step of the way in implementing all of the emergency measures Congress passed as rapidly and effectively as possible so our health providers and the families who need help get it without delay."