Economic Stimulus Payments: Information for Recipients of Social Security Benefits
Updated July 18, 2008
This section is for people who receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits but who do not normally file an income tax return. The IRS and Treasury are working closely with the Social Security Administration to ensure that all eligible individuals know what to do to receive a stimulus payment.
Normally, certain Social Security payments are not subject to income tax. However, the economic stimulus law passed in February contains a special provision allowing Social Security recipients to count those benefits toward the qualifying income requirement of $3,000 and thereby qualify for the stimulus payment.
For eligible Social Security recipients who do not normally file a tax return, the IRS has prepared an 8-page informational package that provides instructions, a sample Form 1040A and a blank Form 1040A — everything needed to file the tax form. See eligibility requirements below.
Basic Eligibility Requirements
- You have, or your family has, at least $3,000 in qualifying income from, or in combination with, Social Security benefits, certain Veterans Affairs benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits and earned income. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) does not count as qualifying income for the stimulus payment.
You and any family members listed on your tax return have valid Social Security numbers.
You are not a dependent or eligible to be a dependent on someone else’s federal tax return. (The same must be true of any family members claimed on your return.)
To Claim Your Payment
If you normally don’t file a federal tax return but must file one this year solely to claim your economic stimulus payment, you should file by Oct. 15, 2008, to ensure that you receive the payment this year. Find out where to send your tax return.
It will generally take a minimum of eight weeks after you file your return to get your stimulus payment.
For Those Who Have Already Filed
Many recipients of the benefits described above have filed a 2007 tax return reporting at least $3,000 in qualifying income. They may have already received their stimulus payment. They do not need to do anything else.
Others may need to amend a tax return that they have already filed to include previously unreported benefits to reach the $3,000 qualifying income level. Adding these benefits on an amended tax return will not increase an individual’s tax liability, but will establish eligibility for the stimulus payment. Taxpayers can use IRS Form 1040X to amend a tax return in order to qualify for the stimulus payment. The amended return requires only a few simple entries. See a sample with instructions. Allow 8-12 weeks of processing time before making any inquiries about the payment.
Free Tax Help Available
Individuals who need to file a return this year to receive a stimulus payment may be able to take advantage of free tax preparation sites nationwide for low-income and older taxpayers.
Free File provides free tax preparation software and electronic filing for people who are submitting a return solely to receive their economic stimulus payment.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides help to low- and moderate-income taxpayers. Call 1-800-906-9887 to locate the nearest VITA site.
IRS employees will help prepare Form 1040A returns for low-income workers, retirees, disabled veterans and others at IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers. For a list of centers in your state and their hours of operation, Contact My Local Office.
FS-2008-16, Stimulus Payments: Instructions for Low-Income Workers and Recipients of Social Security and Certain Veterans’ Benefits.