In response to pressure from Congress to speed up the delivery of the latest stimulus checks to people who receive federal benefits, the commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Andrew Saul, posted a lengthy statement in an attempt to explain why tens of millions of recipients are still waiting for payments more than two weeks after the American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law.
Long story short: The administration sent all the needed information for payments to the Internal Revenue Service on Thursday, according to Saul, meaning the process of getting stimulus checks to these recipients can now move forward. Although the IRS has already sent out two large batches of Economic Impact Payments, millions of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients were not among them, even though they are among the very Americans who need them most. The issue seems to have largely impacted benefits recipients who didn’t file a tax return in 2019 or 2020.
What’s been taking so long? According to Saul, the process has required a complex back-and-forth between the SSA and IRS involving data files and meticulous updates that ensure the payment information for the recipients is up-to-date and accurate (by removing names of people who are deceased, for example). “We have worked tirelessly with our counterparts at IRS to provide to them the information they need to issue payments to our beneficiaries.”
Earlier this week, Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to Saul—a Trump appointee—essentially implying that the SSA was dragging its feet. “We demand that you immediately provide the IRS with this information by tomorrow, March 25, 2021,” they wrote.
Meanwhile, Americans who are relying on the $1,400 payments are getting caught in the middle of all this, and as of Friday, it remains unclear how much longer they’ll have to wait. Reached for comment, the SSA told Fast Company to reach out to the IRS for an estimated timeline. We did that, but the IRS had no new information yet.
The good news is, the payments will be automatically distributed via the same method by which recipients receive their benefits, so the money will come eventually. It’s just a question of when.
We’ll update this post as soon as we hear more.