Under recent COVID-19 legislation, most people receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security are receiving stimulus payments of up to $1,200. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will begin issuing these payments to those who have a representative payee and did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 in late May. This money belongs to the beneficiary, not the payee!
How Will the IRS Send Payments to Those Who Have a Representative Payee? • If the beneficiary filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019, then their payment will be sent to the bank account provided on the tax return for their electronic tax refund; if there was no refund or the refund was mailed to them, then the payment will be mailed to the address provided on the tax return. • If the beneficiary did not file a tax return for 2018 or 2019, and » The payee is an individual assisting one or more beneficiaries, then the IRS will send the payments to the same direct deposit bank account or Direct Express card where the beneficiary receives their monthly benefits from SSA around May 27. If the IRS needs to send the beneficiary’s payment by paper check in the mail, it has not yet been announced when those checks will be mailed. » If the payee is an organization assisting multiple beneficiaries, the IRS will send the payments by direct deposit or by paper check in the mail around May 27. What Should the Representative Payee Do with the Payment? The payment belongs to the beneficiary. It is not the same as benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The payee should make a plan with the beneficiary for how they want to spend their payment. If the beneficiary wants to use their payment independently, then the payee should turn it over to the beneficiary. If the beneficiary wants the payee’s assistance with using the payment, then the payee can provide that assistance outside of their role as a representative payee. If the beneficiary receives SSI benefits, then the payee should help to make sure they have spent down the stimulus payment so that they are under the $2,000 resource limit within 12 months of receiving the payment. Does the Representative Payee Need to Account for the Stimulus Payment to SSA? No. Because the payment is not a benefit from SSA, the payee is not required to account for the payment if they are required to submit an annual accounting form to SSA.
Jeff Sodoma, MPA, Esq. is a lawyer based in Virginia Beach, Virginia
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