The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced a rule change, so that benefits received through Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will not be affected by the recipient having received stimulus checks, and other certain government benefits.
As pointed out by Disability Scoop, after the rule change, “people with disabilities can save money received through stimulus checks and other COVID-19 relief programs indefinitely without losing out on their Supplemental Security Income benefits.”
“We recently changed our rules about what financial assistance can affect your eligibility for SSI or your monthly SSI payment amount,” the SSA said on its coronavirus website.
“Specifically, we no longer count the financial assistance listed below against your eligibility or payment amount. We are reviewing SSI claims and other SSI records going back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to restore SSI payments for people whose SSI was affected by receiving any of the assistance listed below.”
Those benefits include “Economic Impact Payments”—the official name for stimulus checks from the federal government—as well as most state-issued stimulus payments, unemployment assistance, loan forgiveness from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Also included are benefits from the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, the COVID-19 Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program, COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, the Emergency Rental Assistance Fund, the Emergency Assistance for Rural Housing/Rural Rental Assistance, the Homeowner Assistance Fund, Housing Assistance and Supportive Services Programs for Native Americans, the Tribal Payments from the Coronavirus Relief Fund and the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, Supporting Foster Youth and Families, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, the Emergency Assistance to Children and Families through the Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund, the Farm Loan Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers, and the USDA Assistance and Support for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers, Ranchers, Forest Land Owners and Operators, and Groups.
What should beneficiaries do if they are affected by this change?
“In most cases, you do not need to do anything. If we do not need any information from you to restore your SSI payment, we will restore your SSI payment and we will mail you a letter explaining the change,” the SSA coronavirus page says. “We will send the letter to the most recent address we have available for you. If you have an appointed representative, or a representative payee, we will also send this information to your representative.”
Back in July, Democrats in Congress announced a proposal to expand SSI benefits.
“Disabled people and the poorest of the poor haven’t had really any help in years,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said in a July Time Magazine article about the push. “They’ve just been forgotten and neglected. So it’s time we do something about it.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.