Stimulus Payments Are Not Reaching Those Who Need Them Most

Empire Justice Center July 31, 2020

The economic impact payments issued under the CARES Act (also known as “stimulus payments”) have failed to successfully reach a vast number of poor and disabled Americans.  A recent report by the Urban Institute found that almost 40% of adults living at or below the federal poverty line had not received their stimulus payment by the end of May.  Black and Latinx people and those living in poverty were less likely to receive their economic impact payments than white households and people living above the federal poverty line.


Advocates and policy experts such as the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities are calling for aggressive outreach to reach an estimated 12 million non-filers, including very low-income individuals and families not included in automatic payments but whose income is too low to file taxes.


Most of our active DAP clients, who largely rely on public assistance while their disability claims are pending, are among this group. Many of your programs are going above and beyond to aid your clients in finding these benefits.


The IRS initially relied on tax return information for the 2019 tax year to issue the payments.  The agency subsequently announced a portal through which “non-filers” can request payments.  After pressure from advocates and other sources, the IRS agreed to automatically process payments for individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income or Social Security benefits as of January 1, 2020.


The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that 75 percent of eligible non-filers who did not receive payments are eligible for SNAP or Medicaid.  New York’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) is engaging in some outreach through social media and flyers posted in its offices.  Of course, more would be needed to ensure that these payments are reaching the people who most need them.


The current deadline for non-filers to use the IRS portal is October 15, 2020.  After this, date, anyone who missed the deadline or were otherwise excluded can request a stimulus payment only by filing a tax return for the 2020 tax return.