by Shaun Heasley | April 29, 2020
Many people with disabilities will miss out on economic stimulus payments because they are counted as someone else’s dependent, but that could change under a proposal in Congress.
The government is currently sending cash payments to millions of Americans as part of a large package of relief efforts approved in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most individuals earning less than $75,000 annually will receive $1,200 and people making up to $99,000 will get a tiered amount. In addition, families who qualify will receive $500 per child under the age of 17.
People with disabilities who get Supplemental Security Income are eligible under the law, unless they can be claimed as a dependent by someone else, a factor that disqualifies many.
That would change under a bill known as the All Dependent Children Count Act, or H.R. 6420. The proposal calls for the cash payments to be extended to dependents with disabilities of all ages as well as those younger than 19 and students ages 24 and under.
“In the middle of a pandemic, we need to look out for our working families and make sure we are doing everything we can to provide financial support to those most in need,” said U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., who sponsored the legislation. “When I learned that we were leaving out dependents over 17 and students up to age 24 as well as the disabled, I knew we needed to introduce legislation to fix this immediately.”
The measure has bipartisan backing, with 147 members of Congress listed as co-sponsors. And, Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., said she plans to introduce a similar bill in the Senate, which already has support from more than a dozen members.
Advocates with the National Down Syndrome Society are pushing families across the country to contact their elected officials about supporting the bill expanding the types of dependents who are eligible.
“Individuals with Down syndrome and their families have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. Many have lost their jobs and providing care for someone with complex medical needs is costly. This economic relief money should not be denied to those who need it most,” the group said in an alert to supporters this week.
The Department of Treasury began issuing stimulus payments earlier this month. After some initial confusion, the agency said that like most others, SSI beneficiaries who qualify will receive the payments automatically by early May in the same manner as they typically receive their benefits. Action is only needed from SSI beneficiaries who have children under the age of 17 in order to claim the $500 per dependent child payment.
The cash payments will not be considered income for SSI recipients and the funds will be excluded from resources for 12 months, according to the Social Security Administration.