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Answers about the $250 Social Security recovery (stimulus) payment for 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides for a one-time payment of $250 to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income, or (SSI) beneficiaries, as well as those who receive Railroad Retirement and Veterans benefits.

Here are answers to questions about this payment.

Q. Who will receive a one-time economic recovery payment from Social Security?

A. Nearly 55 million Social Security and SSI beneficiaries will receive a one-time payment of $250 each. To receive a payment, the beneficiary’s address of record must be in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, or the Northern Mariana Islands.

Q. When will I get the one-time payment?

A. You should receive your $250 payment by late May 2009.

Q. What do I need to do to receive this payment?

A. You don't need to do anything in order to get this one-time payment. Social Security has all the information needed to get your payment to you.

Q. How will I get this payment?

A. Social Security will deliver your payment in one of the following ways:

  • If you receive your Social Security or SSI benefit payment by direct deposit in your bank, the SSA will deposit the $250 one-time payment in your bank. Direct Deposit is the fast, safe and most reliable way to receive monthly Social Security benefits.
  • If you get your Social Security or SSI benefit payment in the mail, SS will send your $250 one-time payment by mail.

OR

  • If your benefit goes directly to your Direct Express debit card, Social Security will deposit the $250 one-time payment to your debit card. They'll send your one-time economic recovery payment separately from your Social Security or SSI benefit; it won't be included with your monthly benefit payment.

Q. Will the one-time payment change the amount or delivery date of my regular Social Security or SSI benefit?

A. No. The one-time payment will be a separate payment, which will not be included in your regular monthly benefit payment.

Q. Can I get more than one payment?

A. No. You will get only one $250 payment. So if you now receive more than one type of benefit -- for instance, some combination of Social Security, SSI, Railroad Retirement and Veterans benefits -- you will get only one payment of $250.

Q. What if I'm married?

A. If you're married and both you and your spouse get Social Security or SSI, you each will receive a one-time $250 payment.

Q. Can children get this one-time payment?

A. That depends. Children who receive Social Security benefits are NOT eligible for the one-time payment. But disabled adult children (over age 18) who get Social Security are eligible for the one-time payment, and so are children who receive SSI.

Q. If I owe money to the federal or state government, will that money reduce my one-time payment?

A. Yes. The law requires the Treasury Department to offset the one-time payments to collect delinquent child support and debts owed to state and federal agencies. The one-time payment will not be used to collect Social Security or SSI benefit overpayments.

Q. Does this payment count as taxable income?

A. No. Your one-time payment does NOT count as income for tax purposes or for SSI.

Q. How can I find out more about my payment?

A. This spring, Social Security will be sending letters to eligible beneficiaries with additional information about the one-time payment. Again, you do not need to do anything to receive your payment.

Q. What if I don't receive my payment?

A. If you don’t receive it by June 4, you may contact Social Security.

Q. I became eligible for benefits in February 2009. Will I receive the one-time economic recovery payment?

A. No. Only individuals eligible for Social Security, SSI, Veterans, or Railroad Retirement benefits at any time during the months of November 2008, December 2008, or January 2009 may be eligible for the one-time payment.

Q. If I have a representative payee, who will receive my one-time economic recovery payment?

A. If you have a representative payee, SSA will deliver your one-time payment to your representative payee. Your representative payee is required by law to use the payment for your benefit.

Q. Will the one-time economic recovery payment count as a resource for SSI?

A. The payment will not count as a resource in the month you receive it or the following 9 months. For example, if you receive the one-time payment in May 2009, it would not count as a resource from May 2009 through February 2010. If you still have this money after February 2010, it will be counted as a resource starting in March 2010.

Q. Will the one-time economic recovery payment count as income when determining eligibility for Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug plan costs?

A. No, it will not.

Q. Will the one-time economic recovery payment count as earnings when determining eligibility for Social Security disability benefits?

A. No. The one-time economic recovery payment will not count as income or earnings for Social Security disability benefits.

Q. Who is not eligible for this payment?

A. In most cases, the following individuals will not receive the one-time payment:

  • Anyone living outside of the United States or its territories;
  • Individuals who no longer are lawfully present in the United States;
  • Individuals whose benefits have been suspended under the law for giving false or misleading statements;
  • Social Security beneficiaries who are minor children;
  • SSI beneficiaries who receive benefits at a reduced rate of $30 because they live in a medical treatment facility (such as a nursing home or hospital) and Medicaid pays over 50% of the cost of their care;
  • Individuals only entitled to Medicare and not to Social Security or SSI benefits; and
  • Prisoners, fugitive felons, and probation and parole violators.

Q. What should I do if someone calls or E-mails me asking for personal information to process my payment?

A. Do not provide your personal information to anyone requesting it to process your payment. If you are unsure about the identity of someone claiming to be a Social Security employee, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to verify the call. You may report suspicious activity involving Social Security programs and operations at the Social Security Fraud Hotline website or by phone at 1-800-269-0271 (TTY 1-866-501-2101).

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