Tester Doubles Down on Effort to Ensure Veterans Swiftly Get Stimulus Checks from CARES Act

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is doubling down on his effort to ensure veterans and other beneficiaries through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program receive immediate stimulus payments from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

In a letter to Administration officials, Tester and his colleagues are urging the Treasury Department to provide critically needed cash assistance to veterans without income tax liabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Today, we write requesting that you again use your authority to provide stimulus payments automatically to recipients of benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Supplemental Security Income program, without requiring them to file a tax return,” Tester and his colleagues wrote to Secretary Mnuchin, Secretary Wilkie, and Commissioner Saul. “This is the fastest, most effective way to provide desperately needed help to more than 3 million low-income veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities."

Under the CARES Act, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will automatically send stimulus payments to eligible taxpayers who filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return. Last week, the IRS issued updated guidance that it would use existing Social Security Administration records to generate $1,200 Economic Impact Payments to Social Security recipients who did not file tax returns for those years. Tester is pushing the Treasury to establish a similar system for VA beneficiaries and SSI payments.

The Senators continued, “The process for getting SSI and VA beneficiaries payments would mirror the process that it is using for seniors and people with disabilities receiving Social Security: Treasury can match its data against the Social Security Administration’s and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ data to determine those SSI and veterans beneficiaries who aren’t part of a tax filing unit and then issue them automatic payments for the amounts which Congress intended them to receive. Treasury should not require people with disabilities, low-income seniors, and veterans to file a form to receive stimulus payments when the federal government already has the information it needs.”

Last week, Tester and his Republican counterpart on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee urged VA's Under Secretary for Benefits to deliver relief money under the coronavirus stimulus package to eligible veterans in a timely manner.

Read the full letter HERE.