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SALT LAKE CITY - Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) issued a note to all Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients Tuesday, describing how SSI recipients can access the COVID-19 relief made available from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The following note is from the Congressional Research Service:

In general, individuals who did not file a federal income tax return for 2018 or 2019 and who did not receive Form SSA-1099 are ineligible for the recovery rebate in 2020.

Many SSI recipients are not required to file a federal income tax return. SSI payments, as well as payments from analogous social benefit programs (i.e., programs based on need), are not considered gross income for federal tax purposes under a limited general welfare exclusion. A 2017 study found that 11% of nonfilers in 2006 had SSI income, compared with 1% of filers.

SSI recipients who did not file a federal income tax return for 2018 or 2019 and who did not concurrently receive Social Security benefits (i.e., did not receive Form SSA-1099) are not to receive the recovery rebate in 2020. Such individuals are to receive the rebate if they subsequently file a 2019 tax return (the filing date has been extended to July 15) or file a 2020 tax return in 2021. An SSI recipient who is claimed as a dependent on a taxpayer's return is ineligible for the rebate.

The Internal Revenue Service is encouraging anyone who has not filed a federal income tax return for 2018 or a previous year to act now. The CARES Act requires the Treasury Department and the Social Security Administration to provide information regarding the availability of the recovery rebate, including information for individuals who may not have filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019.

As with any tax refund, the recovery rebate is not countable as income or resources for a 12-month period in determining eligibility for, or the amount of assistance provided by, any federal program, such as SSI, or any state or local program financed in whole or in part with federal funds.

So if you receive SSI, did not file a tax return in 2018, and need a COVID-19 relief payment, you can still file a 2018 return and become eligible now.