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SSI, SSDI and stimulus checks: What to know about eligibility, missing $600 payments and more

If you're part of the the SSDI or SSI program, there's a lot to know about the second stimulus check, including what to do if your first or second check is missing. We've got the details.

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Good news for people in SSI and SSDI programs. You'll likely be eligible for a second stimulus check.

Angela Lang/CNET

The IRS has until Friday to send out a second stimulus check to qualifying adults, with an additional $600 for each eligible child dependent. If you're a part of the SSI or SSDI programs -- short for the Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance -- the IRS has said you should automatically be eligible to receive the second stimulus check

You may still have some questions: Are my dependents eligible for a second stimulus checkHow much money will I get in my second payment? What happens if my first or second check never arrives? Is a third stimulus check coming in 2021? (Here's how to estimate your second stimulus check total, the IRS' stimulus check formula and how to know which stimulus payment group you're in.)

We've got everything you need to know about how SSI and SSDI affect the second stimulus check. This story was updated recently.

SSI, SSDI and second stimulus payment eligibility: What to know

The question of who qualifies for a second stimulus payment is mostly the same as it was for the first round of payments back in March with the CARES Act. That means if you're part of the SSI or SSDI program, you'd qualify for a check just like you did in the first round, so long as you have a Social Security number and you aren't claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return. 

Also, your household income mustn't exceed the threshold ($75,000 single, $112,500 head of household, $150,000 married).  Those receiving Railroad Retirement and Veterans Affairs benefits also should automatically qualify for a payment. Note that because of some fairly complex math in the stimulus check formula, more people in general will receive a (smaller) stimulus check this time around

Read more: This time, your stimulus check can't legally be taken away (mostly)

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Do I have to do anything to get my second stimulus payment?

According to the IRS, people who receive Social Security retirement, SSDI, Railroad Retirement benefits and Supplemental Security Income as well as Veterans Affairs beneficiaries are automatically eligible for a payment. The IRS has begun sending payments now and will continue through Jan. 15. After that point, you'd need to register for a Recovery Rebate Credit as part of this year's tax season

What do I do if my first stimulus check is still missing?

If you receive SSI or SSDI but still haven't gotten a stimulus check from the first round, the IRS may still need more information about your eligibility. To receive your money, you'll need to claim the additional amount when you file your taxes, using the Recovery Rebate Credit. Even if you don't usually file taxes, you will have to do so to get those funds. 

In some cases -- like if you received a letter from the IRS confirming that your payment was sent, but never actually got the money -- you may need to contact the IRS to request a Payment Trace

You can also track the status of your second stimulus check -- and the first, if you didn't receive it. If your second payment doesn't arrive by the Jan. 15 IRS cutoff date, you will likely have to file for it using a Recovery Rebate Credit. 

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The rules surrounding the second stimulus check can get confusing, fast.

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What if I didn't file a tax return in the last few years?

If you receive federal benefits, including SSI and SSDI, as your only form of income, you weren't required to file a federal income tax return in 2018 or 2019. Under the CARES Act, you were still eligible to receive a stimulus check, and should've received one automatically (no need to file a simple tax return, as the IRS had originally said).

How will my stimulus money be delivered?

Most SSI and SSDI recipients didn't receive their first payments via their Direct Express card, though this is usually what the government uses to distribute federal benefits. Instead, the payment arrived through a non-Direct Express bank account or as a paper check if you didn't have your bank account information on file with the IRS. 

This time around, the IRS says on its website that SSI and SSDI recipients should expect to get their stimulus check money the same way they receive their first stimulus checks, possibly faster, as the IRS already has the payment system set up. For who received the first round of payments via Direct Express, they will receive this second payment the same way, the IRS said.

If you receive SSI but not Social Security benefits, and did not file for taxes in 2019, the IRS will automatically send your payment the same way you normally receive your SSI benefits, such as by direct deposit, Direct Express card or paper check

Are my children eligible for the second stimulus check?

As long as your children are 16 years old or younger, they'll contribute $600 toward the final total of your household's second stimulus check. You can use our stimulus check calculator to figure your family's total estimate.

Under the CARES Act, qualified people with dependents age 16 or younger were eligible for up to $500 per child dependent, but not everyone actually received that extra money. The last day to claim your missing payment and receive it in 2020 was Nov. 21. The IRS said that if you missed the deadline, you can claim the missing payment during tax season in 2021. Here's who the IRS counts as an adult to receive their own stimulus check.

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If you're missing stimulus money for yourself or your dependents, you'll need to claim it during the upcoming tax season.

Angela Lang/CNET

What if I didn't get my first stimulus payment?

If your first payment didn't come already and you registered with the Non-Filers tool by Nov. 21, 2020, the IRS says, you should've received the payment by now, specifically in December 2020. If you missed the Nov. 21 cutoff, the IRS says, you can receive your payment in 2021 when you file your federal tax return. Here's what we know about how to track the status of your second stimulus check -- and the first, if it's missing.

Will I get the catch-up money for dependents?

If you used the IRS' Non-Filers tool from May 5 through Aug. 15 of 2020, the IRS should've automatically issued the catch-up payment for your dependents in October. If you received your original stimulus money by direct deposit, you should've gotten the catch-up payment the same way. Others would've received it in the mail. 

If you filed for your missing dependent money by Nov. 21, the payment should've arrived by the end of 2020, in the same way you received your first payment (likely direct deposit or by mail). If you missed the deadline, your check will be included on your 2020 tax return in 2021

To check the status of your or your dependent's payment, use the IRS' online tool to track it. You should also get a letter in the mail letting you know that an additional $500 per qualifying child has been issued. 

What if I'm an SSI or SSDI recipient and live outside the US?

If you're a Social Security beneficiary with a foreign address whose monthly benefit is deposited into a foreign bank account, you'll receive your stimulus payment as a check in the mail. (The IRS isn't meant to deposit money into foreign banks.) The IRS planned to start sending the first raft of checks to those recipients at the end of July 2020. If you live abroad but receive your monthly benefits through a US bank, you should've received your first payment by direct deposit to that account by the end of July as well. It isn't clear what will happen to this group with the second check, but if it isn't distributed by Jan. 15, it will have to be claimed as part of a tax return. Find out everything you need to know about stimulus checks, citizenship and living abroad here.

For more information, find out if you're qualified for a second stimulus check and when you could expect a second stimulus check. If you still haven't gotten a first stimulus check, you can track the status of your stimulus check, learn how to report your missing check to the IRS and find possible reasons why your stimulus check still hasn't arrived.