Americans struggling to survive on federal benefits have waited weeks for word on their share of the $1.9 trillion stimulus.
Some of the country’s most vulnerable citizens have been waiting weeks for the next round of promised financial aid from President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” coronavirus relief package, with no indication of when it would come. Chief among those are the millions of elderly Americans who depend on federal assistance to survive.
As of March 24, nearly 30 million had yet to receive their portion, largely because the Social Security Administration had “not sent the necessary payment files” to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Despite a March 12 assurance the money would be delivered “shortly,” weeks passed before the IRS had access to the necessary information to follow through.
“To me, ‘shortly’ is two to three days, not two weeks,” 65-year-old Floridian retiree Mark Stevens said. “People in my situation are feeling lied to.” In a March 22 letter from the House Ways and Means Committee, they highlighted the dire position of veterans, seniors, and disabled Americans.
“Some of our most vulnerable seniors and persons with disabilities, including veterans who served our country with honor, are unable to pay for basic necessities while they wait for their overdue payments.”
The committee pressured the IRS and SSA for information as to the delay, according to a spokesperson. After a March 25 statement by SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul claiming the issue was a lack of staff funding, the committee publicly expressed their skepticism.
“On background from a Committee aide, funds could not be directly appropriated because of the reconciliation process,” the spokesperson said, “but they were appropriated to Treasury with the intent that they would be distributed to SSA in a timely manner, so this line of defense doesn’t hold.”
The spokesperson characterized the issue as a lack of leadership. “It inexplicably took two weeks for the transfer to happen after the American Rescue Plan was signed into law, which is a clear failure of leadership from SSA,” they said.
While they waited, social security recipients were told not to contact the SSA with their questions — referring them to the IRS. “Please do not contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) with questions about EIPs,” the SSA said. “Our representatives do not have information to answer your EIP questions. The IRS, not SSA, processes all EIPs.”
Today the Biden administration announced the relief money would be provided by April 7. White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain celebrated the announcement on social media. “Well over 100m of the $1400 checks have hit bank accounts. But we know that checks to seniors who do not file taxes are lagging,” Klain tweeted Tuesday afternoon, in response to NBS News White House correspondent Geoff Bennett’s reporting.
Well over 100m of the $1400 checks have hit bank accounts. But we know that checks to seniors who do not file taxes are lagging.
Today, we are announcing that the majority of these $1400 checks will be to seniors by April 7th! Help is here! https://t.co/7g5uVVQ0n9
— Ronald Klain (@WHCOS) March 30, 2021
“Today, we are announcing that the majority of these $1400 checks will be to seniors by April 7th! Help is here!” he said. Those who responded were thankful, if leery. “Thank you for your reporting. I’m having kittens waiting,” one user wrote. “I’s[sic] nice news,” another added, “but I’m not holding my breath!”