Written by the Press-Republican on April 2, 2020

PLATTSBURGH — On Wednesday, both Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) called for clarity regarding Social Security beneficiaries receiving their direct payments through the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The CARES Act allows the U.S. Treasury Department to send these recipients their cash payments even if they have not filed tax returns.

Eligibility is determined by 2019 Social Security benefit statements.


But earlier this week, the Internal Revenue Services released guidelines which indicate some who receive Social Security retirement and disability benefits would first be required to file tax returns before receiving their stimulus checks, which contradicts the CARES Act legislation.

“During this unprecedented time of need, requiring seniors to go through the confusing and laborious tax return filing process before receiving desperately-needed stimulus checks is unacceptable,” Stefanik said in a statement.

“Thousands of seniors across my district do not file tax returns because their main source of income is Social Security.

North Country seniors should not have the added burden and stress of figuring out how to file tax returns before receiving the checks that Congress allocated for them.”

Gillibrand joined more than 40 Senate colleagues in signing a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Social Security Administration Commissioner Andrew Saul, arguing that the filing requirement would place a significant burden on retired seniors and people with disabilities.

“The administration must enforce the guidelines as detailed in the CARES Act and administer direct cash assistance to Social Security recipients,” Gillibrand stated.

“To ensure these direct payments get into the hands of those who need it the most, I urge the administration to make them as accessible as possible.”


Stefanik also signed onto a letter sent Wednesday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) requesting more funding for New York State in the next federal legislative release package.

According to a press release, the CARES Act allocated funding for state and local governments solely by population, not the amount of cases or impacts on the state.

“There was also a minimum allocation of $1.25 billion per state, which gives low-population states a disproportionate share of the money.”

Stefanik said New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic and is facing an unprecedented number of cases compared to many other states.

“Future legislative relief packages need to reflect the severe impact this crisis has had on New York and our state and local budgets when allocating critical resources.

I will continue to work with my colleagues in the New York delegation to advocate for the needs of our state as we work to combat this public health crisis.”

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