Mnuchin says Social Security recipients will automatically get coronavirus checks

The Treasury Department said late Wednesday that Social Security recipients who typically don't file tax returns will automatically receive their coronavirus relief checks and will not have to file tax returns to receive their payments.

The announcement comes two days after the IRS released guidance that suggested Social Security beneficiaries would need to file what are known as simple tax returns to receive the money.

“Social Security recipients who are not typically required to file a tax return need to take no action, and will receive their payment directly to their bank account,” Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline Vulnerable Democrats tell Pelosi COVID-19 compromise 'essential' Pelosi asks panels to draft new COVID-19 relief measure MORE said in a statement Wednesday night.

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The coronavirus relief measure President TrumpDonald John TrumpSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Pelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Trump 'no longer angry' at Romney because of Supreme Court stance MORE signed into law on Friday provides one-time payments to individuals, with up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child.

The law states that in cases where taxpayers didn't file a tax return in 2018 or 2019, the IRS can look at information in Social Security and railroad retirement benefit statements to get people their payments.

But the IRS released a question-and-answer document on Monday saying that "some seniors and others who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment."

Lawmakers, tax policy experts and advocates for retirees were upset with the IRS guidance, arguing that requiring seniors to file tax returns to get their payments would be burdensome. A number of lawmakers wrote letters to the Trump administration urging officials to allow seniors to automatically receive their payments.

Treasury on Wednesday said the IRS will look at Social Security and railroad retirement benefit statements to get recipients their payments and that Social Security beneficiaries will receive their payments via direct deposit or a paper check by mail, as they would regularly receive their retirement benefits.

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The IRS said in an updated version of its question-and-answer document that Social Security and railroad retirement benefit recipients would receive payments at this time of $1,200, since the IRS would not have any information about whether or not these people have dependents.

Lawmakers were positive about Treasury's announcement.

“Seniors need relief, and quickly, so I applaud the Trump Administration’s decision to provide automatic coronavirus relief payments to Social Security beneficiaries," said Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyBusinesses, states pass on Trump payroll tax deferral Trump order on drug prices faces long road to finish line On The Money: US deficit hits trillion amid pandemic | McConnell: Chance for relief deal 'doesn't look that good' | House employees won't have payroll taxes deferred MORE (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. "This will make it easier for seniors to receive their checks."

"It is unfortunate that the IRS created confusion with its guidance this week, but we are very pleased that the Treasury Department reversed course and will now get this cash to Social Security beneficiaries automatically as Congress intended,” said Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanDemocrats step up hardball tactics as Supreme Court fight heats up Congress needs to prioritize government digital service delivery Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE (D-N.H.), who took the lead on a letter Senate Democrats sent to Treasury urging them to allow seniors and people with disabilities to automatically receive rebates.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealPelosi asks panels to draft new COVID-19 relief measure AARP endorses Democrats' measure to overturn Trump payroll tax deferral Pelosi, Democrats unveil bills to rein in alleged White House abuses of power MORE (D-Mass.) said he was "relieved" by Mnuchin's statement, but also said that Treasury should take additional steps to make it easier for people to get their checks.

“Now, Treasury should build on this progress and make the same automatic payment to some veterans and those who receive Supplemental Security Income," Neal said.

- updated at 10:02 p.m.