THE delay to $1,400 stimulus checks for those on Social Security has been blamed on a lack of funding, as Americans are desperate for financial help.
SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul said in a statement Thursday: "Despite the fact that Congress did not directly provide SSA funding to support our work on EIPs [Economic Stimulus Payments]… we have worked tirelessly with our counterparts at IRS to provide to them the information they need to issue payments to our beneficiaries."
Under pressure from the House Ways and Means committee, the SSA provided the IRS with the paperwork needed for the stimulus payments to be issued Thursday morning – two weeks after President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 relief bill was signed into law.
The news comes as some Social Security recipients told CBS Money Watch they were in desperate need for the money.
"I'm having to put off everything — utility bills, cable. I had to be late on rent," Mark Stevens, 65, of Pensacola, Florida, said.
"To me, 'shortly' is two to three days, not two weeks," Stevens said, noting that he has only $600 in his bank account. "People in my situation are feeling lied to."
In a letter sent to the SSA on Wednesday, the committee claimed "the IRS asked SSA to start sending payment files two weeks before the American Rescue Plan became law on March 11, 2021," adding the SSA still hadn’t provided the IRS with the payment files.
In Saul’s statement he added the SSA was "not authorized to substantively engage [the] Treasury or IRS prior to the ARP's passage."
He continued: "The Social Security Act does not allow the agency to use our administrative appropriation to conduct work on any non-mission provision or program."
A spokesperson for the committee told Newsweek: "On background from a Committee aide, funds could not be directly appropriated because of the reconciliation process, 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.
"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," the spokesperson added.
Saul said: "While we were working through the agreements with IRS that would fund our efforts to support issuance of EIPs," SSA employees "literally worked day and night with IRS staff to ensure that the electronic files of Social Security and SSI recipients are complete, accurate, and ready to be used to issue payments."
It was the efforts of the SSA, Saul claimed, "that successfully overcame the fact that the IRS did not have a mechanism to automatically identify Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients.
"It was SSA that pushed the prior Administration and Congress to allow us to send to IRS a file of those individuals, who do not receive forms SSA-1099, so that IRS could automatically issue EIPs to them," the statement said.
The executive director of advocacy group Social Security Works Alex Lawson claimed in a statement Thursday that Saul and the SSA Deputy Commissioner David Black, who had been appointed by former president Donald Trump, "have been acting as his [Trump's] agents for years.
"They tried through rule changes to make it more difficult to qualify for and stay on Social Security disability benefits. Now, they are sabotaging the Biden administration by delaying relief checks," Lawson added.
Neither the IRS or the SSA have provided an update on a timeline for when people on federal benefits can expect to receive their payments.
The House Ways and Means committee say nearly 30million recipients of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income were reportedly waiting to receive their stimulus payments.
The IRS said in a statement Wednesday information on when stimulus payments for those receiving benefits would be provided "as soon as it becomes available."
The IRS said recipients would generally get their stimulus funds in the same way as their regular benefits which is usually via a Direct Express card account.
Only those with a current Direct Express card can receive their third stimulus payments on their cards.
The company advised Tuesday that those who don’t have a card cannot sign up for one now to receive their payments.
Anyone who recently closed or who don’t have an active Direct Express account will have their stimulus payments returned and the IRS will reissue the payment, the IRS said.
The Get My Payment tool on the IRS website can be used to check the statue of your stimulus payment.
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