888.851.7996

 April 3, 2020 

The Honorable Steven T. Mnuchin 

Secretary of the Treasury 

US Department of the Treasury 

1500 Pennsylvania Avenue NW 

Washington, DC 20220 

The Honorable Andrew Saul 

Commissioner of Social Security 

US Social Security Administration 

1500 Woodlawn Drive 

Baltimore, MD 21241 

The Honorable Robert Wilkie 

Secretary of Veterans Affairs 

US Department of Veterans Affairs 

810 Vermont Avenue NW 

Washington, DC 20571 

Dear Secretary Mnuchin, Commissioner Saul, and Secretary Wilkie: 

The undersigned members of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) and allied organizations write in response to the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Public Law Number 116-136. 

CCD is the largest coalition of national organizations working together to advocate for federal public policy that ensures the self-determination, independence, empowerment, integration and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society. We are particularly concerned about how people who rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Title II benefits (Social Security), and Veterans (VA) Disability Compensation and Veterans Pension benefits will receive the Recovery Rebates provided by this law. 

Many of the people our organizations represent receive SSI, Social Security, or VA Disability Compensation and Veterans Pension benefits and consequently will be impacted by decisions about how Recovery Rebates will be issued. As part of the CARES Act, eligible persons will receive a cash payment of up to $1,200 ($2,400 for those married filing jointly) called a Recovery Rebate. The CARES Act instructs the Treasury to issue Recovery Rebates based on a person’s 2018 or 2019 income tax filing. If a person has not filed taxes in either year, the legislation allows the use of a person’s Form SSA-1099 or Form RRB–1099. 

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We appreciate recent statements from the Internal Revenue Service that suggest that Social Security beneficiaries will receive their payments automatically based on the SSA-1099 form. Since Congress included a reference to the SSA-1099 form, it is clearly Congressional intent that those forms be utilized, along with other data that SSA and Treasury already possess, to issue Recovery Rebates automatically. We would urge the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the IRS to comply with Congressional intent as quickly as possible. 

However, people receiving SSI or VA Disability Compensation and Veterans Pension benefits do not receive a SSA-1099 or similar form because their benefits are not taxable. These individuals will not be automatically issued a rebate. Like Social Security and Railroad Retirement beneficiaries, they need additional action by Treasury, SSA, and the VA, to ensure that they will not need to file tax returns to access their Recovery Rebates. Forcing millions of low-income senior citizens and people with disabilities, many of them veterans, to file tax returns when they are not otherwise required to do so will delay access to their Recovery Rebates and place a huge burden on the providers of disability and low-income tax preparation services. Given previous failures to reach this population in 2008 when tax filing was required, it is crucial that the IRS, SSA, and VA not repeat the mistakes of the past. 

As Former IRS Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson said, when testifying about how hard it was to reach Social Security, SSI, and VA Disability Compensation and Veterans Pension beneficiaries in 2008, “there are major challenges to achieving a significant participation rate,” including lack of internet access, physical and electronic accessibility issues, and legally required reasonable accommodations and assistance for people with disabilities in understanding the tax filing process.1 In fact, in 2008, 17 percent of eligible individuals did not file tax returns and did not claim their stimulus checks.2 We want everyone to have access to their Recovery Rebate and we urge you to create a workable and simple system to distribute the rebates without requiring individuals on SSI or VA Disability Compensation or Veterans Pension benefits to file tax returns. Otherwise, millions of people may not receive the recovery rebate to which they have a legal right, and will be unable to use it to meet important needs and stimulate the local and national economies. 

To remedy this problem and to comply with Congressional intent regarding Social Security beneficiaries, the applicable federal agencies should share data from the VA and SSA with Treasury. This would allow Recovery Rebates to be issued for SSI, Social Security, and all VA beneficiaries without the need for such recipients to file tax returns, something they would otherwise not do. This would not be a significant lift for the pertinent federal agencies. For many years, SSA and the VA’s Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) have had a computer matching program whereby the VA shares compensation and pension payment data with SSA for various purposes related to SSI, Special Veterans Benefit recipients, and Medicare outreach. 

Thank you for your consideration of this important issue for SSI, VA Disability Compensation, and Veterans Pension beneficiaries. The United States is currently in an unprecedented time and we must all work together to accommodate all persons. We stand ready to work with you to find a workable solution for this vital issue and would like to schedule a time to talk in the near future. Please contact Bethany Lilly ([email protected]) and Stacy Cloyd ([email protected]) to arrange for further discussion of this important topic. 

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Sincerely, 

2-1-1 HUMBOLDT INFORMATION AND RESOURCE CENTER 

Access Living 

Access to Independence, Inc. 

Addiction Connections Resource 

Advocacy and Training Center 

AdvocacyDenver 

Advocates for Basic Legal Equality 

African American Health Alliance 

AIDS Action Baltimore 

AIDS Connecticut, Inc. 

AIDS Foundation of Chicago 

Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program 

Alliance for Retired Americans 

ALS Association 

American Association on Health and Disability 

American Council of the Blind 

American Dance Therapy Association 

American Diabetes Association 

American Music Therapy Association 

American Network of Community Options & Resources (ANCOR) 

AMSUS(Association of Military Surgeons of the United States) 

APLA Health 

Asian Law Alliance 

Association for Community Living in Boulder & Broomfield Counties 

Association of Assistive Technology Act Program 

Association of People Supporting Employment First 

Atlanta Legal Aid Society 

AUCD 

Autism Society of America 

Autistic Self Advocacy Network 

Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network 

Benefits Law Center 

Big Tent Coalition of Kansas 

Burlington Police Dept 

CA Food Policy Advocates 

California Alliance for Retired Americans 

California Association of Food Banks 

California Food Policy Advocate 

Center for Civil Justice 

Center for Independent Living of North Central (CILNCP) 

Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) 

Center for Medicare Advocacy 

Center for Public Representation 

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy 

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless 

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation 

Coalition on Human Needs 

Colorado Organizations and Individuals Responding to HIV/AIDS 

CommunicationFIRST 

Communities Actively Living Independent & Free 

Community Health Law Project 

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COMMUNITY LEGAL AID SOCIETY, INC., DELAWARE 

Community Legal Services of Philadelphia 

Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation 

Disability Law Colorado 

Disability Rights Arkansas 

Disability Rights California 

Disability Rights Center – NH 

Disability Rights Center of Kansas 

Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund 

Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund 

Disability Rights Florida 

Disability Rights Louisiana 

Disability Rights Maine 

Disability Rights Nebraska 

Disability Rights New Jersey 

Disability Rights North Carolina 

Disability Rights Oregon 

Disability Rights Tennessee 

Disability Rights Vermont 

Easterseals 

Empire Justice Center 

Epilepsy Foundation 

Equality California 

Equality North Carolina 

Family Equality 

Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) 

Fleet Reserve Association 

Food for People, the Food Bank for Humboldt County 

HIVenas Abiertas 

Homeless Advocacy Project 

Homeless Persons Representation Project 

Housing and Economic Rights Advocates 

Housing First Community Coalition 

Indiana Disability Rights 

Inner City Law Center 

Jewish Family Service LA 

Johnson Auto/ Community member 

Justice in Aging 

Kentucky Equal Justice Center 

Lakeshore Foundation 

Law Foundation of Silicon Valley 

Legal Aid at Work 

Legal Aid Justice Center 

Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia 

Legal Council for Health Justice 

Legal Services of Northern Virginia 

Lutheran Towers 

Maryland State Bar Association Elder Law and Disability Rights Section Council 

Maryland State Bar Association Miltary and Veterans’ Affairs Section 

Massachusetts Disability Law Center 

Medicare Rights Center 

Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing (MICAH) 

Military Chaplains Association of the United States of America 

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Military Order of the Purple Heart 

Muslim Caucus Education Collective 

National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys 

National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA) 

National Alliance on Mental Illness 

National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) 

National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities 

National Association of Disability Representatives 

National Association of Social Workers (NASW) California Chapter 

National Center for Lesbian Rights 

National Coalition for the Homeless 

National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare 

National Council on Independent living 

National Disability Rights Network 

National Down Syndrome Congress 

National Health Care for the Homeless Council 

National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty 

National Multiple Sclerosis Society 

National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives 

National Partnership for Women & Families 

National Women’s Law Center 

National Working Positive Coalition 

ND Protection & Advocacy Project 

Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies 

New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty 

New York Legal Assistance Group 

North Country Independent Living 

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project 

Paralyzed Veterans of America 

Pisgah Legal Services 

PolicyWorks, Inc. 

Positive Iowans Taking Charge 

PRC 

Project HOME 

RespectAbility 

RESULTS 

Rosie’s Place 

Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee 

Safe Ground Sacramento 

San Antonio Catholic Worker House 

School of Jai 

Senior Services America, Inc 

Shriver Center on Poverty Law 

Silver State Equality-Nevada 

Sister Jose Women’s Center 

Social Security Works 

SOME, Inc. (So Others Might Eat0 

Southern Poverty Law Center 

Special Needs Alliance 

TASH 

Tennessee Justice Center 

The Arc of Adams County (Colorado) 

The Arc of Anchorage 

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The Arc of Aurora 

The Arc of the Central Mountains 

The Arc of Colorado 

The Arc of Illinois 

The Arc of Iowa 

The Arc of Larimer County (Colorado) 

The Arc of Louisiana 

The Arc Maryland 

The Arc of Massachusetts 

The Arc Michigan 

The Arc of New Mexico 

The Arc New York 

The Arc Oregon 

The Arc Pikes Peak Region 

The Arc Tennessee 

The Arc of Weld County 

The Arc Wisconsin 

The Independence Fund 

The Redwood Empire Food Bank 

The Well Project 

TREA: The Enlisted Association 

Treatment Action Group 

Tzedek DC 

United Spinal Association 

United States International Council on Disabilities 

United States People living with HIV Caucus 

VCIL 

Vermont Legal Aid, Inc. 

VetsFirst 

Virginia Poverty Law Center 

Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless 

We All Rise 

Whitman-Walker Health 

Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) 

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights 

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