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Are US retirees entitled to cornavirus relief payments?

I’m a US citizen who has been a resident in France for over 14 years and I am living only on my social security retirement - therefore not filing US income taxes. Am I entitled to the Covid-19 relief payments from the US?

Short answer: yes. 

In March, the US announced the distribution of ‘economic impact payments’ (EIPs) to help Americans living abroad cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 were automatically sent an EIP of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples and up to $500 for each qualifying child, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stated. 

“The vast majority of people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible,” The IRS website stated. 

Senior citizens, Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who are not otherwise required to file a tax return are also eligible for the payment.

“You should receive your $1,200 payment in the same way you receive your monthly SSI payment: direct deposit and direct express by May 13; paper checks will begin May 15,” the Social Security Administration (SSA) website states. 

However, another section of the website states that the IRS “anticipates it will start mailing most of these EIPs no later than July 24”. 

“Social Security beneficiaries with a foreign address whose monthly benefit is deposited in a foreign bank will receive their EIP by paper check in the mail, because the IRS does not deposit money into foreign accounts. 

“Most beneficiaries living abroad who receive their monthly benefit through a domestic bank should receive their EIP by direct deposit to that same account on or about July 24. The remaining direct deposit and paper check EIPs should be completed by August 12 and August 14, respectively, according to the IRS,” the SSA website states.

In any case, anyone receiving a social security retirement should automatically receive their EIP, without taking any action. 

The US Treasury announced on May 18 that it would be sending around 4 million EIPs by prepaid debit card, instead of a paper check. These cards will need to be activated, and you can find out how to here

The Treasury is also sending out letters to everyone who has not yet activated their card, to remind them to do so or, in case the person has lost or thrown away the envelope with the card in it, to inform them how to request a replacement card at no cost. 

You can read more about who is eligible for the scheme here

More information on the scheme can be found on the IRS website here

Related stories:

Americans in France benefit from Covid-19 tax refund

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