Veterans with dependents who did not receive their coronavirus stimulus payments must contact the Treasury Department by midday Wednesday or miss out on $500 or more until next spring.
The sudden deadline comes less than a week after Veterans Affairs leaders announced a deal to ensure that disabled veterans who typically do not file tax returns weren’t cut out of the stimulus program, which is distributing $1,200 per individual and $500 per dependent to offset unexpected expenses and income loss due to the ongoing pandemic.
Most individuals who filed tax returns last year received their payouts last week directly in bank accounts linked to those returns. But individuals who did not file returns — including some disabled veterans whose income doesn’t reach the level required for annual taxes — were excluded from those payouts despite being eligible.
Late last Friday, VA leaders said that they had reached a deal with Treasury officials to allow direct payments to those veterans through their existing department benefits accounts.
At the time, officials noted the $1,200 payments would be processed automatically, but individuals would need to file a claim through the Internal Revenue Service website to receive the additional $500 per dependent.
On Monday, Treasury officials announced that veterans would only accept those applications until April 22, giving veterans less than two full work days to submit the information.
In a statement, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that “if the IRS does not receive this essential information by Wednesday, their payment will be $1,200 and the $500 per child will be paid to them with a return filing for tax year 2020.”
That means veterans who are eligible for the extra money but do not register before the end of the day on Wednesday won’t receive their money until sometime in 2021, after the IRS begins processing those 2020 tax returns.
The news sent lawmakers and veterans groups scrambling to let veterans know about the potential for missed money.
No reason was given by Treasury officials for the deadline, which also applies to Social Security retirement beneficiaries, survivor or disability benefits recipients, and Railroad Retirement payees.
A statement on the IRS non-filers tool web site states that Social Security or Railroad Retirement Benefit recipients with dependents must register by noon Wednesday (April 22) to receive their payment this year. It’s unclear if veterans will face the same deadline, or if they will have until the end of the day.
Supplemental Security Income recipients will have additional time to file their claims.
The IRS site requires veterans to submit their names, Social Security numbers (including for spouse and dependents), mailing address and a bank routing number where the money can be sent.
VA officials have not made any public comments on the deadline.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.