UPDATE: “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 Mnuchin said in a statement Wednesday night, according to The Hill.

Editor’s note: This opinion piece was edited and automatically scheduled for publication before Mnuchin’s announcement. The new headline reflects this change.

The Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO, is alarmed and appalled that the Trump administration is actively working to put artificial barriers in the way of our nation’s heroes from receiving individual stimulus checks. As the recently passed Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act stands, over half of our veterans who rely on Social Security benefits will not automatically receive relief funds.

We are calling on the administration to immediately reverse its course and automatically add the benefits that these individuals have the right to receive. It is alarming that this will also affect hundreds of thousands of our most wounded veterans who receive service-connected disability deemed unemployable and do not file tax returns.

This heartless decision has put over half of the veteran’s population at risk of not being able to meet important needs. According to the Social Security Administration over 9.3 million veterans received Social Security benefits, accounting for 18 percent of all adult beneficiaries. Many of these veterans lack the access, knowledge, and tools to submit information digitally. This will no doubt lead to members of this high-risk community having to expose themselves to COVID-19 in order to receive a benefit they already have the right to receive.

In this time of crisis, our veterans and seniors are looking to the government for support and we must not fail them. The Trump Administration must act quickly to streamline the process so veterans receiving pensions will get their $1200 payments without filing a tax return.

President Trump has said time and time again that taking care of our nation’s veterans is a top priority for his administration. We’re simply asking him to keep his word.

Will Attig is a combat veteran who served with the Army, deploying multiple times with 1-26 Infantry Regiment the Blue Spaders. In 2017 he was selected to lead the Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO representing 1.2 million veteran workers across America.

Editor’s note: This is an Op-Ed and as such, the opinions expressed are those of the author. If you would like to respond, or have an editorial of your own you would like to submit, please contact Military Times managing editor Howard Altman, haltman@militarytimes.com.

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