Stimulus Payments for Many Low-Income Americans Are Still Being Processed. Here’s Why.

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Tens of millions of lower-income Americans are still waiting for their stimulus checks, but there’s been some progress toward getting them paid.

People who receive benefits from Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, the Railroad Retirement Board and Veterans Affairs — while also not having to file tax returns because they don’t meet the income thresholds — have faced delays because the Internal Revenue Service didn’t have the proper payment files to process their stimulus checks.

Now the I.R.S. has all of the necessary files in hand, but it’s still not clear how long it will take for payments to be processed. The I.R.S. did not immediately comment on Friday.

Democratic leaders from the House Ways and Means Committee and other congressional subcommittees had sent a letter to the Social Security Administration and the I.R.S. on Monday, urging the quick transmission of the files. By Wednesday, the lawmakers’ request became an ultimatum: They demanded that the files for 30 million unpaid beneficiaries be sent by Thursday.

The Social Security Administration delivered its files to the I.R.S. on Thursday, according to a statement from the Ways and Means committee. (Veterans Affairs said it delivered its files on Tuesday; the Railroad Retirement Board delivered its files on Monday.)

The Social Security Administration notified congressional leaders that it had transmitted the necessary data to the I.R.S. at 8:48 a.m. Thursday.

Members of the committee blamed the delay on the Social Security Administration’s commissioner, Andrew Saul, who was appointed by President Trump. But the agency said it had been unable to act immediately because Congress hadn’t directly given it the money to do the work.

AARP also sent letters to both the Social Security Administration and I.R.S. on Thursday, urging them both to provide clear information on when beneficiaries could expect their payments.

Many federal beneficiaries who filed 2019 or 2020 returns — or who used the tool for non-filers on the I.R.S. website to update their information — have already received their payments.

So far, the I.R.S. has delivered roughly 127 million payments in two batches, totaling $325 billion.

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