May 6, 2009

RI Delegation Announces $250 In Economic Recovery Payments For 179,353 RI Social Security Recipients To Begin Going Out Tomorrow; Expected To Bring $51M To State

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation announced that social security recipients will receive one-time, $250 economic recovery payments beginning tomorrow, May 7th with the goal of getting them all out by the end of this month. By mid-May, payments to recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will also begin to go out. These payments are provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was supported by Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Representatives Patrick Kennedy and Jim Langevin, and signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009.

“This recovery funding will provide Rhode Island seniors and disabled veterans with a one-time cash infusion so they can purchase groceries, medications, and other basic essentials. Not only will these payments provide much-needed assistance to Rhode Island’s most vulnerable citizens, but it will also give a boost to the local economy,” said Reed.

“For these hard-hit Americans, every dollar counts and some extra help from the federal government could make the difference between housing and homelessness, and between health and sickness,” said Whitehouse, who urged Senate leaders to include a temporary increase in Social Security benefits in the Recovery Act and has held a series of information sessions with seniors on the extra payments.

“These payments are a direct and flexible way to help more than 179,000 Rhode Islanders. This one-time payment is a significant piece of the federal recovery package which recognized that in a challenging economy, seniors and disabled Americans are especially vulnerable. I am pleased to know these payments are going out as scheduled,” said Kennedy.

“I am pleased that federal stimulus funds continue to be delivered to Rhode Island so quickly, and in this case, directly to Social Security recipients,” said Langevin. “These payments will not only help strengthen the safety net for older Rhode Islanders, but will translate into direct consumer spending, benefiting businesses across the state.”

In Rhode Island, the breakdown of recipients is as follows:

Retired Workers 125,522
Disabled Workers 30,859
Widow(er)s 14,005
Spouses 5,967
TOTAL 179,353

Millions of Social Security recipients receiving these payments are widowed, divorced, or single and among the seniors with the lowest average incomes.

Social Security is the only source of income for nearly one-third of all non-married seniors receiving Social Security.

The median annual income for non-married Social Security recipients over age 65 who are women is only $13,151. The median annual income of non-married Social Security recipients over age 65 who are men is only $17,611.

Nearly 30 percent of non-married Social Security recipients who are women over age 65 are poor or near-poor – with 17.4 percent living below the federal poverty line and another 10.8 percent with incomes below 125 percent of the poverty line.

In addition to the economic recovery payments being made to Social Security and SSI recipients, the Recovery Act also provides these payments to disabled veterans and Railroad Retirement recipients. The payments to Railroad Retirement recipients are scheduled to begin to go out in late May and the payments to disabled veterans in June. In total, more than 50 million Americans will get this one-time payment.

If someone regularly receives benefits from two or more of these programs – such as Social Security and Railroad Retirement, or a disabled veterans’ benefit and SSI – he or she will receive just one $250 payment.

If beneficiaries do not receive their $250 by June 4th, they may call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921