Why some seniors won’t get payments from California’s ‘inflation relief’

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AFTER SUMMER RECESS BACK HERE IN CALIFORNIA LIVE. LOOK AT THE STATE CAPITOL NOW LAWMAKERS ARE MOVING FORWARD WITH AN AGREEMENT TO HELP CALIFORNIANS FACED WITH HIGH GAS PRICES AND INFLATION. THE DEAL WILL GIVE SOME MONEY BACK TO TAXPAYERS KCRA THREES LOS AMY TREE. IS NOW WITH WHO CAN EXPECT TO GET THOSE PAYMENTS AND WHEN JOSE. ANDREA THE STATE ESTIMATES. THIS WILL HELP ROUGHLY 23 MILLION CALIFORNIANS PAYING THOSE HIGH PRICES AT THE PUMP HERE. IT’S CLOSE TO SIX BUCKS AND MANY OTHER PLACES MORE THAN SIX BUCKS A GALLON FOR GAS. WHILE FILLING UP AT THE SACRAMENTO 49ER TRAVEL PLAZA TODAY, LARRY KING WATCHED CLOSELY AS THE CLIMBED NEVER EVER EVER AND IT’S STILL GOING. HE’S NEVER PAID THIS MUCH FOR THIS CAR. HE SAID EVEN SNAPPING A PICTURE 98 DOLLARS A HUNDRED BUCKS A TENTATIVE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE AND LAWMAKERS. AIMS TO HELP MILLIONS OF CALIFORNIANS WILL GET REBATES BASED ON THEIR INCOME OF EITHER 350 250 OR 200 DOLLARS PER TAXPAYER PLUS AN ADDITIONAL PAYMENT OF THAT SAME AMOUNT IF THEY HAVE AT LEAST ONE DEPENDENT THAT WOULD MEAN ALIVE KNOWING THAT THEY ARE. HELPING US TO TRY TO HELP US WITH THIS SITUATION KNOWING THAT IT’S JUST SO HIGH THE STATE ESTIMATES DIRECT DEPOSITS AND DEBIT CARDS WILL START GOING OUT BY LATE OCTOBER AND FINISH BY THE END OF THE YEAR OR EARLY NEXT YEAR. IT’D BE NICE IF IT WAS SOONER. YEAH, DEFINITELY, YOU KNOW, IT’S IN OUR POCKETBOOKS NOW AND WE HAVE TO PLAN FOR IT, BUT OTHERS LIKE TERRY RIGBY SAY NO MATTER WHEN THE REBATES GO OUT. IT MAY NOT BE ENOUGH. PRICE YOU CAN’T GO ANYWHERE CAN’T GO VISIT MY DAUGHTER IN THE BAY AREA. SHE’S NOT COMING TO SEE ME FOR THE PRICE OF GAS EITHER. AND HE’S BEEN FEELING THE EFFECTS BOTH. PERSONAL AND PROF ESSIONALLY AS A TRUCK DRIVER. JUST MY COMPANY ALMOST WENT UNDER THEY BORROWED MONEY TO STAY HERE BECAUSE IN THE BEGINNING THE GAS WAS WAY UP. AND THEY WEREN’T GETTING MORE MONEY FOR WHAT WE CALL IN AN EFFORT TO HELP BUSINESSES. THE DEAL WOULD ALSO SUSPEND THE GENERAL FUND PORTION OF THE SALES TAX ON DIESEL FUEL. IT WOULD REDUCE COSTS BY ABOUT 23 CENTS A GALLON FOR ONE YEAR STARTING ON OCTOBER 1ST. ALL THESE LITTLE BAND-AIDS ARE TRYING TO PUT ON IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO HELP ANYTHING. IT’S NOT. WELL, THIS DEAL WOULD SUSPEND PART OF THE TAX ON DIESEL. IT WOULD NOT SUSPEND THE STATES 51 CENTS A GALLON GAS TAX ACROSS THE BOARD. IN FACT, THAT TAX IS ACTUALLY SCHEDULED TO GO UP THREE CENTS ON FRIDAY LIVE IN SACRAMENTO. LIZANY TREE KCRA 3 NEWS AND JOSE HAVE LAWMAKERS CONSIDERED SUSPENDING THE GAS TAX. I KNOW WE’VE TALKED A LOT ABOUT THIS IN THE PAST. RIGHT REPUBLICANS HAVE REPEATEDLY CALLED FOR THAT GAS TAX SUSPENSION. THEY SAY IT WOULD PROVIDE IMMEDIATE RELIEF TO CUSTOMERS WHILE DEMOCRATS HAVE SAID THAT THERE’S NO GUARANTEE THAT THAT WILL GET. STORM THAT THE SAVINGS WILL GET PASSED ON TO THE CUSTOMER. THEY ALSO SAY THAT THE REBATES WILL RESULT IN BIGGER PAYMENTS TO PEOPLE AS OPPOSED TO SAVING PENNIES AT THE PUM

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Here’s why some seniors won’t get payments from California’s ‘inflation relief’ programs

The budget deal that will send “inflation relief” payments to millions of Californians appears to exclude some seniors from receiving extra cash assistance, though they may still be eligible for other programs set to receive more money from the state. Other groups of people who don’t file tax returns like those on social security disability insurance are in a similar situation. That’s because the compromise that Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic leaders in the state Legislature struck on Sunday and that the governor signed on Thursday offers a few ways for people to qualify for the payments but includes a loophole.First, here’s who will be receiving payments.Tax refund payments: About 23 million tax filers and their dependents can expect an “inflation relief” tax refund payment in the fall. Taxpayers will receive either $350, $250 or $200 based on their income level with an additional payment of the same amount if they have at least one dependent. People could receive as much as $1,050 as part of the $9.5 billion in tax refunds that are being given out. Click here to see information on the three tiers and a calculator to estimate payment amounts. To qualify people must have filed their 2020 tax return by Oct. 15, 2021, and have been a California resident for six months or more of the 2020 tax year, as well as on the date the payment is issued. Increased benefits for vulnerable Californians who are Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP) recipients, or CalWORKS grant recipients: The SSI/SSP program is for seniors who are ages 65 or older, or blind or disabled. (SSI is a federally funded program and SSP is the state program that augments the federal SSI grant. Both SSI and SSP benefits are administered by the federal Social Security Administration.) California’s budget deal would increase grants by about $39 per month ($470 for the year) for individuals and $100 per month ($1,200 for the year) for couples. In all, the increases would affect 1.1 million cases. CalWORKS is a program that provides cash and services to eligible families with a child or children in the home. Combined with previously announced increases, a family of three could receive as much as $194 more a month. The increases affect about 369,000 households.But what about those who receive federal social security payments or disability payments but who don’t file taxes? If social security is one’s sole source of income, for example, they’re not required to file taxes. And some people who receive social security may not qualify for supplemental funds from SSI/SSP.One person who reached out to KCRA 3, 74-year-old Mary Carnahan in Placer County, said that she doesn’t qualify for SSI/SSP and that since the pandemic began “it has been just a struggle to stay healthy.” “Having groceries delivered for food and necessities has made the monthly budget a lot more difficult,” she said. She said that while Social Security payments rose this year, so did Medicare, and she faces a rent increase in September. For her and other seniors in a similar situation, the budget deal doesn’t offer new payments.What other assistance is available and how this could have played out differentlyPeople may still be eligible for other types of increased assistance like rent relief, utility assistance and health care subsidies if those end up not being renewed by the federal government, according to H.D. Palmer, a spokesperson for California’s Department of Finance. Newsom had wanted to give up to 28 million refunds to eligible California registered vehicle owners, and for the money to get to people faster than is currently planned. The Legislature’s top leaders didn’t want the relief targeted at car owners, which led to an impasse before a compromise was hashed out. As a result of the final budget deal, a smaller subset of people will receive direct payments than would have if Newsom’s initial proposal was adopted, Palmer acknowledged. He added that there are some people who don’t owe taxes who still file a California return either to get a refund of withheld taxes or to get the California earned income tax credit. In 2020, there were an additional 500,000 low-income tax returns filed in California, which people may have done to qualify for a Golden State Stimulus payment. Palmer said that an important consideration in designing the relief program has been to ensure that there is a California record so that the payments are going to Californians.That’s why one way to craft the program would have been through DMV. In this case, lawmakers went with a route that relies on records from the Franchise Tax Board and the Department of Social Services.Asked whether lawmakers could craft a solution for seniors left out under this system to prove their connection to California by showing some other record, Palmer said that could be possible.But in a subsequent message, he noted that the bill authorizing the tax refund states that people must have filed their 2020 return by Oct. 15, 2021. “As far as the refunds go, the rough rule of thumb is: if you didn’t file a 2020 tax return, you are not eligible for this refund,” he said. How many people are affected by the loophole? In the meantime, California’s Department of Social Services does not have statistics on how many Californians who receive federal social security are not eligible for SSI/SSP. As of June 1, there were 1.13 million recipients in SSI/SSP and eligibility is determined according to federal criteria. “For 2022, generally, the SSI income limit per month for an individual is $1,767, or $2,607 for a couple—if that income comes from earned income,” a Department of Social Services spokesperson said. “The monthly SSI income limits for unearned income for 2022 are generally $861 for an eligible individual, and $1,281 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse.” Here is where to find more information on income limits. The Social Security Administration told KCRA 3 that there were nearly 6 million people in California in 2020 who were receiving retired worker benefits and are 65 years or older but that it doesn’t track how many file tax returns. “Whether or not these individuals filed tax returns would be dependent on other income. SSA does not have the data on how many of those individuals filed tax returns,” the Social Security Administration said. Benefits may be taxable if the total of one-half of one’s benefits plus all other income is greater than the base amount of one’s filing status. Those base amounts are: $25,000 if you’re single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er)$25,000 if you’re married filing separately and lived apart from your spouse for the entire year$32,000 if you’re married filing jointly$0 if you’re married filing separately and lived with your spouse at any time during the tax year

The budget deal that will send “inflation relief” payments to millions of Californians appears to exclude some seniors from receiving extra cash assistance, though they may still be eligible for other programs set to receive more money from the state. Other groups of people who don’t file tax returns like those on social security disability insurance are in a similar situation.

That’s because the compromise that Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic leaders in the state Legislature struck on Sunday and that the governor signed on Thursday offers a few ways for people to qualify for the payments but includes a loophole.

First, here’s who will be receiving payments.

  • Tax refund payments: About 23 million tax filers and their dependents can expect an “inflation relief” tax refund payment in the fall. Taxpayers will receive either $350, $250 or $200 based on their income level with an additional payment of the same amount if they have at least one dependent. People could receive as much as $1,050 as part of the $9.5 billion in tax refunds that are being given out. Click here to see information on the three tiers and a calculator to estimate payment amounts. To qualify people must have filed their 2020 tax return by Oct. 15, 2021, and have been a California resident for six months or more of the 2020 tax year, as well as on the date the payment is issued.
  • Increased benefits for vulnerable Californians who are Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP) recipients, or CalWORKS grant recipients: The SSI/SSP program is for seniors who are ages 65 or older, or blind or disabled. (SSI is a federally funded program and SSP is the state program that augments the federal SSI grant. Both SSI and SSP benefits are administered by the federal Social Security Administration.) California’s budget deal would increase grants by about $39 per month ($470 for the year) for individuals and $100 per month ($1,200 for the year) for couples. In all, the increases would affect 1.1 million cases. CalWORKS is a program that provides cash and services to eligible families with a child or children in the home. Combined with previously announced increases, a family of three could receive as much as $194 more a month. The increases affect about 369,000 households.

But what about those who receive federal social security payments or disability payments but who don’t file taxes? If social security is one’s sole source of income, for example, they’re not required to file taxes. And some people who receive social security may not qualify for supplemental funds from SSI/SSP.

One person who reached out to KCRA 3, 74-year-old Mary Carnahan in Placer County, said that she doesn’t qualify for SSI/SSP and that since the pandemic began “it has been just a struggle to stay healthy.”

“Having groceries delivered for food and necessities has made the monthly budget a lot more difficult,” she said.

She said that while Social Security payments rose this year, so did Medicare, and she faces a rent increase in September.

For her and other seniors in a similar situation, the budget deal doesn’t offer new payments.

What other assistance is available and how this could have played out differently

People may still be eligible for other types of increased assistance like rent relief, utility assistance and health care subsidies if those end up not being renewed by the federal government, according to H.D. Palmer, a spokesperson for California’s Department of Finance.

Newsom had wanted to give up to 28 million refunds to eligible California registered vehicle owners, and for the money to get to people faster than is currently planned. The Legislature’s top leaders didn’t want the relief targeted at car owners, which led to an impasse before a compromise was hashed out.

As a result of the final budget deal, a smaller subset of people will receive direct payments than would have if Newsom’s initial proposal was adopted, Palmer acknowledged.

He added that there are some people who don’t owe taxes who still file a California return either to get a refund of withheld taxes or to get the California earned income tax credit. In 2020, there were an additional 500,000 low-income tax returns filed in California, which people may have done to qualify for a Golden State Stimulus payment.

Palmer said that an important consideration in designing the relief program has been to ensure that there is a California record so that the payments are going to Californians.

That’s why one way to craft the program would have been through DMV. In this case, lawmakers went with a route that relies on records from the Franchise Tax Board and the Department of Social Services.

Asked whether lawmakers could craft a solution for seniors left out under this system to prove their connection to California by showing some other record, Palmer said that could be possible.

But in a subsequent message, he noted that the bill authorizing the tax refund states that people must have filed their 2020 return by Oct. 15, 2021.

“As far as the refunds go, the rough rule of thumb is: if you didn’t file a 2020 tax return, you are not eligible for this refund,” he said.

How many people are affected by the loophole?

In the meantime, California’s Department of Social Services does not have statistics on how many Californians who receive federal social security are not eligible for SSI/SSP.

As of June 1, there were 1.13 million recipients in SSI/SSP and eligibility is determined according to federal criteria.

“For 2022, generally, the SSI income limit per month for an individual is $1,767, or $2,607 for a couple—if that income comes from earned income,” a Department of Social Services spokesperson said. “The monthly SSI income limits for unearned income for 2022 are generally $861 for an eligible individual, and $1,281 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse.” Here is where to find more information on income limits.

The Social Security Administration told KCRA 3 that there were nearly 6 million people in California in 2020 who were receiving retired worker benefits and are 65 years or older but that it doesn’t track how many file tax returns.

“Whether or not these individuals filed tax returns would be dependent on other income. SSA does not have the data on how many of those individuals filed tax returns,” the Social Security Administration said.

Benefits may be taxable if the total of one-half of one’s benefits plus all other income is greater than the base amount of one’s filing status.

Those base amounts are:

  • $25,000 if you’re single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er)
  • $25,000 if you’re married filing separately and lived apart from your spouse for the entire year
  • $32,000 if you’re married filing jointly
  • $0 if you’re married filing separately and lived with your spouse at any time during the tax year



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