Where Is Your Stimulus Payment? The Check May Not Be in the Mail

A number of federal retirees under the CSRS system have asked: “Where is my money under the stimulus bill? My friends who are under Social Security have already received their check.” Here is your answer.

A number of readers have written in asking why they have friends or relatives who have received a stimulus payment. These CSRS retirees are all asking a variation of the same question: "Where is my money? Why have those under Social Security already received their check but I have not gotten one?" When we get a few emails all asking the same question, it usually means many others have the same question.

Actually, we answered this question back in February before it was being asked by our readers. It probably slipped by most people because, if they were focused on the stimulus bill at all, it was probably questioning how the government would spend close to a trillion dollars and whether it would help the economy. (See $250 Tax Credit or Payment for Federal Retirees)

We may not know the answer to those two questions yet.

But, as noted in the original article: "If you are a FERS retiree and collecting Social Security payments, you are eligible for an additional $250 payment. If you are under CSRS, you are not collecting Social Security. However, you are eligible to receive a tax credit of $250." Rather than quoting the original legislation, located deep within the 1100 or so pages of the stimulus bill that was not read by our elected representatives before it was passed, is a provision with the title of "Special Legislation for Certain Government Retirees." That is the section you will want to read if you are curious about this issue.

A reader who is a CSRS retiree also shared his experience. He cited the legislative provision above in writing OPM about the status of his $250 check. His email to the Office of Personnel Management read: "According to the IRS website the economic recovery payment will not come from the IRS and that individuals should contact their respective agency (OPM retirement services?) for more information."

Rebecca Bell, a very responsive OPM representative wrote back to this reader with the following:

Many Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) retirees have not worked enough to qualify or have never worked in the social security covered employment and consequently are ineligible for this payment. As a result of this inequity, NARFE’s legislative department worked with key members of the Senate and succeeded in the securing a newly-created $250 per person refundable tax credit for federal, state and local government retirees who are ineligible to receive social security.

To receive the refundable credit for certain federal and state pensioners, public-sector annuitants who are not eligible to receive Social Security will have to file for the relief next year (even if they did not earn enough money to be obligated to file a tax return) when they submit their 2009 federal income tax returns.

So, if you are a CSRS federal retiree, you will have to file for the money when sending in your 2009 federal income tax return next year. The check will not be coming in the mail to you this year.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47