The United States government authorized direct cash payments to adults in order to help people face the challenges of the pandemic economic impacts.
The implementation has been dicey, though.
Most of the payments were based on 2018 or 2019 income tax returns and were made by direct deposit, if banking information was on file with the Internal Revenue Service, or by check.
Unfortunately, the IRS didn’t cross-reference with the Social Security system, which meant that some payments were issued to people who were deceased. That is what happened with my parents, known here as Nana and Paco, who received a payment by direct deposit last month, even though Nana’s date of death was on file at Social Security.
Many others were similarly affected and, at first, it seemed that surviving spouses would be allowed to keep the full payment as had happened in a similar economic stimulus program a number of years ago.
However, a few days ago, the government issued instructions that required people to mail them a check for any payment sent on behalf of someone who had died.
I am not arguing against the principle of payments to only those who are living, but I wish that the program had been implemented with accuracy. It’s been painful dealing with the hassles and uncertainty of the situation.
I couldn’t make myself write the check and required note to the IRS on Mother’s Day, my first without my mom. I did put it in the mail today. Later this week will be Nana’s birthday and the following week the first anniversary of her death. I didn’t need another reminder of her absence from the government in the midst of it.
I feel badly for those whose loss is more recent, who may need the money to help pay funeral bills or to support surviving family. I would hope in those instances that the government would not demand that the money be returned, but I doubt that the current administration will act with compassion and competence.