On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka the stimulus bill). This law provides for a one-time economic recovery payment of $250 to most Social Security, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries who were eligible under the programs during November or December 2008 or January 2009. The $250 payments will begin arriving in early May and continue through the month.

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the payments will be distributed to beneficiaries in the same manner that they currently receive their benefit (either by check, debit card, or direct deposit) but the payments will not be included in the same transaction as a beneficiary’s regular monthly payment. This means that beneficiaries should be on the lookout for two separate payments during May.

People with special needs who receive both SSDI and SSI benefits will receive only one $250 payment, and SSDI beneficiaries under age 18 (or 19 if they are still in school) will not receive any payments at all. If both you and your spouse receive benefits from Social Security or SSI, you each will get the one-time payment. However, anyone receiving a payment does not have to worry about the additional income affecting his government benefits — the stimulus payments do not count as “income” for either program. In addition, the payment will not count as a resource in the month it is received or the following nine months. For example, if you receive the one-time payment in May 2009, it will not count as a resource from May 2009 through February 2010. If you still have this money in March 2010, it will count as a resource starting that month and may affect your eligibility for SSI. The one-time economic recovery payment will not count as income or earnings for Social Security disability benefits.

To get more information about the one-time economic recovery payment, visit www.ssa.gov. The SSA has created an online pamphlet describing the payments and providing additional details for beneficiaries. You can read the pamphlet here.