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Dept. of Human Services: hundreds of thousands entitled to federal stimulus money have not accessed it

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is reminding people they can access federal stimulus money without jeopardizing their benefits

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is reminding people they can access federal stimulus money without jeopardizing their benefits.

As part of the CARES Act, the U.S. Dept. of Treasury sent stimulus money to people across the country. That was that $1,200 check you might have gotten in the spring.

It was a pleasant surprise for many, but the DHS said the surprise is in the number of people who haven't submitted that documentation to receive it.

"We're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars that could come into Pennsylvania, let alone the rest of the country," Secretary Teresa Miller said. "And clearly that would have a huge impact on the rest of the economy."

According to the Campaign for Working Families and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, it's estimated that anywhere between 350,000 - 450,000 Pennsylvanians did not get their payment, because they don't file a tax return.

The good news though, if you receive assistance in the form of TANF, SNAP, or medical assistance, you can still access the federal stimulus money.

"A lot of people who don't have to file taxes, in many cases because they are low income, they would not have automatically received this stimulus checks like a lot of us would have," Miller said.

The big takeaway the DHS wants people to know is this federal money won't affect peoples' benefits.

"We know that there are many people who may be struggling due to lost jobs and reduced hours because of this COVID-19 pandemic," Miller said. "And we know that every bit of assistance can help someone make ends meet."

The deadline to request the stimulus money, or EIP, is October 15, 2020. Those who do not file taxes at all, or who file taxes and receive your tax refund via check, may need to provide information to the IRS to claim an EIP. Instructions on claiming an EIP and more information can be found here or by calling 800-919-9835. The Campaign for Working Families is offering assistance to people who need help filing for their EIP at www.cwfphilly.org/stimulus.

Those who receive Social Security or SSI benefits you can find information and instructions on how to access their EIP here.

Those who file taxes and receive tax refunds via direct deposit will have had their EIP automatically deposited into their account and there is nothing further to do.