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State Outreach Can Get Stimulus Payments to as Many Eligible Residents as Possible

Figure 1
Through SNAP and Medicaid, States can Reach Many Not Receiving Automatic Stimulus Payments

About 12 million Americans risk missing out on the CARES Act’s stimulus payments because they did not receive payments automatically from the IRS. State-led outreach efforts can help families apply for these payments,[1] which can enable them to afford the basics while also keeping an estimated $12 billion in payments flowing through state economies during the pandemic and economic crisis.

People not receiving automatic payments include families being paid too little to meet annual tax filing thresholds, people who have been disconnected from work opportunities for a long period, and many adults not raising children in the home. (See Figure 1 for more detail.) People of color are overrepresented in this group because they are likelier to have lower incomes due to historical racism and ongoing bias and discrimination. Ensuring that people of color who are paid low wages receive the stimulus payments for which they qualify is especially important given emerging evidence that the pandemic’s health and economic effects are hitting them hardest.[2]

Outreach efforts can help families claim an estimated $12 billion in stimulus payments.Governors and other state officials can play a central role in reaching these 12 million people, up to 9 million of whom participate in SNAP (formerly food stamps) or Medicaid. Because states and counties administer these programs, they can notify enrolled families about the payments, and provide resources to help fill out the form for those who face barriers such as a lack of internet access. They can also partner with community-based organizations to reach the roughly 3 million people not connected to SNAP or Medicaid, such as families experiencing housing instability.

Ways for State Outreach Campaigns to Help Families Claim Stimulus Payments

  • Reduce barriers to accessing payments, such as a lack of internet access in the home or limited access to financial services for direct deposit. State agencies can help set up phone helplines and other resources to help families complete the information required on the IRS portal to receive their payment.
  • Educate the public. States can advertise the availability of these payments through newspapers and social media, on the radio, and by other means.
  • Conduct outreach to families enrolled in SNAP or Medicaid. Three-quarters of families eligible for payments are enrolled in SNAP, Medicaid, or both. State agencies can send notices and reminders and help enrolled families fill out the form.
  • Partner with groups already connected to people facing barriers to claiming payments. States can work with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites, homelessness service providers, and other organizations to help them provide payment availability information to the people they work with.
TABLE 1
Estimated People Missed by Automatic Payments, by State
State State residents missed Total potential payments (in millions) Those receiving SNAP and/or Medicaid benefits
Number receiving benefits Potential payments (in millions)
United States 12,399,000 $12,000 9,270,000 $9,000
Alabama 267,000 $264 220,000 $209
Alaska 32,000 $31 26,000 $24
Arizona 267,000 $274 200,000 $198
Arkansas 143,000 $137 110,000 $101
California 1,484,000 $1,499 1,082,000 $1,035
Colorado 152,000 $160 * *
Connecticut 108,000 $109 * *
Delaware 34,000 $37 27,000 $28
District of Columbia 46,000 $47 35,000 $35
Florida 991,000 $1,017 750,000 $742
Georgia 505,000 $506 383,000 $365
Hawaii 50,000 $53 33,000 $33
Idaho 42,000 $44 * *
Illinois 392,000 $401 312,000 $309
Indiana 214,000 $206 162,000 $146
Iowa 64,000 $65 * *
Kansas 100,000 $103 * *
Kentucky 209,000 $206 171,000 $162
Louisiana 303,000 $302 233,000 $ 221
Maine * * * *
Maryland 147,000 $157 * *
Massachusetts 223,000 $232 159,000 $158
Michigan 369,000 $361 308,000 $293
Minnesota 122,000 $127 * *
Mississippi 185,000 $180 145,000 $133
Missouri 197,000 $202 143,000 $140
Montana 25,000 $25 19,000 $18
Nebraska * * * *
Nevada 112,000 $112 87,000 $83
New Hampshire * * * *
New Jersey 276,000 $287 186,000 $182
New Mexico 124,000 $124 105,000 $101
New York 814,000 $834 625,000 $616
North Carolina 471,000 $474 340,000 $324
North Dakota 24,000 $24 16,000 $15
Ohio 489,000 $466 394,000 $358
Oklahoma 165,000 $166 130,000 $126
Oregon 158,000 $159 118,000 $113
Pennsylvania 449,000 $438 363,000 $337
Rhode Island 37,000 $39 30,000 $31
South Carolina 273,000 $262 213,000 $194
South Dakota 34,000 $32 27,000 $24
Tennessee 280,000 $288 215,000 $ 213
Texas 1,024,000 $1,010 685,000 $624
Utah 57,000 $58 * *
Vermont 17,000 $16 14,000 $13
Virginia 321,000 $326 191,000 $177
Washington 228,000 $228 185,000 $179
West Virginia 115,000 $112 100,000 $94
Wisconsin 140,000 $142 * *
Wyoming 16,000 $16 * *

*Sample size too small.

Source: CBPP analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey for 2015-2017, with corrections for underreported SNAP and Supplemental Security Income from the Department of Health and Human Services/Urban Institute Transfer Income Model (TRIM).

TABLE 2
Estimated People Missed by Automatic Payments Who Receive SNAP Benefits
State State residents missed Those receiving SNAP benefits Potential payments, in millions of dollars
Households All individuals Children (under 17 years)
United States 12,399,000 3,270,000 6,534,000 3,024,000 $5,700
Alabama 267,000 45,500 99,600 47,700 $86
Alaska 32,000 7,900 17,700 7,700 $16
Arizona 267,000 68,500 133,000 56,300 $120
Arkansas 143,000 20,800 46,800 23,500 $40
California 1,484,000 543,600 1,095,100 548,900 $930
Colorado 152,000 35,200 78,700 42,200 $65
Connecticut 108,000 39,100 65,400 22,800 $63
Delaware 34,000 11,300 22,800 11,100 $20
District of Columbia 46,000 13,200 23,500 9,300 $22
Florida 991,000 245,800 437,400 184,000 $396
Georgia 505,000 151,800 330,400 158,500 $286
Hawaii 50,000 12,100 22,800 9,500 $21
Idaho 42,000 7,300 18,800 10,800 $15
Illinois 392,000 172,000 315,900 129,200 $289
Indiana 214,000 34,600 79,200 39,900 $67
Iowa 64,000 26,300 55,600 27,900 $47
Kansas 100,000 9,100 21,600 11,800 $18
Kentucky 209,000 49,700 95,900 36,400 $90
Louisiana 303,000 48,300 113,300 60,400 $94
Maine * 6,900 14,900 6,900 $13
Maryland 147,000 67,300 121,800 50,000 $111
Massachusetts 223,000 56,100 108,200 48,200 $96
Michigan 369,000 93,500 159,100 53,100 $154
Minnesota 122,000 26,100 49,500 27,100 $40
Mississippi 185,000 41,600 88,800 40,800 $78
Missouri 197,000 38,400 86,300 45,700 $72
Montana 25,000 5,100 11,600 5,400 $10
Nebraska * 9,600 20,900 11,000 $17
Nevada 112,000 38,300 69,700 28,400 $64
New Hampshire * 4,400 9,900 4,900 $8
New Jersey 276,000 66,800 139,800 76,800 $114
New Mexico 124,000 27,000 56,800 25,200 $51
New York 814,000 188,600 351,200 152,500 $315
North Carolina 471,000 120,900 241,400 110,200 $213
North Dakota 24,000 3,400 8,400 4,400 $7
Ohio 489,000 92,900 179,800 78,100 $161
Oklahoma 165,000 31,100 74,000 38,200 $62
Oregon 158,000 50,600 92,700 34,400 $87
Pennsylvania 449,000 105,500 211,700 95,200 $187
Rhode Island 37,000 11,200 19,900 7,700 $18
South Carolina 273,000 58,500 134,200 68,900 $113
South Dakota 34,000 5,500 13,900 7,600 $11
Tennessee 280,000 80,700 161,400 70,100 $145
Texas 1,024,000 290,500 610,000 300,700 $521
Utah 57,000 13,900 33,200 18,600 $27
Vermont 17,000 2,500 5,100 2,300 $4
Virginia 321,000 53,000 126,000 65,700 $105
Washington 228,000 68,900 118,800 47,100 $110
West Virginia 115,000 25,100 50,800 20,600 $47
Wisconsin 140,000 34,800 67,800 28,500 $61
Wyoming 16,000 1,800 4,700 2,500 $4

Source: CBPP analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture SNAP Household Characteristics data for fiscal years 2016-2018.

Note: We estimate that automatic payments will miss about 12 million people; of these, about 9 million receive SNAP and/or Medicaid. The figures shown here represent the subgroup of the 9 million who receive SNAP, whether or not they receive Medicaid.

July 16, 2020

[1] Chuck Marr et al., “Aggressive State Outreach Can Help Reach the 12 Million Non-Filers Eligible for Stimulus Payments,” CBPP, updated June 23, 2020, https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-tax/aggressive-state-outreach-can-help-reach-the-12-million-non-filers-eligible-for.

[2] Erica Williams and Cortney Sanders, “3 Principles for an Antiracist, Equitable State Response to COVID-19 — and a Stronger Recovery,” CBPP, May 21, 2020, https://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/3-principles-for-an-anti-racist-equitable-state-response-to-covid-19.