The Washington Times - August 26, 2009, 04:56PM

Talk about a “shovel-ready” project: 2,200 people incarcerated in U.S. prisons got $250 checks from President Obama’s stimulus bill.

And they’re entitled to keep it.

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The only requirement to get the cash, under the law, was that the recipient needed to have received benefits from the Social Security Administration, Veterans Affairs or the Railroad Retirement Board between November 2008 and February 2009. When the checks started going out in May, thousands went to prisoners jailed after February 2009 check cut-off date.

A total of 3,900 of the $250 checks were sent to incarcerated persons and most of them, 2,200, were legitimate. The remaining 1,700 checks that went to people who were in jail during the specified time in violation of the law will need to be recalled.

“Out of the 52 million one-time economic recovery payments made, we are aware that a relatively small number of Social Security beneficiaries currently incarcerated and not receiving monthly benefits — approximately 3900 — received the payment,” Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael J. Astrue said in a statement provided to The Washington Times. “Most of these beneficiaries — about 2200 — were due the payment because they were not in prison during one of the following months: November 2008, December 2008 or January 2009. The law specified that any beneficiary eligible for a Social Security benefit during one of those months was eligible for the recovery payment.

“A smaller subset of beneficiaries — about 1700 — received the economic recovery payment because our records did not accurately reflect that they were in prison,” the statement said. “Most of these payments were returned by the correctional institution. We are currently reviewing each of those cases to determine whether or not the recovery payment was due.”