Stimulus check requirements: What we know about who might qualify for a second payment


Congress hasn’t yet agreed who will be eligible to receive a second stimulus check, but it’s expected that more people will be included the second time around.

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Who will be eligible to receive a second stimulus check for  up to $1,200? Talks to pass the next economic relief package have not yet resumed, and there are no new talks on the agenda, leaving that question unanswered for now. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he’d like the negotiations to start again on Saturday, which is when the House plans a vote on standalone legislation to provide financial aid to the US Post Office. It isn’t clear if talks will resume.

When they do, we think it’s likely that at least one group of people who didn’t qualify to receive money in the first round of payments could be eligible to get paid in another round. But until we know the size of a final package, it’s unclear what impact that could have on you and your family — a narrower bill could leave you out altogether.

Lawmakers agree there’s a need. The Department of Labor’s latest statistics find that up to 40 million Americans face eviction — that’s roughly the population of California. Additionally, new jobless claims have numbered close to 1 million or more for 22 straight weeks.

“In the 97 days since we passed the Heroes Act, 4.1 million more Americans have become infected and 86,000 more have died. Today, nearly 28 million Americans are unemployed,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday in a statement to Democratic colleagues. The Heroes Act passed in the House of Representatives May 15 and was not picked up or vetoed by the Senate.

Deciding the exact eligibility requirements for a new stimulus check will be a crucial topic when and if talks resume, and some people who weren’t eligible for the first stimulus check might end up qualifying in a new round. Read on for everything we know at the moment. This story is updated regularly.

Second stimulus check: Possible requirements

While we won’t know for certain who will qualify for a new stimulus payment until legislation is passed, we can draw from the first stimulus check’s eligibility requirements to get an idea of who may or may not get a second check, including the income limits and number of dependents.

Both Republicans and Democrats are using adjusted gross income, or AGI, to determine the payment amount for individuals and families, which would cap at $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married couples.

Who might qualify for the next stimulus check

Qualifying group Likely in final bill Unlikely in final bill
Individuals An AGI of less than $99,000, under all proposals. X
Heads of household An AGI of less than $146,500, under all proposals. X
Couples filing jointly income An AGI of less than $198,000, under all proposals. X
Dependents of any age No dependent limit specified, under HEALS Act. Up to three dependents, under the Heroes Act.
Noncitizens who pay taxes X Suggested in the Heroes Act, which was not taken up by the Senate.
People who are incarcerated X The CARES Act excluded this group.
People who owe child support X The CARES Act excluded this group. The Heroes Act would include them.

More dependents might be eligible for a second payment

The CARES Act took a narrow approach to defining a dependent and allowed a $500 payment only for a child age 16 or younger in the family. The HEALS and Heroes Acts both take a broader definition and allow any dependent you claim to qualify for a payment — college students, children over 17, disabled relatives and taxpayers’ parents.

The Democratic plan as outlined in the Heroes Act would cover $1,200 each, for up to three dependents, so a family of five people could receive a maximum of $6,000. We don’t think this is a likely outcome in the final bill, considering the Senate has not addressed it.

Like the CARES Act, the Republican plan outlined in the HEALS Act would provide $500 for each dependent, but doesn’t specify a cap on the number of dependents.

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Who didn’t receive the first stimulus check

For the payments authorized under the CARES Act, which became law in March, these groups were excluded:

  • Single taxpayers with an AGI over $99,000
  • Heads of households with an AGI over $136,500
  • Married couples with an AGI over $198,000
  • Children over 16 and college students under age 24
  • Nonresident aliens, as defined by the US government

When will Congress decide on stimulus check requirements?

Right now, the timeline for discussions is up in the air. Talks between Republican and Democratic negotiators on the new stimulus package stalled, but the two sides have signaled they are willing to pick up the debate. The Senate is on break until after Labor Day but the House is returning to work, so the chances of a deal in August seem unlikely, but an agreement in September is now in the picture. After the sides reach a deal, the stimulus bill won’t take effect until the president signs it into law. 

While we won’t know for sure until the two sides come together on the next stimulus package, we have a good idea of when a check could be sent if a new bill passes.

For more, here’s what we know about the major proposals for a second stimulus package. We also have information on unemployment insurance, what you can do if you’ve lost your job, if you could receive two refund checks from the IRS and what to know about evictions.

Shelby Brown contributed to this report.