Second stimulus check: How the next payment may bring you more money than before

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How much money could your next stimulus check could bring? We can help estimate.


Sarah Tew/CNET

We can’t say for sure if a second stimulus check will be part of the next COVID-19 relief bill (here’s what happens if it isn’t). But if another direct payment is approved, changes to the requirements mean that you and your dependents may actually qualify for more money than you did before (here’s how the IRS determines payment amounts). 

Not everyone will be eligible to get the next stimulus check, it’s true. And it’s possible you could also see a smaller sum in the next check if your life circumstances changed (more on that below). But depending on what happens with negotiations on a final deal, there are several key ways your household could benefit. 

Keep reading for everything we know about how a second stimulus payment could equal a bigger check for you. And here’s how you might be able to get another check faster, if you follow these steps. This story is regularly updated.

How much larger could your second check amount be?

Again, we won’t know the rules for sure until a bill is signed into law. But we do know some possibilities, based on previous proposals and possibly even the most recent Republican offerings. For most people, the total amount you’re likely to receive is based on your adjusted gross income, or AGI, and other eligibility requirements.

Here’s how much more stimulus money you could potentially see if…

More people qualify as a dependent: The Democratic proposal for the next bill expands the definition of “dependent” to include anyone you can claim on your tax returns — such as children over 16 and adults under your care. By today’s sums, that’s $500 more per person you support, with potentially no cap. If you had one dependent who qualified in the first round and three that qualify in the second, that would get your family $1,000 more if you had no other changes.


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Child dependents get more money: The most recent White House proposal would keep the same age restriction for children, but double the payout to $1,000. So if you have one dependent, your second check could be $500 larger.

You gain another dependent: If you had or adopted a child, you may see $500 to $1,000 more, depending on the final bill.

Your employment status changed: If you became unemployed this year or your wages dropped, that could lower your AGI, which is used to determine the payment. For example, if you got a partial payment with the first check, you may receive a full payment if you are no longer employed.

You got married: Depending on several variables that include your spouse’s filing status and any new dependents, a change in marital status could result in a larger check. For example, if you were single and filing alone, you got $1,200 max. Married, you could be eligible for $2,400 maximum, since the IRS formula used to determine your total stimulus money is based on your combined household income.

You now share custody of a child: If you meet specific qualifications, you and the child’s other parent may both be entitled to claim extra stimulus money. That means you could get $500 more in the second check, especially if anything in your situation changes from the time you filed your 2018 tax return to 2019. The second check allowance will be based on your most recent tax filing.

A rule change concerning incarcerated people becomes permanent: A federal judge has ruled that the IRS owes stimulus checks to inmates in prison who qualify. If the ruling stands, these people may be entitled to a second stimulus check of up to $1,200, as well as the first. That’s a potential $2,400 total for individuals, with more potential money for dependents.

You’re an “undocumented immigrant”: Democrats propose that undocumented US residents should be eligible for stimulus relief funds if they pay taxes, as part of the Heroes Act that passed the House of Representatives in two forms, but which is not law. If that qualification goes through, it could mean that some people who did not get a check as part of the CARES Act could get a second check. If it works retroactively, individuals may be eligible for both payments. This is contingent, along with the rest of the stimulus check qualifications, on the details of a new law.

There’s a potential for $1,200-$2,400 for this group, with more for dependents. For a married couple with two young children who didn’t receive the first check, the second round could possibly yield as much as $3,400.

Keep reading below for how you could get less money than before.

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The amount of stimulus money you could get in a second round of checks is still undetermined. 


James Martin/CNET

How more money for dependents could play out

Here are some potential scenarios for how the two different approaches could play out for families. You can use our stimulus check calculator to get a more specific estimate for your particular situation.

Stimulus check calculations with dependents

Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4
Tax filing status Single Head of household Married Married
2018 or 2019 tax AGI $45,000 $60,000 $160,000 $190,000
Estimated total with:
1 dependent under 17 ($1,000 total) $2,200 $2,200 $2,900 $1,400
3 dependents under 17 ($3,000 total) $4,200 $4,200 $4,900 $3,400
1 dependent of any age ($500 total) $1,700 $1,700 $2,400 $900
3 dependents of any age ($1,500 total) $2,700 $2,700 $3,400 $1,900

How your next stimulus payment could shrink instead

In the first round of stimulus checks, the IRS, for most people, based the amount on their 2019 federal tax returns if they filed them and their 2018 returns if they didn’t. But some Americans who qualified for a check experienced personal or financial changes after filing that would affect a future payment. 

You might get a smaller check if you:

Started a job or received higher pay: A change in your AGI, either because of a wage increase or a change in employment status, could reduce the check’s size.

Have fewer qualified dependents: Congress could keep the restrictive dependent requirements of the CARES Act, which was passed in March, and any dependents you claim could age out of eligibility.

Owe child support: Under the CARES Act, the government held back money to cover owed child support.

Owe money to private banks or creditors: Your stimulus money can’t be garnished to pay rent or federal tax, but these two groups could seize your check.

Looking for more stimulus check information? Read up on all the finer points of the stimulus payment here. If you’re still waiting for your first stimulus check, here are 10 possible reasons for a delay and what you can do if you think your payment was lost or has fallen through the cracks.

source: cnet.com

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