October 29, 2020
With a vote in sight, here's how soon a second stimulus check could arrive for you

How soon the IRS could send a new stimulus check now and who would get it first


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Did you know? Different groups will get their stimulus checks at different times.


Sarah Tew/CNET

There’s still a path to approve a second stimulus check, either before or after the Nov. 3 election, and either through a standalone bill or as part of a comprehensive economic relief package. But even if a deal comes together, it will still take time for the payment to come to people who qualify.

And just because a stimulus check rolls out to one doesn’t mean it rolls out to all at the exact same time. We identified five rough priority groups that the Internal Revenue Service  carved out to help structure delivery of the first stimulus payment in batches. A second stimulus payment could be sent out in a similar way. Moreover, we help you figure out which group you could land in and what that means for when you could see a payment of as much as $1,200.

This story is frequently updated with new information.

Here are dates the IRS could send the checks

When and if another stimulus check is approved, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said it would take about a week to process the first payments. “I can get out 50 million payments really quickly. A lot of it into people’s direct accounts,” he said in August. 

We’ve speculated about the potential dates based on the current situation in Washington, DC. Note that not everyone will get a payment at the same time. Keep reading to see how the different priority groups shake out if a bill becomes law before the Nov. 3 election or after Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, 2021.

Possible dates a second stimulus check could go out

Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4
House passes final bill Oct. 26 Nov. 23 Dec. 7 Feb. 1
Senate passes final bill Oct. 27 Nov. 30 Dec. 8 Feb. 2
President signs Oct. 28 Dec. 1 Dec. 9 Feb. 3
First direct deposits sent Week of Nov. 16 Week of Dec. 14 Week of Dec. 21 Week of Feb. 8
First paper checks sent Week of Nov. 30 Week of Dec. 21 Week of Jan. 4 Week of Feb. 15
First EIP cards sent Week of Dec. 21 Week of Jan. 5 Week of Feb. 1 Week of Mar. 15

Why some people may get their money quicker than others do

The IRS has so far sent money to at least 160 million people three different ways, starting with people who filed for direct deposit. Some people with more complicated scenarios are still waiting for their checks or even for catch-up payments. This creates a de facto priority order that could lead some Americans to receive their checks days or even weeks before others. We expect the IRS will adopt roughly the same system for sending out a second stimulus check in 2020 as it did with the first stimulus check, which was approved in March.

Read moreEstimate the size of your check with our stimulus calculator

Direct deposit is fastest: People who already have their direct deposit information on file with the IRS or who provide that info when and if registration opens again should be first in line to receive a stimulus check. An electronic transfer of funds is faster and more efficient, which is why this group largely got their first payment faster.


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Social Security beneficiaries: With the first stimulus payment, many Social Security beneficiaries who had direct deposit information on file with the federal government received checks in the first week, though not always the first day.

People who get paper checks: The IRS began to mail checks about a week later to those without direct deposit data on file. 

EIP card recipients: Economic Impact Payment debit cards are prepaid Visa cards the IRS sent to about 4 million people starting in mid-May. If the IRS follows the same payment priority order, this group could begin to see their checks weeks after the first direct deposit transfers go out.

Last group: People who received checks after June are still waiting to receive their stimulus payment or did not know they need to complete an extra step. Direct payments will continue through the end of 2020 for some individuals who weren’t part of the previous groups. Here’s what could be holding up the stimulus check delivery for some and how to contact the IRS to report a missing, lost or stolen check.

What’s the longest you may have to wait to for your check?

While we expect most people to get their money sooner, if the first round is any indication, it could still take months for the IRS to send all the checks. Six months after the first stimulus payments went out, the federal agency is still trying to track down millions of people who may be owed money.

And even with the experience of processing roughly 160 million payments in the IRS’ back pocket, some people would probably need to clear a few hurdles to receive their money. Here are common roadblocks that held up the first stimulus check.

mail-packages-usps-fedex-amazon-ups-doorstep-mailbox-letters-shipping-coronavirus-stay-at-home-2020-cnet

There’s hope that the IRS could speed up delivery of a second check, if it’s authorized.


Angela Lang/CNET

A few more resources to help out

If you’re still waiting on the first round of payments, you can track the status of your stimulus check, learn how to report your no-show check to the IRS and find possible reasons why your stimulus check still hasn’t arrived.

And here are resources about coronavirus hardship loans and unemployment insurance, what you can do if you’ve lost your job, what to know about evictions and late car payments, if you could receive two refund checks from the IRS and how to take control of your budget.



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