October 24, 2020
New hope for the stimulus bill: What could be in it and what's happening now

New stimulus check requirement: Democrats, Republicans agree on this qualification


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It’s expected that millions more people will be included the second time around.


Angela Lang/CNET

Nothing with a second stimulus check is guaranteed until a final coronavirus relief bill is signed into law, but the passage this week of the Heroes 2.0 proposal confirms one area where Democrats and Republicans agree. The revision to the House of Representatives’ original Heroes Act from May, this new scaled-back version changes an important point on eligibility that could give families more stimulus money overall

Both the House Democrats, who backed the new package, and the Republican-authored HEALS Act from July broaden the definition of who counts as a dependent — and that has monetary implications. (You can calculate that amount here.)

While neither proposal is expected to become law — in fact, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are actively working on details for a completely different stimulus package — the fact that Republicans and Democrats approve of the change bodes well for a final bill.

It isn’t clear if and how the news of President Donald Trump’s hospitalization as a result of COVID-19 could affect the timeline for passing new coronavirus relief legislation.

While we keep a close eye on the situation, here’s everything to know about eligibility if a second round of direct payments does occur. And here’s how the IRS defines an adult in terms of stimulus checks. We regularly update this story.


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How additional dependents could count toward your family’s total sum

Not enough dependents were eligible for any money at all under the CARES Act, Republicans and Democrats both agree. Dependents aged 16 and younger were allotted $500 as part of the family payment, but new proposals from both sides of the aisle want to expand the definition of a dependent to include people regardless of age — that means college students and adult dependents.

The new Democratic proposal (the revised Heroes Act) and the Republican HEALS Act would provide $500 for each dependent you claim on your taxes no matter the age, with no specified cap on the number of dependents. That’s a change from the original Democratic proposal to extend $1,200 each, for up to three dependents (a $6,000 cap).

You can calculate your estimated total here.

Will I qualify for the second stimulus check?

It’s likely that if a second stimulus check emerges, it’ll follow many of the guidelines from the CARES Act that governed the first check, but draw some changes from the revised Heroes Act and HEALS Act proposals, neither of which is law.

Who could qualify for a second stimulus check

Qualifying group Likely to be covered by the final bill
Individuals An AGI of less than $99,000 (Same as CARES)
Head of household An AGI of less than $146,500 (Same as CARES)
Couple filing jointly An AGI less than $198,000 (Same as CARES)
Dependents of any age As defined by your tax filing (HEALS proposal; and revised Heroes Act)
US citizens living abroad Yes, same as CARES
Citizens of US territories Likely, with payments handled by each territory’s tax authority (CARES)
SSDI and tax nonfilers Likely, but with an extra step to file (more below)
Disqualified group Unlikely to be covered by the final bill
Noncitizens who pay taxes Proposed in Heroes Act, unlikely to pass in Senate
Incarcerated people Excluded under CARES Act
People who owe child support Included in Heroes proposal, but excluded under CARES

What do my taxes have to do with my eligibility?

For most people, taxes and stimulus checks are tightly intertwined. For example, the most important factor in setting income limits is adjusted gross income, or AGI, which determines how much of the $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married couples you could receive if you meet the other requirements.

Our stimulus check calculator can show you how much money you could potentially expect from a second check based on your most recent tax filing. Read below for your eligibility if you don’t typically file taxes.

An extra step nonfilers may need to take

People who weren’t required to file a federal income tax return in either 2018 or 2019 may still be eligible to receive the first stimulus check under the CARES Act. If that guideline doesn’t change for a second stimulus check, this group would qualify again. Here are reasons you might not have been required to file:

  • You’re over 24, not claimed as a dependent and your income is less than $12,200.
  • You’re married filing jointly and together your income is less than $24,400.
  • You have no income.
  • You receive federal benefits, such as Social Security or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). See below for more on SSDI.

With the first stimulus check, nonfilers needed to provide the IRS with some information before they could receive their checks. The IRS is reaching out to 9 million Americans who may fall in this category but have not requested their payment to notify them they may be due a payment.

Could SSDI recipients get an additional stimulus check?

Those who are part of the Social Security Disability Insurance program also qualify for a check under the CARES Act. Recipients would not receive their payments through their Direct Express card, which the government usually uses to distribute federal benefits, but through a non-Direct Express bank account or through a paper check. SSDI recipients also need to use the IRS’ Non-Filers tool to request a payment for themselves and dependents.

7 groups that were passed over in the first stimulus round 

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.
  • People who are incarcerated.
  • People who died since the previous tax filing. (Their families may not collect on their behalf and are expected to return the payment.)

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.



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