October 31, 2020
New hope for the stimulus bill: What could be in it and what's happening now

Stimulus check eligibility status: Here’s what you need to know and where you stand right now


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


Angela Lang/CNET

You could qualify for a second round of stimulus payments, even if you didn’t meet the requirements for the first stimulus checks that the IRS started sending out this spring. At least, that’s based on proposals White House and Democratic negotiators are working from.

Nothing is for sure, in part because negotiations on the next coronavirus relief bill with a second stimulus check have dragged on for weeks, with the fall election complicating the process. But depending on what the next package looks like, the language could broaden the definition of who could qualify for more stimulus money, particularly your dependents.

The rules of eligibility are what kept an estimated 13 million people under 25 from receiving any money at all and the rules get complicated fast (hint: they’re derived from tax law), based on a range of requirements that include your AGI from your most recent tax form, extra steps for nonfilers and more.

As we wait for the negotiations to further progress or pause, here’s everything we know about qualifications for another stimulus payment. (You can also consult CNET’s stimulus check calculator to get an idea of how much you might get paid if there’s another stimulus round. And here are six stimulus check facts to know.) We update this story frequently.

How to know if you could be eligible for another stimulus check

We won’t know for certain who will qualify for a new stimulus payment until Congress passes the legislation. We can, however, draw from the first stimulus check’s eligibility requirements and the Heroes Act and HEALS Act proposals (neither of which is law) to get an idea of who may or may not get a second check, including a few unexpected qualifiers below. 

The common denominator 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.

Who might qualify for the next stimulus check

Qualifying group Likely to be in final bill Unlikely to be in final bill
Individual An AGI of less than $99,000, under both proposals
Head of household An AGI of less than $146,500, under both proposals
Couple filing jointly An AGI less than $198,000, under both proposals
Dependents of any age No dependents limit specified, under HEALS Act Up to 3 dependents, under Heroes Act
Noncitizens who pay taxes Under Heroes Act
Incarcerated people Under CARES Act
Owe child support CARES Act excludes those who owe child support. Heroes Act includes them
US citizen living abroad Included under CARES Act
Live in US territory Under CARES Act, payments handled by each territory’s tax authority
SSDI recipients Included under CARES Act
Tax nonfilers Included under CARES Act


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More dependents may be counted toward the family total

While the initial payments authorized under the CARES Act included $500 for dependents aged 16 and younger, the HEALS and Heroes Act would both loop in any dependent, regardless of age, including college students and adult dependents. (Here’s the youngest you can be to qualify for your own stimulus check.)

The Democratic plan would extend $1,200 each, for up to three dependents, so a family of five people could receive a maximum of $6,000. The Republican plan would provide $500 for each dependent you claim on your taxes, but the HEALS Act doesn’t specify a cap on the number of dependents.

Would SSDI recipients get another 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.

Nonfilers would possibly need to take this extra step

Those who weren’t required to file a federal income tax return in either 2018 or 2019 could still be eligible for a 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.

These groups were skipped 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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