April 11, 2021
Stimulus check requirements: Here's who might or might not qualify for a new relief payment

Stimulus check requirements: Here’s who might or might not qualify for a new relief payment


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

Sarah Tew/CNET

What will it take to qualify for a second stimulus check for as much as up to $1,200? Talks over the next economic relief package are still on hold, so we still don’t know what the final qualifications will be. Specifically, we aren’t certain how the next aid package will expand or limit your eligibility for a second check. Both Democrats and Republicans seem to agree that at least one group who was passed up the first time around should count toward a final payment. But if less money overall is allocated to the final bill (and that could very well happen), it’s uncertain how that could affect you and your family.

For many, the distinction could gravely matter. According to the Department of Labor’s latest statistics, new unemployment claims have hovered around 1 million-plus for 22 consecutive weeks, resulting in intense pressure to make a deal as the coronavirus recession continues and tens of millions of Americans face eviction and more.

“More people will die, more jobs will be lost. We have to try to come to that agreement now,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Politico on Tuesday about waiting until September.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he wants to begin talks again on Saturday when the House returns to vote on standalone legislation to rescue the US Post OfficeNegotiators seem willing to get back to the debate, but the Senate recess will still continue until Sept. 8.

When and if talks resume, the issue of allowing more people to qualify for a direct payment than were eligible for the first round of stimulus checks will be on the agenda — keep reading for the current lowdown. We updated this story recently.

Who could qualify for the second stimulus check

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 sides 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 excludes this group.
People who owe child support X The CARES Act excludes this group. The Heroes Act would include them.

Dependents who could 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 it has fizzled in the Senate without being addressed.

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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Stimulus Check Standoff


Who didn’t receive a stimulus check under the CARES Act

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

  • Single taxpayers with an adjusted gross income above $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

How long until Congress decides 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.

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