September 25, 2020
Stimulus check requirements: Here's everyone who could qualify for a new relief bill -- or not

Stimulus check requirements: Who may or may not qualify for a new relief bill


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Congress hasn’t formally settled on who would meet eligibility requirements to receive a second stimulus check.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Republican and Democratic leaders haven’t resumed talks for passing another rescue package that incorporates a second stimulus check for up to $1,200. Until negotiations start again, the eligibility requirements to receive more money remain up in the air. We aren’t likely to know much more until the two sides come back to the table.

“We have to come to that agreement now,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he hopes to resume talks on Saturday when the House returns to vote on the USPS Bill.

The House of Representatives is set to reconvene after this week’s Democratic National Convention to specifically address recent developments at the Post Office, and it is unclear what priority resuming stimulus talks will have. Negotiators seem willing to pick up the debate, but the Senate remains in recess until after Labor Day.

The proposals the Republican and Democratic leaders have each presented — which build on the first round of stimulus checks — offer the only current clues we have for who qualifies for another round of direct payments. Here’s what we can piece together today. This story is updated as news develops.

Who may 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 might qualify 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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Who didn’t receive a stimulus payment 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 who will qualify

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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