October 27, 2020
With a vote in sight, here's how soon a second stimulus check could arrive for you

With a vote in sight, here’s how soon a second stimulus check could arrive for you


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Different groups will get their stimulus checks at different times.


Sarah Tew/CNET

There’s a fresh burst of hope for your second stimulus check. After weeks of bickering, White House and Democratic players have restarted negotiations on another coronavirus relief package. Republicans and Democrats alike support a new stimulus check of up to $1,200 per person. If a bill passes (and that’s no guarantee) and assuming you’re eligible for a new payment, the question is, when’s the soonest you could you realistically get it?

“We’re in a negotiation and hopefully we will come to a bipartisan agreement,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told MSNBC Tuesday. “That’s my goal, that we come to agreement so that we can put money in the pockets of the American people.”

How quickly the IRS could move on a new bill is important, since millions of Americans still haven’t received their first check or received only partial payments. There are two parts to the answer. The first has to do with when the IRS gets the go-ahead to organize payments. The second is which priority payment group you’re in.

We break it down below, including our best guess on dates, based off the most recent news from Washington. Consult CNET’s stimulus calculator to estimate your total check. This story updates often.


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When the IRS could possibly send the first checks to each group

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

We’ve speculated potential dates based on calendars from the House of Representatives and the Senate, and also based on Pelosi’s vow to keep her chamber in session until a deal is reached. Not every person will get their check at the same time — keep reading below for how the different priority groups shake out.

Possible dates a second stimulus check could go out

Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4
House passes final bill Oct. 2 Oct. 9 Dec. 1 Dec. 7
Senate passes final bill Oct. 5 Oct. 13 Dec. 2 Dec. 8
President signs Oct. 6 Oct. 14 Dec. 3 Dec. 9
First direct deposit sent Week of Oct. 12 Week of Oct. 19 Week of Dec. 7 Week of Dec. 14
First paper checks sent Week of Oct. 19 Week of Oct. 26 Week of Dec. 14 Week of Dec. 21
First EIP cards sent Week of Nov. 9 Week of Nov. 16 Week of Jan. 11 Week of Jan. 18

Why are there different payment groups?

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 in fact still waiting for their checks or even for catch-up payments. This shakes out into a de facto priority order that could lead some to receive their checks days or even weeks sooner than others. We expect the IRS would keep roughly the same system for sending out the second stimulus check.

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

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

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

EIP card recipients: Economic Impact Payment debit cards are prepaid Visa cards that the IRS sent to around 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: Anyone who received their checks after June, is still waiting to receive their stimulus payment or did not know they need to fill out an extra step. Direct payments will continue through the end of 2020 for some individuals who were not 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 I might have to wait for my check?

While we expect the bulk of 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 would probably need to clear a few hurdles to receive their money. Here are common bumps that held up the first stimulus check for some.

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


Angela Lang/CNET

These factors may delay your check from arriving faster

We won’t know details unless, or until, a new bill passes and the IRS gears up to send another round of checks, but here are sticking points to watch for.

Changes to aid for dependents: If Congress expands or narrows the definition of a dependent in the next bill, it could require the IRS to adjust its accounting system. That may potentially slow processing your payment. Calculate how much you get if the rules change to include more people as eligible dependents.

Banking status: If your banking status changes, it could hold up receipt of your payment. Banking status disproportionately impacted Black Americans and other people of color, according to an analysis by the think tank Urban Institute. People who identify as white and whose incomes were above the poverty line were more likely to have received their first stimulus check by the end of May than people who identify as Black, Hispanic or below the poverty line, the analysis found.

Nonfilers need to take an extra step: People who earn below the threshold to be required to file federal income tax returns in 2018 or 2019 also would not get a stimulus check unless they completed an online form for the IRS. This group includes low-income families with children and a far greater number of Black people and people of color. Over 9 million people have until Oct. 15 to claim their checks.

A few more resources to help

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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