Second stimulus check: Trump and Senate’s COVID results could shift the IRS payment timeline

Did you know? Different groups will get their stimulus checks at different times.

Sarah Tew/CNET

As COVID-19 spreads among the GOP and President Donald Trump and Republican senators receive treatment for the coronavirus, the timeline to pass legislation for a new relief package and the $1,200 second stimulus checks remains up in the air.

A new coronavirus relief package that includes a second stimulus check and other benefits is considered critical in providing financial aid for large and small businesses and individuals as a result of the ongoing pandemic

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin could reach an agreement on a stimulus package as soon as this week. “I am confident that we will have an agreement,” Pelosi said on MSNBC on Monday. “The timing of it I can’t say because I don’t know.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suspended Senate votes until Oct. 19, but will give senators 24 hours notice to return in person to vote if a new bill is ready in the next two weeks. 

“The president’s committed to getting a deal done, but he wants to make sure that we move expeditiously but also in a fiscally responsible manner,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Fox News on Monday.

The situation changes every day, but here are our most educated guesses as to when the IRS might issue the stimulus payments, when and if new legislation passes both the Senate and the House — including who would get priority. You can estimate the size of your check with our stimulus calculator. We update this story frequently.

When the IRS could send the first checks — four plausible scenarios

When and if another stimulus check happens, Mnuchin has said it would take about a week to process 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 about the potential dates based on the current situation in Washington. Pelosi and McConnell have committed to recalling their chambers, which are currently in recess, to vote on a final bill.

Note that even if an agreement is reached this week it will still take time to hash out the details and draft new legislation to prepare for a vote, first in one chamber (the House, for example) and then in the other. Not everyone will get a payment at the same time. Keep reading to see 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. 13 (Oct. 12 is Columbus Day) Oct. 19 Dec. 1 Dec. 7
Senate passes final bill Oct. 14 Oct. 20 Dec. 2 Dec. 8
President signs Oct. 15 Oct. 21 Dec. 3 Dec. 9
First direct deposits sent Week of Oct. 22 Week of Oct. 26 Week of Dec. 7 Week of Dec. 14
First paper checks sent Week of Nov. 2 (Day before Election 2020) Week of Nov. 9 Week of Dec. 14 Week of Dec. 21
First EIP cards sent Week of Nov. 23 Week of Nov. 30 Week of Jan. 11 Week of Jan. 18

Why some people will get their checks before other people

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 still waiting for their checks or even for catch-up payments. This gives 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 adopt 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 who register it 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 payment faster.

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Next stimulus checks: What to expect


Social Security beneficiaries: With the first stimulus payment, many Social Security beneficiaries who had direct deposit information on file with the federal government received 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: People who received checks after June are still waiting to receive their stimulus payment or did not know they need to complete an extra step. Direct payments will continue through the end of 2020 for some individuals who weren’t 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 you might have to wait for a check?

While we expect most 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 people would probably need to clear a few hurdles to receive their money. Here are common roadbumps that held up the first stimulus check.


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

Angela Lang/CNET

A few more resources to help out

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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