Stimulus check requirements: Everyone who could qualify for a new relief bill — or not

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

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Talks to finalize another rescue package that includes a second stimulus check for up to $1,200 are still up in the air — and so are the qualifications that people will have to meet in order to receive more stimulus money. 

“Let’s go ahead and get a stimulus check out to Americans,” said White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Sunday. “We will pass it tomorrow. The president will sign it.”

The House of Representatives is returning from its short recess after the Democratic National Convention concludes this week, to address a different situation, and it’s unknown if debates will resume. Negotiators seem willing to return to talks soon, however, the Senate is still officially on recess until after Labor Day.

So far, everything we know about who might qualify for a second stimulus payment is based on the proposals that Republican and Democratic leaders have each presented, which respectively call for narrower and broader assistance than last time. We aren’t likely to know much more until the two sides resume talks on a final package. Here’s who could get another check, and who might be left out again. This story updates often to reflect new developments.

Who might qualify for the next 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 al 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.

Which dependents could 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 aged 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 to up 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 number of dependents.

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Who didn’t get 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

When will Congress decide who’s eligible?

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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