Stimulus check requirements: What we know about eligibility and a new relief package

The final proposal for qualifications to get a second stimulus check is coming into focus.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Senate and the House of Representatives have each taken a recess until after Labor Day, leaving talks on another rescue package in a stalemate until they reconvene Sept. 8. Unfortunately, that puts the status of a second stimulus check — including the maximum amount of money your family might be able to receive — in limbo. Until the debate begins anew, it also isn’t clear how the qualifications might change from the first stimulus check to the second.

But we do have an idea of at least one way you and your family might benefit. The Republican-backed HEALS Act would remove an age restriction that kept a large number of kids aged 17 through 24 from counting toward the family total or getting a check of their own. The Democrat-authored Heroes Act — which the Senate never formally took up or vetoed — goes even further in recommending new qualifications.

Below, we’ve detailed everything we currently know about who could be included in the second round of stimulus checks and who was passed over in the first round. This story updates often with new developments.

Qualifications under the Republican HEALS Act plan

While talks on a new bill are currently stalled, the Republicans are using their HEALS Act as the starting point for negotiations. If the part of the HEALS Act that deals with a second economic payment becomes law, it would largely replicate the payment eligibility set out in the now expired CARES Act, with a new allowance for dependents.

Here’s an outline of what we could see:

  • A single US resident with an adjusted gross income, or AGI, of less than $99,000
  • A head of a household earning under $146,500
  • A couple filing jointly without children and earning less than $198,000
  • A dependent of any age

Under the CARES Act, the cutoff to receive a $500 dependent check was age 16 and younger; college students under 24 years old weren’t eligible to receive a check. The Republican proposal would exclude people in prison and people who recently died from qualifying for a check. The bill would also prohibit creditors and banks from seizing the payment to pay debts.

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Stimulus Check Standoff


The Democrats’ vision for who gets a stimulus check

Democratic negotiators are in part using the Heroes Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives on May 15, as their basis for debate. Although Senate Republicans and the president oppose the plan, we can look to this bill to see the Democratic position on the upper limits of who might qualify in a broad proposal:

  • Individuals who made less than $99,000 according to the adjusted gross income from their 2018 or 2019 taxes (whichever was most recently filed)
  • College students, dependents over 17, disabled relatives and taxpayers’ parents
  • Families of up to five people, for a cap of $6,000 per family
  • SSDI recipients
  • People who aren’t US citizens but do file tax returns, pay taxes and otherwise comply with federal tax law using an individual taxpayer identification number instead of a Social Security number
$20 bills and credit cards in a wallet

It could soon become clear who will qualify for another stimulus check.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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

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

  • 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. With the Senate on break until after Labor Day, the chances of a deal in August seem unlikely, but an agreement in September is now in the picture. After the sides reach an agreement, the stimulus bill won’t take effect until the president signs it into law. 

And while we won’t know for sure until the two sides come together on the next stimulus package, we have a good idea 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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