Second stimulus check is still a possibility for qualifying adults. Who might be eligible?

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Congress hasn’t yet agreed who’ll be eligible to receive a second stimulus check, but it’s expected that more people will be included the second time around.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It’s been a month since negotiations to finalize another stimulus bill went on hold, but a second stimulus check might still happen this year. The White House could draw stimulus money from existing pandemic programs if the Senate fails to pass any legislation after returning from recess. The Senate reconvenes on Sep. 8, while the House of Representatives returns from recess Sep. 14. 

A new Gallup poll released last week has 70% approval for a new direct payment from voters across party lines and another round of stimulus money could bring your family thousands of dollars. If an executive order is passed to issue a new stimulus payment or the negotiations resume to pass new legislation, how could the qualifications this time around differ from the first stimulus payment

Read on for more information, or consult CNET’s stimulus check calculator for an estimate of what you could get. Check back on this story for updates.

Everyone who could qualify for a second stimulus check

We won’t know for certain who will qualify for a new stimulus payment until Congress passes the legislation. We can, however, draw from the first stimulus check’s eligibility requirements and the Heroes Act and HEALS Act proposals (neither of which is law) to get an idea of who may or may not get a second check, including a few unexpected qualifiers below. 

Both Republicans and Democrats 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 to be in final bill

Unlikely to be in final bill


An AGI of less than $99,000, under both proposals

Head of household

An AGI of less than $146,500, under both proposals

Couple filing jointly income

An AGI less than $198,000, under both proposals

Dependents of any age

No dependents limit specified, under HEALS Act

Up to 3 dependents, under Heroes Act

Noncitizens who pay taxes

Under Heroes Act

Incarcerated people

Under CARES Act

Owe child support

CARES Act excludes those who owe child support. Heroes Act includes them

US citizen living abroad

Included under CARES Act

Live in U.S. territory

Under CARES Act, payments handled by each territory’s tax authority

SSDI recipients

Included under CARES Act

Non tax filers

Included under CARES Act

What’s the latest on dependents?

While the initial payments authorized under the CARES Act included $500 for dependents aged 16 and younger, the HEALS and Heroes Act would both loop in any dependent, regardless of age, including college students and adult dependents. The Democratic plan would extend $1,200 each, for up to three dependents, so a family of five people could receive a maximum of $6,000. The Republican plan would provide $500 for each dependent you claim on your taxes, but the HEALS Act doesn’t specify a cap on the number of dependents.

Who didn’t get the first stimulus payment

For News the payments authorized under the CARES Act, which became law in March, these groups were excluded:

  • Single taxpayers with an AGI over $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
  • People who are incarcerated
  • People who died since the previous tax filing. (Their families may not collect on their behalf and are expected to return the payment.)

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When will Congress finalize new stimulus check requirements?

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’re willing to pick up the debate. The Senate is on break until after Labor Day and the House, after passing USPS funding, has nothing scheduled. 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.

September 8, 2020

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