Stimulus check eligibility: What you need to know so far about your qualification status



It’s expected that millions more people will be included the second time around.
Angela Lang/CNET

If you didn’t qualify for the first stimulus payment, you still may have a chance in a potential second round, if both sides of the aisle can strike an agreement on a new stimulus bill with a second direct payment that broadens eligibility requirements.Each partisan proposal outlines a second stimulus payment for up to $1,200 and an expansion of who would qualify as a dependent. As we wait for negotiations to pass legislation to continue, let’s take stock of everything we know so far.For more, read what you need to know about stimulus checks and try CNET’s stimulus check calculator for an estimate of your specific situation. This story was recently updated.

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Stimulus check: How to know if you could be eligible

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.  The common denominator in setting income limits is adjusted gross income, or AGI, which determines how much of the $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married couples you could receive if you meet the other requirements.

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

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 US territory

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

SSDI recipients

Included under CARES Act

Tax nonfilers

Included under CARES Act

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More dependents could qualify for money

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. (Here’s the youngest you can be to qualify for your own stimulus check.)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.

Nonfilers would likely need to take an extra step

Those who weren’t required to file a federal income tax return in either 2018 or 2019 could still be eligible for a stimulus check under the CARES Act. If that guideline doesn’t change for a second stimulus check, this group would qualify again. Here are reasons you might not have been required to file:

  • You’re over 24, not claimed as a dependent and your income is less than $12,200
  • You’re married filing jointly and together your income is less than $24,400
  • You have no income
  • You receive federal benefits, such as Social Security or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). See below for more on SSDI.

With the first stimulus check, nonfilers needed to provide the IRS with some information before they could receive their checks. The IRS is reaching out to 9 million Americans who may fall in this category but have not requested their payment to notify them they may be due a payment.

SSDI recipients and another stimulus check

Those who are part of the Social Security Disability Insurance program also qualify for a check under the CARES Act. Recipients would not receive their payments through their Direct Express card, which the government usually uses to distribute federal benefits, but through a non-Direct Express bank account or through a paper check. SSDI recipients also need to use the IRS’ Non-Filers tool to request a payment for themselves and dependents.

This is who wasn’t part of the first stimulus round 

For 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.)

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.

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