A change to qualifications could bring families more money.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The qualifications for another stimulus payment and how much it would be worth remain in flux as negotiations to fund an economic relief package continue in Washington.

Two currently competing proposals each offer a change from the first stimulus check, each of which could make the next stimulus check larger for families. However, their differing approaches would benefit some households more than others (we’ll explain below). 

The qualifications and exceptions aren’t easy to follow, even if only one rule is changed in a second stimulus payment. But we’ve simplified the most important information for everyone, from people who don’t usually file taxes to those looking for a refresher on what the income limits may be if the second round follows the first.

Below, we’ve detailed everything we know about stimulus check qualifications right now. Here’s what to know about the timeline for receiving a new stimulus check and how much money you may receive

New rules for dependents? How is age related?

The age of your dependents has always been a sticking point. The first stimulus check added $500 per each child under 17 years old, but unless your dependents fell into a different category, children over 16 and adult dependents, like a parent, were passed over. 

Two stimulus proposals would expand the definition of a dependent. One bill, which is not law, would add $500 for each person whom you claim as a dependent on your taxes, regardless of the person’s age. The White House’s Oct. 9 offer seeks to largely keep the definition of a dependent restricted to “children,” but raises the value to $1,000, which would still net many families more money.

The first proposal would benefit families with older dependents, while the second benefits younger families. We’ll show you how to calculate your estimated total here.

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Next stimulus checks: What to expect


Are stimulus check qualifications changing for sure?

We can’t say for sure what will happen, or guarantee a second stimulus check will be approved. But the two proposals mentioned above strongly suggest a revision to the rules laid out in the CARES Act. It’s unclear if other requirements would change in another bill.

Whether the stimulus negotiations go in favor of this particular bill, a shift in stimulus allocation along these lines could very well appear in a final law.

How could you know if you qualify for a second stimulus payment?

It’s likely that if a second stimulus check is approved, it’ll follow many of the guidelines from the CARES Act that governed the first check in March. But it will also draw some changes from the revised Heroes Act and HEALS Act proposals, neither of which is law.

Who could qualify for a second stimulus check

Qualifying group Likely to be covered by the final bill
Individuals An AGI of less than $99,000 (Same as CARES)
Head of household An AGI of less than $146,500 (Same as CARES)
Couple filing jointly An AGI less than $198,000 (Same as CARES)
Dependents of any age As defined by your tax filing (HEALS proposal and revised Heroes Act)
US citizens living abroad Yes, same as CARES
Citizens of US territories Likely, with payments handled by each territory’s tax authority (CARES)
SSDI and tax nonfilers Likely, but with an extra step to file (more below)
Disqualified group Unlikely to be covered by the final bill
Noncitizens who pay taxes Proposed in Heroes Act, unlikely to pass in Senate
Incarcerated people Excluded under CARES Act
People who owe child support Included in Heroes proposal, but excluded under CARES

How might your taxes affect your stimulus check eligibility? 

For most people, taxes and stimulus checks are tightly connected. For example, the most important factor 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.

Our stimulus check calculator can show you how much money you could potentially expect from a second check, based on your most recent tax filing. Read below for your eligibility if you don’t typically file taxes.

What if you didn’t file a federal tax return in 2018 or 2019?

People who weren’t required to file a federal income tax return in 2018 or 2019 may still be eligible to receive the first 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, you’re 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. 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 payment. (If you still haven’t received a first check even though you were eligible, the IRS has extended its deadline to use its Non-Filers tool through Nov. 21.) The IRS is also reaching out to 9 million Americans who may fall into this category but who haven’t requested their payment.


How much stimulus money you could get depends on who you are.

Angela Lang/CNET

You’re retired — will you get a second stimulus payment?

Many older adults, including retirees over age 65, received a first stimulus check under the CARES Act, and would likely be eligible for a second one. For older adults and retired people, factors like your tax filingsyour AGI, your pension, if you’re part of the SSDI program (also more below) and whether the IRS considers you a dependent would likely contribute to your chances of receiving a second payment. 

You receive SSDI — could you still receive another stimulus check?

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

What if you’re a US citizen living abroad, or live in a US territory?

You may still be eligible for a stimulus check, but the rules are different, as laid out with the first check. Here’s what you need to know.

These are the people who did not get a first check

From the payment authorized under the CARES Act, which became law in March, these groups were excluded:

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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