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Your second stimulus check might arrive before or after others’. We worked out some dates

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Not everyone gets their stimulus payment at the same time.


Sarah Tew/CNET

For months now, we’ve been tracking the progress of a second stimulus check that’s been the subject of discussion since May. As negotiations continue to evolve among Democrats, Republicans and the White House, new funding to help hundreds of millions of Americans who qualify to survive the coronavirus recession remains elusive. The ups and down make it difficult to predict when a payment could finally end up in your pocket — but we tried anyway.

That funding may or may not be authorized prior to the Nov. 3 election, but we’ve sketched out four possible timelines for when a second check could arrive, based on the developments on Capitol Hill. A new payment is expected to bring up to $1,200 for individuals and even more money for some families. While the dates could change, the overall schedule for when payments are sent should remain about the same and that’s important to understanding if you’d get your stimulus check in the first wave, or one of the last. 

Regardless of when a final bill passes that includes another stimulus payment, the eventual eligibility rules will affect which priority group you fall in and how soon you can get paid (we explain more below). We update this story regularly.

What date could the IRS send my payment?

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said it would take about a week to process the first payments, when and if another stimulus check is signed into law. “I can get out 50 million payments really quickly. A lot of it into people’s direct accounts,” he said in August. 

We’ve speculated as to some potential dates if a bill becomes law before the Nov. 3 election or after Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, 2021, based on current negotiations in Washington. Keep reading for more information. 

Possible dates a second stimulus check could go out

Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4
House passes final bill Oct. 26 Nov. 23 Dec. 7 Feb. 1
Senate passes final bill Oct. 27 Nov. 30 Dec. 8 Feb. 2
President signs Oct. 28 Dec. 1 Dec. 9 Feb. 3
First direct deposits sent Week of Nov. 16 Week of Dec. 14 Week of Dec. 21 Week of Feb. 8
First paper checks sent Week of Nov. 30 Week of Dec. 21 Week of Jan. 4 Week of Feb. 15
First EIP cards sent Week of Dec. 21 Week of Jan. 5 Week of Feb. 1 Week of Mar. 15

Why might someone get a check faster than me?

The IRS has so far sent money to at least 160 million people three different ways, starting with people who filed for direct deposit. Some people with more complicated scenarios are still waiting for their checks or even for catch-up payments. This creates a de facto priority order that could lead some Americans to receive their checks days or even weeks before others. We expect the IRS will adopt roughly the same system for sending out a second stimulus check in 2020 as it did with the first stimulus check, which was approved in March.

Read moreEstimate the size of your check with our stimulus calculator

Direct deposit is fastest: People who already have their direct deposit information on file with the IRS or who provide that info when and if registration opens again should be first in line to receive a stimulus check. An electronic transfer of funds is faster and more efficient, which is why this group largely got their first payment faster.

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Social Security beneficiaries: With the first stimulus payment, many Social Security beneficiaries who had direct deposit information on file with the federal government received checks in the first week, though not always the first day.

People who get paper checks: The IRS began to mail checks about a week later to those without direct deposit data on file. 

EIP card recipients: Economic Impact Payment debit cards are prepaid Visa cards the IRS sent to about 4 million people starting in mid-May. If the IRS follows the same payment priority order, this group could begin to see their checks weeks after the first direct deposit transfers go out.

Last group: People who received checks after June, are still waiting to receive their stimulus payment or did not know they need to complete an extra step. Direct payments will continue through the end of 2020 for some individuals who weren’t part of the previous groups. Here’s what could be holding up the stimulus check delivery for some and how to contact the IRS to report a missing, lost or stolen check.

What’s the longest I may have to wait for a check to arrive?

While we expect most people to get their money sooner, if the first round is any indication, it could still take months for the IRS to send all the checks. Six months after the first stimulus payments went out, the federal agency is still trying to track down millions of people who may be owed money.

And even with the experience of processing roughly 160 million payments in the IRS’ back pocket, some people would probably need to clear a few hurdles to receive their money. Here are common roadblocks that held up the first stimulus check.

mail-packages-usps-fedex-amazon-ups-doorstep-mailbox-letters-shipping-coronavirus-stay-at-home-2020-cnet

There’s hope that the IRS could speed up delivery of a second check, if it’s authorized.


Angela Lang/CNET

Where can I find more help?

If you’re still waiting on the first round of payments, you can track the status of your stimulus check, learn how to report your no-show check to the IRS and find possible reasons why your stimulus check still hasn’t arrived.

And here are resources about coronavirus hardship loans and unemployment insurance, what you can do if you’ve lost your job, what to know about evictions and late car payments, if you could receive two refund checks from the IRS and how to take control of your budget.



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