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When will your next stimulus check arrive? Here are the 4 key things to know

Before anything happens, Congress must first approve a payment and hit a certain date for a new economic stimulus payment to reach you in December.

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How quickly could the IRS send your money? We have some potential dates.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Negotiations over the next COVID-19 stimulus package have seemingly taken a turn away from including a second stimulus check in the short term. However, retroactive unemployment insurance is still under discussion and talks to authorize a new stimulus payment could resume at the top of the new year.

"We'll take the time we need and we must get it done," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday of passing a new relief package of some sort in 2020. "We cannot leave without it," she added, referring to the Congressional recess before the next new Congress is sworn on Jan. 3.

So when could your next stimulus payment for up to $1,200 come? That depends on several things, including when a bill that includes another stimulus check would be brought to a vote, how quickly the IRS could get the wheels in motion and which stimulus check priority group you're in

Below, we've created a handy chart that maps out when different groups of qualified people could get another stimulus payment between now and April. Note that some people won't qualify for a second direct payment and some may see a smaller check than before. This story is frequently updated with new information.

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When will the new stimulus bill go up for a vote? 

While the date to vote on a package has been a moving target for months, top leaders are now eyeing a vote before Dec. 11. That means lawmakers will have to move fast to put together a final bill. Since we can't officially rule out another stimulus check yet -- negotiations haven't yet begun on the newest proposal -- you'll see that possibility reflected in Scenario 1 in the chart below.

Right now, it seems the Senate is leaning toward a stopgap stimulus bill that doesn't include another stimulus check. With Congress under a deadline to pass a new federal budget by Dec. 11, the Senate may also try to attach more economic aid to a government funding bill.

After President-elect Joe Biden becomes US president on Jan. 20, the new administration could try again for a larger bill that could includes another direct payment. That would mean a check would likely go out in February at the earliest. See the chart below for possible dates. (Here are separate stimulus measures Biden could take if there's no stimulus bill by inauguration).

Read moreHow big will your next stimulus check be? Calculate your estimate

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Hanging on to hope of a second stimulus check? You're not alone.

Sarah Tew/CNET

How soon could the IRS send out the second stimulus payment, if approved?

In August, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said it would take about a week from the time that another direct payment is approved to the time the IRS could process the first batch. 

"I can get out 50 million payments really quickly. A lot of it into people's direct accounts," Mnuchin said then. 

If a check doesn't arrive until 2021, there will be a new Treasury secretary -- it isn't clear if a transition of power would cause a delay in sending out money. Biden has selected Janet Yellen, the previous chair of the US Federal Reserve, for the Treasury position, though she would need to be confirmed by the Senate before taking office.

Even if the checks were to go out faster the second time by following the existing IRS protocol from the first payment, that doesn't necessarily mean your stimulus money would arrive a week after a bill went live. The following section explains more.

How fast could I get my next stimulus check?

Here's one stimulus check truth of many: Not everyone will get a payment at the same time. With the first check, the IRS divided stimulus payments into three main groups depending on the form in which you received the money. We explain more in the next section.

In the chart below, these speculative dates show when you might see a payment. The second scenario is possible if the House and Senate are called back to vote and the session officially extended. We also sketched out two timelines if a bill becomes law after Biden's Inauguration Day on Jan. 20 to give you an idea of how long you might have to wait.

Possible dates a second stimulus check could go out


Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4
House passes final bill Dec 9 Feb 1 Mar 1 Apr 5
Senate passes final bill Dec 10 Feb 2 Mar 2 Apr 6
President signs Dec 11 Feb 3 Mar 3 Apr 7
First direct deposits issued Week of Dec 14 Week of Feb 8 Week of Mar 8 Week of Apr 12
First paper checks sent Week of Dec 21 Week of Feb 16 (Feb 15 is President's Day) Week of Mar 15 Week of Apr 19
First EIP cards sent Week of Jan 18 Week of Mar 15 Week of Apr 12 Week of May 10

Check? EIP card? What these different groups mean

The three groups you see above are just the beginning. They represent the IRS' staggered timeline for sending out payments with the first stimulus check. We dive more into the five stimulus check payment priority groups here.