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Would I be eligible for the third stimulus check? Here's what to know

The $1,400 stimulus check is right around the corner. Here's what we know so far about the third payment (and also the second, if you're still waiting).

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Stimulus check requirements for the third round are more generous and stringent at the same time. We'll explain.

Sarah Tew/CNET

We could be just days away from a third stimulus check becoming reality. The $1.9 trillion relief bill is predicted to be signed into law by President Joe Biden this week. When and if that happens, will you qualify to get the full $1,400 check? Or could you be left out entirely this time? With the Senate's targetedhard payment cutoff amendment to the stimulus bill, people who are considered high earners won't qualify for a check. Therefore, it's important to know your earnings for the year will play a big part in eligibility, measured in AGI, or adjusted gross income.

Tens of millions of people will also qualify for thousands of dollars more than they did with the first two checks, thanks to the third stimulus payment expanding to more groups of people, like a wider pool of dependents. Another way you could expect more money is through new tax breaks for children and older adults. But there's still one obstacle that could stand in your way of receiving a third stimulus check, which is whether the IRS uses your 2019 or 2020 tax return to determine your payment.

Read more about how your agemarital statuscitizenship and tax status might affect your total payment, as well as details for nonfilerspeople with babies born in 2020 and families in child-support situations. While we wait to see the final outcome of qualifications, here's how to claim your missing stimulus money from the IRS (or file a payment trace). This story was recently updated with new information.

Here's who we think would qualify for the stimulus check

It sounds like a contradiction. A third stimulus check would open up more avenues for people to claim a payment -- so long as their yearly earnings in 2019 or 2020 fall within the brackets for receiving a third check. This would change the income limit for individuals and families who'd qualify for a full stimulus payment -- it isn't the same as it was for the first two rounds of checks approved in 2020. Check out the chart below for what we know now and use our stimulus calculator to estimate how much you could get.

Third stimulus check: Proposed qualifications

Qualifying group What's proposed
Individuals An AGI of less than $80,000 to qualify for any payment amount
Head of household An AGI of less than $120,000 to qualify for any payment amount
Couple filing jointly An AGI less than $160,000 to qualify for any payment amount
Dependents of all ages $1,400 apiece, no cap -- but only if guardians make under the above limits
Families with mixed US citizenship Provided they meet other qualifications
US citizens living abroad Yes, same as first two checks
Citizens of US territories Yes, same as first two checks, with payments handled by each territory
SSDI and other tax nonfilers Yes, but may require an extra step to claim (more below)
Incarcerated people Initially excluded by IRS interpretation, and up for discussion in third check
People who owe child support Excluded under CARES, but included in second check
Disqualified groups Not covered by law
Non-US citizens "Resident aliens" aren't included
Noncitizens who pay taxes Possibly, depending on "mixed-status" rules (more below)

Will your dependents count toward the full $1,400 amount?

With the second stimulus check approved in December, each child dependent -- age 16 and younger -- added $600 each to the household payment. There was no cap on how many children you could claim for a payment. That was an increase in the amount per child from the $500 that was part of the first check approved in March as part of the CARES Act, even as the per-adult maximum decreased from $1,200 per adult to $600 in the December stimulus plan.

If you're a parent of a baby born in 2020, you could be entitled to $1,100 -- that is if you never received the first two payments for your new dependent last year. And now, the new bill would send $1,400 to dependents as part of a third round of payments

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Could more dependents of any age bring in a full $1,400 payment?

Not only would dependents get $1,400 instead of $500 or $600, but the latest stimulus bill opens up eligibility requirements to both child and adult dependents for the first time. Dependents over age 16 didn't qualify for the first and second checks, but a change here would make college students, older adult relatives and people of any age with certain disabilities entitled to receive money as part of the household total.

That change, if it becomes law, would include about 13.5 million adult dependents who weren't counted before, according to the People's Policy Project.

What 'mixed-status' households should know

In the $900 billion stimulus package from December, a US citizen and noncitizen spouse were both eligible for a payment as long as they each had Social Security numbers. This has been referred to as a "mixed-status" household when it comes to citizenship. Households with mixed US citizenship were left out of the first check.

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The final qualifications for a third stimulus check are still being settled.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The new stimulus bill includes all mixed-status households where just one member has a Social Security number for a third stimulus check. That potentially includes families with citizen children and noncitizen parents.

It's unclear if these previously excluded groups would receive the maximum amount. As we saw with the second stimulus check, dramatic changes can and do happen in the final moments of negotiation.

In the CARES Act from March, households with a person who wasn't a US citizen weren't eligible to receive a stimulus check, even if one spouse and a child were US citizens. 

Do noncitizens meet the requirements for new check?

The CARES Act made a Social Security number a requirement for that first stimulus payment. Though other proposals would've expanded the eligibility to those with an ITIN instead of a Social Security number because they're classified as a resident or nonresident alien, this group was excluded in the final bill text that authorized a second stimulus check in December as well. 

Congress has proposed expanding the qualifications to include all mixed-status families -- where at least one member has a Social Security number -- for a third check. However, on Feb. 4, the Senate passed an amendment blocking stimulus payments from going to undocumented immigrants. (This has no impact on eligibility for mixed-status families.) On March 6, the Senate blocked an amendment to keep undocumented immigrants from receiving a stimulus check.

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The definition of a child dependent didn't change with a second stimulus check, but it could shift with a third.

Angela Lang/CNET

What past-due child support means for your stimulus payments

If you owed child support, your first stimulus payment could have been taken for arrears (the amount you owed.) With the second check, those who owed child support didn't have their payment garnished to cover past-due payments. It's unlikely we'll see the third stimulus check walk this back.

However, one exception seems to be for people who are missing payments of any amount and need to claim the stimulus money as a Recovery Rebate Credit in their taxes. The protection from garnishment laid out in the second check doesn't extend to catch-up payments made in the Recovery Rebate Credit, according to the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent government agency that works with the IRS. That means that all or part of stimulus money received this way could potentially be seized to pay outstanding debts. The Taxpayer Advocate Service is urging the IRS to keep rebate credits intact.

Incarcerated people could still get a stimulus check under current law

After months of back and forth, the IRS was ordered by a federal judge to send the first stimulus checks to people who are incarcerated. They aren't excluded from the new law, which means eligibility for this group currently stands. It's unclear if there will be any more details in the third stimulus check bill.

If the IRS considers you an older adult, or you're retired, here's what to know about your stimulus check

Many older adults, including retirees over age 65, received a first stimulus check under the CARES Act and are eligible for a second one -- and likely a third as well. For older adults and retired people, factors like your tax filingsyour AGI, your pension and if you're part of the SSI or SSDI program (more below) will affect if you receive a stimulus payment. 

The third stimulus check could make older adult dependents eligible to receive more money on behalf of the household. Here's how to determine if you qualify for your own stimulus check or count as a dependent.

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

Angela Lang/CNET

Extra work for nonfilers in 2021: File taxes this year to get a missing stimulus check 

With the second payment, the IRS used your 2019 tax returns to determine eligibility. Nonfilers, 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. And this group will qualify again. Here are reasons you might not have been required to file:

If you still haven't received a first or second check even though you were eligible, you can claim it on your taxes in 2021 as a Recovery Rebate Credit.

Will SSI and SSDI recipients still be eligible for stimulus payments?

Those who are part of the SSI or SSDI programs qualified 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 sent in the mail. SSDI recipients can file next year to request a payment for themselves and their dependents.

In the December bill, these recipients again qualified to receive payments, along with Railroad Retirement Board and Veterans Administration beneficiaries. It's likely these qualifications would remain the same with a potential third check.

How taxes and stimulus check qualifications are connected

For most people, taxes and stimulus checks are tightly related. For example, the most important factor in setting income limits is your AGI, which determines how much of the total stimulus payment you would be entitled to receive. The same will hold true with a third stimulus check.

Stimulus check proposal for income limits


Full $1,400 per person maximum (based on AGI) Not eligible (based on AGI)
Single taxpayer Less than $75,000 $80,000 or more
Head of household Less than $112,500 $120,000 or more
Married couple filing jointly Less than $150,000 $160,000 or more

Here's what we know about whether Congress will use your 2019 tax information to determine your payment or if it will look at your 2020 tax returns to set your check amount -- and what happens if you get too much money or not enough because of it.

For more information, here are the top things to know about stimulus checks today, everything you need to understand about stimulus checks and your taxes and what's happening with a third stimulus check now.

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