Did you know? Different groups will get their stimulus checks at different times.Sarah Tew/CNET
The timeline for another stimulus check is a moving target, one we've been tracking ever since the first whispers caught our ears of another direct payment to help people in the US through the coronavirus recession . But with a three-way tug of war building in the nation's capitol , it's hard to say what will happen.
Talks could fall through until after the Nov. 3 election , or something could come together at the very last minute. We keep adjusting our projections -- we've mapped out four scenarios below -- based on the developments in Washington. Regardless of when a final bill passes that includes another stimulus payment (and by the way, that $1,200 cap is just the beginning ), there are other factors to keep in mind that will determine where in the scrimmage you stand, including the eventual qualifications, which could change .
For example, were you aware of the different groups of people who are likely to be in line to receive a check weeks and months before people at the end of the line? We explain what's going on and help you figure out which group you might be in, and how to possibly fall into a different category. While the dates might change, the overall schedule for when payments are sent should remain about the same.
Here's everything you need to know about the current state of negotiations. And read on for details that have to do with when your check could come -- regardless of when it's approved. (This story is updated often.)
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.
||Scenario 1||Scenario 2||Scenario 3||Scenario 4|
|House passes final bill||
|Senate passes final bill||Oct. 27||
|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|
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.
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.
Now playing: Watch this: Next stimulus checks: What to expect
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.
Keep track of the coronavirus pandemic.
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.
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 .
There's hope that the IRS could speed up delivery of a second check, if it's authorized.Angela Lang/CNET
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 .