4 dates the IRS could send a second stimulus check and who could get it first – CNET


Did you know? Different groups will get their stimulus checks at different times.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It’s now been six months since we heard the first whispers about the economic need for a second stimulus check this year. And in a topsy turvy week that threw negotiations into chaos over an overarching stimulus bill, there is once again a sense of urgency to approve of more coronavirus relief aid, including another payment of up to $1,200 per qualifying individual.

To people counting on another stimulus check and other funding, the prolonged uncertainty doesn’t help. There are over 25 million people collecting unemployment benefits of some sort, with millions of people facing long term or permanent job loss.

“We’re at the table. We want to continue the conversation. We’ve made some progress. We’re exchanging language. So we’ll see how we connect,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday about another attempt at passing a bill, The Washington Post reported

“We’re gonna tackle this again. The timing is uncertain based on the proximity to the election,” Senate Majority Leader McConnell said, according to the Washington Post.

President Donald Trump’s sudden on-again, off-again support for a bill while being hospitalized and treated for COVID-19 has also thrown uncertainty in the timeline. Given that, we forecasted four potential dates the IRS might start sending out stimulus money if the bill is approved before or after the Nov. 3 election. This story was recently updated.

When the IRS could now send out the first checks

When and if another stimulus check happens, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said it would take about a week to process the first payments. “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 about the potential dates based on the current situation in Washington. Note that not everyone will get a payment at the same time. Keep reading to see how the different priority groups shake out if a bill becomes law before the Nov. 3 election or after Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, 2021.

Possible dates a second stimulus check could go out

Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4
House passes final bill Oct. 19 Nov. 23 Dec. 7 Feb. 1
Senate passes final bill Oct. 20 Nov. 30 Dec. 8 Feb. 2
President signs Oct. 21 Dec. 1 Dec. 9 Feb. 3
First direct deposits sent Week of Nov. 9 Week of Dec. 14 Week of Dec. 21 Week of Feb. 8
First paper checks sent Week of Nov. 23 Week of Dec. 21 Week of Jan. 4 Week of Feb. 15
First 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 gives a de facto priority order that could lead some to receive their checks days or even weeks sooner than others. We expect that the IRS would adopt roughly the same system for sending out the second stimulus check.

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 register it when and if registration opens again should be first in line to receive their 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 these about a week later to people without direct deposit data on file. 

EIP card recipients: Economic Impact Payment debit cards are prepaid Visa cards that the IRS sent to around 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 you might have to wait to for your 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

A few more resources to help out

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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