Who’s eligible for a $600 stimulus check? Here are the qualifications for income limit, age, more

The eligibility rules for a second stimulus check have changed. Sarah Tew/CNET If you’re expecting to receive a second stimulus check, either by mail or direct deposit, it’s a good idea to first make sure you know which stimulus eligibility requirements have changed. Your income limit, for example, which is […]

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The eligibility rules for a second stimulus check have changed.


Sarah Tew/CNET

If you’re expecting to receive a second stimulus check, either by mail or direct deposit, it’s a good idea to first make sure you know which stimulus eligibility requirements have changed. Your income limit, for example, which is determined by your adjusted gross income and this formula, is only one piece of the qualification puzzle. There are also circumstances in which your age, citizenship, tax status and how old your children are can affect your eligibility. We’ll walk you through who isn’t eligible for another payment, and the major qualification changes between the first and second stimulus checks.

Since the end of December, the IRS has been sending second stimulus checks through direct deposit, physical checks and EIP cards. But after Jan. 15, the US Treasury and IRS will stop sending payments because, well, it’s complicated. (Here’s how to track your payment online with the IRS and all the way to your mailbox.)

Regardless, our chart below will help you understand which categories of people will get a $600 second stimulus check, and our second stimulus check calculator can help you estimate what your household’s payment will be, based on your individual situation. Meanwhile, calls for a $2,000 third stimulus check have intensified now that Democrats control the Senate. Results of the two Senate races were confirmed amid Wednesday’s breach of the US Capitol. We update this story often. 

The income limit to qualify for a second payment is capped at a lower amount. Here’s why

The new stimulus bill sets the income limits for a $600 second check closely to the first, but comes with a few adjustments. As with the first direct payment under the CARES Act, the income limits are based on your adjusted gross income, or AGI

In one change for the $600 check, Congress decided to just use your 2019 AGI to determine if you qualify for a stimulus check, assuming you meet the other requirements — and not your AGI from 2018 if you didn’t file a tax return in 2019. (More below for people who don’t normally file taxes.) 

The chart below shows the income limits for the second stimulus check, which is lower than the first because of this formula the IRS uses. For the sake of simplicity, these income limits do not include qualified children, so use our stimulus check calculator to estimate your specific situation. 

$600 second stimulus check income limits

AGI to receive full amount (both stimulus checks) Second stimulus check upper income limit (AGI) First stimulus check upper income limit (AGI)
Single tax filer Under $75,000 $87,000 $99,000
Head of household Under $112,500 $124,500 $146,000
Married, filing jointly Under $150,00 $174,000 $198,000

The figure in the first column above represents the lower income limit to receive the full amount. Above that figure, your check amount would decrease on a sliding scale the higher your AGI, until it hits the second column, which is the most you can make before you’re disqualified. The third column represents the upper limit from the first check. 

Adults and qualified kids are both eligible for up to $600 each with the second payment

With the second stimulus check, each eligible adult will get up to $600, decreasing as income raises (more on this above) and each child dependent — age 16 and younger — can also qualify for a $600 payment. There is no cap on how many children you can claim for a payment.

As with the first stimulus check, children age 17 and above, and dependent adults will not be eligible for the $600 dependent payout. This excludes roughly 13.5 million adult dependents from contributing to the household total, according to the People’s Policy Project.

Read moreNobody can take your stimulus check away, right? Know your rights

Who qualifies for a second stimulus check

Qualifying group Covered in final law
Individuals An AGI of less than $87,000
Head of household An AGI of less than $124,500
Couple filing jointly An AGI less than $174,000
Children under 17 years old $600 apiece, no limit on number of children
Families with noncitizen spouse Provided they meet other qualifications
US citizens living abroad Yes, same as CARES
Citizens of US territories Yes, same as CARES, 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, but now included by court order
People who owe child support Excluded under CARES, but included in new bill
Disqualified groups Not covered in final law
Non-US citizens “Resident aliens” are not included
Noncitizens who pay taxes Not included if spouse is not US citizen

Families with a ‘mixed-status’ case have different eligibility requirements with this check

In the $900 billion stimulus package, a US citizen and their noncitizen spouse are both eligible for a payment as long as they have Social Security numbers. This has been referred to as a “mixed-status” household when it comes to citizenship.

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


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Other noncitizens aren’t eligible for a payment, even if they file federal taxes

The CARES Act made a Social Security number a requirement for a payment. While earlier proposals would have 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 of people is again excluded in the final bill text.

Child support cannot be garnished from your check to cover late payments

If you owed child support, your first stimulus money could be taken for arrears (the amount you owe). In the new bill, those who owe child support will not have their payment garnished to cover past-due payments.

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The definition of a child dependent did not change with a second stimulus check after all.


Angela Lang/CNET

People who are incarcerated aren’t excluded from getting a second stimulus check per 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 are not excluded from the new law, which means eligibility for this group currently stands.

Your taxes play a large part in stimulus check eligibility 

For most people, taxes and stimulus checks are tightly connected. For example, the most important factor in setting income limits is AGI, which determines how much of the total amount you could receive, be it $600 or $1,200 for individuals and $1,200 or $2,400 for married couples (excluding children for now).

Read below for your eligibility if you don’t typically file taxes.

If you’re retired or an older adult, here’s how you could be affected

Many older adults, including retirees over age 65, received a first stimulus check under the CARES Act and will be eligible for a second one. 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 second payment. 

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


Angela Lang/CNET

Don’t worry — if you didn’t submit your 2019 federal tax return, you’re still eligible for a second stimulus check 

With the second payment, the IRS will use your 2019 tax returns to determine eligibility. People 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:

With the first stimulus check, nonfilers needed to provide the IRS with some information before they could receive their payment. (If you still haven’t received a first check even though you were eligible, the IRS said you can claim it on your taxes in 2021.) This fall, the IRS attempted to contact 9 million Americans who may have fallen into this category but who haven’t requested their payment. Those in this group can claim their payment on next year’s taxes.

Under the new law, those who used the IRS nonfiler portal to file for the first check will also receive a second payment. We’ve reached out to the IRS and US Treasury to clarify what action, if any, these nonfilers will need to take.

People who receive SSI or SSDI will likely qualify for the second check

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. SSDI recipients can file next year to request a payment for themselves and their dependents.

Under the new law, these recipients will again qualify to receive payments, along with Railroad Retirement Board and Veterans Administration beneficiaries.

For more, here’s what we know about the contents of the new stimulus package. We also have information on the chances of a third stimulus check in 2021. Here are the top things you should know about the second stimulus check.

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