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The eligibility rules could shift with the third stimulus payment in a big way. There’s a lot to know.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Who might qualify for a of up to could become much clearer in the next week. While we have a good idea of the eligibility requirements, the House Budget Committee is expected to begin . After the House settles on the details of the , the bill will go to the Senate for a vote and finally to President Joe Biden to sign into law by March 14, if Congress keeps to its schedule. The House has already made significant headway, filling in many of the details for who would qualify for a payment, including for and families with

Congress has charged the IRS to move quickly to , after Biden signs the bill. Additionally, Congress is looking to rework by . With the new payments, you could this time than last. But one unknown is whether Congress will base your payments on , which .

Stimulus check qualifications take into account a wide range of factors, including your , , and . Congress may also set up specific rules and exceptions for  and some people in . If you still need to  or possibly even need to , now’s the time to start. Read on for everything to know about eligibility and your stimulus money. This story is frequently updated.

More people could qualify for the next stimulus check, based on this proposal

The (PDF) would keep the income limit for individuals and families who’d qualify for a full stimulus payment the same as it was for the first two rounds of checks. 

But because the — $200 more than the — some people who didn’t qualify for any previous stimulus money may actually get a small check this time. Here’s the income limit to qualify for the full amount under this plan, based on .

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

$100,000 or more

Head of household

Less than $112,500

$150,000 or more

Married couple filing jointly

Less than $150,000

$200,000 or more

In the first round, single taxpayers earning $99,000 or more received nothing. According to , if a bill passes with the most recent guidelines, a single taxpayer earning $99,000 would receive a check for $56. 

Likewise, those who file jointly and earn $198,000 would get $112 this time, and heads of household earning $137,000 would get $486, compared with both categories of filers receiving nothing as part of the first two checks. Nothing is final until a new bill is passed and signed into law.

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Stimulus check No. 3: What you need to know


Dependents are on track to qualify for the full $1,400 payment

With the second stimulus check, each  — 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 total increased the amount per child from $500 in the first check, even as the per-adult maximum decreased from $1,200 per adult to $600 in the December stimulus plan.

The new proposal would send $1,400 to dependents in the


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

Sarah Tew/CNET

Overall, more dependents of any age could qualify

 would open up eligibility requirements to . Dependents over age 16 didn’t qualify for the first and second checks, but a change here would make college students, and people of any age with certain disabilities entitled to receive money as part of the household total.

That change, if it were to happen, would include roughly  who weren’t counted before, according to the People’s Policy Project.

Here’s who could potentially qualify for a third stimulus check, if the proposal is approved and a bill is signed into law.

Third stimulus check: Proposed qualifications

Qualifying group

What’s proposed


An AGI of less than $100,000 to qualify for any payment amount

Head of household

An AGI of less than $150,000 to qualify for any payment amount

Couple filing jointly

An AGI less than $200,000 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, but now included by court order

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)

Rules for ‘mixed-status’ households may shift again for the third payment

In the , a US citizen and noncitizen spouse were both  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  were left out of the first check.

 would  where just one member has a Social Security number for a  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 .

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

Non-citizens weren’t eligible for the first two checks, but could be this time around

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 , this group was excluded in the final bill text that authorized a second stimulus check in December as well. 

Biden has proposed expanding the qualifications to include all — where at least one member has a Social Security number — for a third check. However, on Feb. 4, the Senate passed an amendment . (This has no impact on eligibility for .) While the amendment isn’t binding, it seems unlikely that senators will change their position now that they’re on the record, according to .


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

Angela Lang/CNET

Past-due child support and a third stimulus payment: What you need to know

If you owed child support, your  (the amount you owed). With the second check, those who 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 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 , 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.

Current law says people in jail or prison can qualify for stimulus checks

After months of back and forth, the IRS was ordered by a federal judge to . They , which means eligibility for this group currently stands. It’s unclear if there will be any more details in the third stimulus check bill, though this is more likely to continue as a matter of interpretation, as it is now.

Your next stimulus check may depend on this if you’re an older adult or retired 

Many , received a first stimulus check under the CARES Act and are eligible for a second one — and likely a third, too. For older adults and retired people, factors like , your pension and if you’re part of the  (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 .


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

Angela Lang/CNET

Non-filers will need to take an extra step: File taxes this year to get stimulus checks

With the second payment, the IRS used your 2019 tax returns to determine eligibility. in 2018 or 2019, may  under the CARES Act. And this group will qualify again. Here are reasons you might not have been required to file:

  • You’re over 24, you’re not claimed as a dependent and your income is less than $12,200.
  • You’re married filing jointly and together your income is less than $24,400.
  • You have no income.
  • You receive federal benefits, such as . see now below for more on SSDI.

If you still haven’t received a first or second check even though you were eligible, you can .

People receiving SSI or SSDI typically qualify for stimulus payments

Those who are part of the  under the CARES Act. Recipients wouldn’t receive their payments via their , which the government typically uses to distribute federal benefits, but through a non-Direct Express bank account or as a . to request a payment for themselves and their dependents.

In the , these recipients again , along with Railroad Retirement Board and Veterans Administration beneficiaries. It’s likely that these qualifications would remain the same with a potential third check.

Here’s how your taxes and stimulus payment eligibility are connected

For most people, . For example, the most important factor in setting income limits is your , 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. 

Here’s what we know about whether 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 today, everything you need to understand about and .