We map out when a second stimulus check could come after the election

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

Sarah Tew/CNET

Could you still get more federal stimulus money this year? President Donald Trump threw negotiations for a second stimulus check into question on Tuesday with two contradictory directives issued not from executive action, but on Twitter.

Trump, who is currently being treated for COVID-19, abruptly called to put a stop to negotiations over the next stimulus bill until after the Nov. 3 election. Later on Tuesday, the president’s account tweeted the polar opposite, indicating that he would sign a standalone bill for stimulus checks for $1,200.

The stimulus package — which includes more aid than just a check — is widely regarded as necessary to help combat the economic effects the virus has taken on the country. Hours before Trump’s first announcement Tuesday morning, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said there’s little risk of “overdoing it” when it comes to injecting cash into the economy.

Even if a standalone bill authorizing more stimulus money does pass, Trump’s erratic missives delay the timeline to send a $1,200 maximum per person payment. Read on for our latest projections on how soon the IRS might issue a check after the Nov. 3 election. We regularly update this story.

When the IRS could now send 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 following 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 Nov. 9 Nov. 23 Dec. 7 Feb. 1
Senate passes final bill Nov. 10 Nov. 30 Dec. 8 Feb. 2
President signs Nov. 11 Dec. 1 Dec. 9 Feb. 3
First direct deposits sent Week of Nov. 23 Week of Dec. 14 Week of Dec. 21 Week of Feb. 8
First paper checks sent Week of Dec. 7 Week of Dec. 21 Week of Jan. 4 Week of Feb. 15
First EIP cards sent Week of Dec. 28 Week of Jan. 5 Week of Feb. 1 Week of Mar. 15

Why some people could get their checks before others

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 gives a de facto priority order that could lead some to receive their checks days or even weeks sooner than others. We expect 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.

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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 get 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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