New stimulus check: Everyone who qualifies for a new payment

March 15, 2021 0 By boss

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Stimulus check requirements for the third round are more generous and stringent at the same time. We’ll explain.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The third stimulus check has been arriving in bank accounts via direct deposit since Friday, March 12. Around 85% of US households will qualify for a payment, according to President Joe Biden. Knowing this, will you be eligible for the full $1,400 payment, or will you be left out due to the new income limitations? To find out, check your earnings for the tax year — otherwise known as your AGI, or adjusted gross income.

Millions of people can expect to get thousands of dollars more than they did with the first two checks, thanks to the third payment’s new eligibility rules. This is because the third payment includes more groups of people, like dependents who didn’t qualify for the first two payments. New tax breaks for children and older adults will also bring people more money this time. Make sure you know which tax return the IRS has on file — 2019 or 2020 — at processing time. (Here’show to track your payment if you’re eligible and what we know about setting up a direct deposit for your payment.)

We can help explain how your agemarital statuscitizenship and tax status can affect the amount you’ll get. Also, here are some details for nonfilerspeople with babies born in 2020 and families in child-support situations. Additionally, here’s how to claim your missing stimulus money from the IRS (or file a payment trace). This story is regularly updated with new information.

Who is eligible for the third stimulus check?

A third stimulus check opens up more avenues for people to claim a payment — so long as their yearly earnings in 2019 or 2020 fall within the brackets for receiving the third check. These new payments come with changes to the income limit for individuals and families who’d qualify for a full stimulus payment — it isn’t the same as it was for the first two rounds of checks approved in 2020. Check out the chart below for more and use our stimulus calculator to estimate how much you could get.

Third stimulus check: Qualifications

Qualifying group What the law says
Individuals An AGI of less than $80,000 to qualify for any payment amount
Head of household An AGI of less than $120,000 to qualify for any payment amount
Couple filing jointly An AGI of less than $160,000 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 Yes, included this time
People who owe child support Checks can be garnished to cover past due payments (more below)
Disqualified groups Not covered by law
Non-US citizens “Resident aliens” aren’t included
Noncitizens who pay taxes Depends on “mixed-status” rules (more below)

Will my dependents qualify for the full $1,400 amount?

With the second stimulus check approved in December, each child dependent — 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 was an increase in the amount per child from the $500 that was part of the first check approved last March as part of the CARES Act, even as the per-adult maximum decreased from $1,200 per adult to $600 in the December stimulus plan.

This time, if you’re a parent of a baby born in 2020, you could be entitled to $1,100 — that is if you never received the first two payments for your new dependent last year. The new law sends $1,400 to dependents as part of a third round of payments — and that includes babies who are born anytime in 2021.


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Stimulus check 3: How much money you’ll get



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Are there age restrictions on dependents getting the full $1,400 amount?

Dependents will get $1,400 instead of $500 or $600 and the new stimulus law opens up eligibility requirements to both child and adult dependents for the first time. Dependents over age 16 didn’t qualify for the first and second checks, but a change here makes college students, older adult relatives and people of any age with certain disabilities entitled to receive money as part of the household total.

That change loops in about 13.5 million adult dependents who weren’t counted before, according to the People’s Policy Project.

What to know if you’re part of a ‘mixed status’ household

In the $900 billion stimulus package from December, a US citizen and noncitizen spouse were both eligible for a payment 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 mixed US citizenship were left out of the first check.

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The final qualifications for a third stimulus check have been settled.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The new stimulus bill includes all mixed-status households where just one member has a Social Security number for a third stimulus check. That potentially includes families with citizen children and noncitizen parents.

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

Eligibility details for noncitizens and the new check

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

The new bill expands the qualifications to include all mixed-status families — where at least one member has a Social Security number — for a third check.

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


Angela Lang/CNET

What you should know about past-due child support and getting your stimulus payments 

If you owed child support, your first stimulus payment could have been taken for arrears (the amount you owed). With the second check, those who owed child support didn’t have their payment garnished to cover past-due payments. The new bill with the $1,400 payment doesn’t exclude garnishments, so your check could be garnished to pay a private past-due debt.

One more exception for people who are missing payments of any amount and need to claim the stimulus money as a Recovery Rebate Credit in their taxes: The protection from garnishment laid out in the second check doesn’t extend to catchup payments made in the Recovery Rebate Credit, according to the Taxpayer Advocate Service, 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.

Are inmates eligible for the third stimulus check?

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 included in the new law, which means they’ll qualify for the $1,400 check. 

What to know if the IRS groups you into the older adult category or you’re retired

Many older adults, including retirees over age 65, received a first stimulus check under the CARES Act, were eligible for the second one — and are for the third as well. 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 stimulus payment. 

The third stimulus check makes older adult dependents eligible to receive more money on behalf of the household. Here’s how to determine if you qualify for your own stimulus check or count as a dependent.

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


Angela Lang/CNET

Extra work for nonfilers in 2021: File your 2020 taxes to get your missing stimulus check money 

With the second payment, the IRS used your 2019 tax returns to determine eligibility. Nonfilers, 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:

If you still haven’t received a first or second check even though you were eligible, you can claim it on your taxes in 2021 as a Recovery Rebate Credit.

I’m an SSI or SSDI recipient. Am I eligible for a stimulus 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 rather through a non-Direct Express bank account or as a paper check sent in the mail.

In the December bill, these recipients again qualified to receive payments, along with Railroad Retirement Board and Veterans Administration beneficiaries. These qualifications remain the same with the third check, but the IRS said this time, “Social Security and other federal beneficiaries will generally receive this third payment the same way as their regular benefits. A payment date for this group will be announced shortly.”

Taxes and stimulus check qualifications: How they work in unison

For most people, taxes and stimulus checks are tightly related. For example, the most important factor in setting income limits is your AGI, 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.

Stimulus check for income limits

Full $1,400 per person maximum (based on AGI) Not eligible (based on AGI)
Single taxpayer Less than $75,000 $80,000 or more
Head of household Less than $112,500 $120,000 or more
Married couple filing jointly Less than $150,000 $160,000 or more

Here’s what we know about whether Congress will use your 2019 tax information to determine your payment 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 top things to know about stimulus checks today, everything you need to understand about stimulus checks and your taxes and when you could get your third stimulus check.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

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