One of the tools lawmakers used to combat the economic toll of this pandemic has been direct stimulus payments to Americans. These checks are intended to keep payments flowing through society, including debt payments, rent, and all the other expenditures that help stimulate the economy.
Many Americans have already received one stimulus check, and there’s a strong likelihood that another payment could be on the way soon.
2020 Stimulus Check Timeline
Before looking at what might be coming, it may help to refresh yourself on how we got here. Here are the major dates and events that brought the U.S. to where we are now.
Jan. 20, 2020 – A Washington state resident becomes the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the U.S. On the same day, a scientist studying the outbreak in China confirms that the virus can spread through human contact.
March 6, 2020 – President Trump signs the first COVID-19 stimulus bill. Called the “Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act,” this bill provided some $8.3 billion for vaccine development, medical supplies, business loans, and other response tactics. It also loosened restrictions on telehealth services.
March 17, 2020 – As the U.S. logs its 100th COVID-related death, the Trump administration pressures Congress to pass a bill that will send stimulus checks directly to Americans.
March 18, 2020 – Congress enacts the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” directing roughly $104 billion to individuals through measures such as expanding food security programs, unemployment benefits, paid leave protections, and Medicaid funding. Democratic senators introduce a plan to send quarterly stimulus checks to Americans throughout the pandemic, starting with $2,000 checks for every adult and child.
March 27, 2020 – Congress enacts the first round of stimulus checks with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Along with sending $1,200 to most Americans, this $2.2 trillion bill also established the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) which loaned money to businesses and forgave those loans if they used most of the money to keep employees on their payroll.
April 24, 2020 – Congress enacts the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. This $484 billion bill largely went toward replenishing the PPP, but it also included funds for hospitals and testing programs.
May 15, 2020 – The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passes the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, which includes a second round of direct stimulus payments to Americans. The Republican-controlled Senate has signaled that it will not pass this legislation.
May 28, 2020 – COVID-related deaths in the U.S. surpasses 100,000.
July 1, 2020 – President Trump says in an interview he wants to send out a second round of stimulus payments. He says he wants the checks to be worth more than the $1,200 checks Democrats proposed in May.
Mid-July 2020 – Secretary Mnuchin says he expects to finalize a new stimulus package with Congress by the end of July. He says the White House supports a second round of direct payments.
What Does the New Stimulus Plan Look Like?
No matter what stimulus plan is ultimately proposed in the Senate, the three major players will be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and President Donald Trump. Additionally, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has taken on a major role in negotiations on behalf of the Trump administration.
These people will ultimately decide what the next round of stimulus looks like, including any direct payments to Americans.
From the president’s camp, reports suggest that there’s significant support for more stimulus payments, much like those in March’s CARES Act. The Trump administration’s specific proposal is unclear, but the president has said they should be larger than the first round of checks.
Sen. McConnell expressed an openness to another round of stimulus checks in early July. He also indicated that he would prefer to focus on those earning under $40,000 a year, saying those are “the people who have been hit the hardest.”
Speaker Pelosi has provided the most detail about her ideal payments, which were outlined in the HEROES Act that passed through the House in May. These payments are largely similar to those included in the CARES Act, but they go a bit further.
Many college students were left out of the first round of stimulus checks, and the HEROES Act aims to include those students by sending $1,200 to dependent adult children.
The payments would also go to more immigrant families—while the CARES Act required recipients to have a Social Security number, the HEROES Act would only require recipients to have a taxpayer identification number.
Who Qualifies for the New Stimulus Package?
Who qualifies for the new round of stimulus checks largely depends on who gets their way as the details of the bill are hammered out.
Assuming Sen. McConnell wants to replicate the first round of payments, anyone with a Social Security number could qualify for payments. Payments of $1,200 will be sent to Americans earning a gross annual income of $75,000 or less ($150,000 for married couples, $112,000 for a head of household).
Payments for smaller amounts will be sent to those earning more than $75,000, but less than $99,000 ($198,000 for married couples, $136,000 for a head of household).
Those earning more will not receive any stimulus payment. In addition to the $1,200 included for every adult who meets income requirements, stimulus checks increase by $500 for every dependent child under the age of 17.
Speaker Pelosi has largely sought to replicate the first round of stimulus checks, but the House’s plan goes a bit further by extending the same payments to those with taxpayer identification numbers, not just those with Social Security numbers.
She would also send stimulus checks to dependent adult children, including many college students, who weren’t included in the CARES Act.
How to Prepare for the Stimulus Payments
While we don’t know exactly what these payments will look like, you can take steps now to ensure that you’re prepared to receive your full benefits. The payments are based on tax filings, so you’ll want to ensure that your information is current with the IRS.
Check your direct deposit information and review your annual income to get an idea of how much you’ll get and where that money will land.
If you want to receive stimulus payments as quickly as possible, you may consider linking your RoarMoney account. These accounts expedite payments, whether they’re from the IRS or an employer, so that you get paid up to two days earlier than usual.
Whenever stimulus checks start going out, these account holders will be among the first to have access to their money. This count also includes a contactless mobile wallet, so you won’t risk spreading the virus as you spend your stimulus.