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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Second stimulus check update: When could the new payment arrive?


How long could it take you to get a second stimulus check if it passes? We break down some possibilities.

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Angela Lang

As of today, the Senate is back in session and Congress will begin to actively discuss the ins and outs of a second stimulus check as part of another relief bill to help Americans and a shaken US economy. The pressure is on to hammer out the size of the overall package and who would be eligible for a second stimulus payment before a de-facto deadline imposed by both branches of Congress.

“We can’t go home without [new legislation],” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on July 16, pointing out that the House passed the Heroes Act two months ago and that the Senate hasn’t taken action. “More people have died. More people have gone on unemployment. And more people have been infected.”

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But what is this deadline and what happens if another stimulus check doesn’t get approved before then? And if a new bill is passed, when’s the earliest you might expect to receive a payment from the IRS? We consulted the Senate’s calendar and used the first stimulus checks from the CARES Act as a model to formulate a possible timeline.

This story updates often in light of the developing situation.

The stimulus check ‘deadline’ is 3 weeks away

The Senate now has 15 working days until Aug. 7 to build, debate, negotiate and pass another stimulus package before the last day of the current session.

“We will be having bipartisan conversations about supplemental relief legislation and hope Congress will pass an additional package by the end of this month,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in prepared remarks before a House committee on July 17.


Congress is expected to start work on a new coronavirus stimulus bill that may put another $1,200 in your wallet.

Angela Lang

What happens if the Senate misses its deadline?

Whether or not the Senate passes a new rescue package before its planned August recess, the Senate will not work past Aug. 7, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said June 30. 

Why? Because the Senate’s August recess runs from Aug. 10 through Sept. 7 (Labor Day), which means there are 32 days from the last date of the Senate session (Aug. 7) until the first day of the following session (Sept. 8). If there’s no bill passed by Aug. 7, it won’t get picked up again until then. The September session runs through Sept. 25.

Senate timeline for making a stimulus check decision

Dates Senate action
July 20 – Aug. 7 In session. The Senate is not expected to work past Aug. 7.
Aug. 10 – Sept. 7 August recess.
Sept. 8 – Sept. 25 In session. If the Senate doesn’t pass a bill by Aug. 7, this is the next period it will have to work on a stimulus package.
Sept. 28 – 29 September recess.
Sept. 30 – Oct. 9 In session. If the Senate still hasn’t passed a bill, this is its last chance before the general election on Nov. 3.

When could the IRS send a second stimulus payment?

It’s still possible for the IRS to start sending checks in August, if a second round of stimulus checks gets the green light by the end of July. 

For reference, the president signed the CARES Act into law on March 27 and the first stimulus payments went out less than three weeks later, on April 15. 

For the purpose of speculation, let’s say that a new stimulus act becomes law on Friday, Aug. 7. Following the CARES Act timeline, the first checks could go out by Aug. 26.

It’s plausible, however, that the IRS could move even faster to send out the first wave of stimulus checks, since it already has the mechanism in place from the first batch, including a tool for people to sign up for direct deposit and track their payments

Factors like how many people would qualify for a payment the second time around could play a role in slowing down or speeding up this timeline.

What’s the last date I could receive a second stimulus check?

While we don’t know anything official — and won’t until another rescue package is official — we can draw on the experience of the first stimulus checks as a potential blueprint. 

The IRS will have sent about 200 million checks by the time it’s done distributing the first raft of payments. (The total US population is nearly 330 million people, according to the Census Bureau.) 

The majority of those were sent by the beginning of June, though the IRS said it will continue to disburse the final batches through the end of the year. If there are fewer people receiving a second stimulus check, it’s possible that it won’t take as long to send a second round of checks.


Even with some businesses starting to open, the US has a staggeringly high unemployment rate.

Angela Lang

What will it take to get a second stimulus check?

For now, we wait. To receive a second check, the proposed rescue package would need to pass both the House and the Senate before receiving a signature from the president. Only then could it take effect. 

After that, the IRS now has a system in place to organize and distribute those checks. But it could still be weeks more before you receive a payment.

If you’re still waiting on the first round of coronavirus 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.

Here are even more 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 and how to take control of your budget.

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