How Can the Second CARES Stimulus Check Help You?

Toward the end of December 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury began sending out Economic Impact Payments (commonly known as stimulus checks) to millions of Americans. The government will continue distributing these emergency financial assistance payments in January 2021.

This stimulus is an advance payment on a tax credit known as the Recovery Rebate Credit. It is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES). If you need help paying bills or other assistance in addition to this credit, the government also offers cash assistance in the form of free grants for qualifying Americans. Read on to learn more about these types of aid.

1. Will You Get the Maximum Amount?

Eligibility for the stimulus check mostly depends on your 2019 income, but there are a few additional guidelines to meet. If you qualify, the IRS will deliver your payment through direct deposit, a paper check or a prepaid Visa debit card.

Those who received a government stimulus check earlier in 2020 will be likely to receive this second payment. For the most part, the requirements to get this second check are the same as those for the first stimulus payment. However, a new rule allows some more people to qualify for this free government money for individuals.

Generally, individuals can get up to $600 and married couples can get up to $1,200. Recipients may also receive up to $600 for dependent children, up from $500 per dependent for the first stimulus payment. However, some people with higher incomes may receive a smaller payment.

In addition to stimulus checks, the federal government also works with states to provide other forms of assistance, such as food stamps, Medicaid and even cash assistance. Also known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), cash assistance is an essential part of the social safety net for low-income families.

Federal cash assistance through free monthly TANF grants is different from other forms of assistance. This is because the funds you receive through TANF do not need to be used on a specific product like food or rent. Instead, you can use them to pay for many different goods and services in order to meet your household needs. Read on to learn more about the requirements for cash assistance and for the stimulus checks.


2. Who Can Get the 2nd Stimulus Check?

You do not need to take any steps to obtain your stimulus check payment. The IRS will simply look at your 2019 income in order to determine your eligibility for this emergency financial assistance. In addition to income, a beneficiary must 1) Be a U.S. citizen or a resident alien, 2) Not be another person’s dependent for tax purposes and 3) Have a Social Security Number.

Income Requirements for the Stimulus Check: Individuals may qualify for a full stimulus check if their adjusted gross income in 2019 was $75,000 or lower. Married couples may qualify if their 2019 adjusted gross income was $150,000 or lower. For those who file taxes as a head of household (taxpayers who file individually and have at least one dependent), income must be no more than $112,500 to qualify for a stimulus payment.

If you make more than these amounts, the stimulus check will be reduced.

The formula is as follows: 

  • Take five percent of the amount of your income that goes over the income limit.
  • Subtract this amount from the full stimulus payment to find out what you may qualify to receive.

Dependent payments: In order to qualify for up to $600 for a dependent child, the dependent must be younger than 17 years of age.


If qualified, you may automatically receive this free government money for individuals if you meet one of the following conditions:

  • You filed a tax return in 2019.
  • You receive Social Security benefits, including retirement, disability (SSDI), survivor or Railroad benefits.
  • You receive Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits.
  • You receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • You registered online for the first payment earlier in 2020.

New Stimulus Eligibility rule: The eligibility guidelines for this second stimulus check are the same as those for this first payment, with one notable exception. Previously, if a married couple had one member without a Social Security number, the couple was not eligible for the first stimulus payment. However, a new law has changed this rule and made these families eligible.

If you need more help paying bills or are seeking other financial assistance in addition to your stimulus check, the rules are a little different. This is because cash assistance is administered at the state level, and different states have very different requirements when it comes to who can receive TANF funds.

In general, most states reserve monthly cash assistance for families who are considered to have a very low income. However, even those who do not qualify for cash may be able to receive free child care, tax credits and other services.