Fourth stimulus check: Could it happen? Here’s what we know right now


Will Congress send a fourth stimulus check? That’s a gamble.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Is it time to start thinking about a fourth stimulus check? In a little less than a year, Washington lawmakers have approved three rounds of payments to help individuals and families struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic. The IRS has just started sending the third payment for $1,400 (calculate your stimulus total), and some are already asking whether Congress will sign off on a fourth check.

A group of 10 Democratic Senators is already urging President Joe Biden to include more stimulus payments in the next spending bill, the Washington Post reported — on a recurring basis, no less. “As you prepare your Build Back Better plan for long-term economic recovery,” the senators wrote in a letter to Biden, “Know that we are ready to work with you in support of recurring direct checks.”

A year into the COVID-19 economic crisis, as many as 20 million Americans are out of work, with the lowest-wage workers hit the hardest by the pandemic. While it’s unclear where the economy is headed and what legislators will do this year, we’ll present some of Congress’ options to help individuals and families if the economy continues to stumble, or to grow unevenly. For more information, here’s everything to know about the third check for $1,400, when you could receive it and how to track your payment.

A new ‘stimulus’ check may not be the same as a new ‘stimulus’ bill

The just-passed American Rescue Plan is the first spending package in 2021, with  $1,400 checks$300 extra in weekly unemployment benefits and an expanded Child Tax Credit lined up. Biden’s administration is already hard at work on the sequel, a package Biden refers to as his Build Back Better plan. The proposal would fund investment in the nation’s energy, transportation, broadband and water systems, for example, and may not include stimulus checks.

Note: There’s some debate over what counts as a “relief,” “rescue” or “stimulus” package. For the purpose of this article, “stimulus” refers to any funding, check or measure in response to the coronavirus or to inject money into the economy.

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Stimulus check 3: How much money you’ll get


A future stimulus check could be extremely ‘targeted’

The new American Rescue Plan doesn’t authorize just one check. It actually contains three direct payments designed to help struggling individuals and families. It’s possible that a future bill could extend or introduce more money through direct checks that go to specific groups of recipients, like parents who make below a certain income or people who are out of work.

Here are all three forms of direct checks in the March 2021 bill.

Stimulus checks: The new one-time stimulus payments sends up to $1,400 a piece to those who meet the requirements.

Child Tax Credit: An expansion of the Child Tax Credit for 2021 sends qualifying families $3,600 for each child under age 6 and $3,000 for children age 6 or older, in periodic payments through the end of the year. 

Federal unemployment bonus: A monthly federal unemployment check until Sept. 6 at up to $300 a month, on top of state benefits for unemployed workers.


Congress has already approved a handful of aid this year.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Here are more ways Congress could send money out this year

Recurring payments: Biden’s infrastructure bill is the next likely place for Congress to provide more funding. This is where Democratic Senators are calling on Biden to push for recurring stimulus checks during the pandemic.

Minimum wage hike: Senate Democrats at the last minute yanked a provision in American Rescue Plan to boost the minimum wage. But proponents will look to include the $15 hourly wage boost in another bill. “If any senator believes this is the last time they will cast a vote on whether or not to give a raise to 32 million Americans, they are sorely mistaken,” Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted March 5. “We’re going to keep bringing it up, and we’re going to get it done because it is what the American people demand and need.”

Extension of the Child Tax Credit beyond 2021: The new bill expands the Child Tax Credit, sending periodic payments to lower-income and middle-income families with children, but only through the end of 2021. According to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Biden wants to make the Child Tax Credit permanent. Others, including Republican Senator Mitt Romney, also support making the credit permanent.

Renew federal unemployment payments beyond September: Along with recurring payments, the 10
Democratic senators in their letter to Biden requested that he also extend federal unemployment assistance beyond September. “We urge you to include .. automatic unemployment insurance extensions tied to economic conditions in your Build Back Better long-term economic plan,” they wrote.

For more information about stimulus checks, here’s all the ways the American Rescue Plan can help you, how much money you could expect in the third check and how to track your payment.

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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