As COVID-19 cases spike across the United States and a growing number of states impose new restrictions on business operations, politicians in D.C. have been negotiating for weeks on how to help struggling families.
In fact, the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed one stimulus bill, the HEROES Act, months ago, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced another, the HEALS Act, just last week.
Unfortunately, there are many points of disagreement between Republicans and Democrats that are holding up the passage of another coronavirus relief bill. But there are also some key points of consensus regarding the second direct payment to Americans.
And with lawmakers having found common ground on the next COVID-19 stimulus check, there's one group of people who is almost assuredly going to get more money the second time around.
Who is in line for a larger second coronavirus stimulus payment?
The HEROES Act and HEALS Act both have one big thing in common when it comes to the second stimulus check: They expand the definition of who counts as a dependent.
The first coronavirus stimulus bill offered payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per dependent, but limited the extra $500 in payments to dependents under the age of 17. This left out millions of college students and adults who weren't eligible for their own payments either.
The Republican-proposed HEALS Act changes the rules, opening up the door to every dependent getting the extra $500 payment. Up to 26 million more people would be eligible for this money in the second check.
The HEROES Act went even further than the HEALS Act. It not only made all dependents eligible for extra stimulus money, but it also upped the amount paid out. Under the HEROES Act, up to $1,200 in extra money is available per dependent, up to a maximum of three.
Republicans who are concerned about the costs of the next coronavirus relief bill almost assuredly will not sign on to more than doubling the payment going out to every dependent. But it is clear there is now bipartisan support for providing money for the 26 million adult dependents who were left out the first time.
This expanded eligibility will almost assuredly make it into the next stimulus bill, which means all of the individuals and families who claim adult dependents would get a bigger second stimulus payment. Their checks will be up to $500 larger for each adult dependent they claim.
Another stimulus check isn't confirmed yet
While it's good news that there's agreement between Washington lawmakers on most aspects of the second stimulus payment, there are still plenty of points of conflict that could prevent another coronavirus relief bill from passing.
Since there's no guarantee that anyone will get an additional stimulus payment, you need to make sure you're prepared and ready to cope with the impact of the recession on your finances without the extra cash a second COVID-19 check could provide to flesh out your emergency fund or pay the bills.
There are options available for struggling families, including borrowing from retirement accounts without paying a penalty. But before you go into debt or raid your retirement funds, make sure you've explored other solutions such as reducing your budget or taking advantage of other state or federal aid.
For those in sound financial shape, you may also be affected if lawmakers fail to provide another stimulus check, as this could reduce consumer spending and deepen the recession. Making sure you're happy with your investment strategy and don't have cash you may need within the next few years invested in the market could enable you to avoid losses in case of another market downturn, which is likely to result if Washington can't act to rescue Americans from financial disaster.