Stimulus Check Update: 3 Scenarios That Could Lead to a Fourth Check in 2021

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A fourth stimulus check may not necessarily be off the table.

Millions of Americans have signed a petition requesting a fourth stimulus check. And the data clearly shows why another payment is so desperately needed. Despite the demand for another payment, lawmakers have moved on to other priorities, which has reduced the chances a fourth direct payment will be delivered into the bank accounts of Americans who need one.

But, while another stimulus check doesn't appear likely right now, that doesn't mean the possibility is totally off the table. In fact, there are three scenarios that could result in a fourth check coming.

Here's what they are.

1. If a new, more dangerous, COVID-19 variant develops

Like most viruses, coronavirus can mutate and change forms. Unfortunately, this has already occurred several times. The most notable mutation was the development of the delta variant of COVID-19, which proved to be more easily transmissible than the original virus strain.

Because of the delta variant, case counts began rising when they'd previously been falling and regulations were put back into place.

Fortunately, while delta was more transmissible, it wasn't notably more dangerous to those afflicted than the original COVID-19 strain. It is possible, however, that the virus could mutate in more dangerous ways including into more deadly variants or vaccine-resistant ones.

If a strain of coronavirus develops that poses a greater danger to the public and new lockdowns are imposed, this would almost assuredly lead to a fourth stimulus check. The first two payments received bipartisan support because the need was obvious, and this could occur again if the pandemic worsens.

2. If jobless claims increase dramatically

Unemployment rates have been falling rather than rising, which is one big reason why lawmakers haven't been eager to sign on to another stimulus payment.

If the economy takes a turn for the worse, though, and businesses stop hiring, then poverty rates could start to climb and consumer spending could fall. This could create a vicious cycle because when people stop buying things, companies lay people off and unemployment rates increase further.

If this starts to occur, it's possible that Democrats will push for another stimulus check. Even without support from Republicans, it's possible this could become part of a reconciliation bill that enables legislation to pass on a partisan basis.

3. If more states decide to use their stimulus money to provide checks

While the federal government provided two stimulus checks in 2020 and one in 2021, the U.S. government isn't the only potential source for stimulus money. A number of states have begun distributing payments or other relief to residents. And many more states received federal coronavirus relief money that they could potentially use to provide direct payments to local residents.

States may decide to do this in order to bolster economic conditions within their borders or if cases rise locally and more restrictions must be put into place on the local level.

While none of these scenarios would be good news, they are possible outcomes that could occur in the coming months that could very well lead to a fourth stimulus payment being delivered.

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