COVID-19 Stimulus Checks: Which Dependents Qualify?

The information in this article was last updated on April 17, 2020. This article relates to the tax laws enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. These laws may have expired or reverted to their original state. 

Millions of Americans will receive stimulus payments from the US government to attempt to offset the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. The US government will use the taxpayer’s most recent tax return (2018 or 2019) to determine if they will receive a payment and how much it will be. One question that keeps coming up is, “will my dependents receive a stimulus payment?” We answer that question and more here.  

Who qualifies as a dependent for the stimulus payments?  

To qualify for the stimulus payment, your dependent must meet the requirements of a qualifying child

  • They must be related to you (blood, marriage, or adoption) 
  • They must either be under age 19 or a full-time student under 24 
    • For the stimulus payment, your dependent must be under age 17. See more about additional requirements below. 
  • You must financially support them 
  • They must live with you for at least half of the year 

They must also meet the requirements to be eligible for the Child Tax Credit. While these are similar, there are some subtle differences: 

  • You must claim them as a dependent on your tax return 
  • They must be under age 17 
  • They must be related to you (blood, marriage, or adoption) 
  • They cannot provide more than half of their financial support during the tax year 
  • They must be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national or a U.S. resident alien 
  • They must live with you for at least half of the year 

If they meet these requirements, the additional $500 will be sent to the taxpayer that claimed the child on their most recent tax return (2018 or 2019).   

How much does my child age 16 or under qualify for?  

All dependents age 16 and younger with a valid social security number will qualify for $500. Read more about who you can claim as a dependent here.  

Is there a limit to the number of dependents who can qualify for the stimulus payment?  

There is no limit to the number of dependents who can qualify for the additional $500 in one household. Any child who meets the requirements is eligible and can receive the payment.  

For example, if you have ten dependents under age 17 with valid social security numbers, you will receive an additional $5,000 on your stimulus payment.  

Will my dependent age 17-24 qualify for a stimulus payment?  

No. If your dependent is 17 or 18 (or a full-time student through age 24) they do not qualify for the $500 stimulus payment. This prevents many high school juniors and seniors from receiving any stimulus money. The tax code defines a child as “not attained age 17.” The stimulus bill relies on this definition and many other pieces of the existing tax code.  

Older children over the age of 24 no longer qualify as dependents. They could be eligible for the stimulus payment as long as they file a federal tax return. They can file a simple 2019 return even if they have no taxable income. 

Will my dependent age 65 or older qualify for a stimulus payment?  

Seniors who are claimed as dependents are not eligible to receive stimulus checks. The taxpayer that claims them is not able to claim the $500 either because they are not a qualifying child. 

Will my dependent, who is an adult with disabilities, qualify for a stimulus payment?  

Adults who are claimed as dependents on someone else’s tax return are not eligible for the $500 bonus or their own $1,200 check. This includes adults with disabilities. 

My dependent has an ITIN, not an SSN. Do they qualify?  

No. If your dependent has an ITIN instead of a valid SSN, they are not considered a qualifying child and will not be eligible for the $500.  

Can dependents qualify for their own stimulus payment?  

If you claimed the person in question as a dependent on your most recently filed tax return (2018 or 2019) as a qualifying child or a qualifying dependent, they are not eligible to receive the $1,200 stimulus payment. 

What if I claim my child as a dependent, but they also file their own return?  

If you claim your child as a dependent and they file their own tax return, they will only be eligible for the $500 payment IF they meet the requirements. There are no conditions where they will be eligible for their own stimulus payment. 

What happens if my dependent was 16 on my 2018 tax return?

If your dependent was 16 on your 2018 tax return, they will qualify for the $500 stimulus payment if you haven’t filed your 2019 return.

For more information about stimulus checks, read COVID-19 Stimulus Checks– How much, who qualifies, and other FAQs

Looking for more information about your stimulus payment? Read the IRS’s Economic Impact Payment FAQ.

This article is intended to provide general information to the public and does not provide personalized tax, investment, legal, or business advice. You should seek the assistance of a professional for advice on taxes, investments, and any other financial, legal, or business matter pertinent to your individual situation.