A fourth stimulus check is not happening — yet

Small change lying on top of a government check.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Despite what a handful of social-media users would have you believe, there is no concrete plan for a fourth stimulus check, and there is no legislation for a fourth stimulus check currently working its way through Congress. 

In recent days, various posts on Facebook and Twitter have asserted that the Biden administration or Congress are planning to send direct payments to individuals who have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Several publications, including Reuters and USA Today, have debunked these rumors. 

The false claim appears in several social-media posts, including one from Facebook stating that Americans can expect a $2,000 check by Memorial Day. 

Another, from a Twitter user who turned the "joke" thread into an anti-vaccination campaign, suggested that a fourth stimulus check would go to vaccinated Americans.

Additional posts promoting this idea have cropped up, as did a YouTube video suggesting (with no evidence) that President Biden is "warm to the idea" of a fourth stimulus payment. None of these assertions come from credible sources, nor have they been shared widely as of this writing. 

So far, Americans have received three stimulus checks. The first, which totaled up to $1,200 per person, was provided by the CARES Act passed in March 2020. The second, a $600 payment, came just after Christmas 2020, and a third check of up to $1,400, part of President Biden's American Recovery Plan, has been paid out in waves this spring. 

What are the chances of a fourth stimulus check? 

So far, there's no formal legislation that would provide stimulus check 4, nor has the Biden administration expressed support for such a payment. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki last week suggested that any additional stimulus relief would be up to Congress. 

In recent months, a number of congressional lawmakers have called for recurring stimulus checks. More than 50 House Democrats sent a letter to the White House in January requesting that the direct payments provided by the American Rescue Plan — which ultimately included one-time $1,400 checks — be ongoing. And a group of 21 Senate Democrats wrote a similar letter at the end of March in support of recurring payments. 

Several left-leaning policy groups have also called for additional relief, and there's a Change.org petition circulating demanding $2,000-per-month payments for individuals plus $1,000 per dependent child. 

Despite the support from some lawmakers and analysts, plus many members of the public, the idea of recurring stimulus payments doesn't appear to be gaining momentum in Washington, D.C. With the economy recovering, some economic experts are suggesting that relief may not be necessary and could even cause inflation to rise. 

So will a fourth stimulus check actually happen? Probably not. Republican lawmakers are dead set against it, and the Democrats have other priorities this year, namely passing President Biden's American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, the latter of which would send thousands of dollars to parents with young children through 2025.

If there's another resurgence in COVID-19 infections this fall, followed by a wave of lockdowns crippling the economy, then that might change political priorities in favor of a fourth stimulus check. We'll have to wait and see.

Emily Long

Emily Long is a Utah-based freelance writer who covers consumer technology, privacy and personal finance for Tom's Guide. She has been reporting and writing for nearly 10 years, and her work has appeared in Wirecutter, Lifehacker, NBC BETTER and CN Traveler, among others. When she's not working, you can find her trail running, teaching and practicing yoga, or studying for grad school — all fueled by coffee, obviously.