Budget Calls for Raising Asset Limits

Feb 04, 2010

By Elizabeth Lower-Basch

President Obama's proposed budget calls for two important changes to asset test requirements across federal programs.

  • The budget calls for a national asset limit floor of $10,000 for low-income, working age, non-disabled individuals and their families for federally funded programs, including those that are state administered.  This excludes SSI, Medicaid, and Medicare, but includes SNAP (Food Stamps) and possibly TANF.  Under current law, just $3,000 in countable assets disqualifies a household from receiving SNAP (unless a state has chosen to apply higher TANF limits to SNAP).  This low limit both makes SNAP out of reach for many families that have recently become low-income due to unemployment, and discourages families receiving nutritional assistance from saving for the future.
  • For all federally funded means tested programs, refundable tax credits would not be counted as either income or assets for 12 months.  The Earned Income Tax Credit and other refundable tax credits are paid to recipients as lump sum payments when they file their federal income taxes.  Under current law, for individuals who participate in federal means-tested programs, saving these funds could result in ineligibility. 

In addition, the budget proposal continues recommendations the Administration made last year to extend the Making Work Pay Tax Credit, and improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, and calls for expansions to both child care subsidies and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.


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