How Resources Affect Eligibility


WAC 388-470-0005   How do resources affect my eligibility for cash assistance and Basic Food?

WAC 388-470-0012 Does the department look at resources of people who are not getting benefits?

Clarifying Information - WAC 388-470-0005

  1. Legal Barriers: A resource is unavailable if there is a legal barrier to its sale. Examples of legal barriers include:
    1. Property that is tied up in a divorce proceeding.
    2. Jointly owned property that the client cannot sell because the other owners do not agree to sell it.
    3. Property for which the client cannot get a clear title.
    4. The client does not have the necessary funds to retain an attorney.
  2. For Cash:  If the legal barrier can be overcome, require the cash assistance client to take reasonable steps to do so unless the cost of legal action would be more than the client would gain or the legal action is not likely to succeed.
    1. Exempt the property permanently if the client cannot overcome the barrier.
    2. Treat the property as unavailable and exclude it for the period of time the client attempts to make a resource available. Review the status at each recertification/eligibility review.
    3. If the client overcomes the barrier, count the property to determine the client's eligibility unless the client makes a bona fide effort to dispose of the property as described in 7. below.
  3. If a client must petition the court to release part or all of a resource, including funds in blocked accounts or trusts, it is unavailable. Review the status at each recertification/eligibility review.
  4. Community property is all property held in the name of either the husband or wife or both. We consider community property as a resource potentially available to the assistance unit.
  5. We consider property to be separate property when:
    1. The property was acquired by either spouse before marriage;
    2. The property was acquired as a gift or inheritance by either spouse; or
    3. The property was acquired and paid for entirely out of income from separate property.
  6. Commingling of income from separate property and community income in the purchase, maintenance, or improvement of property may destroy the status of separate property. If you are unable to determine what income paid for what, then the separate property designation is destroyed.
  7. For all programs, if the client has available nonexempt real property, exclude the property while the client makes a good faith effort to sell it. The client must accept any reasonable offer on the property for this exemption. Good faith efforts include:
    1. Listing the property with a real estate company;
    2. Actively showing the property; and
    3. Placing signs on the property and ads in the newspaper.
    4. Asking a price that is at or under fair market value (FMV).
  8. Exclude any non-liquid assets if a creditor placed a lien on the property to secure a business loan and does not allow the AU to sell the property. Examples of non-liquid assets include land, crops, buildings, farm equipment and machinery.
  9. If a resource is currently unavailable, but you are reasonably certain that it will become available, create an alert to review its status.
  10. When a client owns a resource with someone outside of the AU, such as a joint bank account:
    1. For cash assistance, we count an equal portion of the resource that belongs to each person who owns it.
    2. Basic Food, we count the entire amount unless the client can prove that the entire amount is not available to them. To determine the amount that is unavailable, we use:
      1. The client's statement about ownership of the funds, the reason the account was established, who made deposits, withdrawals, etc., and how the withdrawals were spent.
      2. A corroborating statement from other account holder(s).


Worker Responsibilities - WAC 388-470-0005 

  1. Follow these steps for assistance units (AU) with resources:
    1. Determine whether the AU owns resources, and whether they are available.
    2. Separate the excluded from the countable resources. See Countable Resources.
    3. Add the values of all countable resources.
    4. Compare the total countable resources to the appropriate limit.
    5. Set alerts to review unavailable resources that might become available.
    6. For Basic Food only, if the AU is categorically eligible, do not count any resources.
  2. Accept the client’s statement as verification unless it is questionable. This means we use:
    • What the client enters on the application / eligibility review form.
    • What the client tells you during the interview.
  3. When an AU reports receipt of a resource that exceeds the applicable resource limit (by itself or in addition to other countable resources):
    1. Allow the AU 10 days to update the CSO information about the resources it owns and their current value.
    2. Stop benefits when the AU fails to update its declared resources or its resources exceed the applicable resource limit. See: Letters A. - Related WAC - WAC 388-458-0030.
  4. When a recipient converts a resource to a new type:
    1. Allow the AU 10 days to update the CSO information about the resources it owns and their current value.
    2. Determine whether the new resource is excluded or countable.
    3. If the total of all countable resources is over the limit, stop the benefits and provide the AU with advance and adequate notice. See: Letters A. - Related WACWAC 388-458-0030.