Savings allow families to start a small business, move to a better neighborhood, or simply handle unexpected bills. But restrictive policies under SNAP and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) can make it impossible for people receiving these benefits to accrue even modest savings.
States have significant power to set asset limits—or to eliminate them entirely—under both TANF and SNAP, and there is great variation in states' policies. Thirty-six states have eliminated their SNAP asset limit, while 10 limit assets to $2,250. Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia deny TANF to applicants with total assets at or below $3,000—which include both liquid or non-liquid assets such as money in bank accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks, and bonds—while eight states have eliminated the TANF asset limit altogether. States also have the power to decide how to treat vehicles for purposes of the asset limit. SNAP regulations require states to disregard up to $4,650 of the value of a single car per household and allow them to exclude entirely one vehicle per household. Two new issue briefs examine the role of asset limits in low-income people’s access to opportunity.
Source: Center for Law & Social Policy, 10/17/16, Asset Limits