Income - Ownership and Availability
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Income - Ownership and Availability

Revised September 26, 2014

Purpose: This section includes rules and procedures for determining whether a client owns income, if the income is available to a client, and what a client must do to make potential income available.

WAC 388-450-0005How does the department decide if I own a type of income and if this income is available to meet my needs?

WAC 388-450-0005

WAC 388-450-0005

Effective October 1, 2013

WAC 388-450-0005 How does the department decide if I own a type of income and if this income is available to meet my needs?

This section applies to cash assistance and food assistance.

  1. We count all available income owned or held by people in your assistance unit under chapter 388-408 WAC to decide if you are eligible for benefits and calculate your monthly benefits when:

    1. You get or expect to get the income in the month.

    2. We must count the income based on rules under chapter 388-450 WAC.

    3. You own the income. We use state and federal laws about who owns property to decide if you actually own the income. If you are married, we decide if income is separate or community income according to chapter 26.16 RCW.

    4. You have control over the income, which means the income is actually available to you. If you have a representative payee, protective payee, or other person who manages your income for you as described in chapter 388-460 WAC, we consider this as you having control over this income.

    5. You can use the income to meet your current needs. We count the gross amount of available income in the month your assistance unit gets it. If you normally get the income:

      1. On a specific day, we count it as available on that date.

      2. Monthly or twice monthly and your pay date changes due to a reason beyond your control, such as a weekend or holiday, we count it in the month you would normally get it.

      3. Weekly or every-other week and your pay date changes due to a reason beyond your control, we count it in the month you would normally get it.

  2. If income is legally yours, we consider the income as available to you even if it is paid to someone else for you. For example, the father of your child has a court order to pay you two hundred fifty dollars per month in child support. Instead of giving the money directly to you (as required in the court order), he gives the money to your landlord to pay part of your rent. We still count the two hundred fifty dollars as income even though you never actually got the money.

  3. We may also count the income of certain people who live in your home, even if they are not getting or applying for benefits. Their income counts as part of your income.

    1. For cash assistance, we count the income of ineligible, disqualified, or financially responsible people as defined in WAC 388-450-0100.

    2. For food assistance, we count the income of ineligible assistance unit (AU) members as defined in WAC 388-408-0035.

  4. If you have a joint bank account with someone who is not in your AU, we count any money deposited into that account as your income unless:

    1. You can show that all or part of the funds belong only to the other account holder and are held or used only for the benefit of that holder; or

    2. Social Security Administration (SSA) used that money to determine the other account holder's eligibility for SSI benefits.

  5. Potential income is income you may be able to get that can be used to lower your need for assistance. If we determine that you have a potential source of income, you must make a reasonable effort to make the income available in order to get cash or medical assistance.

    1. We do not count that income until you actually get it; and

    2. You can choose whether to get TANF/SFA or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

  6. If your assistance unit includes a sponsored immigrant, we consider the income of the immigrant's sponsor as available to the immigrant under the rules of this chapter. We use this income when deciding if your assistance unit is eligible for benefits and to calculate your monthly benefits.

  7. You may give us proof about a type of income at anytime, including when we ask for it or if you disagree with a decision we made, about:
    1. Who owns the income;

    2. Who has legal control of the income;

    3. The amount of the income; or

    4. If the income is available.

This is a reprint of the official rule as published by the Office of the Code Reviser. If there are previous versions of this rule, they can be found using the Legislative Search page.


*** As a result of implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), this clarifying page may no longer be effective for medical coverage applications received on or after 10/01/2013. Please see the ACA Transition Plan for more information. Clients under 65 years of age who need to apply for medical coverage on or after 10/01/2013 should be referred to Washington Healthplanfinder. Applications for medical coverage for households where all members are 65 years of age and older should be referred to Washington Connection. ***


  1. Making a source of income available:

a.    If someone meets all other eligibility factors, do not delay benefits if they try to make a potential source of income available but isn't able to.

b.    If a client person can't make a source of income available for reasons beyond their control, consider the income as unavailable to the client.

c.    Clients must give proof of how a source of income can be available and when the income will be available. Request verification. Ask for proof that the client has tried to make potential income available. Examples of proof include:

                                i.        Financial Statements;

                               ii.        Collateral Statements; and

                              iii.        Letter from the person or company that has control of the income.

See VERIFICATION for information on how to ask for proof from clients.

See WAC 388-406-0030  to decide how much time to allow clients to provide the proof.

d.    For medical programs, clients must take all needed steps to get any income (such as annuities, pensions, retirement, and disability benefits) they can receive.

                                i.        Clients do not have to take steps to get the income if they can show a good reason for not doing so.

                               ii.        Examples of benefits the client must try to make available include:

A.   Veteran’s compensation and pensions;

B.   OASDI benefits;

C.   Railroad retirement benefits; and

D.   Unemployment compensation.

e.    Refer clients to the correct agency to apply for potential income and/or help clients get potential income if they ask for assistance.

  1. When the date income is available changes:

a.    Budget the income for the date you expect the client to receive the income.

b.    Set an alert in ACES for the date we expect the client to receive the income to check if the income is available.



Susan moved from Texas when her job in Texas ended. Count the income when you could reasonably expect the client to receive it.

  1. Community income:
    1. When a husband and wife live together, count the following as community income:
      1. Income in the name of the husband, wife, or both spouses;
      2. Income that the husband, wife, or both spouses have access to;
      3. Income the husband, wife, or both spouses received; and
      4. Earnings of the husband, wife, or both spouses.
    2. Always count community income as available for cash assistance. It doesn't matter if one or both spouses are applying for or receiving benefits. 
  2. Separate income:
    1. We count income as separate income when the income:
      1. Was received by either spouse before marriage;
      2. Was received as a result of a gift or inheritance;
      3. Was received from separate property; or
      4. Are the earnings of the husband, wife, or both spouses when the spouses live separate and apart.
    2. Separate income becomes community incomewhen someone puts the income an account with community income.
  3. If a client refuses to make income available:
    1. For cash and medical assistance – deny or terminate assistance;
    2. For food assistance - do not deny or terminate assistance.
  4. Income source discovered after grant opening:  Determine if the client knew about the source but did not tell us.
    1. If the client knew of the income source and there is an overpayment, follow instructions in BENEFIT ERRORS to determine the client's intent.
    2. If the client didn't know about the income source, determine the client's eligibility from the date the client first learned about the income and the income was available to them.
  5. Jointly owned bank accounts:
  1. When a client has a joint bank account or is holding funds for someone else, determine if the client and the other person have a written or verbal agreement about the amount of the funds available to the client.
  2. If the client and the other person have an agreement, decide if the client uses more than this amount to meet their current needs. Count the excess as available unearned income and budget it for the assistance unit.
  3. If the client and the other person do not have an agreement, decide if the funds are available to meet the client’s needs:
  1. Get a detailed record of the dates and amounts of money deposited into the account or given to the client to hold for the other person.
  2. Get a detailed record of the types and amounts of payments for the other party.
  3. Consider any amount over the itemized payments for the other party as income available to the client. Budget it as unearned income for the assistance unit.
  1. Review the client’s circumstances at each eligibility review, reapplication, or when they report a change in the joint bank account or the source of funds.


 Do not count bank accounts held jointly with SSI recipients as a resource for cash or food assistance under WAC 388-470-0045 and WAC 388-470-0055.

  1. Flexible benefits:

    1. Funds offered by an employer to help employees with medical, dependent care, or other expenses are called flexible benefits.

    2. For food assistance, treat the amount of flexible benefits available as a direct cash benefit as income to the assistance unit. If there is no option for a direct cash benefit, do not count the flexible benefits as income to the assistance unit.


Jill receives $180 in flexible benefits each month to apply toward her monthly health insurance premium of $185. This leaves her with a $5 out-of-pocket premium.

Jill's worker contacts the personnel department at Jill's work and verifies that employees may choose to receive the allowance for health insurance or the employee can "opt-out" and receive a cash payment of $28 monthly. Jill's worker counts the $28 monthly as earned income to the assistance unit whether or not Jill chooses the medical or the cash option. This is because $28 is available to Jill as a cash benefit each month.


Joyce receives $100 in flexible benefits monthly. Medical premiums are $150 a month, leaving the client with a $50 out-of-pocket premium.

The employer does not offer an "opt-out" cash benefit. Because no portion of the flexible benefits are payable to Joyce, we do not count any of these flexible benefits as income to her assistance unit.


Emily works for ABC graphics and receives a flexible benefits package of $167.00 monthly. She can receive a cash-only option of $30 per month, or use the benefits toward various health insurance options.

  • If Emily chooses the higher-cost health insurance, she must pay for anything over the $167 monthly benefit.
  • If Emily chooses the lower-cost health insurance, she receives the difference between her $167 benefit and the cost of the insurance even if this is more than the cash-out option of $30 per month.

Emily chooses the lowest- cost insurance offered by her employer. The premium is $130 monthly, so she receives a cash benefit of $37 each month. We must count the $37 she receives each month in cash as earned income to her assistance unit.

If Emily had spent all of the flexible benefits or took the $30 cash-out option, we would budget the $30 monthly amount available in the cash-out option.

  1. Trusts and medical eligibility:

For the impact of a trust on medical eligibility see Trusts, Annuities and Life Estates - Section B. - Trusts

Modification Date: September 26, 2014