Income - Ownership and Availability

Revised December 31, 2013


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

Worker Responsibilities - WAC 388-450-0005

Determine if clients have any potential income available.

  1. Making a source of income available:
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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:
      1. Financial Statements;
      2. Collateral Statements; and
      3. Letter from the person or company that has control of the income.
    4. See VERIFICATION for information on how to ask for proof from clients.
    5. See WAC 388-406-0030  to decide how much time to allow clients to provide the proof.
    6. For medical programs, clients must take all needed steps to get any income (such as annuities, pensions, retirement, and disability benefits) they can receive.
      1. Clients do not have to take steps to get the income if they can show a good reason for not doing so.
      2. Examples of benefits the client must try to make available include:
        1. Veteran’s compensation and pensions;
        2. OASDI benefits;
        3. Railroad retirement benefits; and
        4. Unemployment compensation.
    7. Refer clients to the correct agency to apply for potential income and/or help clients get potential income if they ask for assistance.
  2. When the date income is available changes:
    1. Budget the income for the date you expect the client to receive the income.
    2. Set an alert in ACES for the date we expect the client to receive the income to check if the income is available.
EXAMPLE 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 income when 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. a.  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. b. 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.
    4. 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.
NOTE:  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.