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35. Definition of “resources”

Prior to Modified Categorical Eligibility [ACL 09-24 (households with minor children) and ACL 11-11 (remaining CalFresh households)], household were not eligible unless they were below a resource limit. (See Section 36.) Since there currently is no resource limit, the rules regarding selling or giving away resources no longer apply. However, for periods prior to February 2011 (July 2009 for households with children), the former rules would apply. The old rules therefore are listed below.

What is a “countable” food stamp “resource”?

In general, a food stamp program resource is property (real and personal) that is available to support the household. [MPP § 63-501.3O(i) (excluding property when the cash value is inaccessible to the household); 7 C.F.R. § 273.8(e)(8).] An “excludable” resource is property where the cash value is for all practical purposes inaccessible and therefore not available to support the household. [MPP §63-501.3(i)]

The food stamp office must treat money either as income or as a resource. [MPP § 63-501.3, 7 C.F.R. § 273.8(e)(9).] It cannot count money both as income and as a resource. Some things are counted neither as income nor as a resource.

Resources are distinguished from income. Income is money the household gets from time to time or on a regular basis. [MPP § 63-502.1; 7 C.F.R. § 273.9(b)(1), (2)]. A resource is money or property the household already has or does not regularly receive, like a one-time payment. [MPP § 63-501.1; 7 C.F.R. § 273.8(c)(1), (2)]. Resources include cash-on-hand or in the bank, stocks and bonds, money from insurance settlements, personal injury claims, tax refunds, and inheritances. [MPP § 63-501.1; 7 C.F.R. § 273.8(c)(1), (2).] Tax-preferred “savings vehicles,” such as Keoghs, IRAs, pension plans, etc. are excluded as resources. ACIN I-28-09. See Resource exclusions.

Excluded resources that are no longer exempt (such as cashing out an IRA) generally are treated as a resource and not income.  (I.e. as a lump sum payment.)  This is is because you already have the property, and are just changing its classification, as opposed to getting a new payment for something. See § MPP  63-502 (when money is treated as earned or unearned income) and MPP § 63-501.1(when it is treated as a resource. Nonrecurring lump-sum payments are defined as resources for CalFRESH purposes); ACIN I-13-01.

Jointly owned property is considered entirely available, unless the household can show it is inaccessible to that household. If the household can show it has access to only a portion of the resource, only the value of that portion is counted. If the resource cannot practically be subdivided or the household’s access to the value of the resource is dependent on the agreement of a joint owner who refuses to comply, the resource is considered totally inaccessible. [MPP § 63-501.2 7 C.F.R. § 273.8(d).] There is a special provision for applicants who are residents of domestic violence shelters, when the abuser co-owns the property and access to the property would require the abuser’s consent. [MPP § 63-501.3(n); 7 C.F.R. § 273.8(d).] (In other words, the family does not have to seek consent, just show that consent would be needed to access it.)

Inaccessible resources are defined as those where, if the property were sold, the equity value would be $1,500 or less. [MPP § 63-501.3(i)(5); 7 C.F.R. § 273.8(e)(18).]

Certain things do not count (i.e., are “excluded”) as resources. These include: the home the household lives in, household goods, income producing property and earned income tax credits. The full list is set out at MPP § 63-501.3; see also the section about resource exclusions. Trust funds are excluded only if it is an irrevocable trust, as set out at MPP § 63-501.3(i)(1). (See below for more on trust funds.) Anything specifically excluded for food stamp purposes by federal statute as specified in Section 63-507 is also excluded. [MPP § 63-501.3(1)]. Food Stamp Simplification also resulted in all payments excluded as income in CalWORKs [MPP § 44-111, except not .222, .223, .224, 23 and .43] to be excluded from food stamps. [MPP § 63-502.3(q)] This includes state work study funds.

Commingling resources

Funds that are excluded as a resource and kept in a separate account are excluded indefinitely. [MPP §63-501.41; 7 C.F.R. § 273.8(g).] If commingled, the excluded funds will count after six months. [MPP § 63-501.43; 7 C.F.R. § 273.8(g).]

Income which has been prorated over a period (see MPP § 63-503.212(b) for averaging income and Section 63-503.41 for self-employment income), is not counted as a resource. [MPP § 63-501.3(j); 7 C.F.R. § 273.8(e)(9) and (g).] If the prorated income is commingled with other non-excluded resources, however, it is excluded only for the period of time the income was prorated. [MPP § 63-501.42; 7 C.F.R. § 273.8(g).]

Resources are valued at their equity value. [MPP §63-501.5; 7 C.F.R. § 273.8(c)(2).] There are special vehicle resource rules for valuing cars. (See the section about Vehicles do not count for food stamps in California for more details about vehicle resource rules.)

The food stamp office is required to explain these rules to the household. [MPP § 63-207.1; 7 C.F.R. § 272.5(b)(3).]

Irrevocable trust funds

For a trust to be considered “inaccessible,”

  • the trustee must not be controlled by a household member, or must be one appointed by a court;
  • the funds must be either established from the household’s own funds (if used solely for the purpose of making investments on behalf of the trust or to pay the educational or medical expenses of any person named by the household creating the trust;
  • the trust investments do not directly involve or assist any business or corporation under the control, direction or influence of a household member;
  • the trust is not likely to end during the certification period;
  • the household cannot revoke the trust or change beneficiaries during the certification period.

[MPP § 63-501.3, 7 C.F.R. § 273.8(e)(8).]