Participating in an Individual Development Account (IDA) that risks your benefits

The type of funding an IDA program has will determine how it affects your benefits. Federally funded IDAs—those with block grants from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the Assets for Independence Act (AFIA)—will not jeopardize your eligibility for benefits.

If you enroll in a nonfederally funded IDA program, you could lose your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medi-Cal benefits. If you enroll in a nonfederally funded IDA program and have an approved Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS), however, you will not risk losing your benefits.

Before you enroll in an IDA program, be sure to find out what its funding source is and how that may affect your existing benefits.

Failing to fulfill Individual Development Account (IDA) requirements

If you do not fulfill the requirements of the IDA program you might no longer be able to access the matching funds provided by the program. Be sure to review the requirements of your program carefully with your IDA caseworker.

Working without considering a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)

Many people who are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and considering work are not aware that a PASS is an option that may make transition back into the workplace easier. Using a PASS may let a person have access to more income and resources when transitioning into the workplace.

Failing to account carefully for PASS funds

To use PASS funds you must provide receipts to verify your expenses. Funds intended for a PASS must be deposited into a separate account. PASS money cannot be entered into an account that is used for personal expenses. Failure to use the funds as approved, or keep them separate from personal living expenses, could result in:

Paying for tax filing assistance

If you are on a limited income, do not pay someone to do your taxes. Use a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Center to file. Most centers can e-file your return for free.

To find the nearest VITA site, visit this website or call 1-800-906-9887.

Giving assets directly to a person who is eligible for government benefits

If you get public benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medi-Cal, In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), and HUD housing assistance and someone gives money directly to you, you may lose your benefits or your benefits may be reduced because you might now have more assets than the $2,000 asset limit for these programs. Instead, the money should be put into a Special Needs Trust (SNT). The use of an appropriate SNT can help you have money available for services and supports other than food and housing, without the funds counting against your eligibility for public benefits.