April 21, 2016

SNAP Eligibility: Crowdfunding and ABLE Accounts

Earlier this year, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a memo to provide states with guidance on how to treat funds in crowdfunding accounts when determining eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). Crowdfunding accounts are online platforms through which donors fund specific campaigns for charity, needy individuals, projects, or business ventures (e.g., Kickstarter, GoFundMe). The USDA generally determined that state agencies administering SNAP benefits should count funds in crowdfunding accounts to the extent that households can access such funds. (Some crowdfunding platforms do not allow account holders to access funds until they have reached a specified funding goal.) Read USDA’s memo on crowdfunding here

Earlier this month, the USDA also distributed guidance on treatment of funds in Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts when determining SNAP eligibility. ABLE accounts generally allow eligible individuals and families to save private funds for qualifying expenses related to disability or blindness. Connecticut passed legislation last session that required the state treasurer to establish an ABLE program and administer individual ABLE accounts (PA 15-80). Federal law requires funds in ABLE accounts be disregarded when making eligibility determinations for means-tested federal programs. The USDA determined that funds in ABLE accounts should be disregarded when state agencies determine SNAP eligibility, as SNAP is a means-tested federal program. Read the USDA’s memo on ABLE accounts here.