What Happens If I Inherit Property While I'm on Welfare?

Individuals with limited income and assets may receive financial assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and medical coverage from Medicaid. They may also receive food stamps from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. However, if an individual inherits property from an estate, he may become temporarily ineligible for government assistance.

TANF

To qualify for TANF, a household must meet income and asset requirements. Most households must have countable assets less than $2,000, but households with a member over age 65 can have up to $3,000 of countable assets. If you receive a lump-sum inheritance that causes your assets to exceed the limit, you will become ineligible for TANF during all months where your assets exceed that threshold.

SNAP

To receive assistance from SNAP, most households must meet income requirements and have countable assets less than $2,000. If the household has a member over age 65, its countable assets can't exceed $3,000. SNAP doesn't always penalize recipients of lump sums. If you receive an inheritance and your income is below 185 percent of the federal poverty level, you won't lose your benefits. However, if your income exceeds 185 percent of the federal poverty level and the inheritance raises your resources above the limit, you may become ineligible for SNAP.

Medicaid

To qualify for Medicaid, you must meet income and asset requirements. These requirements differ by state and by your household's circumstances. If you receive an inheritance that causes your assets to exceed the limit for Medicaid, you will lose eligibility for Medicaid during the months that you have possession of the excess assets.

Considerations

TANF and Medicaid will count an inheritance as income in the month you receive it, so you may lose benefits for that month even if the inheritance doesn't cause your resources to exceed the limit. SNAP doesn't count an inheritance as income, so it will only affect your benefits if it raises your resources above the limit. If an inheritance causes your assets to exceed the limit for TANF or Medicaid, some states may allow you to continue receiving benefits if you turn over your excess assets to social services or repay your previous assistance.

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