Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Manual

1115.010.00 Unearned Income

IM-71 August 31, 2023; IM-59 May 20, 2022; IM-27 May 1, 2014; IM-12 January 25, 2013; IM-38 April 28, 2010; IM-29 April 8, 2010; IM-88 December 23, 2009; IM-84 August 5, 2005; IM-15 February 11, 2002; IM-10 February 16, 1999

Enter the income information into the eligibility system. Refer to the FAMIS Income Code Chart for more information.

Unearned income includes the following:

  • Income Maintenance (IM)/Public Assistance (PA): includes payments received from federally-aided IM/PA programs, such as:
    • Temporary Assistance
    • Temporary Assistance Reduction
      • If the household refused to comply with a requirement of Temporary Assistance, SNAP benefits cannot be increased. The reduction of the benefit due to refusal to comply with program requirements is unearned income for the Food Stamp Program. Refer to 1115.080.00 Prohibition in Increasing Food Stamp Benefits for more information.
    • Blind Pension
    • Supplemental Aid to the Blind (or SAB)
    • Refugee cash assistance
    • PTD State Supplemental Payment
    • OAA State Supplemental Payment
    • Supplemental Nursing Care
    • Welfare payments from another state
    • Other assistance programs based on need

NOTE: If the assistance is a vendor payment (given to a third party on behalf of the household), still consider it unearned income unless the type of vendor payment is specifically listed under income exclusions (see 1115.015.00 Income Exclusions).

NOTE: Assistance payment from programs which require performance of work as a condition of eligibility, without compensation other than the assistance payment, is considered unearned income.

  • Government Programs: payments received from non-excluded government-sponsored programs that can be construed to be a gain or benefit, including but not limited to, the following:
    • Agent Orange Veteran’s benefits
    • Black Lung benefits
    • Payments held in trust by Secretary of Interior for Indians
    • Vocational Rehabilitation payments for child care compensation
    • Vocational Rehabilitation payments not for child care compensation
  • Annuities, Pensions, and Compensations: payments received as the following:
    • Annuity
    • Union fund, pension benefits, or retirement
    • Military retirement
    • Disability benefit
    • Veterans benefits
    • Worker’s compensation
    • Unemployment compensation
    • Strike benefits
    • Railroad Retirement
    • Benefits received under Social Security Programs, such as Social Security Disability or Social Security Retirement or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
      • NOTE: Social Security payments intercepted by the IRS to collect claims for unpaid federal tax bills under the Federal Payment Levy Program are included as unearned income.
    • Severance Pay: payment received from an employer when an employee’s job is terminated
    • Recurring lump sum payments: code the recurring lump sum as the type of income it is and record that the payment is recurring
      • EXAMPLE: C is receiving severance pay from his employer as a recurring lump sum over the next twelve months. Code the income as severance pay and record that the payments are recurring.
    • Foster Care Payments: payments made to the household for foster children or adults included as household members, including Chaffee foster care paid to the household. This is income to the child and is not budgeted if the child is not in the SNAP household.
    • Adoption Subsidy: treat adoption subsidy maintenance payments for general living expenses as unearned income once an adoption is final
      • Exclude adoption subsidy payments for reimbursement (see 1115.015.30 Reimbursements) of child care or medical expenses from income.
      • Treat pre-adoption payments as Foster Care. This is income to the child if the child is in the home.
    • Guardianship Subsidy: payments made to the household when an individual is acting as a guardian for children. This is income to the child if the child is in the home.
    • Support or Alimony: payments made directly to the household from non-household members, including the following:
      • Child support: this is income to the child for whom the payment is made if the child is in the household
      • Child support arrearages: this is income to the child for whom the payment is made if the child is in the household
      • Child support payments paid for someone outside the home
      • Alimony
      • Alimony arrearages
  • Rental property: payments received from rental property is unearned income if a member of the household is not actively engaged in managing the property at least 20 hours per week, less the expenses of producing that income.
  • Cash Gifts: count cash gifts as income if they can be anticipated
  • Contributions: money paid for expenses directly to the household by a person outside the SNAP household. NOTE: Charitable contributions from non-profit organizations are considered donations and are excluded.
  • Money from spouse eating less than 50% meals: money paid to the household or made available to the household from a spouse who eats less than 50% of his/her meals in the home.
  • Allotments: payments made from a military spouse or an institutionalized spouse/individual:
    • Payments from a spouse in the military to the household
    • Payments from an institutionalized spouse to the community spouse
    • Payments from an institutionalized individual to a minor or dependent living in the household; and
    • Payments from an institutionalized individual to a minor or dependent not living in the household
  • Immigrant (alien) sponsor contribution: a household with a sponsored immigrant must have the income of the sponsor and the sponsor’s spouse deemed.
  • Proceeds from Trust Funds: monies withdrawn or dividends that are or could be received by a household from trust funds under exempt resources.
    • Consider such trust withdrawals as income in the month received unless otherwise exempt under income exclusions (see 1115.015.00 Income Exclusions).
    • Consider dividends the household has the option of either receiving or reinvesting in the trust as income in the month they become available to the household unless exempt under income exclusions.
  • Proceeds from Trust Funds Paid to a Third Party: monies legally obligated and otherwise payable to the household which are diverted by the provider of the payment to a third party for household expense shall be counted as income and not excluded.
    • Note: Expenses paid to a provider on behalf of the household from the trust should be counted as unearned income.
    • The household is entitled to income deductions for billed expenses following normal SNAP policy.
    • If distributions are made from the Trust, comments should be recorded to support the income determination.
  • Lottery/Gambling Income: consider all gambling income as unearned income
    • If the household anticipates receiving a check from one-time winnings, such as a lottery ticket, the household can choose to average the income or count it in the month received.
    • Treat gambling winnings of a person who regularly plays gambling, bets on racehorses, etc., as unearned, fluctuating income if it can be anticipated.
    • Do not count one-time winnings that cannot be anticipated as income.
    • Note: 1140.005.46 Lottery and Gambling Winnings outlines how to treat substantial lottery or gambling winnings when the winnings exceed the current resource limit for elderly or disabled households (see 1110.005.00 Maximum Resources Allowed).
  • Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA): these benefits are available to workers who lose their jobs or whose work hours and wages are reduced as a result of increased imports. TRA is a weekly benefit payable to eligible workers following exhaustion of unemployment benefits. It is paid only to individuals enrolled in a training program. An individual may also receive an allowance for transportation and living expenses if attending training or conducting a job search beyond the normal commuting distance from home. If the individual finds a job beyond the normal commuting distance from home and wants to relocate to the job site, TAA may provide a relocation allowance.
    • Count as income TRA and TAA payments for living expenses (room, board, clothing, etc.).
    • Exclude from income TRA and TAA allowances for transportation, education, and relocation expenses.
    • Sometimes the money for living expenses and transportation are combined into one check. A check which exceeds the weekly amount shown on the IMES screen generally includes a transportation reimbursement. To correctly decide what amount to budget as income, ask the participant what kind of payment is included in their check.
  • Other Payments: payments made to the household that may be construed to be a gain or benefit, including the following:
    • Dividends/royalties
    • Interest
    • Incentive payments to encourage activity
    • Representative payee – payment is not given to the beneficiary
    • Reimbursements for living expenses
    • Notes receivable
    • Non–bona fide loans

Irregular unearned income received on a casual or unpredictable basis that cannot be reasonably anticipated to be available during a three-month period and is not in excess of $30 during the three month period is excluded. Record the income, and enter the excluded/irregular amount in the Irregular Amount field.

Earned or unearned income of household members who are included, but for whom benefits are not requested: income received by included household members is unearned income for the remaining household members. The income is entered as normally entered if the person is a part of the SNAP household. The eligibility system knows how to budget the income for these individuals. The income is budgeted as follows:

  • Income is included less a pro rata share for the following:
  • Income is included in its entirety for the following:

Always review the household’s SNAP budget summary prior to authorizing a case action to ensure the income you expect to be budgeted is included. If the income is incorrect, revisit the income entered and correct any inaccurate information.