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Eliminating Asset Limits

Public benefit programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), have historically included an asset limit. An asset limit prevents applicants with savings or other assets exceeding the limit from receiving assistance. Asset limits force families in need to spend their limited savings before they can qualify for assistance, leaving them vulnerable to financial emergencies and preventing them from moving along the path to financial security. Asset limits also discourage aid recipients from saving--sending the wrong message to families. Many states have eliminated the asset tests for their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps) and/or their medical assistance program, but most have retained their asset test for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). In addition to achieving the policy goal of encouraging savings, states can realize significant administrative savings by eliminating their TANF asset limit.

The webinar, presented on October 22, 2013, featured advocates from Hawaii and Illinois who led successful campaigns to eliminate the TANF asset test in their respective states in 2013. Topics included:

  • Effective messaging;
  • Advocating to the Governor’s office, Departments, and Legislators;
  • Responding to opposition; and
  • Other lessons learned




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