Public Benefit Asset Limits: Consequences for Children and Families

Poverty & Family Economics

The launch of a new website by the New America Foundation highlights the impact that public benefit asset limits have on children and families from low-income backgrounds. Asset limits set a maximum level of savings and resources that families can possess while receiving public benefits. Asset limits vary amongst the states, from a low of $1000 to a high of $10,000, and are currently used in numerous public benefit programs including Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Research on the topic has shown that asset limits negatively affect low-income families by limiting their ability to save or develop assets. Instead of spurring economic security for families and the growth and development of children, asset limits dissuade recipients of public benefits from saving toward the future. These limitations have a significant impact upon the well-being of children, as families are unable to save even small amounts to cover child care costs, routine or emergency medical care, or educational opportunities. As a result, the cycle of poverty is only made more profound as families and children lack a sufficient amount of resources to lift themselves out of poverty.

While there has been a trend away from this policy in recent years, asset limits still exist in a number of states, continuing their contribution to the cycle of poverty. Modernizing the policies around public benefits to encourage savings and the accumulation of assets would provide children and families with the resources they need to overcome economic insecurity and reach financial independence.

For More Information:

Check out the new “Modernizing Asset Limits” website launched by the New America Foundation HERE.

Anthony Eleftherion is a First Focus Intern Associate