The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

6. What is the asset limit for EA?

  • The asset limit for EA is $2,500. That means you generally must have less than $2,500 of "countable assets" to qualify for EA.
  • Some families are not subject to (or automatically meet) the EA asset limit. These include:
    • Families in shelter who have saved the money required by their EA Rehousing Plans (see Question 16), and
    • Households in which all members receive TAFDC.
  • For families subject to the asset limit, some assets count and others do not.
  • Assets that do count include:
    • cash on hand,
    • bank accounts you have access to,
    • the value of vehicles owned by the household except for the first $15,000 in fair market value of one vehicle,
    • the cash surrender value of life insurance and burial insurance,
    • real estate other than a home you live in unless it qualifies for a six-month exclusion because you are trying to sell it.
  • Assets that do not count include:
    • the first $15,000 in fair market value of one vehicle, as well as any additional value that DHCD agrees to discount in order to allow a family to own a reliable vehicle,
    • household and personal belongings,
    • assets you do not have ready access to (such as assets tied up in court proceedings or real estate you cannot immediately sell),
    • Earned Income Tax Credit in the month of receipt and the following month,
    • Assets used to produce income, such as a vehicle used for self-employment,
    • up to $7,500 in relocation payments that was received by a tenant to leave a foreclosed property, DTA Transitions, Jan. 2008, p. 7
    • the assets of an SSI recipient or a recipient of state or federal foster care payments. Note: Assets of an SSI recipient do not count toward the EA asset limit even though the income of an SSI recipient does count toward the EA income limit. See Question 4.
  • Savings required during the 6-month period for families who went over income (see Question 4) are not countable for EA.

This is not a complete list of noncountable assets. Check the regulations for a complete list. See 760 CMR 67.02(6)(a), relying on 106 CMR 204.120 through 204.140. Note: Assets that cannot be sold, for instance because they are under the control of another person or tied up in legal proceedings, are “inaccessible” and should not be counted. 106 CMR 204.125.

Advocacy Tips:

  • If you are in EA shelter and have saved the money required by your Rehousing Plan, you should not be terminated for going over the asset limit -- even for assets other than those savings. 760 CMR 67.02(6)(b). Contact an advocate if you get a termination notice for being over the asset limit.
  • The EA regulations incorporate the TAFDC rules on what are countable assets. The TAFDC car value exclusion rule was updated and improved in 2014. St. 2014, c. 158, section 22. 

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