New Policy for Social Security Payments and Direct Express Cards
If you have residents who still receive a paper check for Social Security or other federal benefit payments, they were required by law to switch to an electronic payment method by March 1, 2013. In order to remain consistent with HUD regulations, benefits received through direct deposit or the Direct Express Debit Card will continue to be treated as income since the payment is a regular periodic payment.
The balance on the Direct Express Debit Card is considered an asset and will be verified in a manner consistent with existing savings account verification requirements [RHIIP ListServ 296, issued Feb. 27, 2013]. It’s important to note that is a change from previous instructions specifying that Direct Express Debit Card balances should be treated like a checking account using the average of the verified monthly balance over a six-month period to determine the value of the asset.
Specifically, residents who receive their benefit on a Direct Express Debit Card will need to provide an account balance no more than 120 days’ old at the time of recertification [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 5-17]. A current balance can be obtained from an ATM, through the online account service, or a paper statement. The verification document must identify the account and the account holder.
Direct Express Debit Cards don’t provide interest income. If the total household assets don’t exceed $5,000, no income will be derived from this asset. If household assets exceed $5,000, income from assets is the greater of “actual income from assets” or the current imputed rate of 2 percent [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 5-7].