PAYMENTS UNDER STATE BONUS LAW OR INSURANCE ADJUSTMENT BENEFITS TO RECIPIENTS OF PUBLIC ASSISTANCE
Payments under the state bonus law or the insurance adjustment benefits are income and resources under the public assistance laws of this state.
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April 5, 1950
Honorable Roderic Olzendam
Department of Social Security
Olympia, Washington Cite as: AGO 49-51 No.250
Attention: Jack Wedemeyer, Asst. Director
You have requested the opinion of this office on the following question:
Are payments received under the state bonus law or as the result of the insurance adjustment benefits to be considered as income or resources which the Department of Social Security must consider in determining eligibility of need for public assistance?
Our conclusions may be summarized as follows:
Payments under the state bonus law or the insurance adjustment benefits are income and resources and must be considered by the Department of Social Security in determining eligibility for public assistance.
The pertinent statutory provision defining the term "resources" is found in section 3 (h), chapter 6, Laws of 1949 (1949 Rem. Supp. 9998-33c) which provides:
"'Resources' shall mean any asset which may be applied toward meeting the needs of an applicant or recipient, including real and personal property holdings contributing toward the maintenance of the applicant or recipient or representing investments or savings which may be drawn upon for maintenance purposes, excluding therefrom:
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"(1) Insurance policies the cash surrender value of which does not exceed $500;
"(2) Cash or its equivalent not exceeding $200;
"(3) Personal effects, clothing, furniture, household equipment and a motor vehicle;"
You state in your letter that it is contended that any action by the department requiring consideration of the state bonus as income and resources which would thereby reduce the benefits to which any person is entitled to public assistance would be contrary to the intent of the legislature in passing the bonus provision. However, the controlling statute in the present case is not the bonus law, but the statutes of the social security law of this state. In order to determine whether or not a person is eligible for public assistance of any kind the department is required to take into consideration the definitions of income and resources as found in the public assistance law. That law,supra, clearly states that any cash resources exceeding $200 in the case of old age assistance, aid to dependent children and aid to the blind in a resource; in the case of a recipient of general assistance, however, any cash must be considered as a resource. However, we should like to point out that the money received under the state bonus law or as a result of the insurance adjustment benefits cannot be considered as a resource if they are immediately put into an exempt resource.
Accordingly, it is the opinion of this office that the cash payments received by veterans under either the state bonus law or as a dividend on insurance must be considered as a resource in determining the need for public assistance.
Very truly yours,
Assistant Attorney General