An Individual Development Account, or IDA, is a special account designed to allow qualifying low-income individuals to save specifically for school, the purchase of a home, or to start a business without affecting their income-based benefits. The money used to fund the account comes from money you make from working.
Your state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program will match your contributions to the account. Sometimes matching money is available through other sources known as "demonstration project" money.
To be eligible for an IDA, you must receive TANF payments AND be working. Check with your local social services agency to see if TANF IDAs are available in your state.
If your state does not have a TANF IDA program, you may qualify for a "demonstration project" IDA. To qualify you must be working AND receiving TANF or have low income and assets. Your primary residence and one car are excluded when calculating assets.
Special IDA account programs are available to certain low-income refugees. For a list of participating organizations, go to http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/programs/ind_dev_acc_prg.htm.
TANF matching amounts range from $1 to $8, depending on the IDA program you are enrolled in. For example, if you deposit $20 every week into your IDA account and your program matches $2 for every $1 you deposit, an additional $40 a week will be deposited into your account. This does not include the interest you will be earning as your account balance grows.
Without an IDA, an individual’s SSI payments will decrease because of money earned from working. However, when you use an IDA to save your earnings, your SSI benefits will not be decreased, and may actually increase. This is because the money you deposit into the IDA, the matching contributions, and the interest you earn do not count against you when the SSA looks at your earnings and other resources to calculate your SSI benefits.
For more information on IDAs, visit http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs. You can also contact your local TANF agency for more information on whether you qualify and how to establish an account.