Public Assistance Programs

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Benefits (SNAP)

A member's SNAP benefits are not affected because a member receives the AmeriCorps living allowance. This means that a member's benefits should not be decreased, increased, or terminated because he or she receives the living allowance. This is a federal rule and is the same in all states.

For more information, visits SNAP Benefits

Public Housing

AmeriCorps members' benefits do not affect a member's eligibility for federal, need-based housing assistance, such as Section 8 housing and other federally subsidized housing. This means that the living stipend cannot be taken into consideration when a member applies for or if a member's eligibility for public housing is being re-examined. This is a federal rule and is the same in all states.

* See Chapter 8 - Attachments: 23. Federal Register, DOCID fr20ap01-79 (pdf)

Unemployment Benefits

AmeriCorps members are not entitled to unemployment benefits. The Corporation for National and Community Service has interpreted federal legislation to mean that there is no employer-employee relationship between members and programs. Illinois has chosen to agree with this interpretation and denies unemployment benefits to members; hence, programs are not required to pay unemployment taxes.

* See Chapter 8 - Attachment: 24. Illinois Administrative Rules, Section 2732.215 (pdf)

Public Assistance Programs

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)

A member's Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits are affected by the AmeriCorps living allowance. For TANF purposes, the living allowance is considered non-exempt earned income. This means that for every $3.00 a member earns before taxes and other payroll deductions, the TANF grant is reduced by $1.00. For example, the TANF grant of a member that makes $600 per month before payroll deductions would be decreased by $200 (one-third of $600).

Serving as an AmeriCorps member is considered an allowable work activity as long as a member serves at least 30 hours per week (effective October 1999). This means that the lifetime benefit clock for members serving at least 30 hours per week will be stopped.

Federal legislation allows each state to determine how AmeriCorps benefits will affect TANF grants and if serving as an AmeriCorps member is an allowable work activity. The information above is for Illinois only and will vary by state.


The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) AmeriCorps Provisions, dated 9/6/05, states that programs must provide health care coverage to all full-time AmeriCorps members. In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recognizes that AmeriCorps members, who will receive AmeriCorps health care coverage, also may be receiving Medicaid coverage. DHHS has stated that AmeriCorps Medicaid recipients are not waived from AmeriCorps health care coverage.

Because Medicaid "wraps around" other available health care coverage, Medicaid will only pick up the costs that are not covered under the primary AmeriCorps policy. Medicaid is always a secondary form of coverage when there is another health care policy in place.

Members who remain on TANF will continue to receive Medicaid for their dependents. Members who lose TANF due to the living allowance may still qualify for Medicaid or Family Health Plan, and may usually continue to receive extended Medicaid coverage for their dependents for up to one year.

For more information, visit PM 08-01-01-i: AmeriCorps

Supplemental Social Security

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients who are: under the age of 22, are not married nor the head of a household are eligible for the student earned income exclusion. This excludes them from countable earned income of $1,290 per month and up to $5,200 per year (amounts as of January 1, 2001). This may be combined with existing SSI work incentives and other "income disregard" rules.

In addition, any portion of the Education Award that is used for paying tuition, fees, or other necessary education expenses is excluded from countable income for SSI recipients. This exclusion does not cover amounts used or set aside for room and board or to repay qualified student loans. Any portion of the Education Award that is not used for tuition, fees, or other necessary educational expenses counts as income in the month that it is used.

* See Chapter 8 - Attachments:

 25. Changes in Supplemental Security Income Memorandum (pdf)

 26. CNCS Letter Regarding the HEART Act (pdf)

For information, visit Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 (HEART Act).