Public Benefits

Due to receiving a modest living allowance, many members may be eligible for income-based public assistance programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps. Your eligibility depends on your individual family and financial situation, as well as the type of AmeriCorps program in which you're serving.  The DHS website includes details regarding how the Iowa Department of Human Services would count your AmeriCorps benefits (living allowance, education award payments, etc.) when determining your eligibility for Food Assistance, Medicaid, Iowa Care, Family Investment Program (FIP), Promise Jobs, and more.

To apply for food assistance and/or more information about eligibility requirements:

If you need documentation of your term of service with AmeriCorps Partners in Learning, please contact your Program Director for a memo.

Overview of AmeriCorps State/National & Public Benefits

There are two primary laws that instruct us as to how these benefits will interact for AmeriCorps State members. First, the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (NCSA) provides that allowances, earnings, and payments to participants in AmeriCorps State programs “shall not be considered income for the purposes of determining eligibility for and the amount of income transfer and in-kind aid furnished under any federal or federally assisted program based on need, other than as provided under the Social Security Act.”  42 U.S.C. § 12637(d).


Second, the Heroes Earning Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 provided that AmeriCorps State benefits, including the living allowance, health insurance, child care, and the education award (and related interest payments) are excluded from countable income for determining eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  


Therefore, if the benefits program is federally-funded and is based on need, and is not provided under the Social Security Act (other than SSI), AmeriCorps State and National benefits should not affect an AmeriCorps member’s eligibility for such assistance. Examples include:

  1. Food Assistance (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -SNAP or “Food Stamps”)
  2. Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  3. Housing & Urban Development (HUD)-subsidized housing (“Section 8”)
  4. Veterans’ benefits
  5. Need based federal student financial aid, such as the Pell grant
  6. Any other need-based Federal or federally assisted program (except a program supported under the Social Security Act)


If, on the other hand, the benefits program is not federally-funded, not need- based, or is provided under the Social Security Act (other than SSI); the member’s eligibility for those benefits might be affected. The member should contact the relevant state or federal agency responsible for the program in question, or the state commission, to get a determination. Examples of benefits that might be affected by AmeriCorps State benefits are:

  1. Family Investment Program (FIP or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families-TANF)
  2. Social Security Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI/SSDI)
  3. Medicaid (Iowa Health Link) and Medicare
  4. Healthy and Well Kids in Iowa (hawk-i), the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP)
  5. Unemployment Insurance
  6. Childcare Assistance

Public Benefit Resources