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Unemployment benefits may impact housing subsidy, food stamp eligibility

Unemployment income does not impact Medicaid and CHIPS recipients, but it does impact food assistance like SNAP.

SEATTLE — Some people say they are forced to stay at home because unemployment benefits make them ineligible for certain government subsidies. 

In reality, unemployment is considered taxable income, but it doesn’t mean it impacts government assistance. We asked a tax expert, a housing authority and the Employment Security Department for guidance.

Unemployment income does not impact Medicaid and CHIPS recipients.

RELATED: As unemployment hits record levels, more Washingtonians need help getting food

Housing is slightly mixed. If you are eligible for regular unemployment, that can impact your housing subsidy. 

“However, the $600 per week enhancement provided in the CARES Act is excluded from income calculations,” said Rhonda Rosenberg of the King County Housing Authority. 

That is because the extra $600 a week is temporary.

RELATED: Not getting paid? You may need to file multiple unemployment claims

Unemployment income also impacts food assistance. 

“It’s very clearly covered in our Department of Labor guidance,” said Suzi LeVine, Employment Security Department commissioner. “It does not count against Medicaid, but it does count with regard to SNAP benefits.”

Still, Congress approved extra benefits to help people during this time to make it easier for families to continue being in the program.