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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

256J.20 PROPERTY LIMITATIONS.
    Subdivision 1. Property ownership provisions. The county agency must apply paragraphs
(a) to (d) to real and personal property. The county agency must use the equity value of legally
available real and personal property, except property excluded in subdivisions 2 and 3, to
determine whether an applicant or participant is eligible for assistance.
(a) When real or personal property is jointly owned by two or more persons, the county
agency shall assume that each person owns an equal share, except that either person owns the
entire sum of a joint personal checking or savings account. When an applicant or participant
documents greater or lesser ownership, the county agency must use that greater or lesser share
to determine the equity value held by the applicant or participant. Other types of ownership
must be evaluated according to law.
(b) Real or personal property owned by the applicant or participant must be presumed legally
available to the applicant or participant unless the applicant or participant documents that the
property is not legally available to the applicant or participant. When real or personal property is
not legally available, its equity value must not be applied against the limits of subdivisions 2 and 3.
(c) An applicant must disclose whether the applicant has transferred real or personal
property valued in excess of the property limits in subdivisions 2 and 3 for which reasonable
compensation was not received within one year prior to application. A participant must disclose
all transfers of property valued in excess of these limits, according to the reporting requirements
in section 256J.30, subdivision 9. When a transfer of real or personal property without reasonable
compensation has occurred:
(1) the person who transferred the property must provide the property's description,
information needed to determine the property's equity value, the names of the persons who
received the property, and the circumstances of and reasons for the transfer; and
(2) when the transferred property can be reasonably reacquired, or when reasonable
compensation can be secured, the property is presumed legally available to the applicant or
participant.
(d) A participant may build the equity value of real and personal property to the limits in
subdivisions 2 and 3.
    Subd. 2. Real property limitations. Ownership of real property by an applicant or
participant is subject to the limitations in paragraphs (a) and (b).
(a) A county agency shall exclude the homestead of an applicant or participant according
to clauses (1) to (5):
(1) an applicant or participant who is purchasing real property through a contract for deed
and using that property as a home is considered the owner of real property;
(2) the total amount of land that can be excluded under this subdivision is limited to
surrounding property which is not separated from the home by intervening property owned by
others. Additional property must be assessed as to its legal and actual availability according to
subdivision 1;
(3) when real property that has been used as a home by a participant is sold, the county
agency must treat the cash proceeds from the sale as excluded property for six months when
the participant intends to reinvest the proceeds in another home and maintains those proceeds,
unused for other purposes, in a separate account;
(4) when the homestead is jointly owned, but the client does not reside in it because of
legal separation, pending divorce, or battering or abuse by the spouse or partner, the homestead
is excluded; and
(5) the homestead shall continue to be excluded if it is temporarily unoccupied due to
employment, illness, or as the result of compliance with a county-approved employability plan.
The education, training, or job search must be within the state, but can be outside the immediate
geographic area. A homestead temporarily unoccupied because it is not habitable due to a
casualty or natural disaster is excluded. The homestead is excluded during periods only if the
client intends to return to it.
(b) The equity value of real property that is not excluded under paragraph (a) and which is
legally available must be applied against the limits in subdivision 3. When the equity value of the
real property exceeds the limits under subdivision 3, the applicant or participant may qualify to
receive assistance when the applicant or participant continues to make a good faith effort to sell
the property and signs a legally binding agreement to repay the amount of assistance, less child
support collected by the agency. Repayment must be made within five working days after the
property is sold. Repayment to the county agency must be in the amount of assistance received
or the proceeds of the sale, whichever is less.
    Subd. 3. Other property limitations. To be eligible for MFIP, the equity value of all
nonexcluded real and personal property of the assistance unit must not exceed $2,000 for
applicants and $5,000 for ongoing participants. The value of assets in clauses (1) to (19) must be
excluded when determining the equity value of real and personal property:
    (1) a licensed vehicle up to a loan value of less than or equal to $15,000. If the assistance
unit owns more than one licensed vehicle, determine the loan value of all additional vehicles
and exclude the combined loan value of less than or equal to $7,500. The county agency shall
apply any excess loan value as if it were equity value to the asset limit described in this section,
excluding: (i) the value of one vehicle per physically disabled person when the vehicle is needed to
transport the disabled unit member; this exclusion does not apply to mentally disabled people; (ii)
the value of special equipment for a disabled member of the assistance unit; and (iii) any vehicle
used for long-distance travel, other than daily commuting, for the employment of a unit member.
    To establish the loan value of vehicles, a county agency must use the N.A.D.A. Official
Used Car Guide, Midwest Edition, for newer model cars. When a vehicle is not listed in the
guidebook, or when the applicant or participant disputes the loan value listed in the guidebook as
unreasonable given the condition of the particular vehicle, the county agency may require the
applicant or participant document the loan value by securing a written statement from a motor
vehicle dealer licensed under section 168.27, stating the amount that the dealer would pay to
purchase the vehicle. The county agency shall reimburse the applicant or participant for the cost
of a written statement that documents a lower loan value;
    (2) the value of life insurance policies for members of the assistance unit;
    (3) one burial plot per member of an assistance unit;
    (4) the value of personal property needed to produce earned income, including tools,
implements, farm animals, inventory, business loans, business checking and savings accounts
used at least annually and used exclusively for the operation of a self-employment business, and
any motor vehicles if at least 50 percent of the vehicle's use is to produce income and if the
vehicles are essential for the self-employment business;
    (5) the value of personal property not otherwise specified which is commonly used by
household members in day-to-day living such as clothing, necessary household furniture,
equipment, and other basic maintenance items essential for daily living;
    (6) the value of real and personal property owned by a recipient of Supplemental Security
Income or Minnesota supplemental aid;
    (7) the value of corrective payments, but only for the month in which the payment is
received and for the following month;
    (8) a mobile home or other vehicle used by an applicant or participant as the applicant's
or participant's home;
    (9) money in a separate escrow account that is needed to pay real estate taxes or insurance
and that is used for this purpose;
    (10) money held in escrow to cover employee FICA, employee tax withholding, sales tax
withholding, employee worker compensation, business insurance, property rental, property taxes,
and other costs that are paid at least annually, but less often than monthly;
    (11) monthly assistance payments for the current month's or short-term emergency needs
under section 256J.626, subdivision 2;
    (12) the value of school loans, grants, or scholarships for the period they are intended to
cover;
    (13) payments listed in section 256J.21, subdivision 2, clause (9), which are held in escrow
for a period not to exceed three months to replace or repair personal or real property;
    (14) income received in a budget month through the end of the payment month;
    (15) savings from earned income of a minor child or a minor parent that are set aside in a
separate account designated specifically for future education or employment costs;
    (16) the federal earned income credit, Minnesota working family credit, state and federal
income tax refunds, state homeowners and renters credits under chapter 290A, property tax
rebates and other federal or state tax rebates in the month received and the following month;
    (17) payments excluded under federal law as long as those payments are held in a separate
account from any nonexcluded funds;
    (18) the assets of children ineligible to receive MFIP benefits because foster care or adoption
assistance payments are made on their behalf; and
    (19) the assets of persons whose income is excluded under section 256J.21, subdivision
2
, clause (43).
History: 1997 c 85 art 1 s 12; 1997 c 203 art 12 s 9; 1998 c 407 art 6 s 41,42; 1999 c 245
art 6 s 19; 1Sp2001 c 2 s 144; 1Sp2003 c 14 art 1 s 32; 2005 c 56 s 1; 2007 c 147 art 2 s 27