Gift Cards and Gift Certificates – Legal Prohibition?By Theresa M. Varnet on July 29, 2019
There are SSA POMS governing the purchase of gift cards for persons receiving SSI. The problem meeting the new rules (partially excerpted below) is often cards do not have a legal prohibition on sale for cash.
SI 00830.522 Gift Cards and Gift Certificates Citations: Soc. Sec. Act, as amended, sections 1612(a)(2)(C), 1612(b)(3) and 1612(b)(7);
20 CFR § 416.1121(f).
1. Gift Cards/Gift Certificates as Income
The value of a gift card/gift certificate is income in the month it is received if the gift card/certificate:
a. Can be used to purchase food or shelter; or
b. Can be resold.
Absent evidence to the contrary, presume a gift card/certificate can be resold. For example, evidence to the contrary may include a legally enforceable prohibition on resale or transfer of the card imposed by the card issuer/merchant printed on the card. The value of the gift card/certificate is subject to the general rules pertaining to income and income exclusions. See SI 00810.410 for the infrequent or irregular income exclusion policy.
Any unspent balance remaining on a gift card/certificate is a resource beginning the month following the month the gift card/certificate was received. If personal property is obtained with the gift card/certificate, it must be evaluated.