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"> IDA FAQs | Northwest Access Fund


What is an IDA?
An IDA is a matched savings account where low-income households can earn up to $2,000 by saving on a monthly basis. However much an individual saves, the program matches it dollar for dollar. Save a dollar—get a dollar! If the maximum is saved, they would have $4,000 to go towards their specific savings goal (assistive technology). There are eligibility guidelines and requirements.

What can I purchase with my IDA?
IDAs can be used to purchase all types of Assistive Technology.

Assistive technology is broadly defined to include any device that maintains or enhances the functional capabilities of an individual with a disability – for example: hearing aids, wheelchairs and other mobility devices, vision aids, computers with and without special adaptations and software, cognitive aids, vehicle accessibility modifications and adapted vehicles, and office furniture with modifications for people with disabilities. IDAs also can used to purchase the services needed to make effective use of an assistive device – help with selection, training and repairs, for example.

Who is eligible for the IDA?

    To enroll in a Northwest Access Fund IDA, an applicant must show that:

  • He or she is a Washington State resident with a physical, mental or sensory disability and/or caring for a child or other family member with a disability;
  • Household income at the start of the savings program is equal to or less than 80% of the county median income, adjusted for household size;
  • Household net assets at the time of application must be at or below $20,000. “Household net assets” is the total market value of all assets owned in whole or in part by any household member minus total debts or obligations. The value of the primary dwelling unit, one motor vehicle, special needs trusts and similar accounts (including e.g., accounts set up under ABLE Act), and retirement accounts are excluded in calculating net worth;
  • The individual account holder must be at least 18 years old when the equipment is purchased; family members may apply for a person with a disability who will be under 18 when their savings goal is reached.
  • The items to be purchased qualify as assistive technology or business equipment.

How do participants enroll in the IDA?
Complete and return an IDA application. Participate in a financial coaching appointment to determine if you’re a good fit for the program. If you are approved, you will complete a Savings Agreement & other enrollment forms. After these forms are completed, we will help you establish a special custodial IDA bank account. Once the account is set up, you must make regular monthly deposits into the account. Deposits will be made by electronic funds transfer on a day of the month of your choosing.

Are there other requirements?
Yes. You must participate in financial coaching (or financial literacy training) and training or counseling relevant to your IDA purchase.

What income can I use to save for the IDA?
You can use any income, including SSI or SSDI.

Is there a deadline for applying?
Qualified applicants will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Only a limited number of accounts are available. If no accounts are available, you can be added to a waiting list.

How long do I have to save?
You must save for at least six months in order to receive the match. Your savings goal must be completed within three years of your IDA enrollment.

How much can participants save and receive in matching funds?
It is a 1:1 match of up to $2,000.

Can the IDA be combined with a low-interest Assistive Technology Loan or a Business Loan from Northwest Access Fund?
Participants also are eligible to apply for a low-interest loan from Northwest Access Fund. Participation in an IDA savings program does not guarantee loan approval. However, if approved, the loan can be combined with IDA savings and match to purchase needed equipment.

How will the IDA affect asset or income limits for SSI or other government benefits?
An IDA will not impact your eligibility for SSI or your monthly benefit payment, or any other federal benefit program if your savings account is set up in a custodial account. This is an account held in the name of Northwest Access Fund with the participant as a beneficiary. Because it is a custodial account, you cannot withdraw funds from the account without our permission. When a purchase is made, the payment will be made directly from the vendor – meaning that the funds do not pass through the participant’s account. This all means that neither the savings nor the match should be counted as income and/or assets.

If I change my mind, can I withdraw from the program?
Yes. You must notify us of your decision. We will provide the paperwork you need to access the funds (that you have saved, not the match) in your IDA. Note: withdrawal of funds for a non-IDA purpose could impact the amount of, or eligibility for, SSI, Medicaid or other government benefits. Depending on the amount of your withdrawal, we recommend (and may require) that you speak to a benefits planner.

Do you have more questions?
Call Megan Greeley at (206) 328-5116 or send an email to