Frequently Asked Questions
What is basic income?
Basic income is an unrestricted no strings attached monthly payment meant to supplement, not replace, the current social safety net. Having a steady income reduces month-to-month income fluctuations and allows recipients to decide how they can best meet their personal needs.
How do I apply?
We are no longer accepting applications to UpLift. The application period was open February 17 – February 27, 2023.
Do I need to be a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen to participate?
No, you do not need to be a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen to participate.
How do I contact customer support?
Are there requirements to keep receiving the monthly $500?
No, once you are selected to be a participant of the study there are no additional requirements you need to complete or fulfill to receive the $500 income payment each month.
Does the money need to be spent a certain way?
No, the $500 monthly income payments can be spent anyway the participants see fit. The payment is unrestricted and participants have the flexibility to use the payments on what they need most each month.
Will I need to report the $500 monthly payments on my taxes?
No, you will not need to report the monthly income payments on your taxes. UpLift payments will be characterized under the IRS’s “charitable gift status” which is non-taxable and only needs to be reported to the IRS if individuals receive $16,000 or more in one year. Because the UpLift benefit will amount to $6,000 per year, individuals will only need to report this income payment if they receive additional cash/asset gifts outside of the pilot, totaling $10,000 or more (per year) while participating in this pilot study.
What is the timeline for the pilot?
UpLift’s application will launch February 17th, 2023, and will close February 27th, 2023. Selected participants will receive their first payments in May of 2023.
The monthly payments will continue for two years. A final evaluation report will be completed in Spring 2026.
How will the research study work? What is being measured?
The University of Pennsylvania will be the lead research team working together with Des Moines University to conduct the randomized controlled trial that will study the impacts of a sustained basic income on recipients’ health and well-being. Over the course of two years, selected participants will be sent periodic optional surveys that will collect data on indicators associated with physical health, mental health, employment status, housing conditions, work and school absenteeism, and social connectedness. Research on participant time will be collected using a time study app to identify how participants are spending their time, especially as it relates to caregiving activities that are often unpaid. General data on spending patterns will be tracked to learn more about how people decide how to use their monthly income payments. All data will be reported as a group and will not be traceable to any of the participants involved in the study.
What is UpLift - The Central Iowa Basic Income Pilot?
UpLift – The Central Iowa Basic Income Pilot is a basic income demonstration taking place in Polk, Dallas, and Warren counties. This project will launch in February of 2023, with first payments going to selected participants in May of 2023. Those selected will receive a monthly income payment of $500 for 24 months. The purpose of the pilot is to study the impacts of a sustained monthly income on participants’ health and well-being.
Can more than one person from my household apply?
Unfortunately, only one person per household can apply and participate.
Do I need a bank account to participate?
No, you do not need a bank account to be able to participate. Selected participants will receive a reloadable prepaid debit card where they can access their funds.
How are individuals being selected to participate?
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Des Moines University will be conducting the randomization and selection of participants from the pool of applicants that were confirmed to be eligible. 110 participants will be randomly selected to receive the monthly income payment and 140 participants will be randomly selected to serve as the control group. Those in the control group will not receive the monthly income payment, but will be compensated for completing health and wellbeing surveys.
If selected, how will I receive the monthly income payment?
Selected participants will receive a prepaid debt card that will be reloaded each month with the $500 payment. The card on which participants will receive their UpLift income payments works like a debit card. It can be used anywhere Visa and Mastercard debit cards are accepted. Individuals can make purchases, shop online, set up automatic payments to pay bills, and use the functions of online banking.
Those selected to receive the monthly income payment can use their card to get cash back when making purchases or withdrawing cash at ATMs. Purchases that exceed the available balance will not be approved. In rare circumstances, if a purchase results in a negative balance, individuals will not be charged an overdraft fee. It is important to for individuals to know their balance before making purchases. Using online banking and the mobile app makes knowing current balances easy and simple. UpLift staff will assist participants in accessing these services.
Will I be required to report how I spend the money?
No, you will not be required to report how you spend the money. Data on spending patterns will be collected to understand how people make use of the monthly income payment, but it will not be traceable to any of the participants.
Will the $500 each month impact my eligibility for receiving other public benefits?
Some public benefits programs such as Supplemental Security Income, Child Care Assistance, and others have income requirements that report cash gifts as “countable income”. This means that UpLift’s income payments may affect benefit levels or eligibility. Many times, this can only be determined on a case-by-case basis. Selected participants will undergo benefits counseling during their onboarding sessions so they can make an informed decision on their participation in the pilot study.
For a brief overview of benefits impacts, please see the UpLift Benefit Impact Guide.
How is the pilot being funded?
This cross-sector collaboration is funded by a variety of partners through donations from public, private, philanthropic, and non-profit organizations. Find a full list of funders on our funders page.
How will my information be used?
The information collected in the application will only be used to determine an applicant’s eligibility. Survey responses will be used identify changes in physical health, mental health, employment status, housing conditions, work and school absenteeism, and social connectedness. These responses will be analyzed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Des Moines University to inform the local and national conversation about how basic income programs can improve community well-being. None of the information provided will be traceable back to any of the participants.