MEMORANDUM

2008 Memorandums

IM-#66      08/28/08

DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES
FAMILY SUPPORT DIVISION
P.O. BOX 2320
JEFFERSON CITY, MISSOURI
TO:
ALL COUNTY OFFICES
FROM:
JANEL R. LUCK, DIRECTOR
SUBJECT:
2008 Farm Bill Changes
FOOD STAMP MANUAL REVISION #25
1100.000.00
1100.007.00
1115.035.10
1115.035.35

DISCUSSION:

The 2008 Farm Bill (The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, Public Law 110-246) was enacted over the Presidentís veto on June 18, 2008. The 2008 Farm Bill makes numerous changes to the Food Stamp Program, effective October 1, 2008. This memorandum addresses the following:

Program Name Change

The Federal Food Stamp Program name is changed to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Missouri is not changing the name of the Food Stamp Program at this time. USDA Food and Nutrition Service plans to do media campaigns nationwide to introduce the new name.

Minimum Benefits

The new provision sets the Food Stamp minimum benefit, previously fixed at $10 per month, at eight percent of the maximum benefit for a household of one, rounded to the nearest dollar. Since the value of the maximum benefit is adjusted annually for inflation, the minimum benefit will be adjusted automatically each year as well. The minimum benefit beginning in October 2008 is $14. One and two person categorically eligible households will receive $14 regardless of their income level. This change is being made during the mass adjustments the weekend of September 6, 2008.

NOTE: Amounts that are prorated to zero because they are less than $10 remain the same. This amount was not adjusted to $14.

Standard Deduction

In the 2002 Farm Bill, Congress changed the standard deduction from a flat $134 for all households to 8.31 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines. This helped larger households, but had no effect on households with three or fewer members. The provision in the 2008 Farm Bill raises the standard deduction for households of three or fewer members to $144 effective October 1, 2008, and allows for future increases due to inflation. This change is being made during the mass adjustments the weekend of September 6, 2008 (refer to Memorandum IM-#68 October Benefit Adjustment).

Dependent Care Deduction

As previously discussed in Memorandum IM-#49 Dependent Care Deduction, dated June 30, 2008, the dependent care maximum limit has been eliminated effective October 1, 2008. This change is being made during the mass adjustments the weekend of September 6, 2008 (refer to Memorandum IM-#68 October Benefit Adjustment).

Any EU with dependent care expenses that is adjusted during the mass adjustment will have all dependent care expenses entered into FAMIS included in the determination. Dependent care expenses include the amount incurred or billed for the care of a child or other dependent, and the costs for transportation to and from the facility/provider. The dependent care mileage may be added to one individual, rather than dividing among the individuals traveling together, because there is no longer a maximum per dependent.

A listing of EUs with a dependent care expense was sent to county staff for review (Refer to Memorandum IM-#65 Dependent Care Listing). It is important to review each dependent care expense, including mileage, to ensure the entire amount of the expenses is entered into FAMIS. It is necessary that all dependent care expenses claimed by an EU eligible for the expense be entered into the Dependent Care Expenses (DCEXP or FMXM) screen. If an EU is not eligible for the dependent care expense, do not enter the expenses on the Dependent Care Expenses (DCEXP or FMXM) screen, but record a comment on the Eligibility Unit Member Role (EUMEMROL or FM3Z) screen that the EU claimed the expense and the reason it was not allowed.

Verification of dependent care expenses, including mileage, is not required unless the amount is unreasonable for the area or is questionable. Request verification of the expense, following policy at 1102.015.50 Questionable Information and 1102.005.25 Inconsistent Information.

A new message has been added to the Dependent Care Expenses (FMXM) screen to remind staff to "Review mileage and transportation expenses and add if necessary.”; This message displays in the controlled flow and when updates to the Dependent Care Expenses screen are made in maintenance.

Military Combat Payments

On December 8, 2004, the President signed into law a provision which excludes additional pay received by military personnel as a result of deployment to a combat zone. This law had to be authorized every year. The 2008 Farm Bill makes this income exclusion permanent.

Resource Policy

The 2008 Farm Bill addressed resource policy in three major areas:

The new provision will adjust resource limits to reflect inflation; however actual changes to the resource limits will not occur for a couple of years.

Certain tax-preferred retirement accounts and savings accounts for education are excluded effective October 1, 2008, as discussed in Memorandum IM-#67 FAMIS Resource Code Updates.

Stale Accounts/Accrual of Benefits

An EBT account is considered stale when no activity has occurred on the account for three months or longer. Currently, Food Stamp benefits age out of the account when the benefit has never been accessed and becomes 90 days old or when a benefit has not been accessed in 90 days. The Farm Bill requires that states cannot age benefits for at least six months, but do not have to age benefits at all until the expungement process at 365 days.

Missouri has chosen to no longer age benefits, and allow households to accrue benefits until the accounts become stale at 365 days. A memorandum and manual revisions will be provided when this change is made.

Manual Revisions

The following Food Stamp Manual sections are revised:

NECESSARY ACTION:

REM

2008 Memorandums