IM-1 01/15/99 UTILITY STANDARDS; SHELTER EXP VERIFICATION CHG
|MANDATORY UTILITY STANDARDS; CHANGE IN
SHELTER EXPENSE VERIFICATION REQUIREMENTS
FOOD STAMP MANUAL REVISION #1
|Attached are the revised Food Stamp manual pages reflecting changes due to the implementation of the mandatory utility standards and the change in the shelter expense verification requirement.|
|there is a court order (signed by a judge)
or administrative order (signed by the Director of Child Support Enforcement)
requiring the child support payment.
Before allowing the deduction, verify the
legal obligation to pay child support and the actual amount of child support
FS households, including the homeless, incurring shelter expenses receive a shelter deduction.
Consider each individual in a DMH apartment
placement as an individual food stamp household. Allow a prorated
share of the shelter expenses such as rent and the appropriate utility
standard for each household.
Allowable Shelter Costs
Shelter costs consist of the costs of home ownership or rent, utilities (heating and cooking fuel, electricity, water and sewer, and trash collection) and telephone. Utility costs are allowed by budgeting the appropriate utility standard. For homeless households, the cost for shelter all or part of the month is a shelter expense.
Shelter costs are as incurred or as billed rather than as paid. Shelter costs do not include penalty fees (late payment charges on utilities, rent, mortgages, property insurance, and/or property taxes).
Deduct monthly shelter costs in excess of 50 percent of the household's income after all other deductions have been allowed. The excess shelter deduction cannot exceed $275 for households not containing any aged or disabled members.
A household containing a member who meets the elderly/disabled definition receives an excess shelter deduction for the monthly cost that exceeds 50 percent of the household's monthly income after all other applicable deductions.
If more than one FS household lives
in one apartment and more than one household pays the rent and utilities,
each FS household is entitled to a prorated share of the rent and appropriate
1115.035.25.10 Home Ownership or Rent
Include in shelter costs the continuing expense of the dwelling (including mobile home and lot rent) occupied by the household. Such
costs are rent, mortgage, or other charges leading to the ownership of the dwelling, including interest on such shelter costs. Include property taxes, state and local assessments, and insurance on the structure itself. Do not include separate costs for insuring furniture or personal belongings.
NOTE: Allow personal property
tax on a mobile home as a shelter expense. No other personal property
tax is allowable.
Mandatory Utility Standards
Utility costs are charges for heating and cooking fuel, electricity, water, sewer, garbage and trash collection fees, telephone charges, and the fees charged by the utility provider for initial installation of the utility. One time deposits are not considered a utility cost. The costs of cutting wood (such as cutting permits, gas for chain saw, and equipment such as a chain saw) are not allowable shelter costs. If the household purchases wood for heating or cooking, allow it as a utility expense.
If the household incurs an allowable utility expense, budget the appropriate mandatory utility standard(s).
The mandatory utility standards are as follows:
1. Standard Utility Allowance (SUA)
Assess the household's eligibility for the SUA at each application, reapplication or when the household moves. Use the SUA for the household if it incurs out-of-pocket utility expenses for primary heating or cooling costs or received energy assistance benefits at this address in the past 12 months.
Cooling costs are defined as verifiable utility expenses relating to the operation of air conditioning systems or room air conditioners. Cooling costs related to the operation of fans are not included.
The NHCS is $80 per month.
Determine the appropriate standard for utility expenses for each household at the following times:
1. at certification,
1. When more than one household shares the same living quarters and shares one or more of the utility costs that are billed separately from rent or mortgage payments, each FS household is entitled to a prorated share of the appropriate utility standard(s).
a. When one household's name is on the utility bill and it alone pays the bill, budget the full appropriate utility standard for the household.
2. When two or more families share a meter but have separate living quarters and the utility bill is addressed to only one family, accept the unaddressed household's statement of liability for the expense unless it is questionable.
Energy Assistance Payments
Energy assistance includes payments or allowances made under a federal law for the purpose of energy assistance. These payments or allowances must be clearly identified as energy assistance by the legislative body authorizing the program or providing the funds. For example, excluded federal payments are energy assistance payments provided through the Department of Health and Human Services, Low Income Energy Assistance Program.
Energy assistance payments are made in one lump sum to the household or the provider.
1. Some households receive cash assistance from these programs. Allow expenses paid by cash assistance as deductions when calculating shelter costs. The expenses paid must be allowable expenses.1115.035.25.35 Shelter Costs of a Vacated Home
IM-#1 January 15, 1999
Use the NHCS to calculate the shelter
costs for a vacated home not occupied by the household because of employment
or training away from home, illness, or abandonment caused by a natural
disaster or casualty loss. The household must intend to return
to the home for the shelter costs of the home to be allowed as a deduction.
The home must not be leased or rented during the absence of the household.
The current occupants of the home, if any, must not be claiming shelter
costs for FS purposes. Charges for repair of the home damaged or
destroyed due to a natural disaster may be allowed unless the household
is reimbursed by public or private agencies, insurance or some other source.
Homeless Shelter Costs
Use the NHCS in determining shelter costs for homeless households that incur or are billed for a utility expense for all or part of the month. The household is not entitled to the NHCS if it is not billed for utility costs separately from the rent.
Calculating Income Deductions
1. For billed expenses, except for expenses that can be averaged, allow a deduction only in the month the expense is billed or otherwise becomes due, regardless of when or if the household intends to pay the expense. (Do not consider the intent to pay.) Amounts carried forward from past billing periods are not deductible.
1. Expenses may be averaged if the household elects to have fluctuating expenses averaged, or
2. Expenses may be averaged if the household elects to have expenses billed less often than monthly averaged forward over the interval between scheduled billings. If no scheduled interval exists, average the expense over the period of time it was intended to cover.
The household can change (once per certification period) from lump sum budgeting to averaging expenses, or from averaged to lump sum. Do not allow an expense more than once.
allowed for each month certified.1115.035.30.10 Anticipating Expenses
IM-#1 January 15, 1999
Calculate a household's expenses based on the expenses the household expects to be billed during the certification period. Use bills from the most recent months to anticipate expenses unless the household is reasonably certain a change will occur.
Households reporting one-time only medical expenses during the certification period may elect to have a one-time deduction or to have the expense averaged over the remaining months of the certification period. Begin averaging the month the change becomes effective.
If a one-time medical expense is billed too late in the certification period to allow the expense in the applicable certification period, the expense can be averaged over the months of the new certification period provided no break exists between certification periods.
EXAMPLE: A household is billed for a one-time expense on 11/27. December is the last month of the certification period. Since time does not permit the change to be effective for December, average it over the months of the new certification period, provided the household is recertified for the next month.
The only other instance in which a medical
one-time expense can be allowed outside of the certification period is
when the household timely agrees with the provider to pay the bill in installments.
1115.035.30.15 Disallowed Expenses
1. An expense covered by an excluded reimbursement or vendor payment is not deductible. For example, the portion of rent covered by excluded vendor payments is not calculated as part of the household's shelter cost. That portion of an allowable medical expense not reimbursable is included as part of the household's medical expenses. For households entitled to the medical deduction, consider the non-reimbursable portion at the time the amount of reimbursement is received or can otherwise be verified.
NOTE: This policy does not apply to energy assistance provided under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Act of 1981.
2. Expenses are deductible if the service is provided by someone outside of the household and the household does not pay for the service through an in-kind benefit. For example, a dependent care deduction is not allowed if another household member provides the care or compensation for the care is in the form of an in-kind benefit, such as food.
3. Amounts carried forward from past billing periods are not deductible even if included with the most recent billing and actually paid by the household.
EXAMPLE: Mr. J applied for FS on 3/6. He declared a shelter cost of rent of $300 for March. This included $150 for rent for February (past due) with the remaining $150 for March rent. Only $150 for March is an allowable rental expense.
4. Expenses previously allowed as a deduction
are not allowed again.
1125.010.05 Initial Applications
1. Screen initial applications for the month of application.
EXAMPLE: An applicant who has not received FS previously applies on 10/25 and states he was laid off from his job yesterday. Determine the applicant's FS eligibility for October. Screen this application for expedited service eligibility for the month of application.
2. Screen for the month subsequent to the month of application for applicants who have received FS benefits in another case or project area or applicants who have received FS benefits and reapplied due to a closing or rejection in the month of application (2nd month cases).
Process applications meeting the 2nd month expedited service eligibility criteria so benefits are issued on the first day of the subsequent month.
EXAMPLES (Cases Screened the Month Following the Month of Application):
a. An applicant applies for FS on 10/10. She received benefits in October in another household. Screen for expedited services on 10/10 for the next subsequent month following the application, November, using income, resources, and shelter costs anticipated for November.1125.010.10 Timely/Non-timely Reapplication
Screen for the first month of the recertification.
NOTE: Never consider recertifications
a second month case when determining which month is to be screened
for expedited service qualification.
Income, Resources, and Shelter Costs
Use the following to determine if, for the screening month, the total
household income is less than $150 and resources are less than $100 OR that income and resources are less than shelter costs.
1. Deduct overhead expenses from total income to determine adjusted gross income. EXAMPLE: Subtract the expense of producing income from self-employment, or subtract student expenses from a student loan, grant or scholarship.1125.010.20 Destitute Migrant/Seasonal Farm Worker Households
Only migrant or seasonal farm workers are designated as destitute. Evaluate each migrant and seasonal farm worker household to determine
Process any application for recertification NOT submitted in a timely manner as an application for initial certification. If the application is received within 30 calendar days after the certification period ends, do not verify income if the source has not changed and the amount has not changed by more than $25, unless the information is incomplete, inaccurate, inconsistent, or outdated.
1. Necessary processing steps also include the timely provision of necessary verification.
a. Allow the household ten days from the date of the request for information to supply the necessary verification. Document the date the information is due.2. Complete recertifications for categorically eligible households timely even if the Temporary Assistance redetermination has not been made.
a. Assume categorical eligibility for these households. Do not evaluate those eligibility factors not investigated for categorically eligible households.
c. If FS eligibility or the benefit level is affected by the Temporary Assistance termination, follow adverse action procedures.
office interview by the county office if the household is unable to appoint an authorized representative.
g. The county office determines if households are already participating in the Food Stamp program.
a. Consider applications from such households filed on the date the signed application is taken at the correct county office.1135.020.10 SSA Food Stamp Application Process
IM-#1 January 15, 1999
As part of each SSI redetermination and initial application interview, SSA representatives perform the following.
1. Conduct a pre-application interview.a. Determine whether the individual is currently receiving FS or applied for them in the previous 30 days and does not have an application pending.2. Complete the application.
receiving SSI or OASDI.
6. Prepare transmittal form (SSA-4233).
a. Summarize on the transmittal sheet which FS eligibility factors were verified and which remain to be verified.
7. Complete fraud forms and provide copies to the applicant.
8. Assemble the food stamp application package (containing the application, relevant evidence, and completed transmittal form) and mail before the close of business the next federal working day after the date the FS application was taken by SSA.
SSA staff advise the applicant that SSA does not retain records of the FS application and all further contacts relevant to the FS application are to be directed to the county division of DFS.1135.020.15 Work Registration Requirements
The work registration requirement is waived for household members applying for SSI and FS under joint application processing until:
1. they are determined eligible for SSI and thereby become exempt from work registration, or
Assign the initial certification period up to 12 months or 24 months.
In cases jointly processed in which SSI determination results in denial, and the caseworker believes that FS eligibility or benefit levels may be affected, notify the household of expiration of FS benefits and include:
1. the date the certification period ends (the end of the month
affect categorical eligibility. If aware of Temporary Assistance, SAB, GR, and SP approval, take action without waiting for the claimant to report the change.
Changes, except medical expenses, reported during the certification period are subject to the same verification procedures as initial certification. Do not verify changes in income of $25 or less unless the information is incomplete, inaccurate, inconsistent, or outdated.
Verify changes in medical expenses reported by the household which result in an increased allotment. Do not contact the household to verify changes reported by a source other than the household. If the change in medical expenses reported by a source other than the household cannot be verified without contacting the household, do not act on the change.
Certified households must report changes within 10 calendar days of the date the change becomes known to the household. For changes in income, the date known to the household is the date the household reasonably knows of a new source of income or a change in earnings.
If the amount of income cannot be anticipated,
consider the date the first paycheck is received as the date known and
justify the budgeting delay.
1140.005.10 Applicant Households
An applying household must report changes related to its FS eligibility and allotment level during the initial interview. Applicant households are required to report the same changes as certified households. Refer to Categorically Eligible Households for handling FS applications when the IM application is approved.
When changes occur after the interview but prior to certification or denial, the household is required to report the change(s) within ten days of the date of the notice of approval/rejection.
1140.005.15 IM Household Reporting Requirements
IM households have the same reporting requirements as any other FS household.
Whenever a change results in reducing or terminating a household's IM