Section 1115.035.25 pages 1115-31-37
Section 1115.035.30 pages 1115-37-38
Section 1125.010.15 pages 1125-2-3
Section 1130.020.10 page 1130-4
Section 1130.020.15 page 1130-4
Section 1135.020.10 pages 1135-18-19
Section 1140.005.05 page 1140-2

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.
  • Review policy changes with staff.

  • File the revised manual pages in the hard copy of the Food Stamp manual.
Distribution #3

[ Memorandum Table of Contents ]

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 paid.

1115.035.25      Shelter Cost
IM-#1    January 15, 1999

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.

1115.035.25.05        Allowable Shelter Costs
IM-#1     January 15, 1999

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 utility standard. 

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.

1115.035.25.15        Mandatory Utility Standards
IM-#1    January 15, 1999

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.

The SUA includes all utility charges, heating/cooling and cooking fuel, electricity, water, garbage, sewer, trash collection fees, and telephone cost.  For the SUA to be used in calculating shelter cost, the utility charges for heating/cooling costs must be separate from the household rent or mortgage costs and actually incurred by the household.  Heating costs can be represented by a furnace, wood stove (if wood is purchased), fireplace, or electrical or kerosene space heater if the space heater is used as the primary source of heat.

Utility costs for the operation of a space heater, electric blanket, heat lamp, or a cooking stove, etc. when used as a supplemental heating source do not qualify the household for the SUA.  The cost of an electric blower for an oil or gas furnace also does not qualify the household for the SUA.


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.

To be qualified, the household must be billed on a regular basis for its heating or cooling costs.  The household receives the SUA including a heating or cooling component throughout the year.

Households not incurring any separate utility charges or billed separately for water, cooking fuel, sewer and/or garbage collection are not entitled to the SUA.  The household may be entitled to the non-heating cooling standard if they are billed for any of these utility expenses.

DMH participants who pay a portion of utilities are entitled to the SUA if applicable.

A household that received energy assistance benefits covering one of the last 12 months at its current address is entitled to the standard utility allowance for the certification period even if it does not incur any out-of-pocket expense.

The standard utility allowance is $195 per month.

2. Non-Heating/Cooling Standard (NHCS)

If the household does not qualify for the SUA, but incurs a utility expense, use the NHCS.

The NHCS includes utility charges other than for heating/cooling which the household incurs.  To use the NHCS in calculating shelter costs, the utility charges must be separate from the household's rent or mortgage costs and actually incurred by the household.

To be qualified for the NHCS, the household must be billed on a regular basis for its utility costs.

Households with heating/cooling costs included in the rent but are billed separately for water, cooking fuel, sewer and/or garbage collection are entitled to the NHCS.

DMH participants who pay a portion of utility cost but are not entitled to the SUA, are entitled to the NHCS.

The NHCS does not include telephone costs.  The telephone standard may be used with the non-heating/cooling standard.


The NHCS is $80 per month.

3. Telephone Standard

The telephone standard may be used to determine shelter costs.  If the household is not entitled to use the SUA but has a telephone cost, use the standard telephone allowance.  The telephone standard may be used with the NHCS when the household is entitled to both expenses.

The telephone standard is $26 per month.

1115.035.25.20        Utility Decision Period
IM-#1   January 15, 1999

Determine the appropriate standard for utility expenses for each household at the following times:

 1. at certification,

 2. at recertification, and

 3. whenever a change in residence or a change in utility arrangements occur.  If the household's utility arrangement changes, determine the appropriate utility standard for the household.

1115.035.25.25        Households Sharing Utilities
IM-#1   January 15, 1999

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.

  b. When one household's name is on the utility bill and other household(s) sharing the residence contribute to paying the bill, all households contributing to the payment of the utility expense may receive a prorated share of the appropriate utility standard.

  c. If some households contributing to payment of the utility expense are not FS households, the FS household(s) is entitled to a prorated share of the appropriate utility standard.


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.

3. Households residing in low income housing or other rental units with utilities included in the rent but liable for excess utilities are entitled to the NHCS for the months in which they are billed for excess utilities.  At certification, if the household cannot reasonably anticipate the months they will be billed for excess utilities, do not allow the NHCS.  During the certification period, if the household reports it is billed for excess utilities on an on-going basis or during an anticipated period of time, allow the NHCS for the remainder of the certification period or the period of time anticipated by the household.

Example:  An elderly individual resides in a senior citizens housing complex.  Utilities are included in the rent, but the individual is billed $10 per month for excess utilities in June, July and August for use of an air conditioner.  Allow the NHCS only for the months the household is billed for excess utilities.

4. If a rental household is billed monthly by the landlord for actual usage of heating or cooling expense as determined through individual metering or a utility company bill, the SUA should be used.

If the landlord bills a household for utility costs separately from the rent when no separate meter exists, the household is entitled to the NHCS.

 5. Renters and homeowners living in separate residences are entitled to the entire SUA if they receive energy assistance at this address.

 6. Compute shelter costs the household incurs, even if a boarder contributes to the household for part of the household's shelter expenses, to determine if the household receives a shelter deduction.  However, the shelter costs do not include any shelter expenses directly paid by the boarder to a third party, such as the landlord or utility company.


1115.035.25.30        Energy Assistance Payments
IM-#1   January 15, 1999

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.

2. Shelter expense met by any payment or allowance paid to the provider of the energy are considered an expense to the household when calculating shelter costs.

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.

1115.035.25.40        Homeless Shelter Costs
IM-#1   January 15, 1999

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.


1115.035.30      Calculating Income Deductions
IM-#1   January 15, 1999

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.

2. Agreed upon monthly installments on one-time medical expenses are allowable in the month that each installment is due.  The expense is allowable even if the household was initially billed and established a payment plan before the certification period began.

If a household makes a timely arrangement with a provider to pay the expense in installments, the installment is considered the household's expense in the month each payment becomes due.

The payment arrangement does not have to be a formal contract.  A mutually recognized agreement is sufficient.

If the certification period expires before the balance of the installments has been paid, the monthly payment may be allowed as a deduction into the new certification period.

If a provider and household renegotiate the payments for a one-time expense, allow the expense in accordance with the new agreement.

1115.035.30.05        Averaging Expenses
IM-#1   January 15, 1999

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.

EXAMPLE:  Mr. B paid real estate taxes of $150 on 2/4.  He applied for FS on 3/1 and elected to have his expenses averaged.  He was certified for a period of four months, March through June.  Since the taxes covered a period of 12 months, 1/12th of $150 are


allowed for each month certified.

EXAMPLE:  Mr. B paid his taxes of $150 on 3/10 and applied for FS on 3/12 and was certified for only one month, March.  If he elects not to average expenses, the total expense for the taxes can be allowed in March.  If he elects averaging, 1/12 of $150 is allowed.

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.

 b. An applicant's case is closed on 9/17, after benefits are issued on the regular payroll.  She reapplies on 9/30.  Since the household has already been issued benefits for the month of application, do not determine eligibility for September.  Screen this application on 9/30 for expedited services for the next subsequent month following the  application, October, using income, resources, and shelter costs anticipated for October.

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.

1125.010.15      Income, Resources, and Shelter Costs
IM-#1    January 15, 1999

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.

  NOTE:  This does not include standard, medical, shelter, child support, or child care deductions.

2. Do not count (anticipate) income from a new source that has not been received prior to the application, even if the individual is approved for that income, began working, etc.

3. Annualize a self-employed member's income so that only 1/12th of the self-employed gross annual income is used.  This gross annual income excludes the expense of producing income.

NOTE:  Average income over a 12-month period for the self-employed, including farmers, who receive their annual income in a period of time shorter than one year.

4. Do not include income and resources of non-household members or excluded income and resources.

5. Include only the prorated share of income of household members excluded as ineligible immigrants due to temporary or undocumented status or due to failure to provide a SSN.  Include all income of members disqualified for IPV, for non-compliance with work registration components, for failure to comply with the 18 to 50 work requirement, for probation or parole violations, for drug felony convictions or for being a fleeing felon.  Include the full amount of income the household would have received from a means tested program (for example:  Temporary Assistance) if a household member is penalized for failure to comply with that program's requirements.

6. Use rent or house payment plus the appropriate utility standard (SUA, NHCS, telephone standard or combination of NHCS and telephone standard) to determine shelter costs.  Do not include taxes or insurance.

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 


1130.020.10      Non-timely Recertifications
IM-#1   January 15, 1999

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.

1130.020.15      Processing Recertifications
IM-#1   January 15, 1999

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.

 b. If verification is not provided by the ten-day deadline, the household loses its rights to uninterrupted benefits.

 c. If the household provides the verification requested, but the time to provide the verification expires too late to allow the household to participate timely, allow the household the opportunity to participate within five days after providing verification.

  EXAMPLE:  Ms. C's household was certified for FS through October.  She reapplied and was interviewed on 10/12.  On 10/22 she reported a change in household composition.  The same day, the caseworker sent a letter giving ten days to provide sufficient information to establish eligibility.  The participant provided the information 11/01.  The caseworker completes the reapplication and either provides FS benefits or notifies her of rejection no later than 11/06.

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.

 b. If the household is later terminated from Temporary Assistance, investigate those factors not previously considered.


 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.

3. SSA refers non-SSI households and those in which not all members have applied for or receive SSI to the correct FS office.

 a. Consider applications from such households filed on the date the signed application is taken at the correct county office.

 b. Expedited processing time standards begin on the date the application is received in the county office.

 c. Normal processing time standards begin on the date the application is signed.

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.

  b. Determine if the individual wishes to apply for FS.

  c. Determine if the individual lives in a pure SSI household.

 2. Complete the application.

 3. Screen for expedited services.

 4. Explain applicant's filing options.

 5. Obtain available evidence (including identity and residence if potential expedited service exists).

  a. Obtain available information housed on SSA records.

  b. Request evidence available at the time of the interview for income, liquid resources, amount of non-reimbursable medical expenses for the month of application for household members age 60 or over or 


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.

b. Include photocopies of information verified for the Food Stamp Program not retained in SSI files or SSA systems.

c. Describe any contradictions or discrepancies that remain to be resolved for continued development by the county office.

 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

2. they are determined ineligible for SSI and where applicable, work registration status is determined through recertification procedures.

1135.020.20      Certification Periods

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.

Provide a change report form to the household at each certification, recertification, request, and whenever a change is reported.

1140.005.05      Certified Households
IM-#1   January 15, 1999

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