SR 01-27 Dated 06/01

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

INTER-DEPARTMENT COMMUNICATION

 

SIGNATURE DATE:

June 6, 2001

FROM:

OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR Mary Anne Broshek

AT (OFFICE):

Division of Family Assistance

TO:

DFA Supervisors

 

 

SUBJECT:

New Change Reporting Requirements for Food Stamp Households Certified for Six Months; Revised Certification Period Policy for Certain Food Stamp Households; and Revised Food Stamp Manual Chapter 100

RETROACTIVE

EFFECTIVE DATE:

 

June 1, 2001

 

 

SUMMARY

 

The attached SR releases new policy governing the change reporting requirements for food stamp households that are certified for 6 months. The new policy is the result of approval by Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) of a waiver to eliminate the requirement in federal regulations that households report all changes in household composition, acquisition of licensed vehicles, liquid resources, such as cash and money in bank accounts, residence and shelter expenses, and certain changes in income. For the purposes of Food Stamp program eligibility, benefits, overissuances and QC errors, households certified for 6 months are only required to report changes in gross household income exceeding 130% of the federal poverty income level (FPIL) for the households size. The Food Stamp gross income limits reflect 130% of FPIL.

 

No other changes affecting food stamp eligibility and benefit level are required to be reported unless such reporting is required by another program from which the assistance group is concurrently receiving benefits, such as TANF, Medicaid, Healthy Kids, or Child Care Assistance, or the household is certified for some period other than 6 months. Food stamp-only recipients certified for 6 months may, at their discretion, report other changes during the certification period. Should other changes be reported, current policy on verification in Food Stamp Manual (FSM) 145, 147, and 151-155 applies.

 

This SR also releases simplified food stamp certification period policy. New policy on the length of certification periods allows maximum certification periods of up to 6 months for:

 

·   All food stamp-only households except those containing an individual determined to be an Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents (ABAWD); and

·   Adult category cash or medical assistance households, with UC benefits and zero earned income, that have a food stamp assistance group size equal to that of the cash or medical assistance group size.

 

These households previously were permitted certification periods of up to 4 months. Current policy requiring District Offices to assign shorter certification periods based on case circumstances, as described in Food Stamp Manual Part 133, remains unchanged.

 

Food Stamp Manual Chapter 100 has been revised accordingly.

 

UPDATE: The new change reporting policy was modified by SR 01-31 prior to release of Food Stamp Manual Chapter 100. Therefore, no revised FSM topics were released by this SR for this policy. Please see SR 01-31/July 2001, for further information.

 

POLICY

 

Revised Food Stamp Manual Topics

 

133.09 Certification Periods

 

Effective June 1, 2001, food stamp households currently certified for 6 months, and applicant or recipient households that are recertified for a 6 month period on or after June 1, 2001, are only required to report changes that cause gross monthly household income (earned and unearned) to exceed 130% of FPIL for the household size. The following only applies to households with 6 month certification periods:

 

·   Food stamp households must report all changes in income that cause the households gross monthly income to exceed 130% of the FPIL for the household size.

·   If reported by the household, allow 10 days for the household to provide verification of the income change in accordance with policy in FSM 107.

·   Do not require food stamp households to report changes in any other case circumstances during the certification period, unless the certification period has been shortened, or an early recertification interview has been scheduled. Should other changes in case circumstances be reported within the 6 month certification period, these changes must be verified and acted on according to current policy in FSM 145, 147, and 151-155.

·   Require normal verification of case circumstances at the next recertification interview.

·   No overissuances or QC errors will result if the household fails to report other changes.

 

Exception: Households also receiving other programs of assistance, including TANF, ANB, APTD, or OAA financial assistance, all categories of medical assistance (including Healthy Kids Medical Coverage), or child care assistance, must comply with the reporting and verification requirements of those programs, and District Offices must act on all changes for all programs according to policy. Reported changes acted upon for other programs must also be used to determine continuing Food Stamp eligibility. In addition, food stamp households with certification periods other than 6 months must continue to report all changes according to current reporting and verification policy.

 

EXAMPLES:

 

1. An NHEP/FS household certified for 6 months fails to report an increase in direct child support income within 10 days. QC discovers this information. QC would cite an overpayment in TANF, and the District Office would act on the change and institute recoupment of overpaid TANF benefits. QC would not cite a food stamp error, and the District Office would not take action to refer the case for a claim determination for a Food Stamp overissuance, unless the change brought the household income over 130% FPL.

 

Note: If this same household had reported the change, the District Office would verify the change and enter the increased income for all programs. If the household failed to verify the change, eligibility would be terminated for all programs.

 

2. A Food Stamp-only household certified for 6 months fails to report that its shelter costs have changed due to moving into subsidized housing. The change is discovered at the next redetermination. No overissuance has occurred, and if QC had discovered this change, it would not be cited as an error. The District Office would use the new information at recertification.

 

3. A Food Stamp-only household certified for 6 months chooses to report a new household member during the certification period. The District Office would require verification of the change and take appropriate action in accordance with current policy.

 

4. A Food Stamp/APTD MA-only individual with earned income and certified for 6 months, fails to report her marriage. The husband is also employed and their combined income exceeds 130% of FPIL. An overissuance of Food Stamps has occurred, and if the case had been selected for QC review, it would be cited as a Food Stamp error. (There may also be ineligibility for MA and an MA QC error, depending on the amount of the spouses income.)

 

PROCEDURES

 

Food Stamp-Only Assistance Groups

 

At application or at the next recertification or case action, whichever occurs first, advise food stamp households eligible for a 6 month certification period that for the duration of the certification period, they are only required to report changes in income, and only those that cause total gross household income to exceed the 130% income figure for their household size. Use the following procedures:

 

·   Provide the assistance group with the appropriate income figure that represents 130% of the FPIL for their household size by referring to the sign in the interview room relating to this policy (see the CLIENT NOTIFICATION section of this SR).

·   Determine that the assistance group understands the meaning of "gross monthly household income," and instruct as needed.

·   Explain documentation and verification requirements for changes in income, and the consequences for failure to verify changes in income that would cause gross monthly income to exceed the 130% of FPIL limit within 10 days.

·   Explain that the household may report other changes during the certification period at its discretion and that some changes could mean increased benefits, but that if a change is reported, it must be verified within 10 days of the change happening and will be acted on in accordance with current policy on reporting changes.

 

Cash/MA/CC Assistance Groups with Food Stamps

 

Explain that, for purposes of food stamp eligibility and benefit level only, the only requirement is to report changes in household income that would cause the assistance groups total monthly income to exceed the appropriate figure in the table above, but because the assistance group is also receiving benefits under other programs, they must comply with the reporting requirement(s) for those programs, including reporting all required changes within 10 days.

 

IMPLEMENTATION

 

The new reporting requirement is retroactively effective for all food stamp assistance groups already certified for 6 months as of June 1, 2001, or that become eligible for a 6 month certification period on or after that date.

 

Until New HEIGHTS programming to change all current 4 month certification period defaults to 6 months, case technicians must use override procedures at recertification to change 4 month certification periods to 6 months, unless case circumstances warrant a certification period of less than 6 months (see FSM 133.09). District Offices will be notified by New HEIGHTS when these changes have been moved to Production; it is anticipated that these changes will be in effect June 15, 2001.

 

CLIENT NOTIFICATION

 

The waiver authorizing this change in policy requires that all affected households be notified of the new policy prior to being subject to it. Therefore, all food stamp households whose current certification period is 6 months were sent a letter on June 4, 2001 informing them of the new reporting requirements. The letter contains, among other information, the table containing the 130% gross income reporting thresholds for household size and text informing households also receiving benefits from other programs of assistance that they must continue to report all changes required by the other programs. A copy of the letter is attached to the SR for reference.

 

In addition, a poster summarizing the new reporting requirement has been created for display in each District Office interview room. A copy of the poster is attached for reference. District Offices will receive display copies of the poster the week of June 4, 2001.

 

TRAINING

 

No special training is needed or planned. New policy will be discussed at the line and administrative supervisors meeting on June 19, 2001.

 

DISPOSITION

 

This SR may be deleted or destroyed once its contents have been noted and the SR and revised FSM topics have been posted to the On-Line Policy Releases Manual.

 

DISTRIBUTION

 

This SR will be distributed according to the electronic distribution list for Division of Family Assistance policy releases. This SR, and revised On-Line Manuals, will be available for agency staff in the On-Line Manual Library, and for public access on the Internet at http://www.dhhs.state.nh.us/PMIndex.htm, effective August 1, 2001.

 

This SR, and printed pages with posting instructions, will be distributed under separate cover to all hard copy holders of the Food Stamp Manual

 

DFA/RQY:s