Utility Standards (FSM)

SR 14-26 Dated 03/14

Previous Policy

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Allow a deduction for utility costs that are incurred separately from rent or mortgage. See Special Circumstances at the end of this section. Also see Part 601, Table I. Apply one of the following utility standards, once verified, for the households certification period, up to 12 months.

Heat and Utilities Standard

Allow the heat and utilities standard for households that:

• incur heating costs separate from the household’s rent or mortgage, including households that live in public housing or live in a residence with a central utility meter;

• incur charges by their landlord for excess usage costs for heating or cooling separate from the household’s rent, including households that live in public housing with heat included, or who live in public housing units or residences with a central utility meter; or

• unless living in subsidized housing with heat included, receive direct or indirect assistance under the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) or have been recipients of LIHEAP in the previous 12 months.

Exception: The LIHEAP payment or payments received by the household must total more than $20 annually. This means that if the household can only prove receipt of one (1) LIHEAP payment from the current or immediately preceding 12 months, and the payment is for $15, the household is not eligible for the full heat and utility standard. The LIHEAP payment or payments must exceed $20 annually.

Utilities-Only Standard

Allow the utilities-only standard for households that are not eligible for the heat and utilities standard but incur costs for at least two (2) of the following:

• non-heating electricity;

• cooking fuel;

• water or sewer - For purposes of satisfying the 2-utility requirement, households able to verify that they own and currently use a well or septic system are not required to verify actual monthly well or septic system costs. Verified ownership and use of a well and/or septic system is automatically considered an incurred monthly expense;

• installation, use, or maintenance of a well or septic system;

• garbage collection; or

• basic service fees for one household touch tone phone.

Households living in a residence with a central utility meter are entitled to the utilities-only standard if the household incurs excess usage charges for any of the above utilities, as long as the 2-utility requirement is met.

Electric-Only Standard

Allow the electric-only standard for households that are not eligible for the heat and utilities standard or the utilities-only standard, but incur costs for electricity separate and apart from rent or mortgage expenses. Households living in a residence with a central utility meter are entitled to the electric-only standard if excess usage charges for non-heating/cooling electricity are incurred.

Telephone-Only Standard

Allow the telephone-only standard for households that are not eligible for any of the other utility standards, but:

• incur telephone expenses separate and apart from rent or mortgage expenses; or

• live in a certified community residence and incur telephone expenses. See Section 603.09, Other Allowable Deductions: Shelter Deduction.

Households who do not have regular household telephone service are entitled to the telephone-only standard if costs are incurred for cell phone service or for purchasing telephone calling cards, regardless of whether the actual costs incurred are higher or lower than the standard.

Special Circumstances

• Prorate the appropriate standard for assistance groups with a member who is excluded. See FSM 611.05, Income of Disqualified and Excluded Individuals, for a definition of excluded members.

• Do not prorate the appropriate standard for households sharing living quarters. Each household is eligible for the full utility standard applicable to their household circumstances.

• Do not allow any utility standard for individuals entitled to the community residence shelter allowance. The community residence shelter allowance includes all shelter costs, including heat and utilities. See Section 603.09, Other Allowable Deductions: Shelter Deduction.

Exception: Allow the telephone-only standard if an individual living in a certified community residence incurs telephone expenses.

• Consider households that receive HUD or FHA utility reimbursements for heating or cooling as having incurred out-of-pocket utility costs if the amount of the reimbursement is less than actual costs. Apply the higher amount of either:

- the full heat and utility standard; or

- the utilities only standard.

• Allow the appropriate utility standard for roomers charged for heat or utilities separately from rental costs, even if the monthly cost for the heat or utility is a fixed amount.

Exception: Do not allow a utility standard if the rental charge for a roomer includes all shelter costs including heat and utilities. If a roomer is not entitled to a utility standard, consider the individuals monthly incurred cost a shelter allowance.

References: He-W 742.02, RSA 161:2,XIII, RSA 167:4,I(a), 7 CFR 273.9(d)(6), 7 USC 2014(e)(6)(C)-(D), 42 USC 8624(f)(2)(A)