(a) Households eligible for receipt of food stamp benefits shall receive those benefits on the basis of an authorization prepared on a State- prescribed form(s). Such an authorization shall contain all pertinent information as to the status of the household and the amount of food stamp benefits. Such authorization shall be effective for a specific period of time which coincides with the periods of eligibility determinations and redeterminations. When the certification period ends, food stamp entitlement expires and cannot continue without a recertification application and eligibility determination. Certification periods shall be as follows:
(1) For public assistance (PA) cases, except those required to report quarterly, the food stamp certification period will be the same as the PA certification period plus one month, but not more than a total of 12 months.
(2) At least for three months, except:
(i) for those households which at the time of initial certification had their certification process completed after the 15th day of the month of application and also had circumstances which warranted it, the eligibility/certification period shall be increased by one month;
(ii) when the household cannot reasonably predict what its circumstances will be in the near future, or when there is a substantial likelihood of frequent and significant changes in income or household status, the eligibility/certification period shall not be more than two months;
(iii) for those households which have little likelihood of changes in income and household status, the eligibility/certification period shall be up to six months;
(iv) for those households consisting entirely of unemployable or elderly persons with very stable income, the eligibility/certification period shall be up to 12 months;
(v) for those households whose primary source of income is from self-employment (including self-employed farmers) or from regular farm employment, including farm workers whose annual salaries are paid on a scheduled and unchanging monthly basis, provided income can be readily predicted and household circumstances are not likely to change, the eligibility/certification period will be up to 12 months;
(vi) for all cases subject to six month reporting under subdivision (d) of this Section, the certification period will, notwithstanding any other provision of this subdivision, be six months except for those households residing within social services districts that have been given written permission by the 0ffice of Temporary and Disability Assistance to lengthen the certification periods to more than six-months but not longer than 12 months. For those social services districts authorized to lengthen the certification periods beyond six months, households subject to six-month reporting shall be required to submit a periodic report in the sixth month in accordance with subdivision (e) of this section; and
(vii) for those households which are granted separate household status, in accordance with section 387.1(t)(2)(i)(c) and (d) of this Part because the household consists of an individual and that individual's minor child(ren) living with the individual's parent or sibling and purchasing and preparing meals separate from the parent/sibling, the eligibility/certification period will not exceed six months.
(3) Households certified on an expedited basis that have provided all necessary verification prior to certification, shall be assigned normal certification periods. Households that postponed verification may be certified only for the month of application (the month of application and the subsequent month for those applying after the 15th of the month). A normal certification period may be assigned to those households whose circumstances would otherwise warrant a longer certification period.
(4) Social services districts may lengthen a household's certification period as long as the total months of the certification period does not exceed the limits described in subdivision (a)(2)(i) through (vi) of this section. In extending certification periods, a notice of intent must be sent advising the household of its new certification period ending date.
(5) Social services districts may only shorten a household's certification period when the social services district either receives verified information that the household is ineligible for food stamps or the household has failed to cooperate with the social services district in clarifying its circumstances. When a certification period is shortened pursuant to this paragraph, a notice of adverse action must be sent to the household.
(b) The local department shall notify the household in writing of the decision regarding the household's eligibility for food stamp benefits based on an initial application. Such notice shall be provided as soon as the decision is made but no later than 30 days from the date of the initial application.
(c) All eligible food stamp households shall receive an identification (ID) card, as prescribed by the department, issued in the name of the household member who is authorized to receive the household's food stamp allotment.
(d) Six-month reporting.
(1) The following definitions are used in this subdivision:
(i) Six-month reporting refers to a reporting system used for households with earned income in accordance with instructions from the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. It is a system in which information concerning the incomes and circumstances of food stamp recipient households with earned income are required to report every six months at recertification or to submit a periodic report. Households that are subject to six-month reporting are required only changes in the amount of gross monthly income exceeding 130 percent of the monthly federal poverty income guideline for their household size. In addition, households with able-bodied adults without dependents who are subject to the six-month reporting rules as described in paragraph (4) of this subdivision must also report changes in work status that affect food stamp eligibility.
(ii) Periodic report means a form upon which a recipient household that is subject to six-month reporting reports income and household circumstances for food stamps for the most recent six- month period. Households are required to file such a report for social services districts that have been given written permission by the Qffice of Temporary and Disability Assistance to have certification periods of seven full months or greater. The social services district must act on any change reported by such households on the periodic report in accordance with subdivision (e)(6) of this section. A periodic report is considered complete when the household has:
(a) answered all questions;
(b) provided verification of all reported income; and
(c) signed and dated the report on or after the last day of the fifth month of the report period.
(iii) Primary source means information received from employers concerning wages paid to a household, computer match information about federal benefits received from the Social Security Administration, information from the New York State Department of Labor or local district employment contractor that a food stamp recipient has failed to comply with a food stamp work requirement, a determination by a court, administrative hearing or disqualification consent agreement of an intentional program violation, or actions taken by other programs under the authority of a social services district that affect budgeting for food stamps.
(iv) Process month means the month in which information contained in a periodic report or obtained during certification is reviewed With respect to information obtained at recertification, the process month is the last month of the authorization period A new food stamp budget is required to be authorized in the month following the month of a process month with respect to the information obtained if the information indicates a change has occurred and a new benefit level is to be determined as a result of the change.
(v) Verified upon receipt means that information is received from the primary source and it is not questionable. A report of a change in income cannot be considered as verified upon receipt unless it includes an exact new income amount, effective date of receipt and any other information needed to recalculate the food stamp benefit amount. When information has been reported to another program area directly administered by the local social services district such as medicaid, or family and children services and the information is verified by that program, then the change must be considered verified by the food stamp division of the local social services district and acted upon by that division if it would affect benefits or eligibility for food stamp benefits.
(2) For any month that a household s gross income exceeds 130 percent of poverty, the household must report their monthly income by the tenth day of the month following the month in which they exceeded the limit. If a food stamp household subject to six-month reporting fails, without good cause, to return a completed periodic report by the tenth day of the process month, the social services district must send a timely and adequate notice of discontinuance. Any changed circumstances reported on the periodic report that results in changes in benefits must be noticed to households using adequate notice.
(3) Group home households1residents with earned income are excluded from food stamp six-month reporting rules if they are in receipt of supplemental security income (SSI) or social security disability benefits. Households eligible for a transitional benefit alternative are exempt from reporting changes in the monthly gross income level while they are in the transitional benefit period. At the end of the transitional benefit period, households subject to the six-month reporting rules will be required to certify that their gross income does not exceed 130 percent of poverty. Households with certification periods of less than six-months in duration are excluded from the six-month reporting rules.
(4) Households subject to six-month reporting rules with able bodied adults without dependent(s) (ABAWD) may be required by the social services district to report on a monthly basis changes in working hours that would affect food stamp eligibility. For a household subject to the food stamp six-month reporting rules, the social services district must act on reported changes that affect food stamp eligibility and benefit amounts only if the information is:
(i) that the total monthly household income exceeds 130 percent of poverty;
(ii) verified upon receipt;
(iii) reported on the food stamp periodic report,
(iv) reported at recertification;
(v) reported pursuant to public assistance reporting requirements and the action is taken on the public assistance budget. However, if a household in receipt of public assistance and food stamps fails to submit a public assistance quarterly report, no action for discontinuance of food stamps for failure to submit the report can be taken;
(vi) voluntarily reported and verified and the information increases the food stamp benefit;
(vii) that a household requests to have its food stamp case closed; or
(viii) that a household member does not meet ABAWD requirements.
For households in receipt of public assistance and food stamps subject to the six-month reporting rules, workers in the social services districts must not act on, or compute food stamp overpayment amounts for, change reports other than those listed in the subparagraphs of this paragraph.
(5) If the recipient responds to the discontinuance notice and submits a completed report before the effective date of the discontinuance, the social services district must accept the completed periodic report and void the notice of discontinuance.
(6) Good cause for failure to submit a completed periodic report.
(i) Good cause for the failure to return a completed periodic report by the end of the process month exists only in the following situations:
(a) the recipient has a physical or mental condition which prevents complete reporting;
(b) the failure of the recipient to submit a complete report is directly attributable to Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance or social services district error; or
(c) there are other extenuating circumstances under which the recipient cannot reasonably be expected to fulfill the responsibility to report for reasons beyond the recipient's control.
(7) Projecting average income. The amount of earned income used to determine food stamp benefits will be based on an estimate of average monthly earnings. To project average monthly income, a social services district must average the weeks of earned income reported, but no less than the most recent four weeks of income, or if there has been a change expected to last at least 30 days, use the new information regarding the amount of pay and the frequency of pay. Income which is not of a continuing nature must not be included for purposes of projecting average income.
(8) Average monthly earned income is applied against need to determine the amount of food stamp benefits for each calendar month of a certrification period. The amount of average earned income applied must be recalculated at recertification and when a periodic report is received by the agency. Adjustments to benefits will be made prospectively whenever information is received in accordance with paragraph (4) of this subdivision.
(9) Verification required with the periodic report.
(i) The household must provide verification of current income and any child care costs incurred in the most recent month whether or not changes have occurred in such amounts. Failure to provide verification of current income will result in closure of the food stamp case. Failure to provide verification of child care costs will result in loss of child care deductions.
(ii) The household must provide verification of any other reported changes in household circumstances. The social services district must act on any change which would produce a decrease in benefits whether or not it is verified, but must not act on an unverified change which would produce an increase in benefits.
(iii) A social services district must afford a household the opportunity to verify child care costs and costs identified in subparagraph (ii) of this paragraph in accordance with paragraph (3) of subdivision (e) of this Section with respect to any change which it has initially failed to verify in the periodic report. Changes reported in a periodic report will be considered as having been reported on the date the report is received.
(iv) A social services district must not require verification of information prior to the most recent calendar month for a periodic report. A social services district must not require verification of changes reported outside qf the periodic report and recertification that are not required to be reported by a household that is subject to six-month reporting.
(e) Household responsibility to report changes in circumstances.
(1) Households certified to receive food stamps must report the following changes:
(i) changes in the sources of income or changes in the amount of gross monthly earned income of more than $100, gross monthly unearned income from private sources of more than $100 or gross monthly income from public sources of more than $25. This requirement does not include changes in the public assistance grant;
(ii) all changes in household composition;
(iii) changes in residence and any resulting changes in shelter costs;
(iv) when cash on hand, stocks, bonds, and money in a bank account or savings institution reach or exceed the appropriate allowable resource limit as set forth in section 387.9(b)(1) of this Part;
(vi) actual utility expenses claimed by a household if the source has changed or the amount has changed by more than $25.
(2) Households certified to receive food stamps must report changes within 10 days of the date the change becomes known to the household.
(3) Households applying for food stamps must report all changes related to its eligibility and benefits at the certification interview. Changes, as set forth in paragraph (1) of this subdivision, which occur after the interview but before the date of the notice of eligibility, must be reported by the household within 10 days of the date of the notice of eligibility.
(4) Households subject to six-month reporting rules are not required to submit any reports of changes other than changes in monthly gross income that exceed 130 percent of the monthly federal poverty income guidelines for their household size except as otherwise set forth in this paragraph. Households subject to six-month reporting rules with certification periods of seven full months or greater must submit a periodic report for the most recent six-month period. Households with able bodied adults without dependants (ABAWDs) who are subject to six-month reporting rules as set forth in paragraph (4) of subdivision (d) of this section must report as required by the social services district to meet ABAWD requirements.
(5) Changes reported over the telephone by non-six-month reporting households or in person by all food stamp household shall be acted upon in the same manner as those reported on the State-prescribed change report form. A supply of these report forms shall be provided to the applicant/recipient of food stamps at initial certification and at recertification interviews.
(6) Prompt action shall be taken on all reported changes to determine the effect on the household's eligibility and food stamp allotment. All reported changes shall be documented in the case file according to the date reported.
(i) For changes that
result in an increase in a household's benefits, other than changes described in
subparagraph (ii) of this paragraph, the social services district must make the change
effective no later than the first allotment issued 10 days after the date the change was
reported to the social services district.
(ii) For changes that result in an increase in a household's benefits due to the addition of a new household member who is not a member of another certified household, or due to a decrease of $50 or more in a household's gross monthly income, the social services district must make the change effective no later than the first allotment issued 10 days after the date the change was reported to the social services district. In no event can the changes take effect later than the month in which the change is reported.
(iii) All changes, which result in an increase in a household's benefits, shall be verified according to the requirements set forth in this Part prior to taking action on these changes. The household shall be allowed 10 days from the date the change is reported to provide the required verification. The time frames for issuing the benefit shall run from the date the change was reported, not from the date of verification. Should the household fail to provide the required verification within 10 days after the change is reported but does provide verification at a later date, then the time frames shall run from the date verification is provided rather than from the date the change is reported. When the local department fails to take action on a change which increases a household's benefit within the time limits specified above, all lost benefits shall be restored to the household.
(iv) The local department shall act upon changes that decrease a household's benefit level or make a household ineligible to participate in the food stamp program no later than the allotment for the month following the month in which the notice of adverse action period has expired, provided a fair hearing and continuation of benefits have not been requested. Verification of changes that decrease benefit levels must be obtained prior to recertification except as specified for cases subject to six-month reporting rules in subdivision (d) of this section.
(v) Local departments shall file a claim against these households in accordance with section 387.19 of this Part which received benefits to which they were not entitled because the household failed to report a required change in circumstances as detailed above. If the discovery is made within the certification period, the household is entitled to a notice of adverse action if the household's benefits are reduced.
(7) Changes in medical expenses discovered from a source other than the household and which require contact with the household for verification purposes must not be acted upon until the household voluntarily reports the change or is recertified.
(f) Recertification. Timely application/recertification must be completed and the household notified of approval or denial prior to the end of the household's current certification period. Eligible households must have an opportunity to participate in the food stamp program by the household's normal issuance cycle in the month following receipt of a timely application/recertification form. No food stamp benefits will be continued to a household beyond the end of the certification period unless the household has been recertified. The processing requirements for public assistance cases in receipt of food stamps, as set forth in section 387.5 of this Part will also apply at the time of recertification. Except as otherwise limited by section 387.14(a)(4)(iii) of this Part, for households in which all members are recipients of ADC and/or SSI, categorical eligibility for food stamps must be assumed in the absence of a timely redetermination of eligibility for such benefits; or granted if the conditions set forth in section 387.14(a)(4) of this Part are present at recertification.
(1) Local departments will send the households the expiration notice in a manner that will ensure receipt no earlier than the first day of the second to the last month of the certification period and no later than the first day of the household's last month of certification. However, households initially certified for one or two months will receive their notice of expiration at the time of certification.
(2) Households which submit a recertification application to a local department by the 15th day of the final month of certification will be considered to have made a timely recertification application. Households receiving the notice of expiration at the time of certification will have 15 days from the date of the notice to file a timely recertification application. The recipient must be interviewed and must submit all verification prior to the end of the final month of the certificate period to be entitled to uninterrupted benefits. The household must be allowed at least 10 days from the date of the interview to submit any required verification that was not submitted during the interview. Any household not determined eligible in sufficient time to permit uninterrupted benefits due to the 10- day period for submission of additional verification, will, if eligible, receive a full month's benefit within five working days after supplying the missing verification.
(3) The local department must promptly act on all timely recertification applications so as to ensure delivery of uninterrupted food stamp benefits to eligible households. Households receiving expiration notices can not be required to appear for an interview prior to the last month of their current certification periods. If the household fails to appear for a scheduled interview, fails to file the recertification application prior to the required time period or fails to provide missing verification by the end of the 10-day time period referred to in paragraph (2) of this subdivision, the local department must deny the recertification application.
(g) (1) The Federal or State government may initiate certain mass changes. Mass changes may include, but are not limited to, adjustments to the income eligibility standards, the shelter and dependent care deductions, the thrifty food plan and the standard deduction; annual and seasonal adjustments to social security, SSI and other Federal benefits; adjustments to public assistance and other changes in the eligibility criteria based on legislative or regulatory actions shall be made in accordance with the following:
(i) Adjustments to eligibility standards, allotments, deductions and utility standards shall be effective for all households at the same time.
(ii) Adjustments to food stamp benefits shall be effective in the same month as a change in public assistance payments unless there is less than 30 days' notice of the change. In which event, the change shall be effective not later than the month following the change.
(2) A notice of adverse action is not required for mass changes due to changes in public assistance. However, notice of the change must be sent to all households prior to the change must put into effect. If a household requests a fair hearing, benefits shall be continued at the former level only if the issue being appealed is food stamp eligibility or benefit were improperly computed or that Federal law or regulation is being misapplied or misinterpreted by the department or by the social services agency.
(3) Mass changes in Federal benefits such as social security or SSI shall be automatically adjusted by the local department for purposes of calculating the household's benefit level. The household shall not be responsible for reporting these changes.
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