Department of Human Services
Food Stamp Online† Policy Manual
Treatment of Income
In the Food Stamp program a prospective method of determining eligibility and payment is used.
At the time of case action a decision is made as to the amount of income to be considered available for a future period.† To the extent possible, any fluctuations in income are to be handled to permit the longest Food Stamp certification period permissible. The worker anticipates monthly income the household will have in the coming months and uses this figure to calculate the amount of benefits for Food Stamps.
In fluctuating income cases the caseworker must determine what is representative income for the prospective period based on earnings from the prior period. †At a minimum, at least two months or 8 weeks of known income, or one month of income that is known and can be reasonably anticipated to be representative, is needed to determine average income. †Pay patterns must be established. †This could take more than a two month period depending on the individualís pay patterns. †Checks may be disregarded if they are not representative for the future period. †The justification for this procedure must be fully documented on CLRC screen.
Example:† Mr. Irregular Time is receiving Food Stamps and has come in for recertification of his case.† Mr. Time is employed at We Get You A Job Emploment Service.† His employment is fluctuating as he never knows what hours he will be working. He plans on working about the same hours as he has been. Mr. Time brought 8 weeks of pay stubs. He told the caseworker that he had been off work a couple of weeks last month as he had been sick. The pay stubs showed the following income:
The above pay stubs are not enough to get an accurate picture of the pay Mr. Time receives while employed. †The caseworker realized that 8 weeks were not enough to determine what amount of income would be correct to anticipate for the household. The employer was contacted and the additional information was provided from preceding weeks.
††††††††††††††††††††††† 1/30††††††††††††††† 236.48
††††††††††††††††††††††† 1/23††††††††††††††† 186.47
††††††††††††††††††††††† 1/16††††††††††††††† 228.11
††††††††††††††††††††††† 1/09††††††††††††††† 196.10
††††††††††††††††††††††† 1/02††††††††††††††† 237.31
With the additional information, the caseworker could obtain a more representative picture of the income Mr. Time is expected to receive.
At the time of application/recertification a household may expect changes in circumstances to occur in the future; in particular, changes relating to the receipt of income. †However, only currently available income will be used to project the amount of ongoing available income unless the amount and date of receipt of expected income is known with reasonable certainty or unless some change has occurred. If the exact amount/month of receipt of the income is not known, only that portion of it which can be reasonably anticipated shall be considered as income.
When any change in the household circumstances is expected, including a change in income, the household is required to report the change within 10 days of the change.
Example:† A family who applies for Food Stamps receives SS benefits. †There is every reason to believe these benefits will continue and will be received on the third of each month. This income will be counted as available ongoing income.
Example:† A family has applied for Food Stamps and Families First. There is no income from earnings or other sources. †In determining Food Stamp eligibility and benefit amount, it can be anticipated with reasonable certainty that a Families First grant will be received once the grant is approved. †If the FS and FF are approved after cut-off, the FF grant will have to be entered on AEFMI for food stamps only for the next month, with a beginning and ending date, so that it will be counted in the food stamp budget.
The Families First grant must also be entered on AEFMI with a beginning and ending date when the FF case is closed, but then reopened before the effective date of closure.
1. Counting Anticipated Income in Month Received
Income anticipated with reasonable certainty during the period under consideration shall be counted as income only in the month(s) it is expected to be received, unless the income is averaged.
2. Income in Past 30 Days
Income received during the past thirty days shall be used as an indicator of anticipated income. †However, past income shall not be used for any month in which a change in income has occurred or can be anticipated.
If income fluctuates to the extent that a 30-day period alone cannot provide an accurate indication of anticipated income, the caseworker and the household may use a longer period of past time if it will provide an accurate indication of anticipated fluctuations in future income. Similarly, if the familyís income fluctuates seasonally, it may be appropriate to use the most recent season comparable to the certification period, rather than the last 30 days, as one indicator of income for the certification period.
In no event shall the caseworker automatically attribute to the household the amounts of any past income. †Past income shall not be used as an indicator of anticipated income when changes in income have occurred or are anticipated.
3. Cases of Steady Employment
In cases where the wage earner is steadily employed, income from previous months is usually a good indicator of the amount of income that can be anticipated in the month of application and subsequent months. †If information supplied by the household or a collateral contact indicates that future income will differ substantially from the previous monthís income, the caseworker will use such information to make a reasonable estimate.
4. Assistance Payments
Households receiving state or federal assistance payments, such as Families First, SSI benefits, or Social Security payments, on a recurring monthly basis shall not have their monthly income from these sources varied merely because mailing cycles may cause two payments to be received in one calendar month and one in the next month.
5. Withheld Wages
Wages held at the request of the employee shall be considered income to the HH in the month the wages would otherwise have been paid by the employer. †Wages held by the employer as a general practice, even if in violation of law, are not counted as income to the HH, unless a HH anticipates that it will ask for and receive an advance, or a HH anticipates that it will receive income from previously withheld wages not previously counted as income. †Advances on wages shall only count as income if reasonably anticipated.
Unless a HH specifically requests consideration of income as actually received and consequent adjustments in benefits during the certification period (variable allotments), the projected average monthly income will be considered in the determination of eligibility and amount of benefit.
1. To average income, the caseworker shall use the HHís anticipation of income fluctuations over the certification period. †The number of months used to arrive at the average income need not be the same as the number of months in the certification period.
2. When a full monthís income is expected but will be received in weekly, bi-weekly, or semi-weekly amounts, or is annual income, the income will be converted to a monthly amount.
3. Income must not be averaged for a destitute household during the first certification period month since averaging would result in assigning to the month of application income from future periods which is not actually available to the family that month.