Department of Human Services

Food Stamp Online  Policy Manual

Special Living Arrangements




Food Stamp Table of Contents


1.      Authorization of Drug and Alcoholic Treatment Centers


(a)   Drug and alcoholic treatment centers must be authorized to receive and use Food Stamp benefits on behalf of eligible recipients/residents via an authorized representative employed by the treatment program.  The program must meet the following criteria:  


1.      The program must:


·        be licensed by the Department of Health as a bona fide treatment program; or

·        have a letter from the Department of Health acknowledging that the facility is operating for this purpose; and


2.      The program must be conducted by a private non-profit organization or institution or a publicly operated center.


(b)   Both of the above criteria must be met prior to the certification of residents for Food Stamps by county DHS office.


(c)    A listing of licensed treatment centers, by county, can be found on the Internet at (Tennessee Department of Health website)


2.      Eligibility – Non-Residents and Residents


(a)   Non-Residents


Members of eligible households, including single person households, who are narcotic addicts or alcoholics and who regularly participate in a drug or alcoholic treatment and rehabilitation program on a non-resident basis may use Food Stamp benefits to purchase food prepared for them during the treatment program.  The treatment program may be operated by a private non-profit organization or institution or a publicly operated community mental health center authorized by the Department of Health as a bona fide treatment center.


(b)   Residents


Resident members may voluntarily elect to participate in the program, but must do so through an authorized representative.


3.      Centers as Authorized Representatives


Residents of drug and alcoholic treatment centers must apply and be certified through the use of an authorized representative who is an employee of and designated by the private non-profit organization or institution or the publicly operated center that is administering the treatment and rehabilitation program. 


The organization or institution must apply on behalf of the addict or alcoholic and receive and spend the Food Stamp benefits for food prepared by and/or served to the addict or alcoholic.  Each center will be asked to sign a Letter of Agreement (Shared Base Document).  This agreement outlines the Department of Human Services’ and the Center’s responsibilities in the certification and record keeping process.


4.      Certification Policy


(a)   General


Each county office may appoint a caseworker to serve as liaison and to certify these center residents.  Residents of addict/alcoholic treatment centers will be certified by using the same provisions that apply to all other applicant households, except that certification is completed through use of the authorized representative as described in Section 1240-1-31-.01-(3).


(b)   Expedited Service


For those residents of treatment centers and rehabilitation centers who are entitled to expedited service, the resident must receive benefits on or before the seventh calendar day following the application date.  If eligibility for the initial application is expedited, the caseworker must complete verification and documentation requirements prior to the issuance of a second benefit amount.


(c)    Households


Residents of treatment centers have their eligibility determined based upon the appropriate household size.  Most will be one person households, unless the resident has their spouse and/or dependents living with them at the center.


(d)   Normal Processing Standards


When normal processing standards apply, the caseworker will complete the verification and documentation requirements prior to making an eligibility determination for the initial application.


(e)   Rights of Certified Residents


Resident households have the same rights to notices of adverse action, fair hearings, and entitlement to lost benefits as do all other food stamp households.  A resident of a center has a right to same day filing.  However, the interview, verification, and other certification procedures must be accomplished through the authorized representative.


(f)     Exemption from Work Registration


As stated in Section 1240-1-3-.43, regular participants in drug addiction or alcoholic treatment and rehabilitation programs, either on a resident or non-resident basis, are exempt from work registration requirements.


(g)   Verification of Participation for Work Registration Exemption


The regular participation of an addict or alcoholic in a treatment program may be verified through the organization or institution operating the program before granting the exemption, if the information is questionable.


To be considered questionable the information on the application must be inconsistent with statements made by the applicant or the authorized representative, with other information on the application, or with information known to or received by the caseworker prior to certification.


(h)   Certification Periods


Because of the substantial likelihood of frequent and significant changes and the inability to predict circumstances in the near future, residents of treatment centers are certified usually for 1 or 2 months.  However, if a longer certification period is warranted, a longer period must be assigned.  Households certified after the 15th of the month (whose circumstances warrant it) should have the certification period increased by one month.  Residents provided expedited services are given certification periods in accordance with Section 1240-1-5.


5.      Basis for Center Participation

Drug addiction or alcoholic treatment and rehabilitation program means any drug addiction or alcoholic treatment and rehabilitation program recognized as a tax exempt organization by the Internal Revenue Service or as non-profit by the Department of Health. 


The Department of Health, designated by the Governor of Tennessee, must provide such an organization or institution with a license or issue a letter to the agency acknowledging that the facility is operating for this purpose. 


Under Public Law 91-616, “Comprehensive Alcohol Abuse and Achoholism Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation Act of 1970” and Public Law 92-255, “Drug Abuse and Treatment Act of 1972” such agencies can be designated as providing treatment that can lead to the rehabilitation of drug addicts or alcoholics.


6.      Center Responsibility


(a)   Monthly Reports


Each treatment and rehabilitation center will be asked to provide the county with a certified list of currently participating residents signed by the center director (Shared Base Document).  The county office will require the listing on a monthly basis.  The treatment center’s monthly report must contain the following information:


1.      the name of each resident/recipient;

2.      the date of arrival at the center of each resident/recipient;

3.      the date of departure from the center of each resident/recipient (if applicable);

4.      the date of return of EBT cards, and/or benefits to departing resident/recipients or to the local certification office (if applicable);

5.      the date changes were reported to the local certification office; and

6.      statement of justification if the number of residents/recipients exceeds the center’s reported capacity.


(b)   While the Participant is in the Center


The facility is permitted to act as a point of sale.  The food stamp benefits are redeemed at the facility and deposited into the institution’s account.  This may be completed by point of sale terminals or manual EBT transaction processing.  This process will eliminate the need for the facility to handle multiple EBT cards while shopping for food.  Benefits due a recipient leaving the facility can be accurately tracked. 


(c)    When the Participant Leaves the Center


The caseworker will instruct the treatment center’s authorized representative at each certification:


1.      to provide resident households with their EBT card, and any benefits the household is entitled to when the household leaves the treatment center.  If benefits have been deposited into the financial institution’s account, benefits will be transferred into the recipient’s account for any entitled benefits due the recipient. 


(i)   The departing household will receive its full allotment if issued and if no Food Stamp benefits have been spent on behalf of that individual household.  These procedures are applicable any time during the month.


(ii)   If the benefits have already been issued and any portion spent on behalf of the individual, and the household leaves the treatment and rehabilitation program prior to the 16th day of the month, the treatment center will provide the household with one-half of its monthly Food Stamp allotment.


(iii) If the household leaves after the 16th day of the month and the benefits have already been issued and used, the household is not due any benefits.


2.      that once the household leaves the treatment center, the center is no longer allowed to act as that household’s authorized representative and that treatment center will return any EBT cards or benefits received on behalf of households which are no longer residents of the center.


3.      to provide the household with a Change Report Form and to instruct the household to use the form to report their new address and other circumstances after leaving the center within 10 days.


(d)   Reporting Changes


The treatment center will be instructed to notify the county office, as provided in Section 1240-1-19, of changes in the household’s income or other household changes in circumstances.  The treatment center must also notify the caseworker when the addict or alcoholic leaves the treatment center.  Changes in the household’s circumstances will be processed by using the same standards that apply to all other Food Stamp households.


(e)   Returning Food Stamp Benefits


The treatment center will be reminded to return the household’s EBT card and PIN mailer to the Food Stamp Office if received after the individual has left the center.


Example:  An individual leaves the center on April 5th.  His benefits are posted to his account on April 10th.  The center must return the cards to the county office.  If, however, the individual left on the 5th but had received his benefits on April 1st, the individual must be given one-half the benefit amount and the EBT card.  The center may retain and use the other half of the benefit amount.


(f)     Center Liability


The caseworker will inform the organization or institution at each certification that it is responsible for any misrepresentation or intentionally withholding information concerning the household in the certification of center residents.  As an authorized representative, the organization or institution must be knowledgeable about the household’s circumstances and should review carefully those circumstances with residents prior to applying on their behalf.  Remind the organization or institution that it is strictly liable for all losses or misuse of benefits held on behalf of residents and for all overissuances which occur while the households are residents of the treatment center.


(g)   Center Penalties and Disqualification


Inform the organization or institution that it may be penalized or disqualified by Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) if it is determined, either administratively or judicially, that benefits were misappropriated or used for purchases that did not contribute to a certified household’s meals.  The county office will notify the local FNS Office promptly when it has reason to believe that an organization or institution is misusing benefits in its possession.  However, the county office will not take action against the organization or institution until notified by FNS of its determination.


(h)   Disqualified Treatment Center


FNS will notify the county office if FNS disqualifies an organization or institution as an authorized retail food store.  The county office will then suspend the authorized representative status of that organization or institution for the same period.


Residents of drug addict and alcoholic treatment centers that lose their FNS authorization to accept and redeem benefits or lose their certification through the Department of Health will not be eligible to participate.  The residents are not eligible to participate.  The residents are not entitled to a Notice of Adverse Action but will receive a written notice explaining the termination and when it will become effective.


7.      County Office Review


The county office will conduct semi-annual site visits to treatment centers to assure the accuracy of the listings and that the county’s records are consistent and up-to-date.  Questionable situations may demand a more frequent site review.  A centralized record of these visits will be maintained for ME and audit purposes.  Appropriate corrective action will be taken on discrepancies noted.


Glossary of Terms


Food Stamp Table of Contents