(a)Uniform standards. The State agency shall apply the uniform national resource standards of eligibility to all applicant households, including those households in which members are recipients of federally aided public assistance, general assistance, or supplemental security income. Households which are categorically eligible as defined in § 273.2(j)(2) or 273.2(j)(4) do not have to meet the resource limits or definitions in this section.
(b)Maximum allowable resources. The maximum allowable resources, including both liquid and nonliquid assets, of all members of the household shall not exceed $2,000 for the household, except that, for households including one or more disabled members or a member or members age 60 or over, such resources shall not exceed $3,000.
(c)Definition of resources. In determining the resources of a household, the following shall be included and documented by the State agency in sufficient detail to permit verification:
(1) Liquid resources, such as cash on hand, money in checking or savings accounts, savings certificates, stocks or bonds, lump sum payments as specified in § 273.9(c)(8), funds held in individual retirement accounts (IRA's), and funds held in Keogh plans which do not involve the household member in a contractual relationship with individuals who are not household members. In counting resources of households with IRA's or includable Keogh plans, the State agency shall include the total cash value of the account or plan minus the amount of the penalty (if any) that would be exacted for the early withdrawal of the entire amount in the account or plan; and
(2) Nonliquid resources, personal property, licensed and unlicensed vehicles, buildings, land, recreational properties, and any other property, provided that these resources are not specifically excluded under paragraph (e) of this section. The value of nonexempt resources, except for licensed vehicles as specified in paragraph (f) of this section, shall be its equity value. The equity value is the fair market value less encumbrances.
(3) For a household containing a sponsored alien, the State agency must deem the resources of the sponsor and the sponsor's spouse in accordance with § 273.4(c)(2).
(d)Jointly owned resources. Resources owned jointly by separate households shall be considered available in their entirety to each household, unless it can be demonstrated by the applicant household that such resources are inaccessible to that household. If the household can demonstrate that it has access to only a portion of the resource, the value of that portion of the resource shall be counted toward the household's resource level. The resource shall be considered totally inaccessible to the household if the resource cannot practically be subdivided and the household's access to the value of the resource is dependent on the agreement of a joint owner who refuses to comply. For the purpose of this provision, ineligible aliens or disqualified individuals residing with the household shall be considered household members. Resources shall be considered inaccessible to persons residing in shelters for battered women and children, as defined in § 271.2, if
(1) The resources are jointly owned by such persons and by members of their former household; and
(2) The shelter resident's access to the value of the resources is dependent on the agreement of a joint owner who still resides in the former household.
(e)Exclusions from resources. In determining the resources of a household, only the following shall be excluded:
(1) The home and surrounding property which is not separated from the home by intervening property owned by others. Public rights of way, such as roads which run through the surrounding property and separate it from the home, will not affect the exemption of the property. The home and surrounding property shall remain exempt when temporarily unoccupied for reasons of employment, training for future employment, illness, or uninhabitability caused by casualty or natural disaster, if the household intends to return. Households that currently do not own a home, but own or are purchasing a lot on which they intend to build or are building a permanent home, shall receive an exclusion for the value of the lot and, if it is partially completed, for the home.
(2) Household goods, personal effects, the cash value of life insurance policies, one burial plot per household member, and the value of one bona fide funeral agreement per household member, provided that the agreement does not exceed $1,500 in equity value, in which event the value above $1,500 is counted. The cash value of pension plans or funds shall be excluded, except that Keogh plans which involve no contractual relationship with individuals who are not household members and individual retirement accounts (IRA's) shall not be excluded under this paragraph.
(i) Licensed vehicles that meet the following conditions:
(A) Used for income-producing purposes such as, but not limited to, a taxi, truck, or fishing boat, or a vehicle used for deliveries, to call on clients or customers, or required by the terms of employment. Licensed vehicles that have previously been used by a self-employed household member engaged in farming but are no longer used in farming because the household member has terminated his/her self-employment from farming must continue to be excluded as a resource for one year from the date the household member terminated his/her self-employment farming;
(B) Annually producing income consistent with its fair market value, even if used only on a seasonal basis;
(C) Necessary for long-distance travel, other than daily commuting, that is essential to the employment of a household member (or ineligible alien or disqualified person whose resources are being considered available to the household)—for example, the vehicle of a traveling sales person or a migrant farm worker following the work stream;
(D) Used as the household's home and, therefore, excluded under paragraph (e)(1) of this section;
(E) Necessary to transport a physically disabled household member (or physically disabled ineligible alien or physically disabled disqualified person whose resources are being considered available to the household) regardless of the purpose of such transportation (limited to one vehicle per physically disabled household member). The vehicle need not have special equipment or be used primarily by or for the transportation of the physically disabled household member; or
(F) Necessary to carry fuel for heating or water for home use when the transported fuel or water is anticipated to be the primary source of fuel or water for the household during the certification period. Households must receive this resource exclusion without having to meet any additional tests concerning the nature, capabilities, or other uses of the vehicle. Households must not be required to furnish documentation, as mandated by § 273.2(f)(4), unless the exclusion of the vehicle is questionable. If the basis for exclusion of the vehicle is questionable, the State agency may require documentation from the household, in accordance with § 273.2(f)(4).
(G) The value of the vehicle is inaccessible, in accordance with paragraph (e)(18) of this section, because its sale would produce an estimated return of not more than $1,500.
(ii) On those Indian reservations that do not require vehicles driven by tribal members to be licensed, such vehicles must be treated as licensed vehicles for the purpose of this exclusion.
(iii) The exclusions in paragraphs (e)(3)(i)(A) through (e)(3)(i)(C) of this section will apply when the vehicle is not in use because of temporary unemployment, such as when a taxi driver is ill and cannot work, or when a fishing boat is frozen in and cannot be used.
(4) Property which annually produces income consistent with its fair market value, even if only used on a seasonal basis. Such property shall include rental homes and vacation homes.
(5) Property, such as farm land or work related equipment, such as the tools of a tradesman or the machinery of a farmer, which is essential to the employment or self-employment of a household member. Property essential to the self-employment of a household member engaged in farming shall continue to be excluded for one year from the date the household member terminates his/her self-employment from farming.
(6) Installment contracts for the sale of land or buildings if the contract or agreement is producing income consistent with its fair market value. The exclusion shall also apply to the value of the property sold under the installment contract, or held as security in exchange for a purchase price consistent with the fair market value of that property.
(7) Any governmental payments which are designated for the restoration of a home damaged in a disaster, if the household is subject to a legal sanction if the funds are not used as intended; for example, payments made by the Department of Housing and Urban Development through the individual and family grant program or disaster loans or grants made by the Small Business Administration.
(8) Resources having a cash value which is not accessible to the household, such as but not limited to, irrevocable trust funds, security deposits on rental property or utilities, property in probate, and real property which the household is making a good faith effort to sell at a reasonable price and which has not been sold. The State agency may verify that the property is for sale and that the household has not declined a reasonable offer. Verification may be obtained through a collateral contact or documentation, such as an advertisement for public sale in a newspaper of general circulation or a listing with a real estate broker. Any funds in a trust or transferred to a trust, and the income produced by that trust to the extent it is not available to the household, shall be considered inaccessible to the household if:
(i) The trust arrangement is not likely to cease during the certification period and no household member has the power to revoke the trust arrangement or change the name of the beneficiary during the certification period;
(ii) The trustee administering the funds is either:
(A) A court, or an institution, corporation, or organization which is not under the direction or ownership of any household member, or (B) an individual appointed by the court who has court imposed limitations placed on his/her use of the funds which meet the requirements of this paragraph;
(iii) Trust investments made on behalf of the trust do not directly involve or assist any business or corporation under the control, direction, or influence of a household member; and
(iv) The funds held in irrevocable trust are either:
(A) Established from the household's own funds, if the trustee uses the funds solely to make investments on behalf of the trust or to pay the educational or medical expenses of any person named by the household creating the trust, or (B) established from non-household funds by a nonhousehold member.
(9) Resources, such as those of students or self-employed persons, which have been prorated as income. The treatment of student income is explained in § 273.10(c) and the treatment of self-employment income is explained in § 273.11(a).
(10) Indian lands held jointly with the Tribe, or land that can be sold only with the approval of the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs; and
(11) Resources which are excluded for food stamp purposes by express provision of Federal statute.
(12) Earned income tax credits shall be excluded as follows:
(i) A Federal earned income tax credit received either as a lump sum or as payments under section 3507 of the Internal Revenue Code for the month of receipt and the following month for the individual and that individual's spouse.
(ii) Any Federal, State or local earned income tax credit received by any household member shall be excluded for 12 months, provided the household was participating in the Food Stamp Program at the time of receipt of the earned income tax credit and provided the household participates continuously during that 12-month period. Breaks in participation of one month or less due to administrative reasons, such as delayed recertification or missing or late monthly reports, shall not be considered as nonparticipation in determining the 12-month exclusion.
(13) Where an exclusion applies because of use of a resource by or for a household member, the exclusion shall also apply when the resource is being used by or for an ineligible alien or disqualified person whose resources are being counted as part of the household's resources. For example, work related equipment essential to the employment of an ineligible alien or disqualified person shall be excluded (in accordance with paragraph (e)(5) of this section), as shall one burial plot per ineligible alien or disqualified household member (in accordance with paragraph (e)(2) of this section).
(14) Energy assistance payments or allowances excluded as income under § 273.9(c)(11).
(15) Non-liquid asset(s) against which a lien has been placed as a result of taking out a business loan and the household is prohibited by the security or lien agreement with the lien holder (creditor) from selling the asset(s).
(16) Property, real or personal, to the extent that it is directly related to the maintenance or use of a vehicle excluded under paragraphs (e)(3)(i)(A), (e)(3)(i)(B) or (e)(3)(i)(C) of this section. Only that portion of real property determined necessary for maintenance or use is excludable under this provision. For example, a household which owns a produce truck to earn its livelihood may be prohibited from parking the truck in a residential area. The household may own a 100-acre field and use a quarter-acre of the field to park and/or service the truck. Only the value of the quarter-acre would be excludable under this provision, not the entire 100-acre field.
(17) The resources of a household member who receives SSI or PA benefits. A household member is considered a recipient of these benefits if the benefits have been authorized but not received, if the benefits are suspended or recouped, or if the benefits are not paid because they are less than a minimum amount. For purposes of this paragraph (e)(17), if an individual receives non-cash or in-kind services from a program specified in §§ 273.2(j)(2)(i)(B), 273.2(j)(2)(i)(C), 273.2(j)(2)(ii)(A), or 273.2(j)(2)(ii)(B), the State agency must determine whether the individual or the household benefits from the assistance provided, in accordance with § 273.2(j)(2)(iii). Individuals entitled to Medicaid benefits only are not considered recipients of SSI or PA.
(18) The State agency must develop clear and uniform standards for identifying kinds of resources that, as a practical matter, the household is unable to sell for any significant return because the household's interest is relatively slight or the costs of selling the household's interest would be relatively great. The State agency must so identify a resource if its sale or other disposition is unlikely to produce any significant amount of funds for the support of the household or the cost of selling the resource would be relatively great. This provision does not apply to financial instruments such as stocks, bonds, and negotiable financial instruments. The determination of whether any part of the value of a vehicle is included as a resource must be made in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs (e)(3) and (f) of this section. The State agency may require verification of the value of a resource to be excluded if the information provided by the household is questionable. The State agencies must use the following definitions in developing these standards:
(i) “Significant return” means any return, after estimating costs of sale or disposition, and taking into account the ownership interest of the household, that the State agency determines are more than $1,500; and
(ii) “Any significant amount of funds” means funds amounting to more than $1,500.
(19) At State agency option, any resources that the State agency excludes when determining eligibility or benefits for TANF cash assistance, as defined by 45 CFR 260.31 (a)(1) and (a)(2), or medical assistance under Section 1931 of the SSA. Resource exclusions under TANF and Section 1931 programs that do not evaluate the financial circumstances of adults in the household and programs grandfathered under Section 404(a)(2) of the SSA shall not be excluded under this paragraph (e)(19). Additionally, licensed vehicles not excluded under Section 5(g)(2)(C) or (D) of the Food Stamp Act of 1977, as amended (7 U.S.C. 2014(g)(2)(C) or (D)), cash on hand, amounts in any account in a financial institution that are readily available to the household including money in checking or savings accounts, savings certificates, stocks, or bonds shall also not be excluded. The term “readily available” applies to resources that the owner can simply withdraw from a financial institution. State agencies may exclude deposits in individual development accounts (IDAs). A State agency that chooses to exclude resources under this paragraph (e)(19) must specify in its State plan of operation that it has selected this option and provide a description of the resources that are being excluded.
(f)Determining the value of non-excluded vehicles.
(1) The State agency must:
(i) Individually evaluate the fair market value of each licensed vehicle that is not excluded under paragraph (e)(3) of this section;
(ii) Count in full toward the household's resource level, regardless of any encumbrances on the vehicle, that portion of the fair market value that exceeds $4,650 beginning October 1, 1996;
(iii) Evaluate such licensed vehicles as well as all unlicensed vehicles for their equity value (fair market value less encumbrances), unless specifically exempt from the equity value test; and
(iv) Count as a resource only the greater of the two amounts if the vehicle has a countable fair market value of more than $4,650 after October 1, 1996, and also has a countable equity value.
(2) Only the following vehicles are exempt from the equity value test outlined in paragraph (f)(1)(iii) of this section:
(i) Vehicles excluded under paragraph (e)(3)(i) of this section;
(ii) One licensed vehicle per adult household member (or an ineligible alien or disqualified household member whose resources are being considered available to household), regardless of the use of the vehicle; and
(iii) Any other vehicle a household member under age 18 (or an ineligible alien or disqualified household member under age 18 whose resources are being considered available to household) drives to commute to and from employment, or to and from training or education which is preparatory to employment, or to seek employment. This equity exclusion applies during temporary periods of unemployment to a vehicle which a household member under age 18 customarily drives to commute to and from employment.
(3) State agencies will be responsible for establishing methodologies for determining the fair market value of vehicles. In establishing such methodologies, the State agency must not increase the basic value of a vehicle by adding the value of low mileage or other factors such as optional equipment or special apparatus for the handicapped. Any household that claims that the State agency's determination of the value of its vehicle(s) is not accurate must be given the opportunity to acquire verification of the true value of the vehicle from a reliable source.
(4) A State agency may substitute for the vehicle evaluation provisions in paragraphs (f)(1) through (f)(3) of this section the vehicle evaluation provisions of a program in that State that uses TANF or State or local funds to meet TANF maintenance of effort requirements and provides benefits that meet the definition of “assistance” according to TANF regulations at 45 CFR 260.31, where doing so results in a lower attribution of resources to the household. States electing this option must:
(i) Apply the substituted TANF vehicle rules to all food stamp households in the State, whether or not they receive or are eligible to receive TANF assistance of any kind;
(ii) Exclude from household resources any vehicles excluded by either the substituted TANF vehicle rules or the food stamp vehicle rules at paragraphs (e)(3), (e)(5), (e)(11) and (f) of this section;
(iii) Apply either the substituted TANF rules or the food stamp vehicle rules to each of a household's vehicles in turn, using whichever set of rules produces the lower attribution of resources to the household;
(iv) Apply any vehicle exclusions allowed by their TANF vehicle rules to the vehicles with the highest values; and
(v) Exclude any vehicle owned by any household in the State if it selects TANF vehicle rules that exclude all vehicles completely or contain no resource provisions at all.
(g)Handling of excluded funds. Excluded funds that are kept in a separate account, and that are not commingled in an account with nonexcluded funds, shall retain their resource exclusion for an unlimited period of time. The resources of students and self-employment households which are excluded as provided in paragraph (e)(9) of this section and are commingled in an account with nonexcluded funds shall retain their exclusion for the period of time over which they have been prorated as income. All other excluded moneys which are commingled in an account with nonexcluded funds shall retain their exemption for six months from the date they are commingled. After six months from the date of commingling, all funds in the commingled account shall be counted as a resource.
(h)Transfer of resources.
(1) At the time of application, households shall be asked to provide information regarding any resources which any household member (or ineligible alien or disqualified person whose resources are being considered available to the household) had transferred within the 3-month period immediately preceding the date of application. Households which have transferred resources knowingly for the purpose of qualifying or attempting to qualify for food stamp benefits shall be disqualified from participation in the program for up to 1 year from the date of the discovery of the transfer. This disqualification period shall be applied if the resources are transferred knowingly in the 3-month period prior to application or if they are transferred knowingly after the household is determined eligible for benefits. An example of the latter would be assets which the household acquires after being certified and which are then transferred to prevent the household from exceeding the maximum resource limit.
(2) Eligibility for the program will not be affected by the following transfers:
(i) Resources which would not otherwise affect eligibility, for example, resources consisting of excluded personal property such as furniture or of money that, when added to other nonexempt household resources, totaled less at the time of the transfer than the allowable resource limits;
(ii) Resources which are sold or traded at, or near, fair market value;
(iii) Resources which are transferred between members of the same household (including ineligible aliens or disqualified persons whose resources are being considered available to the household); and
(iv) Resources which are transferred for reasons other than qualifying or attempting to qualify for food stamp benefits, for example, a parent placing funds into an educational trust fund described in paragraph (e)(9) of this section.
(3) In the event the State agency establishes that an applicant household knowingly transferred resources for the purpose of qualifying or attempting to qualify for food stamp benefits, the household shall be sent a notice of denial explaining the reason for and length of the disqualification. The period of disqualification shall begin in the month of application. If the household is participating at the time of the discovery of the transfer, a notice of adverse action explaining the reason for and length of the disqualification shall be sent. The period of disqualification shall be made effective with the first allotment to be issued after the notice of adverse action period has expired, unless the household has requested a fair hearing and continued benefits.
(4) The length of the disqualification period shall be based on the amount by which nonexempt transferred resources, when added to other countable resources, exceeds the allowable resource limits. The following chart will be used to determine the period of disqualification.