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Use of identification cards and redemption of coupons by eligible households.
(a) General provisions.
State agencies shall issue an ID card to each certified household as proof of Program eligibility. Upon request, the household or the authorized representative, shall present the household's ID card at issuance points, retail food stores or meal services in order to transact the allotment authorization or when exchanging benefits for eligible food. The household member or members whose name(s) appear on the ID card shall sign the coupon books issued to the household.
All ID cards shall be issued in the name of the household member who is authorized to receive the household's issuance. In areas not designated by FNS as requiring Photo ID cards, the ID card shall contain space for the name and signature of the household member to whom the coupon allotment is to be issued and for any authorized representatives designated by the household. Section 274.5(b) provides further requirements pertaining to emergency authorized representatives. Any person listed on the ID card shall sign the ID card before that person can use it to obtain benefits. If the household does not name an authorized representative, the State agency shall void that area of the ID card to prevent names and signatures being entered at a later date. The ID card may be serially numbered.
The State agency shall limit issuance of ID cards to the time of initial certification, with replacements made only in instances of loss, mutilation, destruction, changes in the person authorized to obtain coupons, or when the State agency determines that new ID cards are needed to keep the photographs up-to-date or if the State agency changes its ID card format or system. Whenever possible, the State agency shall collect the ID card that it is replacing.
The State agency shall place an expiration date on all temporary ID cards, and on the regular ID cards issued to households certified for delivered meals for a specific period, and to homeless households certified for restaurant meals.
Specially-marked ID cards shall be issued in the following circumstances:
Eligible household members 60 years of age or over or members who are housebound, physically handicapped, or otherwise disabled to the extent that they are unable to adequately prepare all their meals, and their spouses, may use coupons to purchase meals prepared for and delivered to them by a nonprofit meal delivery service authorized by FNS. Any household eligible for and interested in using delivered meal services shall have its ID card marked with the letter “M”.
Eligible household members 60 years of age or over and their spouses, or those receiving SSI and their spouses, may use coupons issued to them to purchase meals prepared especially for them at communal dining facilities authorized by FNS for that purpose. Any household eligible for and interested in using communal dining facilities in those States or project areas where restaurants are authorized to accept food stamps, shall have its ID card marked with the letters “CD”. In areas where restaurants are not authorized to accept food stamps, the State or project area may mark such ID's with the letters “CD”.
Eligible homeless households may use food stamp benefits to purchase meals from restaurants authorized by FNS for such purpose. Any homeless household eligible for, and interested in, using restaurants in those areas where restaurants are authorized to accept food stamp benefits shall have a specially-marked ID card. The State agency shall provide samples of specially-marked ID cards to authorized restaurants.
Eligible households residing in areas of Alaska determined by FNS as areas where access to retail food stores is difficult and which rely substantially on hunting and fishing for subsistence may use all or any part of the coupons issued to purchase hunting and fishing equipment such as nets, hooks, rods, harpoons and knives, but may not use coupons to purchase firearms, ammunition, and other explosives. Any household residing in a remote section of Alaska which has been determined by FNS to be an area in which food coupons may be used to purchase hunting and fishing equipment shall have its ID card marked with the letters “HF”.
ID cards delivered to households by mail shall not be mailed in the same envelope with authorization documents or coupons.
(b) Photo ID cards.
Photo ID cards shall be issued in those project areas or portions thereof with 100,000 or more food stamp participants, except for those project areas serviced entirely by mail issuance or an Electronic Benefit Transfer system, or where FNS, in consultation with the Office of the Inspector General, approves a State agency's request for an exemption. FNS shall respond to a State agency's request for exemption within 30 days of its receipt of the request.
FNS shall evaluate the January participation data reported as an attachment to the March Form FNS-388 report. Based on the evaluation, FNS shall notify State agencies at the beginning of each fiscal year of any areas that either require or no longer require the use of Photo ID cards. In cases where an entire State is a single project area, FNS shall consult with the State agency to determine whether Photo IDs should be required in any specific parts of the project area. At the conclusion of this consultation, FNS shall inform the State agency whether the use of Photo IDs will be mandated in any parts of the State agency, based on the need to protect Program integrity, and the cost-effectiveness of Photo ID cards.
In cases where a project area serves between 100,000 and 110,000 participants, FNS shall inform the State agency in which the project area is located that it is prepared to mandate the use of Photo IDs in the project area. FNS shall also inform the State agency that it will not mandate use of Photo ID's if, within 30 days of being notified by FNS that Photo ID's must be used, the State agency demonstrates to FNS that participation in the project areas has fallen below the 100,000 participant level in the recent past, or justifies to FNS why participation is likely to fall below that level during the next year.
FNS may, at any time, in consultation with the Office of the Inspector General, designate project areas or portions thereof with less than 100,000 participants as requiring the use of Photo ID cards if, in reviewing such factors as the level of duplicate issuances and results of management evaluation reviews, the Department determines that the issuance of Photo ID cards in such areas would be justified.
A State agency may request that FNS require that Photo IDs be mandated throughout either the entire State or specified project areas. FNS shall respond to such requests within 30 days of the request and, if the request is not approved, FNS shall justify its reasons for the disapproval to the State agency.
In project areas where issuance of Photo ID cards is mandatory, the State agency shall issue a Photo ID card at the time of certification to each eligible household except those listed in § 274.10(b)(4). Households exempt from mandated Photo ID cards shall be issued ID cards which meet the specifications in paragraph (d) of this section except that in lieu of a photograph, the State agency shall annotate the cards to show an exception was granted to the household and that the ID card is valid. The following households are exempt from the Photo ID requirement:
Households certified by out-of-office interviews as specified in § 273.2(e)(2). However, the State agency shall replace the non-Photo ID card issued to such households with a Photo ID card when the appropriate household member or authorized representative visits the certification office. The State agency shall not require any member of such a household to visit the office exclusively for the purpose of issuing a Photo ID card;
Household members whose religion does not allow them to be photographed. The State agency shall require such a household to provide a signed statement to the effect that the members' religious beliefs do not allow them to be photographed;
Households entitled to expedited service if the State agency's Photo ID card system is incapable of producing a Photo ID card in time for the household to participate as required by § 273.2(i). A Photo ID card shall be issued to the household prior to issuance of the household's next allotment;
Households certified under the SSA-food stamp joint processing rules in § 273.2(k). State agencies shall not require such households to obtain Photo IDs as long as they continue to be certified for food stamps at SSA offices. However, a household shall obtain a Photo ID if a household member or authorized representative reports to a food stamp office for recertification; and,
Residents of drug/alcohol treatment and rehabilitation programs.
In addition to the general provisions in paragraph (a) of this section, Photo ID cards shall include the photograph of the person who will receive the household's issuance; i.e., who will either transact the household's authorization document or pick up the household's allotment. A Photo ID card shall be signed by only the person pictured on the card, who may be the household member or authorized representative. Only the person photographed may obtain the household's coupons. All Photo ID card formats are subject to FNS approval.
Photo ID cards shall be serially numbered and laminated after they are signed by the person whose photograph appears on the card. ID cards shall also include a color photograph of the person designated by the household to obtain coupons and the household's case number or other identifying information.
A Photo ID card used to receive benefits under a welfare or public assistance program may be adapted for food stamp purposes if it meets the specifications contained in this section and can be annotated to indicate food stamp eligibility.
The State agency shall provide a household with a reasonable opportunity to obtain a food stamp Photo ID card in any project area where its use is mandated.
A household required to have a Photo ID card shall not participate until such time as a household member or a designated authorized representative obtains such a card. If a designated authorized representative does not obtain the required Photo ID, the household may designate a household member or another authorized representative to be photographed.
If the person whose photograph appears on the ID is unable to travel to the issuance point to obtain a particular allotment, the household may use the emergency authorized representative procedures provided in § 274.5 and in paragraph (c) of this section.
State agencies which have the capability may develop systems to issue more than one household member a Photo ID card. These systems shall ensure that the safeguards provided by Photo ID cards, as specified in this section, are maintained.
If a mutilated or altered Photo ID card is presented at the issuance point, the household shall obtain a replacement Photo ID card prior to issuance.
A household shall be entitled to unobtained benefits, lost as a result of being unable to obtain a particular allotment, if the issuance month elapses between the time the household requested a replacement Photo ID card and the delivery of that card to the household.
FNS may waive one or more of the requirements in this section if a State agency can demonstrate to FNS that its alternate ID card or system will provide adequate safeguards against fraudulent and/or duplicate issuances.
(c) Emergency authorized representative and recipient identification.
State agencies shall develop a method by which a household may designate an emergency authorized representative to obtain the household's allotment when none of the persons specified on the ID is available.
At a minimum, the method developed by the State agency shall require a document with the signature of the emergency authorized representative as well as a place for the household member named on the ID card to sign designating the emergency authorized representative and attesting to the signature of the emergency authorized representative. The designation may be on the ID card or authorization document or a separate form. The household shall not be required to travel to a food stamp office to execute an emergency designation. The emergency authorized representative may present a separately written and signed statement from the head of the household or his or her spouse, authorizing the issuance of the certified household's food stamps to the authorized representative. The emergency representative shall sign the written statement from the household and present the statement and the household ID card to obtain the allotment. A separate written designation is required each time an emergency representative is authorized.
In any issuance system, the cashier shall compare the signatures on the issuance document and on the ID card. If they do not match, issuance shall not be made.
If the household is required by these regulations to present a Photo ID card, coupons shall be issued only when the person presenting the authorization document or requesting the coupons is pictured on the ID card. The cashier shall write the serial number of the Photo ID card on the authorization or issuance document.
If the Photo ID card appears to be mutilated or altered, the issuing agent shall not issue the coupons, but shall require the household to obtain a replacement ID card from the State agency.
(d) Eligible food.
A household member should sign each coupon book issued to the household. The coupons may be used only by the household, or other persons the household selects, to purchase eligible food for the household, which includes, for certain households residing in certain designated areas of Alaska, the purchase of hunting and fishing equipment with coupons. Uncanceled and unendorsed coupons of $1 denomination, returned as change by authorized retail food stores, may be presented as payment for eligible food. All other detached coupons may be accepted only if accompanied by the coupon book which bears the same serial number as the detached coupons. It is the right of the household or the authorized representative to detach the coupons from the book.
Eligible household members 60 years of age or over or members who are housebound, physically handicapped, or otherwise disabled to the extent that they are unable to adequately prepare all their meals, and their spouses, may use coupons to purchase meals prepared for and delivered to them by a nonprofit meal delivery service authorized by FNS.
(f) Residents of certain institutions.
Members of eligible households who are narcotics addicts or alcoholics and who regularly participate in a drug or alcoholic treatment rehabilitation program may use food stamp benefits to purchase food prepared for them during the course of such program by a private nonprofit organization or institution or publicly operated community mental health center which is authorized by FNS to redeem benefits in accordance with §§ 278.1 and 278.2(g) of this chapter.
Eligible residents of a group living arrangement may use food stamp benefits issued to them to purchase meals prepared especially for them at a group living arrangement which is authorized by FNS to redeem benefits in accordance with §§ 278.1 and 278.2(g) of this chapter.
Residents of shelters for battered women and children as defined in § 278.1(g) of this chapter may use their food stamp benefits to purchase meals prepared especially for them at a shelter which is authorized by FNS to redeem benefits in accordance with §§ 278.1 and 278.2(g) of this chapter.
(g) Homeless food stamp households.
Homeless food stamp households may use their food stamp benefits to purchase prepared meals from authorized homeless meal providers.
(h) Use of ID cards.
Upon request, the household or the authorized representative shall present the household's ID card to the retail food store or meal service when exchanging food coupons for eligible food.
(i) Prior payment prohibition.
Coupons shall not be used to pay for any eligible food purchased prior to the time at which the coupons are presented to authorized retail food stores or meal services. Neither shall coupons be used to pay for any eligible food in advance of the receipt of food, except when prior payment is for food purchased from a nonprofit cooperative food purchasing venture.
(j) Cash change.
When change in an amount less than $1 is required in a coupon transaction, the household shall receive the change in cash not to exceed 99 cents. However, in the case of homeless food stamp households, neither cash change nor credit slips shall be returned for coupons used for the purchase of prepared meals from authorized homeless meal providers. Such meal providers may use uncancelled and unmarked $1 coupons which were previously accepted for meals served to food stamp recipients when change is required for $5 and $10 coupons. However, in the case of homeless food stamp households, neither cash change nor credit slips shall be returned for food stamps used for the purchase of prepared meals from authorized public and private nonprofit homeless meal providers. Such meal providers may use the lowest denomination coupons that are uncancelled and unmarked for making change in food stamp transactions. Restaurants which are authorized by FNS under § 278.1 to provide meals to homeless food stamp recipients shall return cash change to such recipients in food stamp transactions when the amount of change due is less than one dollar. If change of one dollar or more is due, uncancelled and unmarked one dollar coupons shall also be used for change.
[54 FR 7004, Feb. 15, 1989, as amended at 54 FR 51352, Dec. 15, 1989; 57 FR 11249, Apr. 1, 1992; 61 FR 53600, Oct. 15, 1996; Amdt. 397, 70 FR 72354, Dec. 5, 2005]