# 7 CFR § 273.10 - Determining household eligibility and benefit levels.

§ 273.10 Determining household eligibility and benefit levels.

(a) Month of application -

(1) Determination of eligibility and benefit levels.

(i) A household's eligibility shall be determined for the month of application by considering the household's circumstances for the entire month of application. Most households will have the eligibility determination based on circumstances for the entire calendar month in which the household filed its application. However, State agencies may, with the prior approval of FNS, use a fiscal month if the State agency determines that it is more efficient and satisfies FNS that the accounting procedures fully comply with certification and issuance requirements contained in these regulations. A State agency may elect to use either a standard fiscal month for all households, such as from the 15th of one calendar month to the 15th of the next calendar month, or a fiscal month that will vary for each household depending on the date an individual files an application for the Program. Applicant households consisting of residents of a public institution who apply jointly for SSI and SNAP benefits prior to release from the public institution in accordance with § 273.11(i) will have their eligibility determined for the month in which the applicant household was released from the institution.

(ii) A household's benefit level for the initial months of certification shall be based on the day of the month it applies for benefits and the household shall receive benefits from the date of application to the end of the month unless the applicant household consists of residents of a public institution. For households which apply for SSI prior to their release from a public institution in accordance with § 273.11(i), the benefit level for the initial month of certification shall be based on the date of the month the household is released from the institution and the household shall receive benefits from the date of the household's release from the institution to the end of the month. As used in this section, the term “initial month” means the first month for which the household is certified for participation in SNAP following any period during which the household was not certified for participation, except for migrant and seasonal farmworker households. In the case of migrant and seasonal farmworker households, the term “initial month” means the first month for which the household is certified for participation in SNAP following any period of more than 1 month during which the household was not certified for participation. Recertification shall be processed in accordance with § 273.10(a)(2). The State agency shall prorate a household's benefits according to one of the two following options:

(A) The State agency shall use a standard 30-day calendar or fiscal month. A household applying on the 31st of a month will be treated as though it applied on the 30th of the month.

(B) The State agency shall prorate benefits over the exact length of a particular calendar or fiscal month.

(iii) To determine the amount of the prorated allotment, the State agency shall use either the appropriate Food Stamp Allotment Proration Table provided by FNS or whichever of the following formulae is appropriate:

(A) For State agencies which use a standard 30-day calendar or fiscal month the formula is as follows, keeping in mind that the date of application for someone applying on the 31st of a month is the 30th:

$X=\frac{a×b}{c}$

$\text{full month's benefits}×\frac{\left(31-\text{date of application}\right)}{30}=\text{allotment}$

(B) For State agencies which use the exact number of days in a month, the formula is:

$X=\frac{a×b}{c}$

$\text{full month's benefits}×\frac{\left(\text{number of days in month}+1-\text{date of application}\right)}{\text{number of days in month}}=\text{allotment}$

(C) If after using the appropriate formula the result ends in 1 through 99 cents, the State agency shall round the product down to the nearest lower whole dollar. If the computation results in an allotment of less than \$10, then no issuance shall be made for the initial month.

(2) Application for recertification. Eligibility for recertification shall be determined based on circumstances anticipated for the certification period starting the month following the expiration of the current certification period. The level of benefits for recertifications shall be based on the same anticipated circumstances, except for retrospectively budgeted households which shall be recertified in accordance with § 273.21(f)(2). If a household, other than a migrant or seasonal farmworker household, submits an application after the household's certification period has expired, that application shall be considered an initial application and benefits for that month shall be prorated in accordance with paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section. If a household's failure to timely apply for recertification was due to an error of the State agency and therefore there was a break in participation, the State agency shall follow the procedures in § 273.14(e). In addition, if the household submits an application for recertification prior to the end of its certification period but is found ineligible for the first month following the end of the certification period, then the first month of any subsequent participation shall be considered an initial month. Conversely, if the household submits an application for recertification prior to the end of its certification period and is found eligible for the first month following the end of the certification period, then that month shall not be an initial month.

(3) Anticipated changes. Because of anticipated changes, a household may be eligible for the month of application, but ineligible in the subsequent month. The household shall be entitled to benefits for the month of application even if the processing of its application results in the benefits being issued in the subsequent month. Similarly, a household may be ineligible for the month of application, but eligible in the subsequent month due to anticipated changes in circumstances. Even though denied for the month of application, the household does not have to reapply in the subsequent month. The same application shall be used for the denial for the month of application and the determination of eligibility for subsequent months, within the timeliness standards in § 273.2.

(4) Changes in allotment levels. As a result of anticipating changes, the household's allotment for the month of application may differ from its allotment in subsequent months. The State agency shall establish a certification period for the longest possible period over which changes in the household's circumstances can be reasonably anticipated. The household's allotment shall vary month to month within the certification period to reflect changes anticipated at the time of certification, unless the household elects the averaging techniques in paragraphs (c)(3) and (d)(3) of this section.

(b) Determining resources. Available resources at the time the household is interviewed shall be used to determine the household's eligibility.

(c) Determining income -

(1) Anticipating income.

(i) For the purpose of determining the household's eligibility and level of benefits, the State agency shall take into account the income already received by the household during the certification period and any anticipated income the household and the State agency are reasonably certain will be received during the remainder of the certification period. If the amount of income that will be received, or when it will be received, is uncertain, that portion of the household's income that is uncertain shall not be counted by the State agency. For example, a household anticipating income from a new source, such as a new job or recently applied for public assistance benefits, may be uncertain as to the timing and amount of the initial payment. These moneys shall not be anticipated by the State agency unless there is reasonable certainty concerning the month in which the payment will be received and in what amount. If the exact amount of the income is not known, that portion of it which can be anticipated with reasonable certainty shall be considered as income. In cases where the receipt of income is reasonably certain but the monthly amount may fluctuate, the household may elect to income average. Households shall be advised to report all changes in gross monthly income as required by § 273.12.

(ii) Income received during the past 30 days shall be used as an indicator of the income that is and will be available to the household during the certification period. However, the State agency shall not use past income as an indicator of income anticipated for the certification period if changes in income have 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 State agency and the household may use a longer period of past time if it will provide a more accurate indication of anticipated fluctuations in future income. Similarly, if the household's 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 anticipated income. The State agency shall exercise particular caution in using income from a past season as an indicator of income for the certification period. In many cases of seasonally fluctuating income, the income also fluctuates from one season in one year to the same season in the next year. However, in no event shall the State agency automatically attribute to the household the amounts of any past income. The State agency shall not use past income as an indicator of anticipated income when changes in income have occurred or can be anticipated during the certification period.

(2) Income only in month received.

(i) Income anticipated during the certification period shall be counted as income only in the month it is expected to be received, unless the income is averaged. Whenever a full month's income is anticipated but is received on a weekly or biweekly basis, the State agency shall convert the income to a monthly amount by multiplying weekly amounts by 4.3 and biweekly amounts by 2.15, use the State Agency's PA conversion standard, or use the exact monthly figure if it can be anticipated for each month of the certification period. Nonrecurring lump-sum payments shall be counted as a resource starting in the month received and shall not be counted as income.

(ii) Wages held at the request of the employee shall be considered income to the household in the month the wages would otherwise have been paid by the employer. However, wages held by the employer as a general practice, even if in violation of law, shall not be counted as income to the household, unless the household anticipates that it will ask for and receive an advance, or that it will receive income from wages that were previously held by the employer as a general practice and that were, therefore, not previously counted as income by the State agency. Advances on wages shall count as income in the month received only if reasonably anticipated as defined in paragraph (c)(1) of this section.

(iii) Households receiving income on a recurring monthly or semimonthly basis shall not have their monthly income varied merely because of changes in mailing cycles or pay dates or because weekends or holidays cause additional payments to be received in a month.

(3) Income averaging.

(i) Income may be averaged in accordance with methods established by the State agency to be applied Statewide for categories of households. When averaging income, the State agency shall use the household's anticipation of monthly income fluctuations over the certification period. An average must be recalculated at recertification and in response to changes in income, in accordance with § 273.12(c), and the State agency shall inform the household of the amount of income used to calculate the allotment. Conversion of income received weekly or biweekly in accordance with paragraph (c)(2) of this section does not constitute averaging.

(ii) Households which, by contract or self-employment, derive their annual income in a period of time shorter than 1 year shall have that income averaged over a 12-month period, provided the income from the contract is not received on an hourly or piecework basis. These households may include school employees, sharecroppers, farmers, and other self-employed households. However, these provisions do not apply to migrant or seasonal farmworkers. The procedures for averaging self-employed income are described in § 273.11. Contract income which is not the household's annual income and is not paid on an hourly or piecework basis shall be prorated over the period the income is intended to cover.

(iii) Earned and unearned educational income, after allowable exclusions, shall be averaged over the period which it is intended to cover. Income shall be counted either in the month it is received, or in the month the household anticipates receiving it or receiving the first installment payment, although it is still prorated over the period it is intended to cover.

(d) Determining deductions. Deductible expenses include only certain dependent care, shelter, medical and, at State agency option, child support costs as described in § 273.9.

(1) Disallowed expenses.

(i) Any expense, in whole or part, covered by educational income which has been excluded pursuant to the provisions of § 273.9(c)(3) shall not be deductible. For example, the portion of rent covered by excluded vendor payments shall not be calculated as part of the household's shelter cost. In addition, an expense which is covered by an excluded vendor payment that has been converted to a direct cash payment under the approval of a federally authorized demonstration project as specified under § 273.9(c)(1) shall not be deductible. However, that portion of an allowable medical expense which is not reimbursable shall be included as part of the household's medical expenses. If the household reports an allowable medical expense at the time of certification but cannot provide verification at that time, and if the amount of the expense cannot be reasonably anticipated based upon available information about the recipient's medical condition and public or private medical insurance coverage, the household shall have the nonreimbursable portion of the medical expense considered at the time the amount of the expense or reimbursement is reported and verified. A dependent care expense which is reimbursed or paid for by the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program under title IV-F of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 681) or the Transitional Child Care (TCC) program shall not be deductible. A utility expense which is reimbursed or paid by an excluded payment, including HUD or FmHA utility reimbursements, shall not be deductible.

(ii) Expenses shall only be deductible if the service is provided by someone outside of the household and the household makes a money payment for the service. For example, a dependent care deduction shall not be allowed if another household member provides the care, or compensation for the care is provided in the form of an inkind benefit, such as food.

(2) Billed expenses. Except as provided in paragraph (d)(3) of this section a deduction shall be allowed only in the month the expense is billed or otherwise becomes due, regardless of when the household intends to pay the expense. For example, rent which is due each month shall be included in the household's shelter costs, even if the household has not yet paid the expense. Amounts carried forward from past billing periods are not deductible, even if included with the most recent billing and actually paid by the household. In any event, a particular expense may only be deducted once.

(3) Averaging expenses. Households may elect to have fluctuating expenses averaged. Households may also elect to have expenses which are billed less often than monthly averaged forward over the interval between scheduled billings, or, if there is no scheduled interval, averaged forward over the period the expense is intended to cover. For example, if a household receives a single bill in February which covers a 3-month supply of fuel oil, the bill may be averaged over February, March, and April. The household may elect to have one-time only expenses averaged over the entire certification period in which they are billed. Households reporting one-time only medical expenses during their certification period may elect to have a one-time deduction or to have the expense averaged over the remaining months of their certification period. Averaging would begin the month the change would become effective. For households certified for 24 months that have one-time medical expenses, the State agency must use the following procedure. In averaging any one-time medical expense incurred by a household during the first 12 months, the State agency must give the household the option of deducting the expense for one month, averaging the expense over the remainder of the first 12 months of the certification period, or averaging the expense over the remaining months in the certification period. One-time expenses reported after the 12th month of the certification period will be deducted in one month or averaged over the remaining months in the certification period, at the household's option.

(4) Anticipating expenses. The State agency shall calculate a household's expenses based on the expenses the household expects to be billed for during the certification period. Anticipation of the expense shall be based on the most recent month's bills, unless the household is reasonably certain a change will occur. When the household is not claiming the utility standard, the State agency may anticipate changes during the certification period based on last year's bills from the same period updated by overall price increases; or, if only the most recent bill is available, utility cost increases or decreases over the months of the certification period may be based on utility company estimates for the type of dwelling and utilities used by the household. The State agency shall not average past expenses, such as utility bills for the last several months, as a method of anticipating utility costs for the certification period. At certification and recertification, the household shall report and verify all medical expenses. The household's monthly medical deduction for the certification period shall be based on the information reported and verified by the household, and any anticipated changes in the household's medical expenses that can be reasonably expected to occur during the certification period based on available information about the recipient's medical condition, public or private insurance coverage, and current verified medical expenses. The household shall not be required to file reports about its medical expenses during the certification period. If the household voluntarily reports a change in its medical expenses, the State agency shall verify the change in accordance with § 273.2(f)(8)(ii) if the change would increase the household's allotment. The State agency has the option of either requiring verification prior to acting on the change, or requiring the verification prior to the second normal monthly allotment after the change is reported. In the case of a reported change that would decrease the household's allotment, or make the household ineligible, the State agency shall act on the change without requiring verification, though verification which is required by § 273.2(f)(8) shall be obtained prior to the household's recertification. If a child in the household reaches his or her second birthday during the certification period, the \$200 maximum dependent care deduction defined in § 273.9(d)(4) shall be adjusted in accordance with this section not later than the household's next regularly scheduled recertification.

(5) Conversion of deductions. The income conversion procedures in paragraph (c)(2) of this section shall also apply to expenses billed on a weekly or biweekly basis.

(6) Energy Assistance Payments. Except for payments made under the Low Income Energy Assistance Act of 1981, the State agency shall prorate energy assistance payments as provided for in § 273.9(d) over the entire heating or cooling season the payment is intended to cover.

(7) Households which contain a member who is a disabled SSI recipient in accordance with paragraphs (2), (3), (4) or (5) of the definition of a disabled member in § 271.2 or households which contain a member who is a recipient of SSI benefits and the household is determined within the 30-day processing standard to be categorically eligible (as discussed in § 273.2(j)) or determined to be eligible as an NPA household and later becomes a categorically eligible household, shall be entitled to the excess medical deduction of § 273.9(d)(3) and the uncapped excess shelter expense deduction of § 273.9(d)(5) for the period for which the SSI recipient is authorized to receive SSI benefits or the date of the SNAP application, whichever is later, if the household incurs such expenses. Households, which contain an SSI recipient as discussed in this paragraph, which are determined ineligible as an NPA household and later become categorically eligible and entitled to restored benefits in accordance with § 273.2(j)(1)(iv), shall receive restored benefits using the medical and excess shelter expense deductions from the beginning of the period for which SSI benefits are paid, the original SNAP application date or December 23, 1985, whichever is later, if the household incurs such expenses.

(8) Optional child support deduction. If the State agency opts to provide households with an income deduction rather than an income exclusion for legally obligated child support payments in accordance with § 273.9(d)(5), the State agency may budget such payments in accordance with paragraphs (d)(2) through (d)(5) of this section, or retrospectively, in accordance with § 273.21(b) and § 273.21(f)(2), regardless of the budgeting system used for the household's other circumstances.

(e) Calculating net income and benefit levels -

(1) Net monthly income.

(i) To determine a household's net monthly income, the State agency shall:

(A) Add the gross monthly income earned by all household members and the total monthly unearned income of all household members, minus income exclusions, to determine the household's total gross income. Net losses from the self-employment income of a farmer shall be offset in accordance with § 273.11(a)(2)(iii).

(B) Multiply the total gross monthly earned income by 20 percent and subtract that amount from the total gross income; or multiply the total gross monthly earned income by 80 percent and add that to the total monthly unearned income, minus income exclusions. If the State agency has chosen to treat legally obligated child support payments as an income exclusion in accordance with § 273.9(c)(17), multiply the excluded earnings used to pay child support by 20 percent and subtract that amount from the total gross monthly income.

(C) Subtract the standard deduction.

(D) If the household is entitled to an excess medical deduction as provided in § 273.9(d)(3), determine if total medical expenses exceed \$35. If so, subtract that portion which exceeds \$35.

(E) Subtract allowable monthly dependent care expenses, if any, as specified under § 273.9(d)(4) for each dependent.

(F) If the State agency has chosen to treat legally obligated child support payments as a deduction rather than an exclusion in accordance with § 273.9(d)(5), subtract allowable monthly child support payments in accordance with § 273.9(d)(5).

(G) Subtract the homeless shelter deduction, if any, up to the maximum of \$143.

(H) Total the allowable shelter expenses to determine shelter costs, unless a deduction has been subtracted in accordance with paragraph (e)(1)(i)(G) of this section. Subtract from total shelter costs 50 percent of the household's monthly income after all the above deductions have been subtracted. The remaining amount, if any, is the excess shelter cost. If there is no excess shelter cost, the net monthly income has been determined. If there is excess shelter cost, compute the shelter deduction according to paragraph (e)(1)(i)(I) of this section.

(I) Subtract the excess shelter cost up to the maximum amount allowed for the area (unless the household is entitled to the full amount of its excess shelter expenses) from the household's monthly income after all other applicable deductions. Households not subject to a capped shelter expense shall have the full amount exceeding 50 percent of their net income subtracted. The household's net monthly income has been determined.

(ii) In calculating net monthly income, the State agency shall use one of the following two procedures:

(A) Round down each income and allotment calculation that ends in 1 through 49 cents and round up each calculation that ends in 50 through 99 cents; or

(B) Apply the rounding procedure that is currently in effect for the State's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. If the State TANF program includes the cents in income calculations, the State agency may use the same procedures for SNAP income calculations. Whichever procedure is used, the State agency may elect to include the cents associated with each individual shelter cost in the computation of the shelter deduction and round the final shelter deduction amount. Likewise, the State agency may elect to include the cents associated with each individual medical cost in the computation of the medical deduction and round the final medical deduction amount.

(2) Eligibility and benefits. (i)(A) Households which contain an elderly or disabled member as defined in § 271.2, shall have their net income, as calculated in paragraph (e)(1) of this section (except for households considered destitute in accordance with paragraph (e)(3) of this section), compared to the monthly income eligibility standards defined in § 273.9(a)(2) for the appropriate household size to determine eligibility for the month.

(B) In addition to meeting the net income eligibility standards, households which do not contain an elderly or disabled member shall have their gross income, as calculated in accordance with paragraph (e)(1)(i)(A) of this section, compared to the gross monthly income standards defined in § 273.9(a)(1) for the appropriate household size to determine eligibility for the month.

(C) For households considered destitute in accordance with paragraph (e)(3) of this section, the State agency shall determine a household's eligibility by computing its gross and net income according to paragraph (e)(3) of this section, and comparing, as appropriate, the gross and/or net income to the corresponding income eligibility standard in accordance with § 273.9(a) (1) or (2).

(D) If a household contains a member who is fifty-nine years old on the date of application, but who will become sixty before the end of the month of application, the State agency shall determine the household's eligibility in accordance with paragraph (e)(2)(i)(A) of this section.

(E) If a household contains a student whose income is excluded in accordance with § 273.9(c)(7) and the student becomes 18 during the month of application, the State agency shall exclude the student's earnings in the month of application and count the student's earnings in the following month. If the student becomes 18 during the certification period, the student's income shall be excluded until the month following the month in which the student turns 18.

(ii)

(A) Except as provided in paragraphs (a)(1), (e)(2)(iii) and (e)(2)(vi) of this section, the household's monthly allotment shall be equal to the maximum SNAP allotment for the household's size reduced by 30 percent of the household's net monthly income as calculated in paragraph (e)(1) of this section. If 30 percent of the household's net income ends in cents, the State agency shall round in one of the following ways:

(1) The State agency shall round the 30 percent of net income up to the nearest higher dollar; or

(2) The State agency shall not round the 30 percent of net income at all. Instead, after subtracting the 30 percent of net income from the appropriate Thrifty Food Plan, the State agency shall round the allotment down to the nearest lower dollar.

(B) If the calculation of benefits in accordance with paragraph (e)(2)(ii)(A) of this section for an initial month would yield an allotment of less than \$10 for the household, no benefits shall be issued to the household for the initial month.

(C) Except during an initial month, all eligible one-person and two-person households shall receive minimum monthly allotments equal to the minimum benefit. The minimum benefit is 8 percent of the maximum allotment for a household of one, rounded to the nearest whole dollar.

(iii) For an eligible household with three or more members which is entitled to no benefits (except because of the proration requirements of paragraph (a)(1) and the provision precluding issuances of less than \$10 in an initial month of paragraph (e)(2)(ii)(B)) of this section:

(A) The State agency shall deny the household's application on the grounds that its net income exceeds the level at which benefits are issued; or

(B) The State agency shall certify the household but suspend its participation, subject to the following conditions:

(1) The State agency shall inform the suspended household, in writing, of its suspended status, and of its rights and responsibilities while it is in that status.

(2) The State agency shall set the household's change reporting requirements and the manner in which those changes will be reported and processed.

(3) The State agency shall specify which changes shall entitle the household to have its status converted from suspension to issuance, and which changes shall require the household to reapply for participation.

(4) The household shall retain the right to submit a new application while it is suspended.

(5) The State agency shall convert a household from suspension to issuance status, without requiring an additional certification interview, and issue its initial allotment, within ten days of the date the household reports the change.

(6) The State agency shall prorate the household's benefits, in the first month after the suspension period, from the date the household reports a change, in accordance with paragraph (a)(1) of this section.

(7) The State agency may delay the work registration of the household's members until the household is determined to be entitled to benefits.

(iv) For those eligible households which are entitled to no benefits in their initial month of application, in accordance with paragraph (a)(1) or (e)(2)(ii)(B) of this section, but are entitled to benefits in subsequent months, the State agency shall certify the households beginning with the month of application.

(v) When a household's circumstances change and it becomes entitled to a different income eligibility standard, the State agency shall apply the different standard at the next recertification or whenever the State agency changes the household's eligibility, benefit level or certification period, whichever occurs first.

(vi) During a month when a reduction, suspension or cancellation of allotments has been ordered pursuant to the provisions of § 271.7, eligible households shall have their benefits calculated as follows:

(A) If a benefit reduction is ordered, State agencies shall reduce the maximum SNAP allotment amounts for each household size by the percentage ordered in the Department's notice on benefit reductions. State agencies shall multiply the maximum SNAP allotment amounts by the percentage specified in the FNS notice; if the result ends in 1 through 99 cents, round the result up to the nearest higher dollar; and subtract the result from the normal maximum SNAP allotment amount. In calculating benefit levels for eligible households, State agencies would follow the procedures detailed in paragraph (e)(2)(ii) of this section and substitute the reduced maximum SNAP allotment amounts for the normal maximum SNAP allotment amounts.

(B) Except as provided in paragraphs (a)(1), (e)(2)(ii)(B), and (e)(2)(vi)(C) of this section, one- and two-person households shall be provided with at least the minimum benefit.

(C) In the event that the national reduction in benefits is 90 percent or more of the benefits projected to be issued for the affected month, the provision for a minimum benefit for households with one or two members only may be disregarded and all households may have their benefits lowered by reducing maximum SNAP allotment amounts by the percentage specified by the Department. The benefit reduction notice issued by the Department to effectuate a benefit reduction will specify whether minimum benefits for households with one or two members only are to be provided to households.

(D) If the action in effect is a suspension or cancellation, eligible households shall have their allotment levels calculated according to the procedures in paragraph (e)(2)(ii) of this section. However, the allotments shall not be issued for the month the suspension or cancellation is in effect. The provision for the minimum benefit for households with one or two members only shall be disregarded and all households shall have their benefits suspended or cancelled for the designated month.

(E) In the event of a suspension or cancellation, or a reduction exceeding 90 percent of the affected month's projected issuance, all households, including one and two-person households, shall have their benefits suspended, cancelled or reduced by the percentage specified by FNS.

(3) Destitute households. Migrant or seasonal farmworker households may have little or no income at the time of application and may be in need of immediate food assistance, even though they receive income at some other time during the month of application. The following procedures shall be used to determine when migrant or seasonal farmworker households in these circumstances may be considered destitute and, therefore, entitled to expedited service and special income calculation procedures. Households other than migrant or seasonal farmworker households shall not be classified as destitute.

(i) Households whose only income for the month of application was received prior to the date of application, and was from a terminated source, shall be considered destitute households and shall be provided expedited service.

(A) If income is received on a monthly or more frequent basis, it shall be considered as coming from a terminated source if it will not be received again from the same source during the balance of the month of application or during the following month.

(B) If income is normally received less often than monthly, the nonreceipt of income from the same source in the balance of the month of application or in the following month is inappropriate to determine whether or not the income is terminated. For example, if income is received on a quarterly basis (e.g., on January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1), and the household applies in mid-January, the income should not be considered as coming from a terminated source merely because no further payments will be received in the balance of January or in February. The test for whether or not this household's income is terminated is whether the income is anticipated to be received in April. Therefore, for households that normally receive income less often than monthly, the income shall be considered as coming from a terminated source if it will not be received in the month in which the next payment would normally be received.

(ii) Households whose only income for the month of application is from a new source shall be considered destitute and shall be provided expedited service if income of more than \$25 from the new source will not be received by the 10th calendar day after the date of application.

(A) Income which is normally received on a monthly or more frequent basis shall be considered to be from a new source if income of more than \$25 has not been received from that source within 30 days prior to the date the application was filed.

(B) If income is normally received less often than monthly, it shall be considered to be from a new source if income of more than \$25 was not received within the last normal interval between payments. For example, if a household applies in early January and is expecting to be paid every 3 months, starting in late January, the income shall be considered to be from a new source if no income of more than \$25 was received from the source during October or since that time.

(iii) Households may receive both income from a terminated source prior to the date of application, and income from a new source after the date of application, and still be considered destitute if they receive no other income in the month of application and income of more than \$25 from the new source will not be received by the 10th day after the date of application.

(iv) Destitute households shall have their eligibility and level of benefits calculated for the month of application by considering only income which is received between the first of the month and the date of application. Any income from a new source that is anticipated after the day of application shall be disregarded.

(vi) A household member who changes jobs but continues to work for the same employer shall be considered as still receiving income from the same source. A migrant farmworker's source of income shall be considered to be the grower for whom the migrant is working at a particular point in time, and not the crew chief. A migrant who travels with the same crew chief but moves from one grower to another shall be considered to have moved from a terminated income source to a new source.

(vii) The above procedures shall apply at initial application and at recertification, but only for the first month of each certification period. At recertification, income from a new source shall be disregarded in the first month of the new certification period if income of more than \$25 will not be received from this new source by the 10th calendar day after the date of the household's normal issuance cycle.

(4) Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) and Maximum SNAP Allotments.

(i) Maximum SNAP allotment level. Maximum SNAP allotments shall be based on the TFP as defined in § 271.2, and they shall be uniform by household size throughout the 48 contiguous States and the District of Columbia. The TFP for Hawaii shall be the TFP for the 48 States and DC adjusted for the price of food in Honolulu. The TFPs for urban, rural I, and rural II parts of Alaska shall be the TFP for the 48 States and DC adjusted by the price of food in Anchorage and further adjusted for urban, rural I, and rural II Alaska as defined in § 272.7(c). The TFPs for Guam and the Virgin Islands shall be adjusted for changes in the cost of food in the 48 States and DC, provided that the cost of these TFPs may not exceed the cost of the highest TFP for the 50 States. The TFP amounts and maximum allotments in each area are adjusted annually and will be prescribed in a table posted on the FNS web site, at www.fns.usda.gov/fsp.

(ii) Adjustment. Effective October 1, 1996, the maximum SNAP allotments must be based on 100% of the cost of the TFP as defined in § 271.2 of this chapter for the preceding June, rounded to the nearest lower dollar increment, except that on October 1, 1996, the allotments may not fall below those in effect on September 30, 1996.

(f) Certification periods. The State agency must certify each eligible household for a definite period of time. State agencies must assign the longest certification period possible based on the predictability of the household's circumstances. The first month of the certification period will be the first month for which the household is eligible to participate. The certification period cannot exceed 12 months except to accommodate a household's transitional benefit period and as specified in paragraphs (f)(1) and (f)(2) of this section.

(1) Households in which all adult members are elderly or disabled. The State agency may certify for up to 24 months households in which all adult members are elderly or disabled. The State agency must have at least one contact with each household every 12 months. The State agency may use any method it chooses for this contact.

(2) Households residing on a reservation. The State agency must certify for 24 months those households residing on a reservation which it requires to submit monthly reports in accordance with § 273.21, unless the State agency obtains a waiver from FNS. In the waiver request the State agency must include justification for a shorter period and input from the affected Indian tribal organization(s). When households move off the reservation, the State agency must either continue their certification periods until they would normally expire or shorten the certification periods in accordance with paragraph (f)(4) of this section.

(3) Certification period length. The State agency should assign each household the longest certification period possible, consistent with its circumstances.

(i) Households should be assigned certification periods of at least 6 months, unless the household's circumstances are unstable or the household contains an ABAWD.

(ii) Households with unstable circumstances, such as households with zero net income, and households with an ABAWD member should be assigned certification periods consistent with their circumstances, but generally no less than 3 months.

(iii) Households may be assigned 1- or 2-month certification periods when it appears likely that the household will become ineligible for SNAP benefits in the near future.

(4) Shortening certification periods. The State agency may not end a household's certification period earlier than its assigned termination date, unless the State agency receives information that the household has become ineligible, the household has not complied with the requirements of § 273.12(c)(3), or the State agency must shorten the household's certification period to comply with the requirements of § 273.12(a)(5). Loss of public assistance or a change in employment status is not sufficient in and of itself to meet the criteria necessary for shortening the certification period. The State agency must close the household's case or adjust the household's benefit amount in accordance with § 273.12(c)(1) or (c)(2) in response to reported changes. The State agency must issue a notice of adverse action as provided in § 273.13 to shorten a participating household's certification period in connection with imposing the simplified reporting requirement. The State agency may not use the Notice of Expiration to shorten a certification period, except that the State agency must use the Notice of Expiration to shorten a household's certification period when the household is receiving transitional benefits under Subpart H, has not reached the maximum allowable number of months in its certification period during the transitional period, and the State agency has chosen to recertify the household in accordance with § 273.28(b). If the transition period results in a shortening of the household's certification period, the State agency shall not issue a household a notice of adverse action but shall specify in the transitional notice required under § 273.29 that the household must be recertified when it reaches the end of the transitional benefit period or if it returns to TANF during the transitional period.

(5) Lengthening certification periods. State agencies may lengthen a household's current certification period once it is established, as long as the total months of the certification period do not exceed 24 months for households in which all adult members are elderly or disabled, or 12 months for other households. If the State agency extends a household's certification period, it must advise the household of the new certification ending date with a notice containing the same information as the notice of eligibility set forth in paragraph (g)(1)(i)(A) of this section.

(g) Certification notices to households -

(1) Initial applications. State agencies shall provide applicants with one of the following written notices as soon as a determination is made, but no later than 30 days after the date of the initial application:

(i) Notice of eligibility.

(A) If an application is approved, the State agency shall provide the household with written notice of the amount of the allotment and the beginning and ending dates of the certification period. The household shall also be advised of variations in the benefit level based on changes anticipated at the time of certification. If the initial allotment contains benefits for both the month of application and the current month's benefits, the notice shall explain that the initial allotment includes more than 1 month's benefits, and shall indicate the monthly allotment amount for the remainder of the certification period. The notice shall also advise the household of its right to a fair hearing, the telephone number of the SNAP office (a toll-free number or a number where collect calls will be accepted for households outside the local calling area), and, if possible, the name of the person to contact for additional information. If there is an individual or organization available that provides free legal representation, the notice shall also advise the household of the availability of the services. The State agency may also include in the notice a reminder of the household's obligation to report changes in circumstance and of the need to reapply for continued participation at the end of the certification period. Other information which would be useful to the household may also be included.

(B) In cases where a household's application is approved on an expedited basis without verification, as provided in § 273.2(i), the notice shall explain that the household must provide the verification which was waived. If the State agency has elected to assign a longer certification period to some households certified on an expedited basis, the notice shall also explain the special conditions of the longer certification period, as specified in § 273.2(i), and the consequences of failure to provide the postponed verification.

(C) For households provided a notice of expiration at the time of certification, as required in § 273.14(b), the notice of eligibility may be combined with the notice of expiration or separate notices may be sent.

(ii) Notice of denial. If the application is denied, the State agency shall provide the household with written notice explaining the basis for the denial, the household's right to request a fair hearing, the telephone number of the SNAP office (a toll-free number or a number where collect calls will be accepted for households outside the local calling area), and, if possible, the name of the person to contact for additional information. If there is an individual or organization available that provides free legal representation, the notice shall also advise the household of the availability of the service. A household which is potentially categorically eligible but whose SNAP application is denied shall be asked to inform the State agency if it is approved to receive PA and/or SSI benefits or benefits from a State or local GA program. In cases where the State agency has elected to use a notice of denial when a delay was caused by the household's failure to take action to complete the application process, as provided in § 273.2(h)(2), the notice of denial shall also explain: The action that the household must take to reactivate the application; that the case will be reopened without a new application if action is taken within 30 days of the date the notice of denial was mailed; and that the household must submit a new application if, at the end of the 30-day period, the household has not taken the needed action and wishes to participate in the program. If the State agency chooses the option specified in § 273.2(h)(2) of reopening the application in cases where verification is lacking only if household provides verification within 30 days of the date of the initial request for verification, the State agency shall include on the notice of denial the date by which the household must provide the missing verification.

(iii) Notice of pending status. If the application is to be held pending because some action by the State is necessary to complete the application process, as specified in § 273.2(h)(2), or the State agency has elected to pend all cases regardless of the reason for delay, the State agency shall provide the household with a written notice which informs the household that its application has not been completed and is being processed. If some action by the household is also needed to complete the application process, the notice shall also explain what action the household must take and that its application will be denied if the household fails to take the required action within 60 days of the date the application was filed. If the State agency chooses the option specified in § 273.2(h) (2) and (3) of holding the application pending in cases where verification is lacking only until 30 days following the date verification was initially requested, the State agency shall include on the notice of pending status the date by which the household must provide the missing verification.

(2) Applications for recertification. The State agency shall provide households that have filed an application by the 15th of the last month of their certification period with either a notice of eligibility or a notice of denial by the end of the current certification period if the household has complied with all recertification requirements. The State agency shall provide households that have received a notice of expiration at the time of certification, and have timely reapplied, with either a notice of eligibility or a notice of denial not later than 30 days after the date of the household's initial opportunity to obtain its last allotment.

[Amdt. 132, 43 FR 47889, Oct. 17, 1978]
Editorial Note:
For Federal Register citations affecting § 273.10, see the List of CFR Sections Affected, which appears in the Finding Aids section of the printed volume and at www.govinfo.gov.