7 CFR 273.9 - Income and deductions.
(a) Income eligibility standards. Participation in the Program shall be limited to those households whose incomes are determined to be a substantial limiting factor in permitting them to obtain a more nutritious diet. Households which contain an elderly or disabled member shall meet the net income eligiblity standards for the Food Stamp Program. Households which do not contain an elderly or disabled member shall meet both the net income eligibility standards and the gross income eligibility standards for the Food Stamp Program. Households which are categorically eligible as defined in § 273.2(j)(2) or 273.2(j)(4) do not have to meet either the gross or net income eligibility standards. The net and gross income eligibility standards shall be based on the Federal income poverty levels established as provided in section 673(2) of the Community Services Block Grant Act (42 U.S.C. 9902(2)).
(1) The gross income eligibility standards for the Food Stamp Program shall be as follows:
(i) The income eligibility standards for the 48 contiguous States and the District of Columbia, Guam and the Virgin Islands shall be 130 percent of the Federal income poverty levels for the 48 contiguous States and the District of Columbia.
(ii) The income eligibility standards for Alaska shall be 130 percent of the Federal income poverty levels for Alaska.
(iii) The income eligibility standards for Hawaii shall be 130 percent of the Federal income poverty levels for Hawaii.
(2) The net income eligibility standards for the Food Stamp Program shall be as follows:
(i) The income eligibility standards for the 48 contiguous States and the District of Columbia, Guam and the Virgin Islands shall be the Federal income poverty levels for the 48 contiguous States and the District of Columbia.
(ii) The income eligibility standards for Alaska shall be the Federal income poverty levels for Alaska.
(iii) The income eligibility standard for Hawaii shall be the Federal income poverty levels for Hawaii.
(3) The income eligibility limits, as described in this paragraph, are revised each October 1 to reflect the annual adjustment to the Federal income poverty guidelines for the 48 States and the District of Columbia, for Alaska, and for Hawaii.
(i) 130 percent of the annual income poverty guidelines shall be divided by 12 to determine the monthly gross income standards, rounding the results upwards as necessary. For households greater than eight persons, the increment in the Federal income poverty guidelines is multiplied by 130 percent, divided by 12, and the results rounded upward if necessary.
(ii) The annual income poverty guidelines shall be divided by 12 to determine the monthly net income eligibility standards, rounding the results upward as necessary. For households greater than eight persons, the increment in the Federal income poverty guidelines is divided by 12, and the results rounded upward if necessary.
(4) The monthly gross and net income eligibility standards for all areas will be prescribed in tables posted on the FNS web site, at www.fns.usda.gov/fsp.
(b) Definition of income. Household income shall mean all income from whatever source excluding only items specified in paragraph (c) of this section.
(1) Earned income shall include: (i) All wages and salaries of an employee.
(ii) The gross income from a self-employment enterprise, including the total gain from the sale of any capital goods or equipment related to the business, excluding the costs of doing business as provided in paragraph (c) of this section. Ownership of rental property shall be considered a self-employment enterprise; however, income derived from the rental property shall be considered earned income only if a member of the household is actively engaged in the management of the property at least an average of 20 hours a week. Payments from a roomer or boarder, except foster care boarders, shall also be considered self-employment income.
(iii) Training allowances from vocational and rehabilitative programs recognized by Federal, State, or local governments, such as the work incentive program, to the extent they are not a reimbursement. Training allowances under Job Training Partnership Act, other than earnings as specified in paragraph (b)(1)(v) of this section, are excluded from consideration as income.
(iv) Payments under Title I (VISTA, University Year for Action, etc.) of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973 (Pub. L. 93-113 Stat., as amended) shall be considered earned income and subject to the earned income deduction prescribed in § 273.10(e)(1)(i)(B), excluding payments made to those households specified in paragraph (c)(10)(iii) of this section.
(v) Earnings to individuals who are participating in on-the-job training programs under section 204(b)(1)(C) or section 264(c)(1)(A) of the Workforce Investment Act. This provision does not apply to household members under 19 years of age who are under the parental control of another adult member, regardless of school attendance and/or enrollment as discussed in paragraph (c)(7) of this section. For the purpose of this provision, earnings include monies paid under the Workforce Investment Act and monies paid by the employer.
(vi) Educational assistance which has a work requirement (such as work study, an assistantship or fellowship with a work requirement) in excess of the amount excluded under § 273.9(c)(3). Earned income from work study programs that are funded under section 20 U.S.C. 1087uu of the Higher Education Act is excluded.
(2) Unearned income shall include, but not be limited to:
(i) Assistance payments from Federal or federally aided public assistance programs, such as supplemental security income (SSI) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); general assistance (GA) programs (as defined in § 271.2); or other assistance programs based on need. Such assistance is considered to be unearned income even if provided in the form of a vendor payment (provided to a third party on behalf of the household), unless the vendor payment is specifically exempt from consideration as countable income under the provisions of paragraph (c)(1) of this section. Assistance payments from programs which require, as a condition of eligibility, the actual performance of work without compensation other than the assistance payments themselves, shall be considered unearned income.
(ii) Annuities; pensions; retirement, veteran's, or disability benefits; worker's or unemployment compensation including any amounts deducted to repay claims for intentional program violations as provided in § 272.12; old-age, survivors, or social security benefits; strike benefits; foster care payments for children or adults who are considered members of the household; gross income minus the cost of doing business derived from rental property in which a household member is not actively engaged in the management of the property at least 20 hours a week.
(iii) Support or alimony payments made directly to the household from nonhousehold members.
(iv) Scholarships, educational grants, deferred payment loans for education, veteran's educational benefits and the like, other than educational assistance with a work requirement, in excess of amounts excluded under § 273.9(c).
(v) Payments from Government-sponsored programs, dividends, interest, royalties, and all other direct money payments from any source which can be construed to be a gain or benefit.
(vi) Monies which are withdrawn or dividends which are or could be received by a household from trust funds considered to be excludable resources under § 273.8(e)(8). Such trust withdrawals shall be considered income in the month received, unless otherwise exempt under the provisions of paragraph (c) of this section. Dividends which the household has the option of either receiving as income or reinvesting in the trust are to be considered as income in the month they become available to the household unless otherwise exempt under the provisions of paragraph (c) of this section.
(3) The earned or unearned income of an individual disqualified from the household for intentional Program violation, in accordance with § 273.16, or as a result of a sanction imposed while he/she was participating in a household disqualified for failure to comply with workfare requirements, in accordance with § 273.22, shall continue to be attributed in their entirety to the remaining household members. However, the earned or unearned income of individuals disqualified from households for failing to comply with the requirement to provide an SSN, in accordance with § 273.6, or for being an ineligible alien, in accordance with § 273.4, shall continue to be counted as income, less a pro rata share for the individual. Procedures for calculating this pro rata share are described in § 273.11(c).
(4) For a household containing a sponsored alien, the income of the sponsor and the sponsor's spouse must be deemed in accordance with § 273.4(c)(2).
(5) Income shall not include the following:
(i) Moneys withheld from an assistance payment, earned income, or other income source, or moneys received from any income source which are voluntarily or involuntarily returned, to repay a prior overpayment received from that income source, provided that the overpayment was not excludable under paragraph (c) of this section. However, moneys withheld from assistance from another program, as specified in § 273.11(k), shall be included as income.
(c) Income exclusions. Only the following items shall be excluded from household income and no other income shall be excluded:
(1) Any gain or benefit which is not in the form of money payable directly to the household, including in-kind benefits and certain vendor payments. In-kind benefits are those for which no monetary payment is made on behalf of the household and include meals, clothing, housing, or produce from a garden. A vendor payment is a money payment made on behalf of a household by a person or organization outside of the household directly to either the household's creditors or to a person or organization providing a service to the household. Payments made to a third party on behalf of the household are included or excluded as income as follows:
(i) Public assistance (PA) vendor payments. PA vendor payments are counted as income unless they are made for:
(A) Medical assistance;
(B) Child care assistance;
(C) Energy assistance as defined in paragraph (c)(11) of this section;
(D) Emergency assistance (including, but not limited to housing and transportation payments) for migrant or seasonal farmworker households while they are in the job stream;
(E) Housing assistance payments made through a State or local housing authority;
(F) Emergency and special assistance. PA provided to a third party on behalf of a household which is not specifically excluded from consideration as income under the provisions of paragraphs (c)(1)(i)(A) through (c)(1)(i)(E) of this section shall be considered for exclusion under this provision. To be considered emergency or special assistance and excluded under this provision, the assistance must be provided over and above the normal PA grant or payment, or cannot normally be provided as part of such grant or payment. If the PA program is composed of various standards or components, the assistance would be considered over and above the normal grant or not part of the grant if the assistance is not included as a regular component of the PA grant or benefit or the amount of assistance exceeds the maximum rate of payment for the relevant component. If the PA program is not composed of various standards or components but is designed to provide a basic monthly grant or payment for all eligible households and provides a larger basic grant amount for all households in a particular category, e.g., all households with infants, the larger amount is still part of the normal grant or benefit for such households and not an “extra” payment excluded under this provision. On the other hand, if a fire destroyed a household item and a PA program provides an emergency amount paid directly to a store to purchase a replacement, such a payment is excluded under this provision. If the PA program is not composed of various standards, allowances, or components but is simply designed to provide assistance on an as-needed basis rather than to provide routine, regular monthly benefits to a client, no exclusion would be granted under this provision because the assistance is not provided over and above the normal grant, it is the normal grant. If it is not clear whether a certain type of PA vendor payment is covered under this provision, the State agency shall apply to the appropriate FNS Regional Office for a determination of whether the PA vendor payments should be excluded. The application for this exclusion determination must explain the emergency or special nature of the vendor payment, the exact type of assistance it is intended to provide, who is eligible for the assistance, how the assistance is paid, and how the vendor payment fits into the overall PA benefit standard. A copy of the rules, ordinances, or statutes which create and authorize the program shall accompany the application request.
(ii) General assistance (GA) vendor payments. Vendor payments made under a State or local GA program or a comparable basic assistance program are excluded from income except for some vendor payments for housing. A housing vendor payment is counted as income unless the payment is for:
(A) Energy assistance (as defined in paragraph (c)(11) of this section);
(B) Housing assistance from a State or local housing authority;
(C) Emergency assistance for migrant or seasonal farmworker households while they are in the job stream;
(D) Emergency or special payments (as defined in paragraph (c)(1)(i)(F) of this section; or
(iii) Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) vendor payments. Rent or mortgage payments made to landlords or mortgagees by HUD are excluded.
(iv) Educational assistance vendor payments. Educational assistance provided to a third party on behalf of the household for living expenses shall be treated the same as educational assistance payable directly to the household.
(v) Vendor payments that are reimbursements. Reimbursements made in the form of vendor payments are excluded on the same basis as reimbursements paid directly to the household in accordance with paragraph (c)(5) of this section.
(vi) Demonstration project vendor payments. In-kind or vendor payments which would normally be excluded as income but are converted in whole or in part to a direct cash payment under a federally authorized demonstration project or waiver of provisions of Federal law shall be excluded from income.
(vii) Other third-party payments. Other third-party payments shall be handled as follows: moneys legally obligated and otherwise payable to the household which are diverted by the provider of the payment to a third party for a household expense shall be counted as income and not excluded. If a person or organization makes a payment to a third party on behalf of a household using funds that are not owed to the household, the payment shall be excluded from income. This distinction is illustrated by the following examples:
(A) A friend or relative uses his or her own money to pay the household's rent directly to the landlord. This vendor payment shall be excluded.
(B) A household member earns wages. However, the wages are garnished or diverted by the employer and paid to a third party for a household expense, such as rent. This vendor payment is counted as income. However, if the employer pays a household's rent directly to the landlord in addition to paying the household its regular wages, the rent payment shall be excluded from income. Similarly, if the employer provides housing to an employee in addition to wages, the value of the housing shall not be counted as income.
(C) A household receives court-ordered monthly support payments in the amount of $400. Later, $200 is diverted by the provider and paid directly to a creditor for a household expense. The payment is counted as income. Money deducted or diverted from a court-ordered support or alimony payment (or other binding written support or alimony agreement) to a third party for a household's expense shall be included as income because the payment is taken from money that is owed to the household. However, payments specified by a court order or other legally binding agreement to go directly to a third party rather than the household are excluded from income because they are not otherwise payable to the household. For example, a court awards support payments in the amount of $400 a month and in addition orders $200 to be paid directly to a bank for repayment of a loan. The $400 payment is counted as income and the $200 payment is excluded from income. Support payments not required by a court order or other legally binding agreement (including payments in excess of the amount specified in a court order or written agreement) which are paid to a third party on the household's behalf shall be excluded from income.
(2) Any income in the certification period which is received too infrequently or irregularly to be reasonably anticipated, but not in excess of $30 in a quarter.
(i) Educational assistance, including grants, scholarships, fellowships, work study, educational loans on which payment is deferred, veterans' educational benefits and the like.
(ii) To be excluded, educational assistance referred to in paragraph (c)(3)(i) must be:
(A) Received under 20 CFR 1087uu. This exemption includes student assistance received under part E of subchapter IV of Chapter 28 of title 20 and part C of subchapter I of chapter 34 of title 42, or under Bureau of Indian Affairs student assistance programs.
(B) Awarded to a household member enrolled at a:
(1) Recognized institution of post-secondary education (meaning any public or private educational institution which normally requires a high school diploma or equivalency certificate for enrollment or admits persons who are beyond the age of compulsory school attendance in the State in which the institution is located, provided that the institution is legally authorized or recognized by the State to provide an educational program beyond secondary education in the State or provides a program of training to prepare students for gainful employment, including correspondence schools at that level),
(2) School for the handicapped,
(3) Vocational education program,
(4) Vocational or technical school,
(5) Program that provides for obtaining a secondary school diploma or the equivalent;
(C) Used for or identified (earmarked) by the institution, school, program, or other grantor for the following allowable expenses:
(2) Mandatory school fees, including the rental or purchase of any equipment, material, and supplies related to the pursuit of the course of study involved,
(6) Miscellaneous personal expenses, other than normal living expenses, of the student incidental to attending a school, institution or program,
(7) Dependent care,
(8) Origination fees and insurance premiums on educational loans,
(9) Normal living expenses which are room and board are not excludable.
(10) Amounts excluded for dependent care costs shall not also be excluded under the general exclusion provisions of paragraph § 273.9(c)(5)(i)(C). Dependent care costs which exceed the amount excludable from income shall be deducted from income in accordance with paragraph § 273.9(d)(4) and be subject to a cap.
(iii) Exclusions based on use pursuant to paragraph (c)(3)(ii)(C) must be incurred or anticipated for the period the educational income is intended to cover regardless of when the educational income is actually received. If a student uses other income sources to pay for allowable educational expenses in months before the educational income is received, the exclusions to cover the expenses shall be allowed when the educational income is received. When the amounts used for allowable expense are more than amounts earmarked by the institution, school, program or other grantor, an exclusion shall be allowed for amounts used over the earmarked amounts. Exclusions based on use shall be subtracted from unearned educational income to the extent possible. If the unearned educational income is not enough to cover the expense, the remainder of the allowable expense shall be excluded from earned educational income.
(iv) An individual's total educational income exclusions granted under the provisions of paragraph (c)(3)(i) through (c)(3)(iii) of this section cannot exceed that individual's total educational income which was subject to the provisions of paragraph (c)(3)(i) through (c)(3)(iii) of this section.
(v) At its option, the State agency may exclude any educational assistance that must be excluded under its State Medicaid rules that would not already be excluded under this section. A State agency that chooses to exclude educational assistance under this paragraph (c)(3)(v) must specify in its State plan of operation that it has selected this option and provide a description of the educational assistance that is being excluded. The provisions of paragraphs (c)(3)(ii), (c)(3)(iii) and (c)(3)(iv) of this section do not apply to income excluded under this paragraph (c)(3)(v).
(4) All loans, including loans from private individuals as well as commercial institutions, other than educational loans on which repayment is deferred. Educational loans on which repayment is deferred shall be excluded pursuant to the provisions of § 273.9(c)(3)(i). A loan on which repayment must begin within 60 days after receipt of the loan shall not be considered a deferred repayment loan.
(5) Reimbursements for past or future expenses, to the extent they do not exceed actual expenses, and do not represent a gain or benefit to the household. Reimbursements for normal household living expenses such as rent or mortgage, personal clothing, or food eaten at home are a gain or benefit and, therefore, are not excluded. To be excluded, these payments must be provided specifically for an identified expense, other than normal living expenses, and used for the purpose intended. When a reimbursement, including a flat allowance, covers multiple expenses, each expense does not have to be separately identified as long as none of the reimbursement covers normal living expenses. The amount by which a reimbursement exceeds the actual incurred expense shall be counted as income. However, reimbursements shall not be considered to exceed actual expenses, unless the provider or the household indicates the amount is excessive.
(i) Examples of excludable reimbursements which are not considered to be a gain or benefit to the household are:
(A) Reimbursements or flat allowances, including reimbursements made to the household under § 273.7(d)(3), for job- or training-related expenses such as travel, per diem, uniforms, and transportation to and from the job or training site. Reimbursements which are provided over and above the basic wages for these expenses are excluded; however, these expenses, if not reimbursed, are not otherwise deductible. Reimbursements for the travel expenses incurred by migrant workers are also excluded.
(B) Reimbursements for out-of-pocket expenses of volunteers incurred in the course of their work.
(C) Medical or dependent care reimbursements.
(E) Any allowance a State agency provides no more frequently than annually for children's clothes when the children enter or return to school or daycare, provided the State agency does not reduce the monthly TANF payment for the month in which the school clothes allowance is provided. State agencies are not required to verify attendance at school or daycare.
(F) Reimbursements made to the household under § 273.7(d)(3) for expenses necessary for participation in an education component under the E&T program.
(ii) The following shall not be considered a reimbursement excludable under this provision:
(A) No portion of benefits provided under title IV-A of the Social Security Act, to the extent such benefits are attributed to an adjustment for work-related or child care expenses (except for payments or reimbursements for such expenses made under an employment, education or training program initiated under such title after September 19, 1988), shall be considered excludable under this provision.
(B) No portion of any educational assistance that is provided for normal living expenses (room and board) shall be considered a reimbursement excludable under this provision.
(6) Moneys received and used for the care and maintenance of a third-party beneficiary who is not a household member. If the intended beneficiaries of a single payment are both household and nonhousehold members, any identifiable portion of the payment intended and used for the care and maintenance of the nonhousehold member shall be excluded. If the nonhousehold member's portion cannot be readily identified, the payment shall be evenly prorated among intended beneficiaries and the exclusion applied to the nonhousehold member's pro rata share or the amount actually used for the nonhousehold member's care and maintenance, whichever is less.
(7) The earned income (as defined in paragraph (b)(1) of this section) of any household member who is under age 18, who is an elementary or secondary school student, and who lives with a natural, adoptive, or stepparent or under the parental control of a household member other than a parent. For purposes of this provision, an elementary or secondary school student is someone who attends elementary or secondary school, or who attends classes to obtain a General Equivalency Diploma that are recognized, operated, or supervised by the student's state or local school district, or who attends elementary or secondary classes through a home-school program recognized or supervised by the student's state or local school district. The exclusion shall continue to apply during temporary interruptions in school attendance due to semester or vacation breaks, provided the child's enrollment will resume following the break. If the child's earnings or amount of work performed cannot be differentiated from that of other household members, the total earnings shall be prorated equally among the working members and the child's pro rata share excluded.
(8) Money received in the form of a nonrecurring lump-sum payment, including, but not limited to, income tax refunds, rebates, or credits; retroactive lump-sum social security, SSI, public assistance, railroad retirement benefits, or other payments; lump-sum insurance settlements; or refunds of security deposits on rental property or utilities. TANF payments made to divert a family from becoming dependent on welfare may be excluded as a nonrecurring lump-sum payment if the payment is not defined as assistance because of the exception for non-recurrent, short-term benefits in 45 CFR 261.31(b)(1). These payments shall be counted as resources in the month received, in accordance with § 273.8(c) unless specifically excluded from consideration as a resource by other Federal laws.
(9) The cost of producing self-employment income. The procedures for computing the cost of producing self-employment income are described in § 273.11.
(10) Any income that is specifically excluded by any other Federal statute from consideration as income for the purpose of determining eligibility for the food stamp program. The following laws provide such an exclusion:
(i) Reimbursements from the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policy Act of 1970 (Pub. L. 91-646, section 216).
(ii) Payments received under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (Pub. L. 92-203, section 21(a));
(iii) Any payment to volunteers under Title II (RSVP, Foster Grandparents and others) of the Domestic Volunteer Services Act of 1973 (Pub. L. 93-113) as amended. Payments under title I of that Act (including payments from such title I programs as VISTA, University Year for Action, and Urban Crime Prevention Program) to volunteers shall be excluded for those individuals receiving food stamps or public assistance at the time they joined the title I program, except that households which were receiving an income exclusion for a Vista or other title I Subsistence allowance at the time of conversion to the Food Stamp Act of 1977 shall continue to receive an income exclusion for VISTA for the length of their volunteer contract in effect at the time of conversion. Temporary interruptions in food stamp participation shall not alter the exclusion once an initial determination has been made. New applicants who were not receiving public assistance or food stamps at the time they joined VISTA shall have these volunteer payments included as earned income. The FNS National Office shall keep FNS Regional Offices informed of any new programs created under title I and II or changes in programs mentioned above so that they may alert State agencies.
(v) Allowances, earnings, or payments (including reimbursements) to individuals participating in programs under the Job Training Partnership Act (Pub. L. 90-300), except as provided for under paragraph (b)(1)(v) of this section.
(vi) Income derived from the disposition of funds to the Grand River Band of Ottawa Indians (Pub. L. 94-540).
(vii) Earned income tax credits received as a result of Pub. L. 95-600, the Revenue Act of 1978 which are received before January 1, 1980.
(viii) Payments by the Indian Claims Commission to the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Indian Nation or the Apache Tribe of the Mescalero Reservation (Pub. L. 95-433).
(ix) Payments to the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the Penobscot Nation or any of their members received pursuant to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-420, section 5).
(x) Payments of relocation assistance to members of the Navajo and Hopi Tribes under Pub. L. 93-531.
(11) Energy assistance as follows:
(i) Any payments or allowances made for the purpose of providing energy assistance under any Federal law other than part A of Title IV of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), including utility reimbursements made by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Rural Housing Service, or
(ii) A one-time payment or allowance applied for on an as-needed basis and made under a Federal or State law for the costs of weatherization or emergency repair or replacement of an unsafe or inoperative furnace or other heating or cooling device. A down-payment followed by a final payment upon completion of the work will be considered a one-time payment for purposes of this provision.
(12) Cash donations based on need received on or after February 1, 1988 from one or more private nonprofit charitable organizations, but not to exceed $300 in a Federal fiscal year quarter.
(13) Earned income tax credit payments received either as a lump sum or payments under section 3507 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to advance payment of earned income tax credits received as part of the paycheck or as a reduction in taxes that otherwise would have been paid at the end of the year).
(14) Any payment made to an E&T participant under § 273.7(d)(3) for costs that are reasonably necessary and directly related to participation in the E&T program. These costs include, but are not limited to, dependent care costs, transportation, other expenses related to work, training or education, such as uniforms, personal safety items or other necessary equipment, and books or training manuals. These costs shall not include the cost of meals away from home. Also, the value of any dependent care services provided for or arranged under § 273.7(d)(3)(i) would be excluded.
(15) Governmental foster care payments received by households with foster care individuals who are considered to be boarders in accordance with § 273.1(c).
(16) Income of an SSI recipient necessary for the fulfillment of a plan for achieving self-support (PASS) which has been approved under section 1612(b)(4)(A)(iii) or 1612(b)(4)(B)(iv) of the Social Security Act. This income may be spent in accordance with an approved PASS or deposited into a PASS savings account for future use.
(17) Legally obligated child support payments paid by a household member to or for a nonhousehold member, including payments made to a third party on behalf of the nonhousehold member (vendor payments) and amounts paid toward child support arrearages. However, at its option, the State agency may allow households a deduction for such child support payments in accordance with paragraph (d)(5) of this section rather than an income exclusion.
(18) At the State agency's option, any State complementary assistance program payments excluded for the purpose of determining eligibility under section 1931 of the SSA for a program funded under Title XIX of the SSA. A State agency that chooses to exclude complementary assistance program payments under this paragraph (c)(18) must specify in its State plan of operation that it has selected this option and provide a description of the types of payments that are being excluded.
(19) At the State agency's option, any types of income 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, (but not for programs that do not evaluate the financial circumstances of adults in the household and programs grandfathered under Section 404(a)(2) of the SSA). The State agency must exclude for food stamp purposes the same amount of income it excludes for TANF or Medicaid purposes. A State agency that chooses to exclude income under this paragraph (c)(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. The State agency shall not exclude:
(i) Wages or salaries;
(ii) Gross income from a self-employment enterprise, including the types of income referenced in paragraph (b)(1)(ii) of this section. Determining monthly income from self-employment must be calculated in accordance with § 273.11(a)(2);
(iii) Benefits under Title I, II, IV, X, XIV or XVI of the SSA, including supplemental security income (SSI) benefits, TANF benefits, and foster care and adoption payments from a government source;.
(iv) Regular payments from a government source. Payments or allowances a household receives from an intermediary that are funded from a government source are considered payments from a government source;
(v) Worker's compensation;
(vi) Child support payments, support or alimony payments made to the household from a nonhousehold member;
(vii) Annuities, pensions, retirement benefits;
(viii) Disability benefits or old age or survivor benefits; and
(ix) Monies withdrawn or dividends received by a household from trust funds considered to be excludable resources under § 273.8(e)(8).
(d) Income deductions. Deductions shall be allowed only for the following household expenses:
(1) Standard deduction -
(i) 48 States, District of Columbia, Alaska, Hawaii, and the Virgin Islands. Effective October 1, 2002, in the 48 States and the District of Columbia, Alaska, Hawaii, and the Virgin Islands, the standard deduction for household sizes one through six shall be equal to 8.31 percent of the monthly net income eligibility standard for each household size established under paragraph (a)(2) of this section rounded up to the nearest whole dollar. For household sizes greater than six, the standard deduction shall be equal to the standard deduction for a six-person household.
(ii) Guam. Effective October 1, 2002, in Guam, the standard deduction for household sizes one through six shall be equal to 8.31 percent of double the monthly net income eligibility standard for each household size for the 48 States and the District of Columbia established under paragraph (a)(2) of this section rounded up to the nearest whole dollar. For household sizes greater than six, the standard deduction shall be equal to the standard deduction for a six-person household.
(iii) Minimum deduction levels. Notwithstanding paragraphs (d)(1)(i) and (d)(1)(ii) of this section, the standard deduction in any year for each household in the 48 States and the District of Columbia, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the Virgin Islands shall not be less than $134, $229, $189, $269, and $118, respectively.
(2) Earned income deduction. Twenty percent of gross earned income as defined in paragraph (b)(1) of this section. Earnings excluded in paragraph (c) of this section shall not be included in gross earned income for purposes of computing the earned income deduction, except that the State agency must count any earnings used to pay child support that were excluded from the household's income in accordance with the child support exclusion in paragraph (c)(17) of this section.
(3) Excess medical deduction. That portion of medical expenses in excess of $35 per month, excluding special diets, incurred by any household member who is elderly or disabled as defined in § 271.2. Spouses or other persons receiving benefits as a dependent of the SSI or disability and blindness recipient are not eligible to receive this deduction but persons receiving emergency SSI benefits based on presumptive eligibility are eligible for this deduction. Allowable medical costs are:
(ii) Hospitalization or outpatient treatment, nursing care, and nursing home care including payments by the household for an individual who was a household member immediately prior to entering a hospital or nursing home provided by a facility recognized by the State.
(iii) Prescription drugs, when prescribed by a licensed practitioner authorized under State law, and other over-the-counter medication (including insulin), when approved by a licensed practitioner or other qualified health professional.
(A) Medical supplies and equipment. Costs of medical supplies, sick-room equipment (including rental) or other prescribed equipment are deductible;
(iv) Health and hospitalization insurance policy premiums. The costs of health and accident policies such as those payable in lump sum settlements for death or dismemberment or income maintenance policies such as those that continue mortgage or loan payments while the beneficiary is disabled are not deductible;
(v) Medicare premiums related to coverage under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act; any cost-sharing or spend down expenses incurred by Medicaid recipients;
(vi) Dentures, hearing aids, and prosthetics;
(vii) Securing and maintaining a seeing eye or hearing dog including the cost of dog food and veterinarian bills;
(viii) Eye glasses prescribed by a physician skilled in eye disease or by an optometrist;
(ix) Reasonable cost of transportation and lodging to obtain medical treatment or services;
(x) Maintaining an attendant, homemaker, home health aide, or child care services, housekeeper, necessary due to age, infirmity, or illness. In addition, an amount equal to the one person coupon allotment shall be deducted if the household furnishes the majority of the attendant's meals. The allotment for this meal related deduction shall be that in effect at the time of initial certification. The State agency is only required to update the allotment amount at the next scheduled recertification; however, at their option, the State agency may do so earlier. If a household incurs attendant care costs that could qualify under both the medical deduction and dependent care deduction, the State agency shall treat the cost as a medical expense.
(4) Dependent care. Payments for the actual costs for the care of children or other dependents when necessary for a household member to accept or continue employment, comply with the employment and training requirements as specified under § 273.7(e), or attend training or pursue education which is preparatory to employment, except as provided in § 273.10(d)(1)(i). The maximum monthly dependent care deduction amount households shall be granted under this provision is $200 a month for each dependent child under two (2) years of age and $175 a month for each other dependent.
(5) Optional child support deduction. At its option, the State agency may provide a deduction, rather than the income exclusion provided under paragraph (c)(17) of this section, for legally obligated child support payments paid by a household member to or for a nonhousehold member, including payments made to a third party on behalf of the nonhousehold member (vendor payments) and amounts paid toward child support arrearages. Alimony payments made to or for a nonhousehold member shall not be included in the child support deduction. A State agency that chooses to provide a child support deduction rather than an exclusion in accordance with this paragraph (d)(5) must specify in its State plan of operation that it has chosen to provide the deduction rather than the exclusion.
(6) Shelter costs -
(i) Homeless shelter deduction. A State agency may provide a standard homeless shelter deduction of $143 a month to households in which all members are homeless individuals but are not receiving free shelter throughout the month. The deduction must be subtracted from net income in determining eligibility and allotments for the households. The State agency may make a household with extremely low shelter costs ineligible for the deduction. A household receiving the homeless shelter deduction cannot have its shelter expenses considered under paragraphs (d)(6)(ii) or (d)(6)(iii) of this section. However, a homeless household may choose to claim actual costs under paragraph (d)(6)(ii) of this section instead of the homeless shelter deduction if actual costs are higher and verified. A State agency that chooses to provide a homeless household shelter deduction must specify in its State plan of operation that it has selected this option.
(ii) Excess shelter deduction. Monthly shelter expenses in excess of 50 percent of the household's income after all other deductions in paragraphs (d)(1) through (d)(5) of this section have been allowed. If the household does not contain an elderly or disabled member, as defined in § 271.2 of this chapter, the shelter deduction cannot exceed the maximum shelter deduction limit established for the area. For fiscal year 2001, effective March 1, 2001, the maximum monthly excess shelter expense deduction limits are $340 for the 48 contiguous States and the District of Columbia, $543 for Alaska, $458 for Hawaii, $399 for Guam, and $268 for the Virgin Islands. FNS will set the maximum monthly excess shelter expense deduction limits for fiscal year 2002 and future years by adjusting the previous year's limits to reflect changes in the shelter component and the fuels and utilities component of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for the 12 month period ending the previous November 30. FNS will notify State agencies of the amount of the limit. Only the following expenses are allowable shelter expenses:
(A) Continuing charges for the shelter occupied by the household, including rent, mortgage, condo and association fees, or other continuing charges leading to the ownership of the shelter such as loan repayments for the purchase of a mobile home, including interest on such payments.
(B) Property taxes, State and local assessments, and insurance on the structure itself, but not separate costs for insuring furniture or personal belongings.
(C) The cost of fuel for heating; cooling (i.e., the operation of air conditioning systems or room air conditioners); electricity or fuel used for purposes other than heating or cooling; water; sewerage; well installation and maintenance; septic tank system installation and maintenance; garbage and trash collection; all service fees required to provide service for one telephone, including, but not limited to, basic service fees, wire maintenance fees, subscriber line charges, relay center surcharges, 911 fees, and taxes; and fees charged by the utility provider for initial installation of the utility. One-time deposits cannot be included.
(D) The shelter costs for the home if temporarily not occupied by the household because of employment or training away from home, illness, or abandonment caused by a natural disaster or casualty loss. For costs of a home vacated by the household to be included in the household's shelter costs, the household must intend to return to the home; the current occupants of the home, if any, must not be claiming the shelter costs for food stamp purposes; and the home must not be leased or rented during the absence of the household.
(E) Charges for the repair of the home which was substantially damaged or destroyed due to a natural disaster such as a fire or flood. Shelter costs shall not include charges for repair of the home that have been or will be reimbursed by private or public relief agencies, insurance companies, or from any other source.
(iii) Standard utility allowances.
(A) With FNS approval, a State agency may develop the following standard utility allowances (standards) to be used in place of actual costs in determining a household's excess shelter deduction: an individual standard for each type of utility expense; a standard utility allowance for all utilities that includes heating or cooling costs (HCSUA); and, a limited utility allowance (LUA) that includes electricity and fuel for purposes other than heating or cooling, water, sewerage, well and septic tank installation and maintenance, telephone, and garbage or trash collection. The LUA must include expenses for at least two utilities. However, at its option, the State agency may include the excess heating and cooling costs of public housing residents in the LUA if it wishes to offer the lower standard to such households. The State agency may use different types of standards but cannot allow households the use of two standards that include the same expense. In States in which the cooling expense is minimal, the State agency may include the cooling expense in the electricity component. The State agency may vary the allowance by factors such as household size, geographical area, or season. Only utility costs identified in paragraph (d)(6)(ii)(C) of this section must be used in developing standards.
(B) The State agency must review the standards annually and make adjustments to reflect changes in costs, rounded to the nearest whole dollar. State agencies must provide the amounts of standards to FNS when they are changed and submit methodologies used in developing and updating standards to FNS for approval when the methodologies are developed or changed.
(C) A standard with a heating or cooling component must be made available to households that incur heating or cooling expenses separately from their rent or mortgage and to households that receive direct or indirect assistance under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Act of 1981 (LIHEAA). A heating or cooling standard is available to households in private rental housing who are billed by their landlords on the basis of individual usage or who are charged a flat rate separately from their rent. However, households in public housing units which have central utility meters and which charge households only for excess heating or cooling costs are not entitled to a standard that includes heating or cooling costs based only on the charge for excess usage unless the State agency mandates the use of standard utility allowances in accordance with paragraph (d)(6)(iii)(E) of this section. Households that receive direct or indirect energy assistance that is excluded from income consideration (other than that provided under the LIHEAA) are entitled to a standard that includes heating or cooling only if the amount of the expense exceeds the amount of the assistance. Households that receive direct or indirect energy assistance that is counted as income and incur a heating or cooling expense are entitled to use a standard that includes heating or cooling costs. A household that has both an occupied home and an unoccupied home is only entitled to one standard.
(D) At initial certification, recertification, and when a household moves, the household may choose between a standard or verified actual utility costs for any allowable expense identified in paragraph (d)(6)(ii)(C) of this section (except the telephone standard), unless the State agency has opted, with FNS approval, to mandate use of a standard. The State agency may require use of the telephone standard for the cost of basic telephone service even if actual costs are higher. Households certified for 24 months may also choose to switch between a standard and actual costs at the time of the mandatory interim contact required by § 273.10(f)(1)(i), if the State agency has not mandated use of the standard.
(E) A State agency may mandate use of standard utility allowances for all households with qualifying expenses if the State has developed one or more standards that include the costs of heating and cooling and one or more standards that do not include the costs of heating and cooling, the standards will not result in increased program costs, and FNS approves the standard. The prohibition on increasing Program costs does not apply to necessary increases to standards resulting from utility cost increases. If the State agency chooses to mandate use of standard utility allowances, it must provide a standard utility allowance that includes heating or cooling costs to residents of public housing units which have central utility meters and which charge the households only for excess heating or cooling costs. The State agency also must not prorate a standard utility allowance that includes heating or cooling costs provided to a household that lives and shares heating or cooling expenses with others. In determining whether the standard utility allowances increase program costs, the State agency shall not consider any increase in costs that results from providing a standard utility allowance that includes heating or cooling costs to residents of public housing units which have central utility meters and which charge the households only for excess heating or cooling costs. The State agency shall also not consider any increase in costs that results from providing a full (i.e., not prorated) standard utility allowance that includes heating or cooling costs to a household that lives and shares heating or cooling expenses with others. Under this option households entitled to the standard may not claim actual expenses, even if the expenses are higher than the standard. Households not entitled to the standard may claim actual allowable expenses. Requests to use an LUA should include the approximate number of food stamp households that would be entitled to the nonheating and noncooling standard, the average utility costs prior to use of the mandatory standard, the proposed standards, and an explanation of how the standards were computed.
(F) If a household lives with and shares heating or cooling expenses with another individual, another household, or both, the State agency shall not prorate the standard for such households if the State agency mandates use of standard utility allowances in accordance with paragraph (d)(6)(iii)(E) of this section. The State agency may not prorate the SUA if all the individuals who share utility expenses but are not in the food stamp household are excluded from the household only because they are ineligible.
Title 7 published on 2015-01-01
The following are ALL rules, proposed rules, and notices (chronologically) published in the Federal Register relating to 7 CFR Part 273 after this date.