114-1140 - Financial Criteria

114-1140. Financial Criteria

A. Need Standard

(1) The Department has a fully consolidated need standard and all needs are included in a flat amount per family size.

(2) The FI need standard, by family size, is set by the Department at fifty percent of the current year's "Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines for All States (except Alaska and Hawaii) and the District of Columbia." The Department shall adjust the need standard annually after the State's General Appropriation Act is passed and signed by the Governor. The standard will be uniformly applied throughout the State.

(3) The Department does not meet full need as defined by its need standard; therefore, it uses a ratable reduction to control the amount of the benefit. The need standard, by family size, multiplied by the ratable reduction percentage determines the Department's Payment Standard. The ratable reduction is set by the Department annually based on the amount of money appropriated for FI benefits in the General Appropriations Act, also taking into account the anticipated number of FI recipients to whom benefits will be paid in the next State fiscal year. The Department may adjust the ratable reduction during the fiscal year if the anticipated number of recipients increases or decreases. The need standard, payment standard and ratable reduction are available at the Department's State Office, Columbia, South Carolina.

(4) The FI benefit will be rounded down to the next lower whole dollar when the result of determining the standard of need or the payment amount is not a whole dollar. Proration to determine the amount of payment for the month of application must occur before rounding to determine the payment amount for that month.

(5) In the case of FI, no payment of assistance shall be made to an assistance unit in any month in which the amount of assistance prior to any adjustments is determined to be less than ten dollars.

(6) An assistance unit that is denied assistance because of the limitation specified in (5) of this section or because the payment amount is determined to be zero as a result of rounding down the payment shall be deemed a recipient for all other purposes.

(7) A month in which a recipient does not receive a cash benefit, regardless of the reason, does not count as a month against the time limit.

B. No Benefit Increase for a Child Born Ten Months after Receipt of Family Independence Benefits.

(1) In determining the size of the BG for eligibility and payment determination, there must be no increase in BG size due to a child born to an FI recipient ten or more months after the BG begins to receive FI.

(a) This does not include a child born to a minor mother who is required to be in her mother's BG.

(b) Income and resources of this child are counted in the FI eligibility and benefit calculation.

(c) This provision does not apply if it is determined that this child was conceived as a result of rape or incest.

(2) The Department may provide vouchers for a child born ten months or more after initial receipt of FI assistance. The vouchers may be used to pay for goods and services for the child, as determined by the Department, which will enable the mother to participate in education, training and employment related activities. The Department will determine the monthly amount to be expended for these services dependent on the funds available.

C. Resource Limit and Exclusions. The amount of real and personal property that can be reserved for each assistance unit shall not be in excess of twenty-five hundred dollars equity value excluding only:

(1) The home and its contiguous property (even if separated by public right-of-ways) which is the usual residence of the assistance unit;

(2) One burial plot (as defined by the Department) for each member of the assistance unit;

(3) Bona fide funeral agreements (as defined by State law) up to fifteen hundred dollars in value, plus any interest accrued, for each member of the assistance unit;

(4) Real property which the family is making a good faith effort (as defined by the Department) to sell. A good faith effort means agreeing to sell the property at the current market value and putting the property up for sale in the area where it commands a market.

(5) Basic maintenance items essential to day-to-day living such as clothes, furniture and other similarly essential items of limited value.

(6) The cash value of life insurance policies.

(7) Items of assistance technology for a handicapped person required to develop or maintain life or work skills, such as a power wheel chair or computer shall not count against the two thousand five hundred dollar resource limit. Adaptive items added to a care or van shall not increase its book value.

D. Special Benefit Payment Situations.

(1) Payment is made for the entire month, except the month of application, to or for a family which, for any portion of the month, met all of the eligibility conditions, provided the family was eligible on the date payment was made.

(2) Payment is made for the entire month in the course of which a child leaves the home of a specified relative, provided payments are not made for a concurrent period for the same child in the home of another relative or while the child is in a foster care home.

(3) Payment is made to persons acting for relatives in emergency situations that deprive a child of the care of the relative through whom he has been receiving benefits for a temporary period necessary to make and carry out plans for the child's continuing care and support.

E. Vehicles. One licensed vehicle per budget group not to exceed ten thousand dollars fair market value (as determined by N.A.D.A. Official Used Car Guide or equivalent publication) is exempt from the asset limit.

F. Inaccessible Resources. The following resources are considered to be inaccessible and are not counted against the FI resource limit:

(1) Security deposits being held on rental property or utilities.

(2) Property in probate or awaiting probate (includes property of individuals who die intestate).

(3) Property in Chapter 13 bankruptcy unless exempted from bankruptcy proceedings by the Bankruptcy Court and the Trustee in Bankruptcy.

(4) Property in equitable or existing trust where one individual holds the title to the property but another non-budget group member pays the purchase price, including monthly payments, and is responsible for the general upkeep of the property. This principle applies to both liquid and non-liquid resources.

(5) Property with multiple owners when it is not possible to obtain the consent of all the owners to sell the property.

G. Transfer of Resources.

(1) A budget group member that has transferred a countable resource(s) may be sanctioned for up to one year if:

(a) The resource(s) was transferred within the three-month period immediately preceding the application filing date; and

(b) The resource(s) was transferred for the purpose of qualifying for benefits; or

(c) The resource(s) was transferred at any time after approval for benefits.

(2) The length of the disqualification period is based on the amount by which the transferred resource(s) when added to other countable resources exceeds the allowable resource limit. For applicant households, the disqualification period begins with the month of application; for recipient households, the month after the timely notice is received.

(3) Disqualification Periods

$0 to $249.99 1 month
250 to 999.99 3 months
1,000 to 2,999.99 6 months
3,000 to 4,999.99 9 months
5,000 to and up 12 months

(4) Transfer of resources will not result in disqualification when:

(a) The resource would have been excluded; or

(b) The resource was sold or traded at the approximate fair market value; or

(c) The resource was transferred to another eligible or sanctioned budget group member; or

(d) The resource was transferred for a reason other than qualifying for benefits.

H. Irrevocable Trusts. The funds in an irrevocable trust are considered inaccessible to the budget group; however, any income paid from the trust to the budget group is counted as unearned income.

I. Individual Development Accounts.

(1) A savings account owned by a recipient and designated by the recipient as an Individual Development Account (IDA) which has a value of ten thousand dollars or less is excluded from the FI resource limit.

(2) A savings account owned by an FI recipient prior to application, with a value of two thousand five hundred dollars or less, may be converted to an IDA.

(3) A lump sum payment of ten thousand dollars or less deposited in an IDA within thirty days will not be counted as income.

(4) Funds in an IDA in excess of ten thousand dollars are counted against the two thousand five hundred dollar resource limit.

J. Requirement to Apply for Available Benefits. The Department will establish and carry out policies with reference to applicants' and recipients' potential sources of income which provide for their being developed to a state of availability.

K. JTPA Income of Adults and Children.

(1) Earned or unearned income received by minor children from Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) Programs is disregarded in eligibility and benefit computations.

(2) Earned income received by adults, after appropriate disregards are granted, is counted in the budget.

(3) Unearned income received by adults, designated by JTPA as being for training expenses is excluded.

L. Disregard of Child Support Payments Made by a Budget Group Member to a Non-Budget Group Member. Child support payments made by a budget group member to legal dependents who are not budget group members may be deducted from the income of the payor.

M. Garnished Wages. A garnishment from wages is not excludable income.

N. Exclusions from Income. In determining the availability of income and resources, the following will not be included as income:

(1) The earned income of dependent children is excluded in the FI gross income limit test and the need and benefit determination.

(2) Up to four hundred dollars of interest and dividends per benefit group may be excluded annually.

(3) Vendor payments made by a third party who is not a member of the budget group are excluded from income.

(4) In-kind income received by the benefit group is excluded.

(5) Grants, such as scholarships, obtained and used under conditions that preclude their use for current living costs.

(6) Home produce of an applicant or recipient, utilized by him and his household for their own consumption.

(7) Small nonrecurring gifts not to exceed $100 per recipient in any quarter.

(8) Payments made to FI recipients known as "child support gap payments" which are made from the child support payments from absent parents collected by the Office of Child Support Enforcement of the Department of Social Services.

(9) Assistance from other agencies and organizations will be excluded in determining the amount of assistance to be paid, provided that no duplication shall exist between such other assistance and that provided by the FI Program. In such complementary program relationships, nonduplication shall be assured by the fact that FI funds are insufficient to meet the total amount of money determined to be needed in accordance with the statewide standard. In such instances, grants by other agencies in an amount sufficient to make it possible for the individual to have the amount of money determined to be needed, in accordance with the FI standard, will not constitute duplication.

(10) Payments for home energy assistance will be excluded if certified by the Division of Economic Opportunity, Office of the Governor (or its successor), as being based on need.

(11) The principal of a bona fide loan will not be counted as income or a resource in the determination of eligibility and the amount of assistance. Interest earned on a loan is counted as unearned income in the month received and as a resource thereafter. Purchases made with a loan are counted as resources.

(12) The value of a governmental rent or housing subsidy is not counted as income.

(13) The value of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Stamp benefits or donated foods (surplus commodities).

(14) Relocation allowances paid to a recipient by the Family Independence Program.

(15) A Child Care deduction of two hundred dollars per month per dependent child, under age 12, will be subtracted from the gross earned or unearned income of families applying for Family Independence benefits. To be eligible for this deduction, the family must incur a child care expense for a dependent child(ren) living in the home. This deduction may only be given in the month of application and the two subsequent months.

O. Disregarded Income and Resources. In determining eligibility and the amount of the assistance payment, the following will be disregarded as income and resources:

(1) Any payment received under Title II of the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970.

(2) Grants or loans to any undergraduate student for educational purposes made or insured under any programs administered by the Secretary of Education except the programs under the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act (20 U.S.C. 2301 et seq.). Student financial assistance provided under the Carl D. Perkins Vocational Act will be disregarded in accordance with paragraph (a)(4)(ii)(t) of this section.

(3) Any funds distributed per capital to or held in trust for members of any Indian tribe under Public Law 92-254 or Pub. L. 94-540.

(4) Any benefits received under Title VII, Nutrition Program for the Elderly, of the Older Americans Act of 1995, as amended.

(5) Payments for supporting services or reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses made to individual volunteers serving as foster grandparents, senior health aides, or senior companions, and to persons serving in the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and Active Corps of Executives (ACE) and any other programs under Titles II and III, pursuant to Section 418 of Pub. L. 93-113.

(6) Payments to applicants or recipients participating in the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) Program, except that this disregard will not be applied when the Director of ACTION determines that the value of all such payments, adjusted to reflect the number of hours such volunteers are serving, is equivalent to or greater than the minimum wage then in effect under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, or the minimum wage under the laws of the States where the volunteers are serving, whichever is greater. (Section404(g) of Pub. L. 93-113, as amended by Section 9 of Pub. L. 96-143).

(7) The value of supplemental food assistance received under the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 as amended, and the special food service program for children under the National School Lunch Act, as amended (Pub. L. 92-433 and Pub. L. 93-150).

(8) Pursuant to Section 15 of Pub. L. 100-241, any of the following distributions made to a household, an individual Native, or a descendant of a Native by a Native Corporation established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) (Pub. L. 92-203, as amended):

(a) Cash distributions (including cash dividends on stock from a Native Corporation) received by an individual are never counted as income or resources to the extent that such cash does not in the aggregate, exceed $2,000 in a year. Cash which, in the aggregate, is in excess of $2,000 in a year is not subject to the income and resources disregards;

(b) Stock (including stock issued or distributed by a Native Corporation as a dividend or distribution on stock);

(c) A partnership interest;

(d) Land or an interest in land (including land or an interest in land received from a Native Corporation as a dividend or distribution on stock); and

(e) An interest in a settlement trust.

(9) Benefits paid to eligible households under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Act of 1981 pursuant to Section2605(f) of Pub. L. 97-35.

(10) Effective October 17, 1975, pursuant to Section 6 of Pub. L. 94-114 (89 Stat. 577, 25 U.S.C. 459 e), receipts distributed to members of certain Indian tribes which are referred to in Section 4 of Pub. L. 94-114 (89 Stat. 577, 25 U.S.C. 459 d).

(11) Pursuant to Section 7 of Pub. L. 93-134, as amended by Section 4 of Pub. L. 97-458. Indian judgment funds that are held in trust by the Secretary of the Interior (including interest and investment income accrued while such funds are so held in trust), or distributed per capita to a household or member of an Indian tribe pursuant to a plan prepared by the Secretary of the Interior and not disapproved by a joint resolution of the Congress, and initial purchases made with such funds. This disregard does not apply to proceeds from the sale of initial purchases, subsequent purchases made with funds derived from the sale or conversion of the initial purchases, or to funds or initial purchases which are inherited or transferred.

(12) Pursuant to Section 2 of Pub. L. 98-64, all funds held in trust by the Secretary of the Interior for an Indian tribe (including interest and investment income accrued while such funds are so held in trust) and distributed per capita to a household or member of an Indian tribe, and initial purchases made with such funds. This disregard does not apply to proceeds from the sale of initial purchases, subsequent purchases made with funds derived from the sale or conversion of initial purchases, or to funds or initial purchases which are inherited or transferred.

(13) Any student financial assistance provided under programs in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, and under Bureau of Indian Affairs education assistance programs.

(14) For FI, any payments made as restitution to an individual under Title I of Public Law 100-383 (the Civil Liberties Act of 1988) or under Title II of Public Law 100-383 (the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands Restitution Act).

(15) Any Federal major disaster and emergency assistance provided under the Disaster Relief Act of 1974, as amended by Public Law 100-707 (the Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Amendments of 1988) and comparable disaster assistance provided by States, local governments and disaster assistance organizations.

(16) Any payments made pursuant to the Settlement in the In Re Agent Orange Product liability litigation, M.D.L. No. 381 (E.D.N.Y.).

(17) Student financial assistance made available for the attendance costs defined in this paragraph under programs in the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act (20 U.S.C. 2301 et seq.). Attendance costs are: tuition and fees normally assessed a student carrying the same academic workload as determined by the institution, and including costs for rental or purchase of any equipment, materials, or supplies required of all students in the same course of study; and an allowance for books, supplies, transportation, dependent care and miscellaneous personal expenses for a student attending the institution on at least a half-time basis, as determined by the institution.

(18) For FI, any payments made pursuant to Section6(h)(2) of Public Law 101-426, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.

P. Determination of Need and Amount of Assistance. After all policies governing the reserves and allowances and disregard or setting aside of income and resources referred to in this section have been uniformly applied:

(1) In determining need, financial eligibility and the amount of the assistance payment all remaining income shall be considered in relation to the State's need standard.

(2) Income and resources are considered available both when actually available and when the applicant or recipient has a legal interest in a liquidated sum and has the legal ability to make such sum available for support and maintenance.

(3) Income tax refunds shall be considered as resources.

(4) Lump sum payments shall be treated as resources for applicants and recipients. When the lump sum includes a payment for the current month, that amount is treated as income.

(5) Income received by individuals employed on a contractual basis may be prorated over the period of the contract; or intermittent income received quarterly, semiannually, or yearly may be prorated over the period covered by the income.

(6) Child support payments made directly to the FI benefit group are counted as unearned income.

(7) Income of aliens who would be FI budget group members except that their alien status disqualifies them will have their income counted toward the budget group.

(8) Income of sanctioned budget group members will have their income counted toward the budget group.

(9) In family groups living together, income of the spouse is considered available for the budget group and income of a parent(s) is considered available for dependent children under 19. If an individual is a spouse or parent who is a recipient of SSI benefits under Title XVI, an individual with respect to whom Federal foster care payments are made, an individual with respect to whom State or local foster care payments are made, an individual with respect to whom Federal adoption assistance payments are made, or an individual with respect to whom State or local adoption assistance payments are made, then, for the period for which such benefits or payments are received, his or her income and resources shall not be counted as income and resources available to the FI unit.

(10) A minor parent recipient living in the home will have income deemed to the minor parent budget group from his or her parent's income. The amount of income to be deemed shall be determined by computing the parent's gross monthly income and then subtracting an amount equal to the monthly gross income limit for a family size comprised of the parents and their legal dependents exclusive of the minor parent; the remainder is the amount of deemed income.

Q. Recovery of Overpayments and Correction of Underpayments.

(1) The Department will specify uniform statewide procedures for recovery of overpayments of assistance, including overpayments resulting from assistance paid pending hearing decisions. Overpayment means a financial assistance payment received by or for an assistance unit for the payment month which exceeds the amount for which that unit was eligible.

(a) Any recovery of an overpayment to a current assistance unit, including a current assistance unit or recipient whose overpayment occurred during a prior period of eligibility, must be recovered through repayment (in part or in full) by the individual responsible for the overpayment or by recovering the overpayment through reducing the amount of any assistance payable to the assistance unit of which he or she is a member, or both.

(b) If recovery is made from the grant, such recovery shall result in the assistance unit retaining, for any payment month, from the combined assistance, income, and liquid resources not less than 90 percent of the amount payable to a family of the same composition with no other income. If the Department chooses to recover at a rate less than the maximum, it must recover promptly.

(c) The Department shall recover an overpayment from:

(i) the assistance unit which was overpaid, or

(ii) any assistance unit of which an adult member of the overpaid assistance unit has subsequently become a member, or

(iii) any adult members of the overpaid assistance unit whether or not currently recipients. If the Department recovers from individuals who are no longer recipients, or from recipients who refuse to repay the overpayment from their income and resources, recovery shall be made by appropriate action under State law against the income or resources of those individuals.

(iv) any assistance unit of which an adult member accessed all or part of their monthly payment at a liquor store, a casino, gambling casino or gaming establishment, or an adult-oriented entertainment establishment. The amount of the overpayment shall equal the amount accessed at any of the locations listed in 114-1150(F).

(d) If through recovery, the amount payable to the assistance unit is reduced to zero, members of the assistance unit are still considered recipients of FI.

(e) In cases which have both an underpayment and an overpayment the Department must take one of the following three actions by the end of the quarter following the quarter in which the overpayment is first identified:

(i) recover the overpayment, or

(ii) initiate action to locate and/or recover the overpayment from a former recipient, or

(iii) execute a monthly recovery agreement from a current recipient's grant, income or resources.

(2) Underpayments. The Department will specify uniform statewide policies for prompt correction of any underpayments to current recipients and those who would be a current recipient if the error causing the underpayment had not occurred. Underpayment means a financial assistance payment received by or for an assistance unit for the payment month which is less than the amount for which the assistance unit was eligible, or failure by the State to issue a financial assistance payment for the payment month to an eligible assistance unit if such payment should have been issued. The number of months for which retroactive underpayment corrections shall not exceed twelve. Retroactive corrective payments shall not be considered as income, or as a resource in the month paid nor in the next following month.

(3) In locating former recipients who have outstanding overpayments the Department should use appropriate data sources such as State Unemployment Insurance files, South Carolina Department of Revenue and Taxation information from tax returns, state automobile registration, IEVS, and other files relating to current or former recipients.

(4) The Department must maintain information on the individual and total number and amount of overpayments identified and their disposition for current and former recipients.

(5) The Department may elect not to attempt recovery of an overpayment from an individual no longer receiving assistance where the overpayment amount is less than $35. Where the overpayment amount owed by an individual no longer receiving assistance is $35 or more, the Department can determine when it is no longer cost-effective to continue overpayment recovery efforts, provided it has made reasonable efforts to recover the overpayment from the individual. Reasonable efforts must include notification of the amount of and reasons for the overpayment and that repayment is required.

(6) FI established claims for overpayment of benefits that are thirty-five dollars or greater and are more than ninety days delinquent are referred to the South Carolina Department of Revenue and Taxation and/or the United States Internal Revenue Service for intercept of those claims from tax refunds due persons against whom the claims are established. Clients are given written notification by the Department when delinquent claims are referred for state and/or federal tax intercept.

(Added by State Register Volume 19, Issue No. 5, eff May 26, 1995. Amended by State Register Volume 21, Issue No. 6, Part 2, eff June 27, 1997; State Register Volume 26, Issue No. 5, Part 2, eff May 24, 2002; State Register Volume 38, Issue No. 5)

The following state regulations pages link to this page.