1240-01-50-.13 - DETERMINATION OF AVAILABLE INCOME

1240-01-50-.13. DETERMINATION OF AVAILABLE INCOME

The amount of income available to meet maintenance needs is to be determined in establishing eligibility for Families First benefits in accordance with definitions given previously and in accordance with the instructions given in chapters 1240-1-50-.13(1) through 1240-1-50-.20. Currently available income as defined (except that specifically excluded, disregarded, or deducted), is considered in the determination of eligibility and amount of payment.

(1) Projecting Income. A prospective method of determining eligibility and payment in the Families First program is used.

(a) At the time of case action a decision is made concerning the amount of income to be considered available for a future period. The worker anticipates monthly income the AG will have in the coming month and uses this figure to calculate the amount of benefits.

(b) Anticipating Income. At the time of application/redetermination an AG may expect changes in circumstances to occur in the future; in particular, changes relating to the receipt of income.

1. Only currently available income will be used to project the amount of ongoing available income unless the amount and date of receipt of expected income is known with reasonable certainty or unless some change has occurred. If the exact amount/month of receipt of the income is not known, only that portion of it which can reasonably be anticipated shall be considered as income.

(c) When any change in AG circumstances is expected, including a change in income, the AG will be required to report the change within 10 days of the change.

1. Counting Anticipated Income in Month Received. Income anticipated with reasonable certainty during the period under consideration shall be counted as income only in the month(s) it is expected to be received, unless the income is averaged or prorated.

2. Income in Past 60 Days. Income received during the past 60 days shall be used as an indicator of anticipated income. However, past income shall not be used for any month in which a change in income has occurred or can be anticipated.

(i) If income fluctuates to the extent that a 60-day period alone cannot provide an accurate indication of anticipated income, the worker and the AG may use a longer period of time if it will provide an accurate indication of anticipated fluctuations in future income.

(ii) Similarly, if the family's income fluctuates seasonally, it may be appropriate to use the most recent season comparable to the time of year, rather than the last 60 days, as one indicator for the time of year.

(iii) In no event shall the worker automatically attribute to the AG the amounts of any past income. Past income shall not be used as an indicator of anticipated income when changes in income have occurred or are anticipated to occur.

3. Recurring Monthly Benefits. Recipients of state or federal benefits such as SSI or Social Security benefits shall not have their monthly income from such sources varied merely because mailing cycles may cause two payments to be received in one calendar month and none in the next month.

4. Withheld Wages. Wages held at the request of the employee shall be considered income to the AG in the month the wages would otherwise have been paid by the employer. Wages held by the employer as a general practice, even if in violation of the law, are not counted as income to the AG unless an AG anticipates that it will ask for and receive an advance, or an AG anticipates that it will receive income from previously withheld wages not previously counted as income. Advances on wages shall only count as income if reasonably anticipated.

(2) Converting Income To Monthly Amounts. Since need determination and calculation of benefit amount are made on a monthly basis, income and expenses available to an AG must be stated in monthly amounts. The following methods will be used to convert income to monthly amounts.

(a) Hourly or Piece Work Wages. Estimate the amount of income to be expected as the result of a week's work based on hours/days produced. Use the weekly earnings figure to determine monthly income.

(b) Weekly Income. Multiply weekly income by 4.3 to determine monthly income.

(c) Bi-Weekly Income. Multiply amount received each two weeks by 2.15 to determine monthly income.

(d) Semi-Monthly Income. Add the two amounts received to determine monthly income.

(e) Monthly Income. When a wage earner is employed and paid on a monthly basis accept his/her verified monthly wage/salary as monthly income.

(f) Annual Income. Income which is received annually, or which is an integral part of annual income will be totaled and prorated over 12 months. Such income is usually earned income derived from a farming or other self-employment enterprise. Income which by contract or otherwise could be generally considered as annual income, but which is received in a shorter period of time will be considered as income in the months during which it is received. An estimated average income from migrant labor, seasonal farm work, and other seasonal employment will be considered during the months such income is received.

(3) Rounding/Truncating. If the difference between need and income is not a whole dollar amount, when the deficit is less than the maximum grant for that family size, round to the next lower dollar to determine the Families First grant amount.

(4) Income At Application.

(a) Income in Application Month. The eligibility and level of benefits for AGs submitting an initial application will be based on circumstances for the entire calendar month in which the AG filed its application. The income received during the application month (i.e., that already received by the day of application plus that which is anticipated with reasonable certainty to be received in that month) is used to determine initial eligibility and the benefit amount for that one (1) month.

(b) Effects of Changes During the Application Processing Period. An AG may be eligible in the application month based on circumstances existing in that month, but ineligible in the subsequent month because of changes which occur. The AG is entitled to benefits for the application month even when the processing of the application results in benefits being issued/paid in the subsequent month. An AG may be ineligible in the application month based on circumstances existing in that month, but eligible in the subsequent month because of changes which occur. The application must be denied so that the AG will receive proper notice within application processing time limits. A new application must be filed so that eligibility can be determined for the period following the period the AG was ineligible.

(5) Anticipated Changes And Benefit Amounts. Adjustments in the Families First grant are made on the basis of reported or discovered changes. The grant amount for the month of application will differ from the grant amount in subsequent months. If a change in income is reported and the change is ongoing, the new amount is to be used to project future ongoing income. If income fluctuates, an estimated average monthly income will be established and this amount will be considered in the determination of eligibility and the amount of payment.

(6) Income At Redetermination. Eligibility and amount of payment at the time of redetermination will be based on circumstances which prevail at that time. Currently available income will be used to project the average amount of income to be available in the coming months.

(7) Consideration Of Income Belonging To Particular Individuals. The income of all persons who share a living arrangement must be explored, but all individuals' incomes may or may not be considered in the determination of eligibility and amount of payment as described below:

(a) The countable gross income, earned and unearned, of all assistance group members and their responsible relatives in the home plus the deemed income of a stepparent living in the home and of a parent of a minor parent living in the home must be considered as available. The gross amount is tested against the Gross Income Standard (185% of the appropriate consolidated need standard for the family size). If the gross amount is less than the GIS, the countable net income for the AG is compared to the CNS for the family to determine eligibility and amount of payment. No income of parents and spouses is diverted to their ineligible dependents living in the home except in the deeming budgets of stepparents and parents of minor parents living in the home.

(b) Legal Spouses. The income belonging to one or both members of a legally married couple is considered available to each other as long as they are living together, except the income of a spouse who is an SSI recipient is disregarded in determining the other spouse's eligibility. If a couple presents themselves as married they are to be considered as married. If they later claim to not be legally married, the burden of proof of their unmarried status will be upon the couple.

1. Exception. When a Families First custodial parent marries during receipt of assistance, exception at 1240-1-47-.23(5)(d) applies.

(c) Parents. Parents living in the home with the dependent child(ren) must be included in the AG and/or their total income counted as available in its entirety unless the parent is an SSI recipient. However, in the case of an ineligible alien parent living in the home with his/her dependent child, income is deemed to the eligible dependent child using the stepparent deeming formula in (d) 1.-6. below.

1. Exception. When a Families First custodial parent marries during receipt of assistance, exception at 1240-1-47-.23(5)(d) applies.

(d) Stepparents/Parents of Minor Parents. Income shall be deemed available to AG members from a stepparent living in the home with a stepchild for whom assistance is requested, and from a parent living in the home with a minor parent who has requested assistance in his/her own right for a child in his/her care.

1. The amount of income to be deemed is determined as follows:

(i) Determine gross monthly income as defined for Families First;

(ii) Deduct the flat work expense amount of $150 from earned income only;

(iii) Deduct the appropriate Consolidated Need Standard (CNS) for the stepparent or parent and his legal dependents (for IRS tax purposes) living in the home who are not included in the AG. (If the stepparent's or parent's income is not taxable, use those individuals he/she could claim under IRS rules.);

(iv) Deduct amounts actually paid to individuals not living in the home who are (or could be) claimed by the stepparent or parent as dependents for income tax purposes; and

(v) Deduct amounts actually paid for alimony or child support to individuals not living in the home other than those covered in step 4. above;

(vi) The remainder is income deemed to the stepchildren or minor children (or child of an illegal alien) as appropriate.

2. Exception. When a Families First custodial parent marries during receipt of assistance, exception at 1240-1-47-.23(5)(d) applies.

(e) Income of Children. Income that a technically ineligible child (i.e., a child who does not meet the age, deprivation, relationship, citizenship requirements) has in his/her own right, including "earmarked" income such as Social Security benefits, or which is specifically designated for a particular child, such as child support, is not considered available to the AG. The child's own income is, however, considered available to his/her own children in the home.

(f) Applicant/Grantee Relatives Other than Parents. The income of a relative other than the parent(s) of children for whom Families First is requested or received is counted in determining eligibility and amount of payment for the children only when the relative is included in the AG. When the grantee relative is included in the AG, all of the income of that relative's spouse living in the home must be considered available to the AG.

(8) Individuals Whose Income Is Not To Be Considered.

(a) SSI recipients.

(b) Ineligible relatives other than parents/stepparents as long as they are not included in the AG.

(c) Unrelated household members.

(d) Individuals living outside the home.

(9) Deductions From Gross Income. The only deductions from gross income which are permitted in determining net income are:

(a) The earned income disregards, where applicable;

(b) Income which has been excluded from consideration will not be taken into account in determining need and amount of assistance for any other individual.

(Original rule filed December 2, 1996; effective February 15, 1997. Amendment filed July 5, 2002; effective September 18, 2002.)

Authority: T.C.A. §§ 4-5-201 et seq., 71-1-105, 71-3-154, 71-3-155, 42 USC § 1315(a), Public Acts of 1996, Chapter 950, 45 C.F.R. 233.20, 45 CFR 233.20(a)(1)-(7), and (11), and § 1115 of the Social Security Act.

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