DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES

Division of Social Services

Statutory Authority: 31 Delaware Code, Section 512 (31 Del.C. §512)

PROPOSED

PUBLIC NOTICE

Food Supplement Program: DSSM 9068 & 9085 - Certification Periods Reporting Changes

In compliance with the State's Administrative Procedures Act (APA - Title 29, Chapter 101 of the Delaware Code) and under the authority of Title 31 of the Delaware Code, Chapter 5, Section 512, Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS) / Division of Social Services is proposing to amend the Food Supplement Program policies in the Division of Social Services Manual (DSSM) related to Certification Periods and Reporting Changes.

Any person who wishes to make written suggestions, compilations of data, testimony, briefs or other written materials concerning the proposed new regulations must submit same to Sharon L. Summers, Policy, Program & Development Unit, Division of Social Services, 1901 North DuPont Highway, P.O. Box 906, New Castle, Delaware 19720-0906 or by fax to (302) 255-4425 by December 31, 2009.

The action concerning the determination of whether to adopt the proposed regulation will be based upon the results of Department and Division staff analysis and the consideration of the comments and written materials filed by other interested persons.

SUMMARY OF PROPOSAL

The proposal amends the Division of Social Services Manual (DSSM) regarding the Food Supplement Program (FSP).

Statutory Authority

• 7 CFR §273.10(f), Certification Periods; and,

• 7 CFR §273.12, Requirement for Change Reporting Households

Summary of Proposal

The purpose of the proposed amendments at DSSM 9068, Certification Periods and DSSM 9085, Reporting Changes is to extend the food benefit certification periods from 6 and 12 months to 12 and 24 months. The changes allow DSS to give simplified reporting households a 12-month certification period, with a 6-month interim report; and, elderly or disabled households with no earned income a 24-month certification period with a 12th month interim report.

These changes will benefit households by allowing more time between applications and reducing staff workload. The households are required to submit an interim report in month 6 and month 12 of their respective certification periods in order to continue benefits for the 12 and 24 month periods. Failure to return the interim reports will result in the food benefit case closing.

Also, removed language requiring clients to report changes that occur between the interview and before their certification notice is received. This no longer applies due to simplified reporting.

DSS PROPOSED REGULATION #09-44

REVISIONS:

9068 Certification Periods

[7 CFR 273.10(f)]

Certification periods means the period of time within which a household shall be eligible to receive benefits. At the expiration of each certification period, entitlement to food stamp benefits ends. Further eligibility will be established only upon a recertification based upon a newly completed application, an interview and verification. Under no circumstances will benefits be continued beyond the end of a certification period without a new determination of eligibility. The first month of the certification period will be the first month for which the household is eligible to participate.

The certification periods for all households shall not exceed 12 months.

DSS approves eligible households for a defined number of months called a certification period. The certification period is the period of time that DSS determines a household is eligible to receive benefits.

At the end of the certification period, entitlement to food benefits expires. DSS will not issue any further food benefits until the household completes a new application, is interviewed and provides all necessary verifications.

The first month for which the household is eligible to participate starts the first month of the certification period. DSS will assign certification periods according to each household’s circumstances.

The certification periods for all households shall not exceed 12 months, except households listed in DSSM 9068.2.

9068.1 Certification Period Length

DSS will assign the longest certification period possible according to each household's circumstances.

• DSS will assign households subject to simplified reporting requirement a six-month certification period, except for elderly or disabled households with no earned income.

• DSS will assign households where all members are elderly or disabled with no earned income a 12-month certification period.

• DSS can assign a shorter certification period of no less than 4 months on a case-by-case basis if the household's circumstances warrant it.

9068.1 12-Month Certification Periods

Assign households subject to simplified reporting, except the elderly or disabled households per DSSM 9068.2, a 12-month certification period.

Households assigned a 12-month certification period are required to complete and return an interim report in the 6th month of the certification period.

2 DE Reg. 2271 (6/1/1999)

8 DE Reg. 114 (7/1/2004)

12 DE Reg. 462 (10/01/08)

9068.2 Shortening Certification Periods

Do not end a household's certification period earlier than its assigned recertification period unless DSS receives information that the household has become ineligible. Loss of cash assistance or change in employment status is not sufficient in and of itself to shorten a certification period. Close or adjust the household's benefits according to DSSM 9085 in response to reported changes. Do not use the Notice of Expiration to shorten a certification period.

9068.2 24-Month Certification Periods for Elderly or Disabled Households

Assign a 24-month certification period to households where all members are elderly or disabled and have no earned income.

Households assigned a 24-month certification period are required to complete and return an interim report in the 12th month of the certification period.

9068.3 Lengthening Certification Periods

A household's certification period may be lengthened after it has been assigned as long as the total months of certification does not exceed 12 months.

Households whose certification is lengthened must be informed of the new certification ending date with a notice containing the same information as the notice of eligibility.

9068.3 Length of Certification Periods

Assign each household the longest certification period possible based on its circumstances.

Households with unstable circumstances can be assigned a certification period consistent with their circumstances, but no less than 4 months.

9068.4 Shortening Certification Periods

Households certification periods will not be terminated before the assigned certification periods end except for the following reasons:

• DSS receives information that the household has become ineligible, or

• The household fails to respond to a Request for Contact to resolve unclear information.

Households certification periods will not be shortened due to loss of cash assistance or change in employment status.

Close or adjust households benefits in response to reported changes according to DSSM 9085.

Do not use the Notice of Expiration to shorten a certification period.

9068.5 Lengthening Certification Periods

When needed, lengthen a household's certification period after it has been assigned as long as the total months of certification do not exceed 12 months.

Inform households whose certification is lengthened of the new certification ending date with a notice containing the same information as the notice of eligibility.

(Break in Continuity of Sections)

9085 Reporting Changes

[7 CFR 273.12]

Certified food stamp households are required to report the following changes in circumstances:

Simplified Reporting Requirements

The following reporting requirements are for all households:

• Households are required to only report income changes only when the monthly income exceeds 130 percent of the poverty income guideline for the household size that existed at the time of the certification or recertification.

• When a household's monthly income exceeds the 130 percent of the poverty income guideline, the household is required to report that change within ten days after the end of the month that the household determines the income is over the 130 percent amount.

• Households will not have to report any changes in the household composition, residence and resulting changes in shelter costs, acquisition of non-excluded licensed vehicles, when liquid resources exceed $2000.00 and or changes in the legal child support obligation.

Additional reporting requirement for ABAWD individuals:

• Adults living in a home without any minor children, who are getting food stamps benefits because they are working over more than 20 hours a week, must report when they start working less than 20 hours a week.

An applying applicant household must report all changes related to its food stamp benefit eligibility and benefits at the certification interview. Changes, listed above, which occur after the interview but before the date of the notice of eligibility, must be reported by the household within ten (10) days of the date of the notice.

Households assigned a 12-month certification period are required to complete and return an interim report in the 6th month of the certification period. DSS will close the food benefit case when a household fails to complete and return the interim report.

Households assigned a 24-month certification period are required to complete and return an interim report in the 12th month of the certification period. DSS will close the food benefit case when a household fails to complete and return the interim report.

Only the reporting requirements in this Section and no other reporting requirements can be imposed by the Division.

10 DE Reg. 560 (09/01/06)

12 DE Reg. 462 (10/01/08)

13 DE Reg. 779 (12/01/09) (Prop.)