DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES

Division of Social Services

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

FINAL

ORDER

Food Stamp Program

Nature of the Proceedings:

Delaware Health and Social Services (“Department”) / Division of Social Services initiated proceedings to amend the policies of the Food Stamp Program in the Division of Social Services Manual (DSSM) as it relates to changes in Federal rules. The Department’s proceedings to amend its regulations were initiated pursuant to 29 Delaware Code Section 10114 and its authority as prescribed by 31 Delaware Code Section 512.

The Department published its notice of proposed regulation changes pursuant to 29 Delaware Code Section 10115 in the November 2005 Delaware Register of Regulations, requiring written materials and suggestions from the public concerning the proposed regulations to be produced by November 30, 2005 at which time the Department would receive information, factual evidence and public comment to the said proposed changes to the regulations.

Summary of Proposed Changes

Citations

• 7 CFR §272.1, General Terms and Conditions

• 7 CFR §273.1, Household Concept

• 7 CFR §273.2(d)(2), Cooperation with QC Reviewer

Summary of Proposed Changes

DSS proposes to amend its regulations to comply with changes to Federal rules, as follows:

• Under DSSM 1003.2, Information to Law Enforcement revises DSS policy regarding disclosure of information about food stamp applicants or recipients to law enforcement agencies.

• Under DSSM 9013.1, Household Definition there are three changes. The first change clarifies who can be budgeted together for food stamp purposes when persons do not live in the home for the entire month. Federal rules state that as long as a person is in the home for a portion of the month, they can be included in the food stamp budget as long as they are not receiving food stamps in another household. The second change clarifies the term “spouse” for food stamp purposes based on the definition provided in Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, 1 USC §7. The third change renumbers the current #3 to #6 to accommodate added language at new numbers 3, 4 and 5.

• Under DSSM 9029.1, Cooperation with Quality Control clarifies that if a household does not comply with a Quality Control (QC) review, is terminated and moves into another household, that household still cannot get benefits until the household complies with QC. The change also defines annual review period.

Summary of Comments Received With Agency Response and Explanation of Changes

The State Council for Persons with Disabilities (SCPD) offered the following summarized concerns. DSS has considered each comment and responds as follows:

1) In the first paragraph, third bullet, the word “or” prior to “probation” should be “of”.

Agency Response: Correction made.

2) In the first paragraph, the last bullet is grammatically incorrect. Consistent with the preceding text and other bullets, it requires an introductory verb. Additionally, in the first paragraph, Council did not discover any analog for the fourth and fifth bullets in 7 CFR §272.1(c). The Federal regulation appears to be much more restrained in authorizing disclosure than the proposed State standard of “has information that is necessary for the officer to conduct his or her official duties. With such a broad mandate, no other bullet would be needed.

Agency Response: That section is not the subject of the proposed regulation. The first paragraph under DSSM 1003.2 is policy for Cash Assistance (TANF and GA Programs). The regulations under 7 CFR §272.1 apply to the Food Stamp Program, which are the only rules DSS is addressing at this time.

3) The regulations clarify that “same sex couples” are not considered spouses for Food Stamp purposes. This is consistent with the Defense of Marriage Act, Section 3, codified at Title I USC §7.

Agency Response: Thank you for your concurrence.

4) The disqualification provisions in Section 9029.1 appear generally consistent with 7 CFR §273.2(d)(2).

Agency Response: Thank you for your concurrence.

Additionally, DSS initiated changes to the proposed amendment that are technical in nature to change a reference from ABC (A Better Chance) to TANF (Delaware’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program) and to reflect current operations. These changes are indicated by [bracketed bold type] and [bracketed bold strikethrough].

Findings of Fact:

The Department finds that the proposed changes as set forth in the November 2005 Register of Regulations should be adopted.

THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED, that the proposed regulation to amend the Food Stamp Program as it relates to changes in Federal rules is adopted and shall be final effective January 10, 2006.

Vincent P. Meconi, Secretary, DHSS, 12/15/05

DSS FINAL ORDER REGULATION #05-79

REVISIONS:

1003.2 Information to Law Enforcement Agencies

For [TANF] Cash Assistance Programs:

Each DSS [Financial Services] Regional Operations Manager has the authority to disclose the address of a recipient to a Federal, State or local law enforcement officer at the officer's request if the officer furnishes the agency with the name of the recipient and notifies the agency that the recipient:

• is fleeing to avoid prosecution; or

• is a fleeing felon (or in the case of New Jersey is fleeing from conviction of a high misdemeanor); or

• is violating a condition [or of] probation or parole; or

• has information that is necessary for the officer to conduct his or her official duties; and;,

• the location or apprehension of the recipient is within such official duties.

For Food Stamps:

DSS will disclose information about food stamp applicants or recipients to law enforcement agencies only when the agency provides a written request and it is for the purpose of investigating an alleged violation of the Food Stamp Act or regulation.

The written request shall include:

• the identity of the individual requesting the information,

• the individual's authority to request the information,

• the violation being investigated, and

• the identity of the person on whom the information is requested.

DSS shall also make available to law enforcement officers, on official duty, the address, social security number, and a photograph (if available) of a food stamp recipient if the officer furnishes the recipient's name and informs DSS that the individual is fleeing to avoid prosecution, custody or confinement for a felony, is violating a condition of parole or probation, or has information necessary for the officer to conduct an official duty related to a felony/parole violation.

DSS will also provide information regarding a household member who has information about another household member who is fleeing to avoid prosecution or custody for a felony, or has violated a condition of probation or parole. The information will be provided as long as the law enforcement officer has provided a written request.

If the law enforcement officer has provided documentation, not just the written request, that a household member is fleeing to avoid prosecution or custody for a felony, or has violated a condition of probation or parole, DSS shall terminate the member’s participation.

DSS will only disclose the information that is necessary to comply with a specific written request of a law enforcement agency.

(Break in Continuity of Sections)

9013.1 Household Definition

A) General Definition - a household is composed of one of the following individuals or groups of individuals, provided they are not residents of an institution (except as otherwise specified in DSSM 9015), or are not boarders (as specified in DSSM 9013.3).

1. An individual living alone

2. An individual living with others, but customarily purchasing food and preparing meals for home consumption separate and apart from the others;

3. A group of individuals who live together and customarily purchase food and prepare meals together for home consumption;

B) Special Definition - the following individuals living with others or groups of individuals living together must be considered as customarily purchasing food and preparing meals together, even if they do not do so*.

1. Spouses who live together. Spouse refers to either of two individuals:

a. Who would be defined as married to each other under applicable State law; or

b. Who are living together and are holding themselves out to the community as husband and wife by representing themselves as such to relatives, friends, neighbors, or trades people.

*Same sex couples, for food stamp purposes, are not considered spouses and the presumption of purchasing food and preparing meals together would not apply to them.

2. Children 21 years of age and younger living with their parents [Parents are defined as natural parent(s) or step-parent(s)].

Children (other than foster care children) who are under 18 and live under the parental control of a non-parent, adult household member cannot be separate households.

Adult children (22 years of age and older) who live with their parents can be separate households if they purchase and prepare food separately.

3. Child(ren) living with a non-parent who has legal custody of the child(ren) will continue to be a member of the household for food stamp purposes even if a natural parent moves into the home. The non-parent must provide proof of legal custody. If the adult who has legal custody of the child chooses to let the child and natural parent purchase and prepare meals together, the child can become a member of the natural parent’s food stamp household.

4. Joint custody – Children who live with parents in a joint custody situation can get food stamps with the parent who is the first to apply for food stamps. If both parents are applying for the same child(ren), the parent who provides the majority of the meals (21 meals a week) will include the child as part of his/her food stamp household.

5. When an individual resides a portion of the month with a food stamp household, the household can choose to include or exclude the individual from the food stamp household. If included, the income of the individual must be included and the individual cannot get benefits in another household or state.

Examples:

A son works out of state but comes home every weekend. His mom can include or exclude him.

A child lives in PA with her father. She comes to DE to live with her mom on weekends. Her mother can include her in her food stamp household as long as the child is not getting food stamps in PA.

A child goes to a residential school and comes home every other weekend and holidays. The parents can include the child in their food stamp household.

3. 6. Although a group of individuals living together and purchasing and preparing meals together constitutes a single household under the provisions of the above general definition, an otherwise eligible member of such a household who is 60 years of age or older and who is unable to purchase and prepare meals because (s)he suffers from a disability considered permanent under the Social Security Act, or suffers from a non-disease-related, severe, permanent disability, may be a separate household from the others based on the provisions of this section provided that the income (all income under DSSM 9055) of the others with whom the individual resides (excluding the income of the spouse of the elderly and disabled individual) does not exceed 165% of the poverty line. Only the spouse of the elderly and disabled individual is required to be included in the same household with the individual.

(Break in Continuity of Sections)

9029.1 Cooperation With Quality Control

A household is ineligible if it refuses to cooperate in any subsequent review of its eligibility as a part of a Quality Control (QC) review. If a household is terminated for refusal to cooperate with a QC reviewer, the household may reapply but will not be determined eligible until it cooperates with the QC reviewer. If a household terminated for refusal to cooperate with a State QC reviewer reapplies after 95 days from the end of the annual review period September, (the end of the annual review period which runs October through September each fiscal year), do not determine the household ineligible for its refusal to cooperate with a State QC reviewer during the completed review period. However, the household must provide verification in accordance with DSSM 9032.13.

If a household terminated for refusal to cooperate with a Federal QC reviewer reapplies after seven months from the end of the annual review period September, (the end of the annual review period which runs October through September each fiscal year), do not determine the household ineligible for its refusal to cooperate with a Federal QC reviewer during the completed review period. However, the household must provide verification in accordance with DSSM 9032.13.

If the household who refuses to cooperate with a QC reviewer joins another food stamp household, those individuals would be treated as ineligible household members until they cooperate with the QC reviewer.

9 DE Reg. 1077 (01/01/06) (Final)