DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES

Division of Social Services

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

FINAL

ORDER

Nature of the Proceedings:

Delaware Health and Social Services (“Department”) / Division of Social Services initiated proceedings to amend policies in the Division of Social Services Manual (DSSM) as it relates to the Food Stamp Program. 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 July 2006 Delaware Register of Regulations, requiring written materials and suggestions from the public concerning the proposed regulations to be produced by July 31, 2006 at which time the Department would receive information, factual evidence and public comment to the said proposed changes to the regulations.

Summary of Proposed Change

Statutory Authority

• 7 CFR 273.12, Requirements for Change Reporting Households

Summary of Proposed Change

DSSM 9085, Reporting Changes: DSS is streamlining the reporting time frame for change reporters to the same reporting time frame as simplified reporting households. This change will result in less confusing client notices and allow the elderly and/or disabled households a longer period of time to report a change; resulting in fewer errors and overpayments caused by clients not reporting changes in a timely manner.

Summary of Comments Received with Agency Response

The State Council for Persons with Disabilities (SCPD) offered the following comment and DSS responds as follows:

SCPD endorses the proposed regulation since they should improve program administration by providing uniform reporting time periods.

There are currently different timetables to report changes in financial circumstances applicable to different types of household and beneficiaries. The amendment will create a uniform time period to report changes. Instead of a reporting deadline of 10 days after initial knowledge of the change, the household may report the change by the 10th day of the month following the month of the change.

Agency Response: DSS appreciates the endorsement.

Findings of Fact:

The Department finds that the proposed changes as set forth in the July 2006 Register of Regulations should be adopted.

THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED, that the proposed regulation to amend the Division of Social Services Manual (DSSM) as it relates to reporting changes in the Food Stamp Program is adopted and shall be final effective September 10, 2006.

Vincent P. Meconi, Secretary, DHSS, 8/14/06

DSS FINAL ORDER REGULATION #06-35

REVISIONS:

9085 Reporting Changes

[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 except those households where all members are elderly or disabled and without earned income:

• Households are required to only report income changes 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 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 because they are working over 20 hours a week, must report when they start working less than 20 hours a week.

Change Reporting rRequirements: (for households not eligible for the simplified reporting requirements above)

Change reporting households must report the following changes in circumstances by the 10th day of the month following the month of the change:

• Changes in the amount of gross unearned income of more than $50, except changes in the public assistance grants. Changes reported in person or by telephone are to be acted upon in the same manner as those reported on the change report form;

• A change in the source of income, including starting or stopping a job or changing jobs, if the change in employment causes a change in income.

• All changes in household size, such as the addition or loss of a household member;

• Changes in residence and the resulting changes in shelter costs;

• The acquisition of a licensed vehicle not fully excludable under DSSM 9051 (for non-categorically eligible households);

• When cash on hand, stocks, bonds, and money in a bank account or savings institution reach or exceed a total of $2,000 (for non-categorically eligible households);

• Changes in the legal obligation to pay child support; and

• Changes in work hours that bring an ABAWD individual below 20 hours per week, averaged monthly.

Certified households must report changes within ten (10) days of the date the change becomes known to the household.

For reportable changes of income, households must report the change within 10 days of the date the household receives its first payment.

An applying household must report all changes related to its food stamp eligibility and benefits at the certification interview. Changes, as provided in this Section, 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.

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

9085.1 Report Form

[273.12(b)]

Provide each household applying for benefits or being recertified for benefits with Form 130 with which to report changes listed above within 10 days. Provide a postpaid return envelope.

Send a new form to the household whenever a change is reported via a form.

9085.2 DSS Responsibilities: Action on Changes

[273.12(c)]

Take prompt action on all changes to determine if the changes affect the household's eligibility or allotment. Even if there is no change in the allotment, document reported changes in the case file, provide another change report form to the household, and notify the household of the effect of the change, if any, on its benefits. Document the date of receipt of the report form or the date a change is reported by phone or in person. If a household reports a change in income which is expected to continue for at least one month beyond the month in which the change is reported, act on the change according to DSSM 9085.3 and 9085.4. If DSS fails to take action on a change within the time limits specified in DSSM 9085.3, restore the lost benefits.

PA households have the same reporting requirements as any other food stamp household and shall use the change report form. PA households who report changes to their workers for PA purposes will be considered to have reported the change for food stamp purposes as well.

9085.3 Processing Changes Which Increase Benefits

[273.12(c)(1)]

For changes which result in an increase in a household's benefits, make the change effective no later than the first allotment issued ten (10) days after the date the change is reported to the Division.

For changes which produce an increase in benefits as the result of the addition of a new household member who is not a member of another certified household or as the result of a decrease of $50 or more in the household's gross monthly income, make the change effective not later than the first allotment issued ten (10) days after the date the change is reported. These changes must take effect no later than the month following in which the change is reported.

For example, a $30 decrease in income reported on the 15th day of May would increase the household's June allotment. If the same decrease were reported on May 28, and the household's normal issuance cycle was on June 1, the household's allotment would have to be increased by July.

If the change is reported after the 20th of a month and it is too late for the Division to adjust the following monthly allotment, issue a supplement by the 10th day of the following month or, if possible, in the household's normal issuance cycle in that month. For example, a household reporting a $100 decrease in income at any time during the month of May would have its June allotment increased. If the household reported the change after the 20th of May and it is too late to adjust the benefit normally issued on June 1, issue a supplement for the amount of the increase by June 10.

Verify changes which result in an increase in a household's benefit in accordance with the verification requirements in DSSM 9038, prior to taking action on these changes except in the case of newborn infants. When a household reports the birth of a newborn, add the newborn to the household when the baby comes home according to DSSM 2006. Allow the household ten (10) days from the date the change is reported to provide verification required by DSSM 9038. If the household provides verification within this period, take action on the changes within the time frames specified above. The time frames will run from the date the change was reported, not from the date of verification. If, however, the household fails to provide the required verification within ten (10) days after the change is reported but does provide the verification at a later date, then the time frames specified in the first and second paragraphs of this section for taking action on changes will run from the date the verification is provided rather than from the date the change is reported.

In cases where DSS has determined that a household has refused to cooperate as defined in DSSM 9029, the household's eligibility will be terminated following the notice of adverse action.

9085.4 Decreases in Benefits

[273.12(c)(2)]

If the household's benefit level decreases or the household becomes ineligible as a result of the change, issue a notice of adverse action (see DSSM 9006) within ten (10) days of the date the change was reported unless one of the exemptions to the notice of adverse action in DSSM 9006.3 applies. When a notice of adverse action is used, make the decrease in the benefit level effective no later than the allotment for the month following the month in which the notice of adverse action period has expired, provided a fair hearing and continuation of benefits have not been requested.

When a notice of adverse action is not used due to one of the exemptions in DSSM 9006.3, make the decrease effective no later than the month following the change. Verification which is required by DSSM 9032 must be obtained prior to recertification.

Unclear Information

When information about changes in a household's circumstances are unclear and DSS cannot determine the effect on the household's benefit, DSS must clarify and verify the changes as follows:

DSS must issue a written request for contact (RFC) which clearly advises the household of the verification it must provide or the actions it must take to clarify its circumstances.

Allow the household at least ten (10) days to respond and to clarify its circumstances either by telephone or by correspondence, as directed by DSS.

If the household fails to respond to the RFC, or does respond but refuses to provide sufficient information to clarify its circumstances, DSS will terminate the case and issue a notice of adverse action explaining the reason for the action. Inform the household that a new application must be filed if the household wishes to continue to receive benefits.

When the household responds to the RFC and provides sufficient information, process the changes according to DSSM 9085.3 and DSSM 9085.4.

9085.6 Failure to Report

[273.12(d)]

If a household fails to report a change as required under DSSM 9085 and, as a result, receives benefits to which it is not entitled, file a claim against the household in accordance with DSSM 7000. If the discovery is made within the certification period, the household is entitled to a notice of adverse action in advance if the household's benefits are reduced. A household is not to be held liable for a claim because of a change in household circumstances which it is not required to report. Do not terminate individuals for failure to report a change unless the individual is disqualified in accordance with the disqualification procedures specified in DSSM 2023.

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