WSR 99-12-118

PROPOSED RULES

DEPARTMENT OF

SOCIAL AND HEALTH SERVICES
(Economic Services Administration)

[ Filed June 2, 1999, 10:30 a.m. ]

Original Notice.

Preproposal statement of inquiry was filed as WSR 99-07-105.

Title of Rule: WAC 388-450-0005 Income--Ownership and availability, 388-450-0215 Prospective budgeting, 388-450-0220 Retrospective budgeting, 388-450-0225 How to calculate the benefit amount for the first month of eligibility for TANF/SFA and RCA applicants, 388-450-0235 Discontinued income, and 388-450-0250 Income of a new assistance unit member.

Purpose: Changes rules to be consistent with federal laws, rules, and regulations.

Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 74.08.090 and 74.04.510.

Statute Being Implemented: RCW 74.08.090 and 74.04.510.

Summary: WAC 388-450-0005, expanded on definition of available income and how it affects eligibility. WAC 388-450-0215, removed definitions that do not belong in this rule. WAC 388-450-0220, removed duplication. WAC 388-450-0225, clarified how to calculate benefits for the first month of eligibility. WAC 388-450-0235, clarified how to treat discontinued income. WAC 388-450-0250, clarified how to budget the income of a new assistance unit member.

Reasons Supporting Proposal: RCW 74.08.090 gives the department authority to make rules and regulations to ensure uniform administration of programs throughout the state. RCW 74.04.510 requires the department to adopt rules consistent with federal laws, rules and regulations relating to the food stamp program.

Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting, Implementation and Enforcement: Veronica Barnes, Division of Assistance Programs, P.O. Box 45480, Olympia, WA 98504-5480, (360) 413-3071.

Name of Proponent: Department of Social and Health Services, governmental.

Rule is not necessitated by federal law, federal or state court decision.

Explanation of Rule, its Purpose, and Anticipated Effects: Changes rules to be consistent with federal laws, rules, and regulations.

Proposal Changes the Following Existing Rules: WAC 388-450-0005 Income--Ownership and availability, 388-450-0215 Prospective budgeting, 388-450-0220 Retrospective budgeting, 388-450-0225 How to calculate the benefit amount for the first month of eligibility for TANF/SFA and RCA applicants, 388-450-0235 Discontinued income, and 388-450-0250 Income of a new assistance unit member.

Current rules contain errors and omissions that must be resolved in order to allow for the correct administration of cash, medical, and food assistance programs. WAC 388-450-0005, expanded on definition of available income and how it affects eligibility. WAC 388-450-0215, removed definitions that do not belong in this rule. WAC 388-450-0220, removed duplication. WAC 388-450-0225, clarified how to calculate benefits for the first month of eligibility. WAC 388-450-0235, clarified how to treat discontinued income. WAC 388-450-0250, clarified how to budget the income of a new assistance unit member.

No small business economic impact statement has been prepared under chapter 19.85 RCW. The changes as a result of this rule do not affect small businesses.

RCW 34.05.328 does not apply to this rule adoption. This rule does not meet the definition of significant legislative change.

Hearing Location: Lacey Government Center (behind Tokyo Bento Restaurant), 1009 College Street S.E., Room 104-B, Lacey, WA 98503, on July 6, 1999, at 10:00 a.m.

Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Paige Wall by June 25, 1999, phone (360) 664-6094, TTY (360) 664-6178, e-mail wallpg@dshs.wa.gov.

Submit Written Comments to: Identify WAC Numbers, Paige Wall, Rules Coordinator, Rules and Policies Assistance Unit, P.O. Box 45850, Olympia, WA 98504-5850, fax (360) 902-8292, by July 6, 1999.

Date of Intended Adoption: July 9, 1999.

May 28, 1999

Marie Myerchin-Redifer, Manager

Rules and Policies Assistance Unit

2575.2
AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 98-16-044, filed 7/31/98, effective 9/1/98)

WAC 388-450-0005
Income--Ownership and availability.

(1) For TANF/SFA, RCA, GA, TANF/SFA-related medical and food assistance programs:

(a) All available income owned or possessed by a client is considered when determining the client's eligibility and benefit level.

(b) Ownership of income is determined according to applicable state and federal laws pertaining to property ownership and eligibility for assistance programs. For married persons, ownership of separate and community income is determined according to chapter 26.16 RCW.

(c) Income owned by a client is considered available when it is at hand and may be used to meet the client's current need. The gross amount of available income is counted in the month it is received.

(i) If income is usually available on a specific day, it is considered available on that date.

(ii) If income is usually received monthly or semi-monthly and the pay date changes due to a reason beyond the client’s control, such as a weekend or holiday, it is counted in the month it is intended to cover rather than the month it is actually received.

(iii) If income is usually received weekly or bi-weekly and the pay date changes due to a reason beyond the client’s control, it is counted in the month it is received.

(d) ((When the department determines that a client may be entitled to or have an interest in income which may be used to reduce the client's need for assistance, the client may be denied assistance when the client fails or refuses to make a reasonable effort to make the income available or receive the entitlement.

(i) A client's eligibility is not affected until the income is received as long as the client makes reasonable efforts to make potential income available; and

(ii) A client may choose whether to receive TANF/SFA or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

(e))) The income of a person who is not a member of a client's assistance unit may be considered available to the client under the rules of this chapter if the person is financially responsible for the client and lives in the home with the client. For medical programs, financial responsibility is described in WAC 388-408-0055.

(((f))) (e) For medical programs, the income of a financially responsible person, not living in the home is considered available to the extent it is contributed.

(((g))) (f) Funds deposited into a bank account which is held jointly by a client and another are considered income possessed by and available to the client unless:

(i) The client can show that all or part of the funds belong exclusively to the other account holder and are held or used solely for the benefit of that holder; or

(ii) The funds have been considered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) when determining the other account holder's eligibility for SSI benefits.

(g) Potential income is income a client may have access to that can be used to reduce the need for assistance. For cash and medical programs, when the department determines that a potential income source exists, the client may be denied assistance when the client fails or refuses to make a reasonable effort to make the income available.

(i) A client's eligibility is not affected until the income is received as long as the client makes reasonable efforts to make potential income available; and

(ii) A client may choose whether to receive TANF/SFA or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

(2) For TANF/SFA, RCA, GA and food assistance programs the income of an alien's sponsor is considered available to the alien under the rules of this chapter when determining the alien's eligibility and benefit level.

(3) For SSI-related medical:

(a) Income is considered available and owned when it is:

(i) Received; and

(ii) Can be used to meet the clients needs for food, clothing and shelter, except as provided in WAC 388-511-1130.

(b) Loans and certain other receipts are not defined as income for SSI-related medical purposes as described in 20 C.F.R. Sec. 416.1103.

(4) For medical programs, trusts are described in WAC 388-505-0595.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.04.050, 74.04.055, 74.04.057 and 74.08.090.  98-16-044, 388-450-0005, filed 7/31/98, effective 9/1/98. Formerly WAC 388-505-0590 and 388-506-0610.]


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 98-16-044, filed 7/31/98, effective 9/1/98)

WAC 388-450-0215
Prospective budgeting.

Unless specifically stated, this section applies to TANF/SFA, RCA, GA, medical and food assistance programs.

(1) Prospective budgeting means an assistance unit's benefit amount for the month is computed using the best estimate of income and circumstance for that month.

(2) Best estimate means a reasonable expectation and knowledge of current, past and future circumstances. For TANF/SFA, RCA and GA assistance:

(a) An overpayment is established if the income is underestimated; and

(b) A corrective payment is issued if the income is overestimated.

(3) For medical assistance programs, the assistance unit's income is always prospectively budgeted.

(4) For TANF/SFA, RCA, GA, and food assistance programs, an assistance unit's income and circumstances are prospectively budgeted:

(a) For the first two months of benefit eligibility;

(b) When the benefits have been closed for less than one month and were closed in the first prospectively budgeted month; or

(c) When the assistance unit's benefits are suspended, as defined in WAC 388-450-0245 and the assistance unit experiences a significant change in their income, such as loss of employment, in the budget or process month.

(5) For each month of benefit eligibility certain assistance units will have their income prospectively budgeted. This applies to assistance units in which:

(a) All adult members are elderly or disabled and do not have earned income or recent work history, as defined in WAC 388-404-0015, 388-400-0040 and 388-456-0010;

(b) ((The members are migrant workers. A migrant worker is a person who works in seasonal agricultural employment that requires the person to be away from their permanent place of residence overnight;

(c))) All members are homeless as defined in WAC 388-408-0050; ((or))

(c) The only countable income is received from migrant work; or

(d) For food assistance programs the only countable income is received from seasonal farm work((:

(i) A seasonal farm worker is a person working in seasonal agricultural employment but not required to be away from their permanent place of residence overnight; and

(ii) A seasonal farm worker assistance unit means an assistance unit which receives its only income from seasonal farm work or unemployment compensation)).

(6) Public assistance income is budgeted prospectively.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.04.050, 74.04.055, 74.04.057 and 74.08.090.  98-16-044, 388-450-0215, filed 7/31/98, effective 9/1/98. Formerly WAC 388-505-0590.]


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 98-16-044, filed 7/31/98, effective 9/1/98)

WAC 388-450-0220
Retrospective budgeting.

This section applies to all TANF/SFA, RCA, GA, and food assistance programs.

(1) Retrospective budgeting means the assistance unit's benefit amount for the payment month is computed using the actual income and circumstances of the budget month.

(a) The budget month is the month in which the income is received by the client.

(b) The process month is the month following the budget month. It is the month during which the department computes the client's benefit amount when income from the budget month is reported timely.

(c) The payment month is the month following the process month.

(2) After the first two months of benefit eligibility, an assistance unit's income and circumstances are retrospectively budgeted, except when the assistance unit:

(a) Is listed in WAC 388-450-0215(5); and

(b) Has discontinued income, as defined in WAC 388-450-0235.

(3) An assistance unit's initial month's benefits are retrospectively budgeted when:

(a) The assistance unit's benefits are reopened after being closed in error;

(b) The assistance unit's benefits are reopened after being closed less than one month and closed after the first initial month of eligibility; or

(c) ((A person with income is added to the assistance unit and their income had been allocated to the assistance unit; or

(d))) The assistance unit's benefits were suspended, as defined in WAC 388-450-0245, and:

(i) The first month of eligibility follows the month of suspension; and

(ii) The assistance unit has not experienced a significant change, as provided in WAC 388-450-0245((.

(4) Income from a discontinued source that was prospectively budgeted during the first two months of eligibility, may be excluded for retrospective budgeting as specified in WAC 388-450-0235)).

[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.04.050, 74.04.055, 74.04.057 and 74.08.090.  98-16-044, 388-450-0220, filed 7/31/98, effective 9/1/98.]


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 98-16-044, filed 7/31/98, effective 9/1/98)

WAC 388-450-0225
((Budgeting income for cash assistance)) How to calculate the benefit amount for the first month of eligibility for TANF/SFA and RCA applicants.

(1) The ((grant)) benefit amount for the first calendar month of ((application is computed as follows:

(1) All countable income to be budgeted during the first calendar month of eligibility is subtracted from the payment level plus authorized additional requirements; and

(2) The grant is prorated for the remaining number of days in the month beginning with the effective date of eligibility. This prorated figure is the benefit level for the first month of eligibility)) eligibility for TANF/SFA and RCA approved applications is the sum of:

(a) The prorated grant amount; and

(b) Approved additional requirements.

(2) The grant amount is calculated by subtracting the countable income as described in WAC 388-450-0180 from the payment standard.

(a) When the countable income is equal to or exceeds the payment standard and there are no approved additional requirements, the assistance unit is not eligible for cash assistance in the first month of eligibility.

(b) When the countable income is more than the payment standard and additional requirements are approved, the amount that exceeds the payment standard is subtracted from the additional requirements.

(c) When the countable income is less than the payment standard, the grant amount is prorated by:

(i) Dividing the grant amount by the number of days in the first month of eligibility; and

(ii) Multiplying the figure in (c)(i) of this subsection by the number of days from the date of eligibility to the last day of the month.

(3) The approved additional requirements are not prorated.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.04.050, 74.04.055, 74.04.057 and 74.08.090.  98-16-044, 388-450-0225, filed 7/31/98, effective 9/1/98.]


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 98-16-044, filed 7/31/98, effective 9/1/98)

WAC 388-450-0235
Discontinued income.

(1) For TANF/SFA, RCA, GA, and food assistance programs, discontinued income ((means)) is income ((which)) that was previously available to the assistance unit but ((is no longer received)) has stopped.

(2) Discontinued income affects retrospectively budgeted households as defined in WAC 388-450-0220.

(3) When the income of an assistance unit was used to determine the benefit amount in the first two months of eligibility ((has)) and stopped in one of the initial months, the income is not used to determine benefits for the following months.

(((3))) (4) For food assistance ((programs, clients who report during the budget month that income stopped that month will not have the income counted for the)) discontinued income is not budgeted against the corresponding payment month if the client:

(a) Reports on the monthly report or ten days prior to the payment month that the income stopped during the budget month; and

(b) Begins to receive cash assistance the cash grant increases as a result of the discontinued income.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.04.050, 74.04.055, 74.04.057 and 74.08.090.  98-16-044, 388-450-0235, filed 7/31/98, effective 9/1/98.]


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 98-16-044, filed 7/31/98, effective 9/1/98)

WAC 388-450-0250
Income of a new assistance unit member.

This section applies to all TANF/SFA, RCA, GA, medical and food assistance programs.

(1) ((A client's income is treated as specified in chapter 388-418 WAC when the client enters)) When a new member is added to an assistance unit and that person has not received benefits in the last calendar month, the new member’s income is budgeted prospectively for the first two months of eligibility.

(2) When a recipient establishes a separate assistance unit:

(a) That client is removed from the prior assistance unit; and

(b) The method of income budgeting that was in effect in the prior assistance unit is used for the new assistance unit.

(3) When a person with income is added to the assistance unit and their income had been allocated to the assistance unit:

(a) For cash assistance continue to budget the income retrospectively;

(b)_ For food assistance:

(i) Discontinue the allocation effective the payment month; and

(ii) Budget the new member’s income prospectively for the first two months of eligibility.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.04.050, 74.04.055, 74.04.057 and 74.08.090.  98-16-044, 388-450-0250, filed 7/31/98, effective 9/1/98.]

Washington State Code Reviser's Office