|DATE:||November 19, 2009|
|SUBJECT:||Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Excluding $25 Unemployment Compensation Payments from Income and Resources|
|TO:||All Regional Directors
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
A recently enacted law changes the treatment of the $25 supplemental weekly Unemployment Compensation payment authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2OO9 (ARRA) authorized.
Division B, Title II of ARRA is the "Assistance for Unemployed Workers and Struggling Families Act". Section 2002 gave states the option of increasing their Unemployment Compensation payments by $25 a week (a copy of this provision is attached). The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) issued guidance on March 18, 2009 stating that a state SNAP agency must count this $25 weekly amount as income in determining eligibility and benefits. This statement is no longer correct because the law has changed.
On Nov. 6, 2009 President Obama signed the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009. Section 8 of that act (a copy of which is also attached) requires SNAP to exclude these $25 payments from all calculations of resources and income. Each state agency must contact its state's Unemployment Compensation agency to determine whether the residents of that state are receiving the additional $25 per week. If so, the state SNAP agency must take the following actions.
The SNAP regulations at 7 CFR 273.8(e)(11) provide that any resource excluded by provision of a federal statute is excluded in determining resources. Therefore, state agencies must exclude the additional $25 weekly in Unemployment Compensation payments in the calculation of a household's resources.
SNAP regulations at 7 CFR 273.9(c)(I0) prevent any income excluded by any other federal statute from consideration as income for the purposes of determining benefits and eligibility for SNAP. Therefore, state agencies must exclude this $25 weekly amount in the calculation of gross and net income.
This policy was effective on Nov. 6, 2009. All decisions about eligibility and benefits for all months beginning with the entire month of November 2009 must exclude the weekly $25 in unemployment compensation from resources and income.
Restoring Lost Benefits
If a participating household's November, 2009 (or subsequent) benefits include the additional $25 per week as income, the state agency must re-calculate the benefits and restore any that are lost. Although the state agencies are not responsible for the under-issuances, they should follow the regulations about restoring lost benefits at 7 CFR 273.17. State agencies should examine their records to identify all households in this situation. It is also possible that a state agency may have denied an application or terminated a household's participation solely because the state agency counted the $25 weekly payment.
If possible, a state agency should examine their records to identify such a household, re-open the household's application, certify the household if the household is still eligible, and restore any lost benefits back to November 2009. The state agency should also consider notifying the general public about this change in policy, and the possibility of restored benefits, through a poster in local offices, a notice on the state agency's web site, or through other means.
FNS will publish specific instructions about Quality Control's active and negative reviews at a later time.
For further information about this policy, a state agency should contact their regional office. FNS's regional offices should raise questions about resources to the Program Design Branch and questions about income to the Certification Policy Branch.
Arthur T. Foley
Program Development Division