This final rule implements 11 provisions of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (FSRIA) that establish new eligibility and certification requirements for the receipt of food stamps. The provisions of the final rule will simplify program administration, allow States greater flexibility, and provide enhanced access to eligible populations.
This rule will allow States, at their option,
- to treat legally obligated child support payments to a non-household member as an income exclusion rather than a deduction;
- allow a State option to exclude certain types of income and resources that are not counted under the State's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance or Medicaid programs;
- replace the current, fixed standard deduction with a deduction that varies according to household size and is adjusted annually for cost-of-living increases;
- allow States to simplify the Standard Utility Allowance (SUA) if the State elects to use the SUA rather than actual utility costs for all households; allow States to use a standard deduction from income of $143 per month for homeless households with some shelter expenses;
- allow States to disregard reported changes in deductions during certification periods (except for changes associated with new residence or earned income) until the next recertification;
- increase the resource limit for households with a disabled member from $2,000 to $3,000 consistent with the limit for households with an elderly member;
- allow States to extend simplified reporting of changes to all households; require State agencies that have a Web site to post applications on these sites in the same languages that the State uses for its written applications;
- allow States to extend from the current 3 months up to 5 months the period of time households may receive transitional food stamp benefits when they cease to receive TANF cash assistance;
- and restore food stamp eligibility to qualified aliens who are otherwise eligible and who are receiving disability benefits regardless of date of entry, are under 18 years of age regardless of date of entry, or have lived in the United States for 5 years as qualified aliens beginning on the date of entry.