5101:4-4-31 Food assistance: anticipating income.

(A) General standard

For the purpose of determining the assistance group's (AG's) eligibility and monthly benefit, the county agency shall take into account the income already received by the AG during the certification period and any anticipated income the AG and the county agency are reasonably certain will be received during the remainder of the certification period. If the amount of income that will be received or when it will be received is uncertain, the county agency shall not count that portion of the AG's income that is uncertain. If the exact amount of the income is not known, that portion of it that is anticipated with reasonable certainty is considered income. In cases where the receipt of income is reasonably certain but the monthly amount may fluctuate, the county agency must average income.

(B) Income received in past thirty days

Income received during the past thirty days shall be used as an indicator of the income that is and will be available to the AG during the certification period. However, the county agency shall not use past income as an indicator of income anticipated for the certification period if changes in income have occurred or can be anticipated. If income fluctuates to the extent that a thirty-day period alone cannot provide an accurate indication of anticipated income, the county agency and the AG may use a longer period of past time if it will provide an accurate indication of anticipated fluctuations in future income. Similarly, if the AG's income fluctuates seasonally, it may be appropriate to use the most recent season comparable to the certification period, rather than the last thirty days, as one indicator of anticipated income. The county agency shall exercise particular caution in using income from a past season as an indicator of income for the certification period. In many cases of seasonally fluctuating income, the income also fluctuates from one season in one year to the same season in the next year. However, in no event shall the county agency automatically attribute to the AG the amount of any past income. The county agency shall not use past income as an indicator of anticipated income when changes in income have occurred or can be anticipated during the certification period.

(C) Anticipated income for the month received

Income anticipated during the certification period shall be counted as income only in the month it is expected to be received, unless the income is averaged as described in paragraph (I) or (J) of this rule. Nonrecurring lump-sum payments are counted as a resource starting in the month received and not counted as income.

(D) Cases of steady employment

In cases where the AG name is steadily employed, income from the previous month is usually a good indicator of the amount of income that can be anticipated in the month of application and subsequent months. If information supplied by the AG or a collateral contact indicates that future income will differ from the previous month's income, the county agency will use such information to make a reasonable estimate of anticipated income. The method used to determine income shall be fully documented in the case file.

(E) Hourly and piecework wages

When income is received on an hourly wage or piecework basis, weekly income may fluctuate if the wage earner works less than eight hours some days or is required to work overtime on others. In this case the county agency should consult with the AG to determine the normal amount of income to be expected as a result of one week's work and if this is reasonably certain to be available during the certification period. This amount should be used to determine monthly income.

(F) Withheld wages

Wages held at the request of the employee shall be considered income to the AG in the month the wages would otherwise have been paid by the employer. However, wages held by the employer as a general practice, even if in violation of law, are not counted as income to the AG, unless the AG anticipates that it will ask for and receive an advance or that it will receive income from wages that were previously held by the employer as a general practice and were, therefore, not previously counted as income by the county agency. Advances on wages shall count as income in the month received only if reasonably anticipated.

(G) Variation of payment: income received monthly or semimonthly

An AG receiving income on a recurring monthly or semimonthly basis shall not have its monthly income varied merely because of changes in mailing cycles or pay dates or because weekends or holidays cause additional payments to be received in a month.

(H) Actual versus converted income

When a full month's income is anticipated and income is received on a weekly or biweekly basis, the county agency shall determine monthly income by multiplying weekly amounts by 4.3 and biweekly amounts by 2.15. In one-month certifications, income on less than a monthly basis may be computed by using the actual income that is to be received. When income that was received on a weekly or biweekly basis has stopped, actual income (not converted) is used.

(I) Averaging income

Except for destitute AGs, income received on a monthly basis but whose amount fluctuates from month-to-month and income received less often than monthly must be averaged. Income shall not be averaged for a destitute AG since doing so would result in assigning to the month of application income from future periods which is not available to the AG for its current food needs. To average income, the county agency shall use the AG's anticipation of income fluctuations over the certification period. (For example, an AG receives one hundred dollars every other month, fifty dollars per month income may be used.) The number of months used to arrive at the average income need not be the same as the number of months in the certification period. An average must be recalculated at recertification and in response to changes in income, in accordance with paragraph (G) of rule 5101:4-7-01 of the Administrative Code, and the county agency shall inform the AG of the amount of income used to calculate the allotment. Conversion of income received weekly or biweekly in accordance with paragraph (H) of this rule does not constitute averaging.

(J) Income averaging contract or self-employment income

AGs which, by contract or self-employment, derive their annual income in a period of time shorter than one year shall have that income averaged over a twelve-month period, provided the income from the contract is not received on an hourly or piecework basis. These AGs may include school employees, share croppers, farmers, and other self-employed AGs. However, these provisions do not apply to migrant or seasonal farm workers. Contract income which is not the AG's annual income and is not paid on an hourly or piecework basis shall be prorated over the period the income is intended to cover.

(K) Determining income deductions

Deductible expenses include only certain costs.

(L) Types of expenses not allowed as deductions

Any expense, in whole or in part, covered by educational income which is excluded, shall not be deductible. Any expense covered by excluded reimbursements (including reimbursements under employment and training programs) or vendor payments (except an energy assistance payment made under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Act of 1981, as amended), shall not be deductible. For example, the portion of rent covered by excluded vendor payments is not calculated as part of the AG's shelter costs. In addition, an expense which is covered by an excluded vendor payment that has been converted to a direct cash payment under the approval of a federally authorized demonstration project shall not be deductible. That portion of an allowable medical expense which is not reimbursable shall be included as part of the AG's medical expenses. If the AG reports an allowable medical expense at the time of certification but cannot provide verification at that time, and if the amount of the expense cannot be reasonably anticipated based upon available information about the recipient's medical condition and public or private medical insurance coverage, the AG shall have the nonreimbursable portion of the medical expense considered at the time the amount of the expense or reimbursement is reported and verified. A utility expense which is reimbursed or paid by an excluded payment, including department of housing and urban development (HUD) or farmers home administration (FMHA) utility reimbursements, shall not be deductible. Expenses shall only be deductible if the service is provided by someone outside of the AG and the AG is responsible for the expense. For example, a dependent care deduction shall not be allowed if another AG member provides the care, or compensation for the care is provided in the form of an in-kind benefit, such as food.

(M) Billed expenses deducted in month due

Except as provided in paragraph (N) of this rule, a deduction is considered in the month the expense is billed or otherwise becomes due. However, in the case of reimbursable medical expenses, a deduction can only be considered within thirty days of receiving the verification of the amount of reimbursement. The phrase "otherwise becomes due" is meant to provide for deductions in situations where regular billing statements are not issued but the expenses nevertheless become due each month as in most rental arrangements. All of the preceding applies regardless of when the AG intends to pay the expense. Amounts carried forward from past billing periods are not deductible even if included with the most recent billing and actually paid by the AG. In any event, a particular expense may only be deducted once. Past due bills, except in the situation of medical expenses awaiting reimbursement, shall not be deducted.

(N) Anticipating expenses

The county agency shall calculate an AG's expenses based on the expenses the AG expects to be billed for during the certification period. Anticipation of the expense shall be based on the most recent month's bills unless the AG is reasonably certain a change will occur. At certification and reapplication, the AG shall report and verify all medical expenses. The AG's monthly medical deduction for the certification period shall be based on the information reported and verified by the AG, and any anticipated changes in the AG's medical expenses that can be reasonably expected to occur during the certification period based on available information about the recipient's medical condition, public or private insurance coverage, and current verified medical expenses. The AG shall not be required to report changes about its medical expenses during the certification period. If the AG voluntarily reports a change in its medical expenses, the county agency shall act upon the change in accordance with paragraph (G)(1) of rule 5101:4-7-01 of the Administrative Code if the change would increase the AG's allotment. In the case of a reported change that would decrease the AG's allotment, or make the AG ineligible, the county agency shall act on the change without first requiring verification in accordance with paragraph (G)(2) of rule 5101:4-7-01 of the Administrative Code.

(O) Actual/converted expenses

If the AG is billed more frequently than monthly for expenses, the county agency shall use the conversion procedure.

(P) Averaging expenses

AGs may elect to have fluctuating monthly expenses deducted entirely in the month incurred or averaged.

(1) Averaging less frequent bills

AGs may elect to have expenses which are billed less often than monthly treated as follows:

(a) The entire expense may be deducted during the month the expense is billed or otherwise becomes due.

(b) The expense may be averaged forward over the interval between scheduled billings.

(c) If there is no scheduled interval between billings, the expense may be averaged forward over the period the expense is intended to cover.

(d) Whether expenses are averaged forward between scheduled billings or averaged forward over the period the expense is intended to cover, deductions shall not be limited to the certification period in which the bill was received. If the expense is incurred on an ongoing basis, it may be deducted on an ongoing basis.

(e) "One-time-only" expenses may be averaged over the entire certification period in which they are billed if they are verified at the time of certification.

(2) Averaging "one-time only" expenses excluding medical

AGs reporting "one-time-only" expenses (excluding medical expenses) during their certification period may elect to have them treated as follows:

(a) "One-time-only" expenses may be averaged over the certification period in which they were billed.

(b) If the expense occurs during the fourth month of a six-month certification period, then only one-sixth of the expense can be deducted in each of the remaining two months. The other unused portion is lost. In these cases, it may be to the AG's advantage to have the total expense deducted in the month it is billed, rather than to have the expense averaged.

(3) Averaging medical expenses

AGs reporting "one-time-only" medical expenses during their certification period will have them treated as follows:

(a) The total medical expense in excess of thirty-five dollars may be deducted during one month; or

(b) The medical expense may be averaged forward over the remaining months of the certification period. If this option is chosen, only the amount in excess of thirty-five dollars each month may be deducted. Averaging shall begin the month the change becomes effective.

(Q) Determining AG eligibility and applying appropriate income standards

Participation in the food assistance program shall be limited to those AGs whose incomes are determined to be a substantial limiting factor in permitting them to obtain a more nutritious diet.

AGs shall meet the gross and net income eligibility standards as described in this rule unless at least one member is elderly or disabled as defined in rule 5101:4-1-03 of the Administrative Code or the AG is considered categorically eligible. AGs which contain an elderly or disabled member, but do not qualify for categorical eligibility, shall meet the net income eligibility standards. These AGs shall not have gross income compared to the gross income eligibility standards. An AG that is categorically eligible does not have to meet either the gross or the net income standard. All other AGs are subject to first the gross income test, and then the net income test. AGs containing no elderly or disabled members must meet both test criteria in order to be determined eligible. If an AG contains a member who is fifty-nine years old on the date of application, but who will become sixty before the end of the month of application, the county agency shall determine the AG's income eligibility in accordance with paragraph (W) of this rule. An AG containing a student with excluded income who turns eighteen during the month of application or during the certification period shall have its income eligibility determined in accordance with paragraph (H) of rule 5101:4-4-13 of the Administrative Code.

(R) Method of calculating gross monthly income

Except for AGs containing at least one member who is elderly or disabled as defined in rule 5101:4-1-03 of the Administrative Code, or considered categorically eligible, all AGs shall be subject to the gross income eligibility standard for the appropriate AG size. To determine the AG's total gross income, add the gross monthly income earned by all AG members and the total monthly unearned income of all AG members, minus income exclusions. If an AG has income from a farming operation (with gross proceeds of more than one thousand dollars per year) which operates at a loss, see rule 5101:4-6-11 of the Administrative Code. The total gross income is compared to the gross income eligibility standard for the appropriate AG size. If the total gross income is less than the standard, proceed with calculating the adjusted net income as described in paragraph (S) of this rule. If the total gross income is more than the standard, the AG is ineligible for program benefits and the case is either denied or terminated at this point.

(S) Method for calculating net monthly income

For AGs containing at least one member who is elderly or disabled as defined in rule 5101:4-1-03 of the Administrative Code, but are not categorically eligible, income eligibility is calculated as described in this paragraph. For AGs considered categorically eligible, the AG cannot be ineligible for the program because of excess income. Categorically eligible AGs have their net income determined as described in the following paragraphs, but do not have their net income compared to the net income standard prior to determining level of benefits. After determining net income, go directly to the"Basis of Issuance Tables" located in rule 5101:4-5-01 of the Administrative Code to determine the AG's allotment. For all 5101:4-4-31 7 other AGs who are determined eligible after applying the gross income eligibility test, net income eligibility is determined as described in this paragraph.

(1) Total gross income

Add the gross monthly income earned by all AG members and the total monthly unearned income of all AG members, minus earned income exclusions, to determine the AG's total gross income. Net losses from the self-employment income of a farmer shall be offset in accordance with rule 5101:4-6-11 of the Administrative Code.

(2) Earned income deduction

Multiply the total gross monthly earned income by twenty per cent and subtract that amount from the total gross income.

(3) Standard deduction

Subtract the standard deduction.

(4) Excess medical deduction

If the AG is entitled to an excess medical deduction, determine if total medical expenses exceed thirty-five dollars. If so, subtract that portion which exceeds thirty-five dollars.

(5) Dependent care deduction

Subtract monthly dependent care expenses, if any.

(6) Legally obligated child support deduction

Subtract the allowable monthly child support payments in accordance with rule 5101:4-4-23 of the Administrative Code.

(7) Standard homeless shelter deduction

Subtract the standard homeless shelter deduction amount if any, up to the maximum of one hundred forty-three dollars if the AG is homeless and it incurs shelter costs during the month.

(8) Determining any excess shelter cost

Total the allowable shelter expenses to determine shelter costs, unless a deduction has been subtracted in accordance with paragraph (S)(7) of this rule. Subtract from total shelter costs fifty per cent of the AG's monthly income after all the above deductions have been subtracted. The remaining amount, if any, is the excess shelter cost. If there is no excess shelter cost, go to the next step.

(9) Applying any excess shelter cost

Subtract the excess shelter cost up to the maximum amount allowed (unless the AG is entitled to the full amount of its excess shelter expenses) from the AG's monthly income after all other applicable deductions. AGs not subject to the shelter limitation shall have the full amount exceeding fifty per cent of their adjusted income subtracted. The AG's net monthly income has been determined.

(T) Rounding techniques: calculating monthly income

In calculating gross income (both earned and unearned) the monthly amounts shall be rounded down to the nearest whole dollar by dropping all cents. All cents in gross weekly, biweekly, or semimonthly income shall be dropped before and after adding, dividing or multiplying. Hourly rates which contain cents are not rounded. However, because these procedures could result in a significant decrease in the medical and shelter expenses the AG may be entitled to use in determining excess medical and shelter costs, the individual costs used in paragraphs (S)(4) and (S)(8) of this rule shall be computed using exact dollars and cents. The cents will be dropped from the total medical and shelter costs prior to determining the medical and shelter deductions for the AG's net monthly income.

(U) Rounding techniques: calculating monthly allotments

In manually calculating monthly allotments as described in rule 5101:4-4-39 of the Administrative Code, after multiplying the net income by thirty per cent, the county agency shall round the product up to the next whole dollar if it ends in one through ninety-nine cents prior to subtracting that amount from the maximum food assistance allotment.

(V) Rounding techniques: calculating initial month's benefits

The county agency shall determine initial benefits based on the day of the month AGs apply for benefits. In manually calculating the initial month's benefits, the county agency shall use the formula described in rule 5101:4-4-27 of the Administrative Code. If the result ends in one through ninety-nine cents, the county agency shall round the product down to the nearest lower whole dollar. If the computation results in an allotment of less than ten dollars, then no issuance shall be made for the initial month.

(W) Income standards - AGs subject to net income standard only

An AG which is not considered categorically eligible is subject to the following income standards prior to determining the level of benefits. An AG which has a member who meets the definition of elderly or disabled, as described in rule 5101:4-1-03 of the Administrative Code, shall have its net monthly income, as calculated in this rule, compared to the monthly net income standard for the appropriate AG size to determine eligibility for the month. If the AG's net income exceeds the appropriate income standard, the AG is ineligible to participate in the food assistance program. If the AG's net income is equal to or less than the appropriate net income standard, the AG's level of benefits is determined, if otherwise eligible. Gross income is not an eligibility factor for these AGs and the gross income standard does not apply. An AG which is considered categorically eligible is not subject to either the gross or net income standard, and, therefore, paragraphs (W) and (X) of this rule are not applicable to a categorically eligible AG.

(X) Income standards - AGs subject to gross and net income standards

An AG which has no elderly or disabled member as described in rule 5101:4-1-03 of the Administrative Code shall have its gross monthly income, as calculated in accordance with this rule, compared to the monthly gross income eligibility standard for the appropriate AG size to determine eligibility for the month. If the AG's gross monthly income exceeds the appropriate income standard, the AG is ineligible to participate in the food assistance program. If the AG's gross monthly income is equal to or less than the standard for the appropriate AG size, the AG shall then have its net monthly income, as calculated in this rule, compared to the net monthly income eligibility standard for the appropriate AG size to determine eligibility for the month. If the AG's net income is equal to or less than the appropriate net income standard, the AG's level of benefits is determined, if otherwise eligible. If the gross income is more than the standard for the appropriate AG size, the AG is ineligible and the AG is either terminated or denied at that point.

(Y) Destitute AGs

For AGs considered destitute, the county agency shall determine an AG's eligibility by first applying the procedures contained in rule 5101:4-6-09 of the Administrative Code and then apply the appropriate income standard in accordance with paragraphs (W) and (X) of this rule, whichever is appropriate. For destitute AGs who apply after the fifteenth of the month and who have postponed submitting required verifications, refer to paragraph (G) of rule 5101:4-6-09 of the Administrative Code.

Effective: 09/01/2009
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 05/20/2009 and 09/01/2014
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 5101.54
Rule Amplifies: 329.04 , 329.042 , 5101.54
Prior Effective Dates: 6/2/80, 1/1/81, 6/1/81, 6/18/81, 4/14/83, 6/17/83, 12/25/83 (Temp.), 3/1/84, 12/31/84 (Emer.), 4/1/85, 5/1/86 (Emer.), 8/1/86 (Emer.), 10/1/86, 1/16/87, 4/6/87, 8/1/87 (Emer.), 10/25/87, 12/25/87, 7/20/88 (Emer.), 10/16/88, 5/1/88 (Emer.), 7/17/89, 10/1/89, 10/1/89 (Emer.), 12/21/89, 5/1/91 (Emer.), 6/1/91, 8/1/92 (Emer.), 10/31/92, 9/1/94, 12/1/94, 8/1/95 (Emer.), 8/1/95, 10/31/95, 7/1/96, 9/22/96 (Emer.), 12/1/96, 4/1/97 (Emer.), 6/6/97, 9/28/98, 5/1/99, 6/1/01 (Emer.), 8/27/01, 6/1/03 (Emer.), 6/16/03, 11/1/03, 5/22/04, 10/1/08 (Emer.), 12/18/08