(A) What is the general standard for anticipating income?
For the purpose of determining the assistance group's eligibility and monthly benefit, the county agency shall take into account the income already received by the assistance group during the certification period and any anticipated income the assistance group 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 assistance group'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) How is income anticipated?
Income received during the past thirty days shall be used as an indicator of the income that is and will be available to the assistance group 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 assistance group may use a longer period of past time if it will provide an accurate indication of anticipated fluctuations in future income. Similarly, if the assistance group'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 assistance group 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) When is income anticipated 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) How is income anticipated when an assistance group is steadily employed?
In cases where the assistance group 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 assistance group 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) How are hourly and piecework wages anticipated?
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 assistance group 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) Are withheld wages treated as income?
Wages held at the request of the employee shall be considered income to the assistance group 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 assistance group, unless the assistance group 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) How is monthly or semimonthly income of varying amounts anticipated?
An assistance group 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) When should actual income be used instead of 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) When is income averaged?
Except for destitute assistance groups, 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 assistance group since doing so would result in assigning to the month of application income from future periods which is not available to the assistance group for its current food needs. To average income, the county agency shall use the assistance group's anticipation of income fluctuations over the certification period. (For example, an assistance group 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 (K)(1) of rule 5101:4-7-01 of the Administrative Code, and the county agency shall inform the assistance group 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) How is contract or self-employment income anticipated?
Assistance groups 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 assistance groups may include school employees, share croppers, farmers, and other self-employed assistance groups. However, these provisions do not apply to migrant or seasonal farm workers. Contract income which is not the assistance group'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) What expenses are included in income deductions?
Deductible expenses include only the costs described in rule 5101:4-4-23 of the Administrative Code.
(L) What types of expenses are 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 assistance group'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 assistance group's medical expenses. If the assistance group 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 assistance group 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 assistance group and the assistance group is responsible for the expense. For example, a dependent care deduction shall not be allowed if another assistance group member provides the care, or compensation for the care is provided in the form of an in-kind benefit, such as food.
(M) When are billed expenses deducted?
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 assistance group 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 assistance group. 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) How are expenses anticipated?
The county agency shall calculate an assistance group's expenses based on the expenses the assistance group 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 assistance group is reasonably certain a change will occur. At certification and reapplication, the assistance group shall report and verify all medical expenses. The assistance group's monthly medical deduction for the certification period shall be based on the information reported and verified by the assistance group, and any anticipated changes in the assistance group'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 assistance group shall not be required to report changes about its medical expenses during the certification period. If the assistance group voluntarily reports a change in its medical expenses, the county agency shall act upon the change in accordance with paragraph (K)(3) of rule 5101:4-7-01 of the Administrative Code if the change would increase the assistance group's allotment. In the case of a reported change that would decrease the assistance group's allotment, or make the assistance group ineligible, the county agency shall act on the change without first requiring verification in accordance with paragraph (K)(4) of rule 5101:4-7-01 of the Administrative Code.
(O) When should expenses be converted?
If the assistance group is billed more frequently than monthly for expenses, the county agency shall use the conversion procedure.
(P) How are expenses averaged?
Assistance groups may elect to have fluctuating monthly expenses deducted entirely in the month incurred or averaged.
(1) Averaging less frequent bills
Assistance groups 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
Assistance groups 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 assistance group'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
Assistance groups 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) How is food assistance eligibility determined and how are the appropriate income standards applied?
Participation in the food assistance program shall be limited to those assistance groups whose incomes are determined to be a substantial limiting factor in permitting them to obtain a more nutritious diet.
Assistance groups 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 assistance group is considered categorically eligible. Assistance groups which contain an elderly or disabled member, but do not qualify for categorical eligibility, shall meet the net income eligibility standards. These assistance groups shall not have gross income compared to the gross income eligibility standards. An assistance group that is categorically eligible does not have to meet either the gross or the net income standard. All other assistance groups are subject to first the gross income test, and then the net income test. Assistance groups containing no elderly or disabled members must meet both test criteria in order to be determined eligible. If an assistance group 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 assistance group's income eligibility in accordance with paragraph (W) of this rule. An assistance group 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 (G) of rule 5101:4-4-13 of the Administrative Code.
(R) How is gross monthly income calculated?
Except for assistance groups 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 assistance groups shall be subject to the gross income eligibility standard for the appropriate assistance group size. To determine the assistance group's total gross income, add the gross monthly income earned by all assistance group members and the total monthly unearned income of all assistance group members, minus income exclusions. If an assistance group 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 assistance group 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 assistance group is ineligible for program benefits and the case is either denied or terminated at this point.
(S) How is net monthly income calculated? For assistance groups 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 assistance groups considered categorically eligible, the assistance group cannot be ineligible for the program because of excess income. Categorically eligible assistance groups 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 5101:4-4-27 of the Administrative Code to determine the assistance group's allotment. For all other assistance groups 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 assistance group members and the total monthly unearned income of all assistance group members, minus earned income exclusions, to determine the assistance group'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 assistance group 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 assistance group 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 assistance group'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 assistance group is entitled to the full amount of its excess shelter expenses) from the assistance group's monthly income after all other applicable deductions. Assistance groups not subject to the shelter limitation shall have the full amount exceeding fifty per cent of their adjusted income subtracted. The assistance group's net monthly income has been determined.
(T) What is the rounding technique used when 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 assistance group 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 assistance group's net monthly income.
(U) What is the rounding technique used when calculating the monthly allotment?
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) What is the rounding technique used when calculating the initial month benefit?
The county agency shall determine initial benefits based on the day of the month assistance groups 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) What are the income standards for assistance groups subject to only the net income standard?
An assistance group which is not considered categorically eligible is subject to the following income standards prior to determining the level of benefits. An assistance group 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 assistance group size to determine eligibility for the month. If the assistance group's net income exceeds the appropriate income standard, the assistance group is ineligible to participate in the food assistance program. If the assistance group's net income is equal to or less than the appropriate net income standard, the assistance group's level of benefits is determined, if otherwise eligible. Gross income is not an eligibility factor for these assistance group's gross income standard does not apply. An assistance group 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 assistance group .
(X) What are the income standards for assistance groups subject to the gross and net income standards?
An assistance group 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 assistance group size to determine eligibility for the month. If the assistance group's gross monthly income exceeds the appropriate income standard, the assistance group is ineligible to participate in the food assistance program. If the assistance group's gross monthly income is equal to or less than the standard for the appropriate assistance group size, the assistance group shall then have its net monthly income, as calculated in this rule, compared to the net monthly income eligibility standard for the appropriate assistance group size to determine eligibility for the month. If the assistance group's net income is equal to or less than the appropriate net income standard, the assistance group's level of benefits is determined, if otherwise eligible. If the gross income is more than the standard for the appropriate assistance group size, the assistance group is ineligible and the assistance group is either terminated or denied at that point.
(Y) How is income anticipated for destitute assistance groups?
For assistance groups considered destitute, the county agency shall determine an assistance group'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 assistance groups 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.
Cite as Ohio Admin. Code 5101:4-4-31
Five Year Review (FYR) Dates: 02/27/2015 and 06/01/2020
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, 9/1/09