SI PHI01801.306 Application for Food Stamps – Pennsylvania – PA CAP (Basic – 08/2009)

A. Introduction

The Food Stamp Act of 1977 requires SSA to take food assistance applications from SSI applicants and SSI recipients who live in a pure SSI household. In addition, under the prerelease process, residents of public institutions may apply for food assistance at the same time they file for SSI benefits, if they expect to live in a pure SSI household upon release.

The Food Stamp program is federally funded under the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) through state/local agencies. In Pennsylvania, the Department of Public Welfare's County Assistance Offices (CAO) have the responsibility for determining eligibility for food assistance. FNS agreed to allow a limited number of states to operate pilot programs designed to streamline the food assistance application and recertification processes for SSI recipients. These pilots are referred to as Consolidated Application Projects or CAP. Eligible SSI recipients apply for food assistance and are recertified for food assistance by answering a few extra questions during the course of an SSI application or redetermination.

FNS approved a Consolidated Application Project for Pennsylvania. The PA CAP pilot will run for a period of six years. It began in January 2007 and will continue through December 2012. A few other states in the nation are also operating CAP pilots. Each pilot model is unique. The PA CAP pilot model limits participation to SSI recipients who have no other income besides SSI or a combination of SSI/T2 benefits, and it does not allow food assistance recipients to “switch” to PA CAP once they are eligible for food assistance under the traditional program in the state.

NOTE: Effective October 1, 2008, the new name for the Federal Food Stamps Program is “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” or “SNAP.”;

B. Policy

1. Pure SSI Household

Per (SI 01801.060) a pure SSI household is defined as follows:

  • An individual who lives alone and is applying for or is receiving SSI; or

  • a household (as defined for food assistance purposes) where everyone has applied for or is receiving SSI.

NOTE: For food assistance purposes, it is important to remember that more than one household can live under one roof if separate purchase of food is declared. If an SSI claimant/recipient resides in a household with other persons who are not SSI applicants/recipients and he/she purchases his/her food separately from the rest of the household, he/she meets the definition of a pure SSI household for food assistance purposes. He/she may be eligible for traditional or PA CAP food assistance. However, if the individual lives with a spouse and/or children he/she cannot be eligible for PA CAP food assistance.

Do not confuse the living arrangement determination needed for SSI payment purposes with the living arrangement determination needed for food assistance purposes.

2. PA CAP Food Assistance

a. General

Some SSI applicants/recipients who live in pure SSI households are eligible to receive food assistance via PA CAP. For these individuals the SSI application/redetermination serves as the application or recertification for food assistance. The evidence and documentation submitted to establish SSI eligibility or continuing eligibility establishes the individual's eligibility for PA CAP food assistance. The SSI applicant/recipient does not have to go to the CAO to present additional documentation or evidence. All necessary information regarding PA CAP food assistance entitlement will be provided to DPW by means of the State Data Exchange (SDX).

Pennsylvania has implemented two “flat rate” tiers for food assistance amounts for those eligible under PA CAP. The level of assistance is based on the amount of the individual's shelter expenses. Individuals who pay shelter expenses that are equal to or above the “standard” set by the state will receive the higher amount of food assistance; those who pay shelter expenses below the standard will receive the lower amount. Effective January 2007 and continuing, Pennsylvania's state standard for shelter costs is $196.

Following is a list of expenses that are considered to be “shelter costs” for food assistance purposes:

  • Principal and interest charges on a mortgage

  • Rent

  • Condominium and/or association fees

  • Property taxes (does not include delinquent tax payments)

  • Insurance on the structure (does not include insurance charges for furniture or personal belongings)

Utility expenses are not to be considered in shelter costs.

For those individuals who purchase food separately and make a contribution towards the shelter expenses, we consider the amount of their contribution to be the amount of their shelter expenses. These individuals are considered to be in their own households for food assistance purposes.

The amount of food assistance provided under PA CAP in both tiers is further delineated based on whether the recipient's income consists of SSI only, or a combination of SSI and T2 benefits. These amounts have changed since PA CAP's inception in January 2007 as follows:

PA CAP Benefit History
PA CAP Change DatesIncome ReceivedLow Shelter CostHigh Shelter Cost

April 2009

T16

$92

$164

 

T16 and T2

$83

$155

January 2009

T16

$38

$110

 

T16 and T2

$29

$101

October 2008

T16

$55

$127

 

T16 and T2

$46

$118

January 2008

T16

$34

$105

 

T16 and T2

$25

$96

October 2007

T16

$40

$111

 

T16 and T2

$31

$102

January 2007

T16

$31

$103

 

T16 and T2

$22

$94

b. PA CAP Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for participation in PA CAP, individuals must:

  • Be eligible for SSI benefits, AND

  • Be at least 18 years old, AND

  • Not live with a spouse or children, AND

  • Not have any other income (with the exception of T2 benefits), AND

  • Declare to purchase food separately from any other people who reside at the same address.

NOTE: In-kind support and maintenance (type 'H' income) is considered “other” income in determining whether the individual meets the criteria for PA CAP.

c. PA CAP Application Date

The PA CAP date of application is the date the SSI application is approved or the date a redetermination is completed. PA CAP food assistance benefits will be issued to the individual the month after the month of SSI approval. Prorated benefits will not be issued. Therefore, an individual who appears eligible for PA CAP food assistance may choose to apply for traditional food assistance rather than wait until a decision is made on his/her SSI claim. If the SSA eligibility determination is expected to take longer than 30 days, offer the SSI applicant the opportunity to apply for traditional food assistance.

We can advise the SSI applicants how much they can expect to receive in PA CAP benefits, but we do not know how much they might receive under the traditional food assistance program. No food assistance under PA CAP will be provided until the month after the SSI claim is approved.

NOTE: The PA CAP pilot does not allow a food assistance recipient to “switch” from the traditional food assistance program to PA CAP food assistance. Once the SSI recipient becomes entitled to “traditional” food assistance, he/she is not permitted to switch to food assistance under PA CAP even if he/she would receive a greater amount of assistance under the PA CAP program. So, if the SSI applicant files for, and is approved for, traditional food assistance while his SSI application is pending, he/she will not be permitted to switch to PA CAP food assistance if the SSI claim is allowed.

d. Other Reasons for Choosing Traditional Food Assistance Benefits instead of PA CAP Food Assistance Benefits

The SSI applicant/recipient may choose to “opt out” of the PA CAP program. He/she may receive a greater amount of food assistance benefits under the traditional food assistance program if any of the following conditions apply:

  • Shelter expenses above the “high end” state standard of $440 per month, or

  • Payment of more than $35 a month in out-of-pocket medical expenses

Individuals who choose to opt out of the PA CAP program should be referred to their CAO to file for food assistance under the traditional food assistance program.

C. Procedure

1. Traditional Food Assistance

a. General

SSA is still required to take food assistance applications from SSI applicants and SSI recipients who live in a pure SSI household, but who do not meet the PA CAP eligibility criteria. The “Pennsylvania Application for Food Stamps,” form PA600 FSO, should be used for these individuals.

b. Traditional Food Assistance Program Criteria

The “Pennsylvania Application for Food Stamps” must be completed when the applicant/recipient lives in a pure SSI household and one of the two criteria below is met.

  • The applicant appears to be eligible for PA CAP and states that he/she wishes to file with SSA for traditional food assistance
    or

  • The applicant/recipient who lives alone or in a pure SSI household is not eligible for PA CAP but wishes to file with SSA for food assistance through the traditional food assistance program. (Individuals who live alone or in a pure SSI household are not eligible for PA CAP if they receive any type of income other than SSI or a combination of SSI/T2 benefits. Also, individuals who live with a spouse and/or minor children are not eligible for PA CAP.)

c. Traditional Food Assistance Application Date

The traditional food assistance date of application is the date the “Pennsylvania Application for Food Stamps” is received in the CAO. Follow established procedures for your office in forwarding the application to the CAO. Per the instructions in SI 01801.200A., send the completed food stamp application (using an SSA-4233, SSA Transmittal for Food Stamp Applications) to the servicing food stamp agency within 1 Federal workday. Once CAO makes a determination of food assistance eligibility, they will issue benefits for a portion of the month in which the application is filed.

2. PA CAP

a. General

Interviewers must tell SSI applicants/recipients that they may apply for food assistance benefits at SSA if they are members of a pure SSI household. Interviewers must encourage members of pure SSI households to file for food assistance at SSA. When completing a full application, a PERC or a redetermination, interviewers must discuss PA CAP and explain its advantages with applicants/recipients who are Pennsylvania residents and who appear eligible for PA CAP food assistance.

NOTE: Anyone who is already receiving “traditional” food assistance is not eligible for PA CAP. (See NOTE following SI PHI01801.306B.2.c.) ALSO, there will be SSI applicants/recipients who do not meet the eligibility requirements for PA CAP because they receive other income (with the exception of T2 benefits), but who do meet the requirement of living alone or in a pure SSI household. We are required to offer this applicant/recipient the opportunity to file an application for “traditional” food assistance.

b. Explain PA CAP

Explain to the applicant/recipient:

  • the benefits of PA CAP as described above;

  • the criteria for choosing traditional food assistance; and

  • the availability of filing for traditional food assistance immediately if the claimant does not wish to wait until a final decision is made on the SSI claim

c. PA CAP Application

Follow the procedures outlined below when completing a full application or a PERC for an SSI applicant/recipient who is eligible for and wishes to file for PA CAP food assistance. Do not use these procedures when completing a deferred application as you cannot determine if the SSI applicant is eligible for food assistance through PA CAP at this point. When completing a redetermination follow the instructions in SI PHI01801.306E.

REMINDER: We are required to offer the individual who files a deferred application for SSI the opportunity to file an application for “traditional” food stamps at the same time that the deferred application is completed.

D. Systems Coding

1. MSSICS

a. Individual does not receive any type of food assistance

On page 1 of the BFDS screen, select '3' (NEVER FILED OR FILE DATE MORE THAN 60 DAYS IN THE PAST) for FOOD STAMPS STATUS. This will bring page 2 of BFDS into the path. Complete Page 2 as follows:

  • If the individual does not live alone or in a “pure SSI household,” answer “N”; to the questions “May I take your food stamp application today,” and refer the individual to the CAO to file for food assistance

  • If the individual lives alone or in a “pure SSI household,” answer “Y”; to the question, “May I take your food stamp application today.”

  • Enter the current date in “Last Food Stamp Application or Recertification Date”

Determine whether the individual meets the criteria for food assistance under PA CAP. If he/she does meet the criteria, proceed as follows:

  • Answer the question, “Shelter cost at or above State standard” under “COMBINED APPLICATION PROJECT DATA”;

    • Enter “Y” if the individual's shelter costs are $196 or more a month, or

    • Enter “N” if the individual's shelter costs are less than $196 a month.

  • Do not answer the question “Subsidized Housing with Heat Included in Rent.” This information has no relevance to the CAP program in Pennsylvania.

  • Enter the interview date in the receipt field in the FOOD STAMPS issue on the DW01

If the individual lives alone or in a pure SSI household but does not meet the criteria for food assistance under PA CAP, we must complete a “traditional” food stamps application and forward it to the CAO for processing. Do not answer any questions under COMBINED APPLICATION PROJECT DATA on the second BFDS screen for these individuals.

Complete input instructions are in MSOM MSSICS 019.011.

NOTE: In order to receive proper work credit for the food stamp application, you MUST receipt in the food stamp issue on the DW01 with the actual date that you discussed food stamps with the individual. Do not receipt the FOOD STAMPS issue on the DW01 with XXXXXX. Receipt in the FOOD STAMPS issue using the date of the interview. Since applications are now signed by signature proxy in most cases, the receipt date should equal the date of the interview.

b. Individual receives traditional food assistance

On page 1 of the BFDS screen, select '1' (CURRENTLY RECEIVING FOOD STAMPS) for FOOD STAMPS STATUS. This will bring page 2 of BFDS into the path. Record the recipient's answer to RECERTIFICATION NOTICE RECEIVED WITHIN PAST 30 DAYS. If the recipient answers this question “yes”, we must determine if he/she still meets the requirements for SSA to take the food stamps application. If the individual answers “yes” to ALL HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS APPLYING FOR OR RECEIVING SSI, we should answer MAY I TAKE YOUR FOOD STAMP APPLICATION TODAY with “yes” and enter the current date in LAST FOOD STAMP APPLICATION OR RECERTIFICATION DATE. We are obligated to complete a traditional food stamps application and forward it to the CAO so that they may recertify the SSI recipient's eligibility for food assistance. Refer to SI 01801.200B.

If the individual who is receiving traditional food assistance has not received a recertification notice within the past 30 days, simply answer “no” to this question on page 2 of BFDS.

Do not answer the COMBINED APPLICATION PROJECT DATA question for anyone who is receiving traditional food assistance.

2. Non-MSSICS Cases

Code the 450S/1719B FS field as follows:

  • Q1 = “Y” if the applicant/recipient is currently receiving food assistance (traditional or PA CAP) or applied for food assistance within the last 60 days but has not received notification of eligibility or ineligibility
    or
    “N” if the applicant/recipient is not currently receiving food assistance and no food assistance application was filed within the last 60 days which is awaiting a CAO determination on eligibility

  • Q2 = “Y” when the SSA employee completes a traditional food stamps application
    or

    Q2 = “N” if the claimant/recipient does not wish to file
    or

    Q2 = “A” if claimant/recipient meets PA CAP eligibility criteria and shelter costs are at or above $196
    or
    Q2 = “B” if claimant/recipient meets PA CAP eligibility criteria and shelter costs are below $196.

Complete input instructions are in SM 01301.855 and SM 01005.360.

E. Redeterminations/Recertifications

The initial certification period for PA CAP participants is 36 months. An SSI redetermination of continuing eligibility serves as the recertification for PA CAP food assistance. If SSA completes a redetermination of a recipient's SSI eligibility during the 36-month certification period, the PA Department of Public Welfare considers the recipient recertified for PA CAP food assistance for another 36 months. If SSA does not conduct a redetermination within 36 months after initial entitlement for PA CAP or within 36 months from the last recertification date, it is Pennsylvania's responsibility to contact the individual for the food assistance recertification process.

If an SSI recipient is not receiving food assistance, the SSI redetermination can serve as the initial application for PA CAP food assistance. Follow the instructions in SI PHI01801.306D.1.a. for answering questions on the BFDS screen.

When conducting a redetermination of SSI eligibility, review the FS coding in the RCRD segment of the SSR to determine if the individual is currently receiving PA CAP food assistance. The RCRD segment contains the following food stamp fields:

FSD:MM/YY FS1:X FS2:X FS3:X

The presence of the FS3 field indicates that the SSI recipient is receiving PA CAP food assistance; if the FS3 field is not present, the SSI recipient is not receiving PA CAP. For those recipients receiving PA CAP, a 'Y' in the FS3 field indicates that the individual's shelter expenses are at or above $196; an 'N' in the FS3 field indicates that the individual's shelter costs are less than $196.

During the redetermination, determine if the individual is still eligible for food assistance through PA CAP. Ask the recipient if he/she still purchases his/her food separately from other members of the household, and determine shelter costs.

Always answer “Y” to the question “Recertification notice received within past 30 days” for recipients receiving food assistance through PA CAP. This will update the food stamps “date” on the SSR (which will also update the information on SDX that is sent to PA DPW.)

If the recipient remains eligible for PA CAP food assistance:

  • Answer 'Y' to the question “May I take your food stamp application today”

  • SHOW THE CURRENT DATE in “Last Food Stamp Application or Recertification Date”

  • Answer the question, “Shelter cost at or above State standard” under “COMBINED APPLICATION PROJECT DATA”;

    • Enter “Y” if the individual's shelter costs are $196 or more a month, or

    • Enter “N” if the individual's shelter costs are less than $196 a month.

  • Do not answer the question “Subsidized Housing with Heat Included in Rent.” This information has no relevance to the CAP program in Pennsylvania.

  • Enter the interview date in the receipt field in the FOOD STAMPS issue on the DW01.

For a non-MSSICS case, annotate the shelter costs in the Remarks section of the SSA-8203. Code the 450S/1719B FS Q1 and Q2 fields as described above in SI PHI01801.306D.2 and SM 01005.360 or SM 01301.855.

If the recipient is no longer eligible for PA CAP food assistance, delete the answer to the “SHELTER COST AT OR ABOVE STATE STANDARD” question on the BFDS screen to terminate PA CAP food stamp eligibility. For a non-MSSICS case, code the 450S/1719B FS Q1 and Q2 field as described above in SI PHI01801.306D.2. Do not enter anything in the Q2 field. If the recipient is no longer eligible for PA CAP food assistance, but lives in a pure SSI household, follow the instructions in SI PHI1801.306C.1 to establish regular food assistance eligibility.

If the SSI recipient does not meet the eligibility criteria for PA CAP food assistance, but lives in a pure SSI household, you must offer him/her the opportunity to file for traditional food assistance.

F. Conclusion

SSA is required to pursue food assistance eligibility for all SSI claimants/recipients. In cases where the SSI claimant/recipient lives in a pure SSI household, we are required to encourage the claimant/recipient to file for food assistance at the Social Security office. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is currently participating in a pilot program, known as PA CAP, to facilitate food assistance eligibility for certain types of SSI recipients. There are other eligibility criteria for PA CAP in addition to living in a pure SSI household. So, field offices in Pennsylvania will still be completing applications for the traditional food assistance benefits for individuals in pure SSI households who do not meet the CAP criteria. They also will be answering additional questions during the course of the SSI application and redetermination to determine eligibility for food assistance under PA CAP for those who do meet the criteria.

Under the PA CAP pilot, SSA is obligated to ask the questions regarding shelter costs “at or above the state standard” during the course of the SSI Application process or during a regularly scheduled redetermination. The answers to these questions, transmitted via MSSICS or 450S/1719B inputs, are sent to the state via the SDX. The state uses this data to determine eligibility for PA CAP. SSA should not be transmitting data regarding the recipient's shelter costs “at or above the state standard” for the sole purpose of reinstating the SSI recipient's PA CAP eligibility. If the SSI recipient loses his/her CAP eligibility for whatever reason, it is up to the County Assistance Offices to determine whether he/she can be reinstated. The CAO should not be referring these individuals to the SSA field offices to input data that would reinstate CAP benefits.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0501801306PHI
SI PHI01801.306 - Application for Food Stamps - Pennsylvania - PA CAP (Basic - 08/2009) - 08/26/2009
Batch run: 08/26/2009
Rev:08/26/2009