The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

Hotline Focus 08/05

Date: 
08/01/2005
Author: 
DTA

Q. My food stamp recipient has verified that she pays a mortgage on a single- family residence. Since she owns and lives in her own home, can I assume that she is eligible for the heating/cooling SUA as long as she confirms that she is paying her own heating bills?

A. Yes. If your recipient verifies that she owns a single-family home, you may assume that she is responsible for her own heating bills. This SUA would also be appropriate for a recipient who pro- vides you with a rental agreement verifying that her rental amount does not include heat. Therefore, the heating/cooling SUA would be appropriate.

Q. If I assume that the heating/cooling SUA is appropriate when my recipient either owns a single-family home or pays a rental amount that does not include heat, how do I verify that I have used the appropriate SUA? Do I still need to request utility bills or a written statement from the recipient?

A. To verify that you are using the appropriate SUA, confirm with the recipient that she is paying her own heating bills and request a copy of the recipient’s mortgage agreement or rental/lease agreement stating that utilities are not included. This is sufficient verification for using the heating/cooling SUA.

Q. My food stamp recipient has verified that she pays rent and electricity only. She also has an air condi- tioner which she runs during the summer months. Is she eligible for the heating/ cooling SUA? If so, how do I verify this expense?

A. She is entitled to the heating/cooling SUA for the entire year based on her self-declaration. Be sure to note in the case narrative that the heating/cooling SUA has been given based on the recipient’s statement that she owns and operates an air conditioner in the summer months.

Q. During a recent recertification interview, a food stamp AU member reported to me that he had recently purchased an air conditioning unit. He was pleased that the landlord did not charge him additional rent for using the unit. He currently incurs only a monthly rent and telephone bill. Is this person entitled to the heating/cooling SUA because he uses an air conditioning unit? A. No. Since this individual does not incur any extra charge for using the air conditioner, he is not entitled to the heating/ cooling SUA.

Q. A food stamp recipient lives in a subsidized housing unit. Currently, all of his expenses are included in the rent and he has not had an SUA deduction. However, our local housing authority recently began billing him an additional $17.00 per month for use of the air conditioner. Is he eligible for the heating/cooling SUA during the summer months because he incurs an extra charge for the use of his air conditioner?

A. He is eligible for the heating/cooling SUA not only during the summer months, but throughout the year. SUAs are yearly amounts. Although this individual will not be paying cooling costs later in the year, it is appropriate to use the heating/ cooling SUA as long as the cooling is a regular, recurring expense.

Q. If my TAFDC applicant is unable to identify the name of her child’s father, how should I proceed on the BEACON Ab- sence window? A. Once you have explained the importance of cooperating with child support enforcement efforts, if the applicant is still unable to identify a potential father, remember to indicate this on BEACON by entering “unknown,” on the Absence window under “Parent Identification.” Do not leave any fields blank. (For more details, refer to A User’s Guide: Transitional Assistance Programs and BEACON Chapter XIII-G.)

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