AN ACT CONCERNING FOOD STAMP ELIGIBILITY
AN ACT CONCERNING FOOD STAMP ELIGIBILITY
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PA 02-37-sHB 5556

Human Services Committee

Government Administration and Elections Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING FOOD STAMP ELIGIBILITY

SUMMARY: This act requires the Department of Social Services (DSS) commissioner to allow Food Stamp applicants and recipients to own a car valued up to the limit established in the Temporary Family Assistance (TFA) program. This effectively increases the limit from $4,650 to $9,500.

The act also requires DSS to pursue the maximum Food Stamp benefit extensions permitted for households leaving the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Federal regulations limit this extension to three months.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2002 for motor vehicle allowance change and October 1, 2002 for the benefit extension.

BACKGROUND

Federal Food Stamp Provisions

Federal law allows states to increase their Food Stamp program's vehicle allowance to the same allowance used in their TANF-funded "assistance" program if this would make the household eligible for Food Stamps (7 USC § 2014 (g)(2)(D)). TFA is the state's largest TANF-funded program.

Federal Food Stamp regulations allow state Food Stamp agencies (DSS in Connecticut) to provide certain households leaving TANF with transitional Food Stamp benefits (7 CFR § 273. 12). The regulations allow the state agency to freeze, for up to three months, the household's Food Stamp benefit at the level it received while still receiving TANF assistance. (States must adjust upwards the Food Stamp benefits of households losing income as a result of losing TANF assistance before beginning this transitional period. ) Doing so enables families to continue to receive uninterrupted benefits without having to go through a recertification process until the transition period expires.

TANF

The federal welfare reform legislation of 1996, which is scheduled for re-authorization this year, established the TANF block grants to replace the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children entitlement program. States receive block grants based on their family welfare caseloads in the mid-1990s. The law broadly requires that states spend block grant funds on activities that will accomplish the act's purposes, giving states a great deal of flexibility. Most of Connecticut's TANF block grant funds the TFA program, with smaller amounts going to pay for child care, employment services, and other forms of family assistance.