27. Money that counts even when the household does not get it as income
In a few cases, the food stamp office will count some money as income even if the household does not get the money directly.
Garnishments, i.e. when funds are taken to pay a debt owed, can be counted as income even though the person doesn’t get the money. (An exception to this is if the money is an overpayment recoupment being made by the income source, provided that they are not intentional failures (see section 3, below). [MPP § 63-502.12; 7 C.F.R. § 273.9(b)(5)(i)]. For example, if EDD were collecting an overpayment, the amount being recouped would not count as income (only the amount paid). See example of EDD offsets, ACIN I-16-03. However, if the IRS was garnishing a portion of the unemployment benefits because of a tax delinquency, the pre-garnished wages would be used. Child support that is garnished from wages, an the amount taken out of the wages would be counted as part of the income (i.e. the gross, and not the net income used), but then is provided for as an income deduction. Id.
Certain Vendor Payments
The food stamp office will count vendor payments as income if the money is legally owed to the household, but the household asked someone to pay its bills with the money instead. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(1)(vii); MPP §§ 63-502.141(a), 63-502.149.] For example, if a household member asks his or her employer to send money for the household’s rent to the landlord and then take this out of his or her next paycheck, the food stamp office still will count this money as income just as if it had gone into the household member’s regular pay check. [MPP § 63-502.2(b)(1).] If, however, a court orders someone to pay child support or alimony by paying some of household’s bills, the food stamp office will not count that as income. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(1)(vii)(C); MPP § 63-502.2(b).]
The food stamp office will NOT count vendor payments from CalWORKs [TANF], GA (general assistance) or other programs, in any of the following circumstances, if they are:
- for medical care. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(1)(i)(A); MPP § 63-502.2 (b)(2)(A).]
- for child care. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(1)(i)(B); MPP § 63-502.2(b)(2)(B).]
- a one-time payment or allowance for the costs of weatherization or emergency repair or replacement of an unsafe or broken furnace or heating or cooling device. [7 U.S.C. §§ 2014(d)(11)(B); 2014(k)(2)(c); MPP § 63-502.2(b)(2)(F).]
- paid by a state or local public housing authority. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(1)(ii); MPP §§ 63-502.149(a), 63-502.2(b)(2)(C).
- emergency assistance for a migrant or seasonal farm worker household while the worker is in the job stream. [7 U.S.C. § 2014(k)(2)(E); MPP § 63-502.2(b)(2)(D).]
- special or emergency benefits that are above the normal CalWORKs or GA checks. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(1)(i)(F); MPP § 63-502.2(b)(3); see also Caples v. Yeutter, 721 F.Supp. 1065 (D. Minn. 1989) (categorizing as emergency assistance payments funding battered women's shelter).] An example would be CalWORKs non-recurring needs payments.
- provided under a general assistance program if, under the state law, no assistance can be given directly to the household in the form of cash. [MPP § 63-502.2(b)(2).]
- educational assistance vendor pay, unless the vendor pay is for living expenses (in which case it is counted as if received) [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(iv)]
- when the vendor pay is for reimbursement, and the reimbursement would normally be excluded. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(v)]
- when the vendor pay is from funds not legally obligated to the household, and paid to a 3rd party. (The vendor pay will count if the funds are legally obligated and used for the household’s living expenses.) [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(vii)]
Grants Reduced for a Sanction
The food stamp office also will count money that the welfare office or some other government agency is taking out of the CalWORKs, GA, or similar benefit checks to sanction the household for intentional failure to comply with the program’s rules . [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(b)(5)(i), 7 C.F.R. § 273.11(k); MPP § 63-502.17.] For example, if the county welfare office lowers a CalWORKs grant for a welfare to work sanction, the food stamps will not go up. (Essentially, the agency counts as income the amount of aid removed as the sanction.)
USDA’s preamble to these rules makes clear that in order for the money withheld by the agency to count as income, the agency that runs the other program must have decided to sanction the household for breaking its rules intentionally. [49 Fed.Reg. 48678 (Dec. 14, 1984).] Where the agency running the other program cuts the household’s benefit checks without deciding if the household did something wrong on purpose, the food stamp office should not count the amount of money that is taken out of its benefit checks.
The food stamp office will not count money taken out of the household’s benefits if the money is being held out for some reason other than an intentional violation of the other program’s rules. For example, if the county is taking $20 a month out of the household’s CalWORKs check to collect a “county error” (i.e., the county agency caused the overpayment) or “household error” (i.e., the household itself caused the overpayment but did not do so intentionally), the food stamp office cannot count that $20 as income. The food stamp office will count only the amount of the CalWORKs checks that the household actually gets.
Also, the food stamp office will not count money overpayments being recoupled from “non-means-tested” programs (i.e., benefits people get no matter how much money they have), such as unemployment insurance benefits (UIB) and Social Security Retirement or Disability benefits, regardless of intent. For example, if Social Security is taking $40 a month out of a household member’s social security disability checks to get back social security disability it overpaid him or her last year because the household member lied about his or her medical condition, the food stamp office would not count the $40. The food stamp office would count only the social security checks the household member actually gets. This is because people can get social security disability benefits no matter what their incomes and resources are.