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QUALITY ALERT

Summary:

  • Effective 02/14/05, DHS is implementing the Transitional Food Stamp (TFS) program, a Farm Bill option. This new food stamp program is beneficial to families and is less work for FCRC staff.
  • TFS benefits are issued when a TANF cash case with Food Stamps cancels, or is SWAPped to medical.
  • The TFS benefit amount is based on the food stamp calculation the month before the TANF cash ended, but does not include the TANF grant or Work First payment. This gives the family a higher FS benefit level for the 5-month period to help them transition off TANF cash assistance.
  • The TFS benefit stays the same for the 5-month period and the family does not have to report any changes.
  • If it becomes known that a TFS member left the home during the 5 month period, TFS benefits are reduced.
  • If the TFS household reapplies and is approved for TANF Cash, TFS benefits end.
  • If the TFS household reapplies for regular food stamps and qualifies for more benefits under the regular food stamp program, TFS benefits end.
  • The system uses Item 80 code 172 to issue monthly Mercury TFS benefits on active or canceled 94 or 96 cases or canceled 04 or 06 cases at the regular TANF schedule date.
  • A new form, Action Taken on Your Food Stamp Benefits - Notice of Eligibility - Transitional Food Stamps (Form 4101), will be sent to the client centrally.
  • Three (3) attachments (Attachment A; Attachment B; Desk Aid) are included with this memo to assist in implementation of the new policy. .

  1. What Are TFS Benefits and Who Gets Them?
  2. Five-Month Issuance Period
  3. TFS Benefit Amount
  4. Issuance of TFS Benefits
    1. New Item 80 Code 172
    2. ACID Screen Identifier
  5. New Form 4101, Action Taken on Your Food Stamp Benefits
  6. Changes During the TFS Period
  7. Action Taken When a Person Leaves During the 5-Month Period
  8. Reapplication for Regular FS
    1. Approve Application for Regular FS Benefits
    2. Deny Application for Regular FS Benefits
  9. FS Application Filed in Another County
  10. Reapplication for TANF
  11. Restoring Benefits (TA 12/TAR 98)
  12. Pending Case Transferred with Active TFS Benefits
  13. FS Application on Active Medical Case
  14. Notice of Expiration
  15. Transitional FS Desk Aid

What Are TFS Benefits and Who Gets Them?

Transitional Food Stamps (TFS) are 5 months of frozen food stamp benefits issued to families whose TANF Cash is canceled or SWAPped to a Category 94 or 96. The family must already be receiving food stamps on the TANF case at the time of the cancellation or SWAP to be eligible to receive TFS benefits. See the Attachment A to this memorandum for a listing of the Type Actions and Type Action Reasons that will issue TFS.

A TANF case does not qualify for TFS benefits if TANF cash benefits are discontinued due to:

  • noncompliance with TANF requirements; or
  • moved out of state; or
  • unable to locate.

Eligible TFS households are not required to report any changes in household circumstances or complete any additional paper work during the 5-month period, that would otherwise affect their eligibility under regular FS program rules. Eliminating this requirement for 5 months gives families the opportunity to become stable and helps to reduce the work of casework staff.

Five-Month Issuance Period

TFS benefits are issued for 5 months beginning with the first month that the TANF cash ends as a result of a cancellation or SWAP to medical. TFS benefits are issued on the canceled Category 04/06 case or the Category 94/96 case. TFS benefits will continue to be issued if a medical case is later canceled.

Example: Ms. A receives TANF/FS based on no income. She is approved to receive food stamps from January through June. On May 15 she reports the receipt of Social Security benefits which makes her ineligible for TANF. Her TANF case is swapped to a 94 medical case using TA 81/TAR 31 effective June. TFS benefits will be centrally issued June through October.

On July 6, Ms. A requests cancellation of her medical case. TFS benefits continue to be issued centrally on the canceled medical case until the end of October.

TFS Benefit Amount

The TFS benefit amount is based on the food stamp calculation the month before the TANF cash ended:

  • minus the TANF grant or Work First payment.
  • adjusted for any member who left the home.

This gives a higher FS benefit level for the 5-month period to help the family transition off TANF cash assistance.

The system determines the TFS benefit amount using the income, deductions, and household size present in the record prior to the cancellation or SWAP and adjusted for any member who left the home. The TANF grant or Work First payment is not used in the calculation to determine the TFS benefit amount. Any new income expected to be received is not used to determine the TFS benefit amount.

Example: Ms. R and her two children receive TANF Cash in the amount of $183. She receives $200 in social security benefits for the two children. Ms. R pays $100 rent and qualifies for the telephone standard of $27. On August 2, Ms. R reported she got a job and requested cancellation. The TANF Cash is canceled effective October. Transitional food stamps are calculated using code 504 TUI $200, code 345 HC $100, and code 349 UTIL $27. The new earnings, as well as the TANF cash amount of $183, are not used in the calculation of the TFS benefits.

Issuance of TFS Benefits

At the time of the TANF cancellation or SWAP, the system:

  • sends new form Action Taken on Your Food Stamp Benefits - Notice of Eligibility for Transitional Food Stamps (Form 4101);
  • enters code 172 in Item 80;
  • deletes the food stamp codes; and
  • suppresses the regular FS notices based on the TARS used to cancel or swap the case.

New Item 80 Code 172

Code 172 is a new Item 80 code that is used to pay TFS benefits on active or canceled Category 94 or 96 cases and canceled 04 or 06 cases. Code 172 is entered by the system. The number of persons in Item 23 is used unless the worker changes it because the number of people in the TFS household is different from the original FS unit size in Item 23.

Item 80 code 172 contains:

  • the TFS benefit amount, and
  • the number of eligible people (from Item 23, unless changed), and
  • the TANF schedule number on which benefits will continue to be issued, and
  • the last month and year TFS benefits will be issued (5th month).

The message "Transitional Food Stamp Case" appears in Item 93.

TFS benefits are issued centrally at the regular TANF issuance schedule, using TA 56/TAR 72. TFS benefits will post to the Recipient Ledger Inquiry (PF6) as Mercury benefits.

ACID Screen Identifier

To help identify a TFS case "Active TFS Case" displays on page 1 of the ACID Screen under Food Stamp Status. This screen will show a Y tag for each month of the issuance. Item 80 code 172 displays on page 2 of the ACID Screens.

New Form 4101, Action Taken on Your Food Stamp Benefits

When the system has determined the TFS benefit amount, Action Taken on Your Food Stamp Benefits - Notice of Eligibility - Transitional Food Stamps (Form 4101) is centrally sent informing the household:

  • of the TFS period and benefit amount;
  • that changes are not required to be reported or verified during the 5-month period;
  • that if a change occurs that may result in an increase in benefits, such as a decrease in income or an increase in expenses or household size, the household may reapply at any time for regular food stamps;
  • if the TFS unit reapplies and is approved for TANF, TFS benefits are canceled and a FS REDE is required;
  • that the only reported change that will result in a decrease in TFS benefits is if a member leaves the household;
  • that a Notice of Expiration of Food Stamp Benefits (Form 1893) will be centrally sent to the household informing them to reapply prior to the end of the TFS period.

Changes During the TFS Period

During the 5-month period the household is not required to report any changes. If a change is reported, TFS benefits are not affected, unless the change is:

  • a TFS member has left the home; or
  • the TFS household reapplies and is approved under the regular FS program; or
  • the TFS household reapplies and is approved for TANF.

The TFS benefit amount is not adjusted for any other reported change, including changes known to the agency, such as central budgeting of COLA increases or the annual increase in FS standards. The HSC cannot change the TFS benefit amount.

If the TFS household reports a move, change the address for the household using TA 31/TAR 42.

See the Attachment B to this memorandum for a listing of the Type Actions and Type Action Reasons that are used to make changes on active and inactive cases with transitional food stamps.

NOTE: TFS benefits are excluded from the stale account policy. No recoupment amount can be taken from the TFS mercury payments. Gap/Overlap policy does not apply to these cases.

Action Taken When a Person Leaves During the 5-Month Period

The TFS benefit amount stays the same for the 5-month period, unless a member leaves the home. If it becomes known that a TFS household member has left the home, the HSC uses the following TA/TARs:

  • Canceled cases - TA 39/TAR 67.
  • Active 94/96 cases - TA 31/TAR C2.

The HSC enters the number of eligible persons in Item 80 code 172. The system recalculates the amount of TFS benefits by dividing the TFS benefit amount by the number of persons in Item 80 and multiplying the result by the number of remaining eligible persons. Notice of Change (Form 157c) is centrally sent with the message "Your Transitional Food Stamp benefits have been reduced because a member left your household."

Example: Ms. B's TANF Cash case was SWAPped to a category 94 effective February. The TFS household receives $400 in FS for 4 people. In April Ms. B reports to her medical worker that a household member left the home. The HSC processes TA 31/TAR C2 and changes the 4 to 3 in the number column of Item 80 code 172. The system recalculates the amount of benefits to $300 ($400 ÷ 4 = $100 per person x 3 = $300) and centrally sends Form 157c.

Reapplication for Regular FS

A TFS household that has a change in circumstances that may result in an increase in benefits, such as a decrease in income or an increase in household size, may reapply for regular Food Stamps any time during the 5-month period. If the TFS household reapplies and is approved for regular food stamps, the TFS period ends, and all FS reporting requirements apply.

Example: Ms. C receives TANF Cash/FS for herself and child. She has no income other than TANF. She was approved for FS from January 1 through June 30. On May 10, she reports a job that makes her over income for TANF. Her TANF case is SWAPped to a 94 medical case using TAR 05. She is entitled to TFS benefits beginning June 1 through October 31. In August, she reports that her 11-year nephew moved into her home. Because she believes she is eligible for more food stamps, she may reapply under regular food stamp program rules.

Approve Application for Regular FS Benefits

Approve a Category 08 case, when a household whose TFS are being issued on a canceled TANF or canceled medical case reapplies and is determined eligible for a higher amount under the regular food stamp program, and all other eligibility requirements are met.

  • Register the application using TA 02/TAR 02.
  • Use TA 11/TAR 07 to approve the case.
  • If a supplement is required for the first month, issue using TA 56/TAR 11 on the TFS case number.
  • Use TA 12/TAR 93 to authorize regular roll benefits.

The new approval period begins the month following the month in which the household submitted the application. If TFS benefits have already been issued for the first month of the new approval period, issue the household a supplement on the TFS case number. Gap and overlap policy does not apply to these cases.

The HSC cancels the TFS benefits on the inactive TANF or medical case using TA 39/TAR 65. Form 157c is centrally sent with the cancellation reason "Because you have been approved for food stamp benefits in a higher amount you no longer qualify for the Transitional Food Stamp Program."

Deny Application for Regular FS Benefits

Deny the application when a person reapplies under regular food stamp program rules, but is determined eligible for a benefit amount less than the TFS benefit amount. Use denial reason:

TAR E2 "Your Transitional Food Stamp benefit amount is more than the regular Food Stamp benefits."

Deny the application for regular FS and allow the TFS benefits to continue to the end of the 5-month period if the household:

  • fails to complete the interview process; or
  • fails to submit required verification within the timeframe; or
  • is determined to be ineligible for the program.

FS Application Filed in Another County

When the TFS household applies for FS in another county and is approved, cancel the TFS benefits:

  • Active 94/96 case - TA 32/TAR 31.
  • Inactive TANF case - TA 39/TAR 65

This action will delete Item 80 code 172. Form 157c is centrally sent with the cancellation reason "Because you have been approved for food stamp benefits in a higher amount you no longer qualify for the Transitional Food Stamp Program."

Reapplication for TANF

If a TFS household reapplies and is approved for TANF Cash during the 5-month period, the household is no longer eligible for TFS benefits. Approve the TANF benefits using the same case basic number that the TFS benefits are being issued on. When the TANF Cash case is approved (TA 12, TA 82), the system centrally does TA 32/TAR 30 and deletes code 172. Regular FS codes can be entered. Form 157c is centrally sent with the message "Due to the receipt of TANF benefits you no longer qualify for the Transitional Food Stamp program."

The HSC also has the ability to cancel the TFS benefits when the TANF case is approved, using TA 39/TAR 66. This action will centrally generate Form 157c with the same message.

Restoring Benefits (TA 12/TAR 98)

When TA 12/TAR 98 is used to restore a TANF Cash with TFS benefits, a batch exception message is created, "Manual Entry of FS Codes Required." The HSC must process a second action and re-enter all regular FS codes on the TANF Cash case.

The system produces TA 32/TAR 30 and centrally sends Form 157c with the message "Due to the receipt of TANF benefits you no longer qualify for the Transitional Food Stamp Program."

TA 12/TAR 98 is not allowed on a TANF RPY case with TFS. If an attempt is made to restore benefits on a canceled TANF RPY case, an online message will appear "Action Not Allowed on TANF RPY Cases."

For medical cases with TFS benefits, using TA 12/TAR 98 restores the medical case with TFS benefits, which is what the case would have had at the time of cancellation.

Pending Case Transferred with Active TFS Benefits

The system continues to issue TFS benefits on the old case number when a pending cash or medical application case is transferred out to another county prior to disposition, until the case is approved.

The system generates TA 32/TAR 30 to cancel TFS benefits when the TANF case is approved, and deletes code 172 and allows the HSC to enter regular FS codes on the TANF case.

Form 157c is centrally generated with the message "Due to the receipt of TANF benefits you no longer qualify for the Transitional Food Stamp Program."

Process a transfer-in and cancel in two actions so transitional food stamp benefits will be issued. Use TA 40 to transfer-in and then cancel the case. The system will issue TFS benefits.

FS Application on Active Medical Case

A household receiving TFS benefits on an active Category 94 or 96 case may reapply for FS during the 5-month period and have their eligibility redetermined under regular FS program rules. If determined eligible for higher benefits under the regular FS program, the application is approved for regular FS. TFS benefits are canceled even if the 5-month period has not ended.

When the household reapplies for food stamp during the transitional period, register the application using TAR 02. The HSC enters the regular FS codes and approves the FS application if determined eligible for a higher FS amount. The system generates TA 32/TAR 31 and deletes code 172.

Form 157c is centrally sent with the message "Because you have been approved for food stamp benefits in a higher amount you no longer qualify for the TFS program."

Notice of Expiration

Prior to the end of the 5-month period, Notice of Expiration of Food Stamp Benefits (Form 1893) is centrally sent to the household notifying them to reapply. If the household fails to reapply, their food stamp benefits end after the TFS period.

Transitional FS Desk Aid

This memo includes a desk aid to help staff with implementing this program.

[signed copy on file]

CAROL L. ADAMS, Ph.D.
Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services

Forms referenced:
Form 157c
Form 1893
Form 4101