WAG 13-01-08-b

Allow the SNAP unit one of the following utility standards.

  • The Air Conditioning/Heating Standard if:
    • billed for electricity that is for air conditioning or heat, or billed for heat that is not electric; or
    • all utilities are included in the rent, but the SNAP  unit is billed for excess heat or excess electricity that is for air conditioning or heat; or
    • revised textreceives or have received a LIHEAP payment of $21 or more during the month of application or in any of the last 12 months.  The SNAP unit qualifies for this standard even if an expense for utilities is not incurred.

NOTE: Air conditioning is central air conditioning or a window air conditioner. 

  • The Limited Utility Standard, if billed for at least 2 utilities. The expense may not be for heat or air conditioning. It may include a telephone expense.
  • The Single Utility Standard, if billed for a single utility expense that is not for a telephone, air conditioning, or heat.
  • The Telephone Standard, if billed only for a telephone, including cell phone. The expense must be for basic phone service.

The utilities may be any of the following:

electricity, cooking fuel, water and/or sewerage, garbage, basic phone service (including cell phone), well installation and maintenance, septic tank installation and maintenance, a fee for starting utility service, a flat amount for utilities.

When two or more SNAP units live together and share utility expenses, use the appropriate utility standard for each SNAP unit. It is no longer a requirement that the same standard be used. Allow each unit the appropriate full standard, even if the SNAP units share the cost of the same utility. A  SNAP unit that pays a flat amount for utilities must specify what utility expenses are incurred to allow the appropriate standard.

Do not allow shelter expenses that are paid by a vendor payment or that are reimbursed to the unit and excluded as income.

Air Conditioning/Heating Standard, Limited Utility Standard, Single Utility Standard, and Excess Utilities

If a SNAP unit lives in rental housing and some utilities are included in the rent, but the FS unit is billed on a regular basis by the landlord for other utilities separately from the rent, use the appropriate standard.

Example 1: A SNAP unit reports that heat is included in the rent but electricity is not included in the rent. The landlord bills the client for electricity separate from the rent. The client has a window air conditioner. The SNAP unit gets the Air Conditioning/ Heating Standard.

Example 2: A SNAP unit reports that heat is included in the rent but the landlord bills separately for electricity and water. Allow the Limited Utility Standard.

Example 3: A SNAP unit reports that heat is included in the rent but the landlord bills for electricity separate from the rent. The SNAP  unit does not have air conditioning. Allow the FS unit the Single Utility Standard.

If the SNAP unit lives in a public or privately owned rental unit that has electricity or heat included in their rent, but is billed for excess heat and/or air conditioning, the SNAP unit qualifies for Air Conditioning/Heating Standard. Allow the standard year-round.

Example: A SNAP unit reports that all utilities are included in the rent. During the summer the landlord charges $5 per month for air conditioning. In this situation, allow the Air Conditioning/Heating Standard year-round.

  • To allow a standard, the utility bill does not have to be in the client's name. Allow the appropriate standard, even if the SNAP unit is billed less often than monthly.
  • A SNAP unit that receives an energy assistance payment (other than LIHEAP) that is excluded as income is entitled to the Air Conditioning/Heating Standard only if the amount of the expense exceeds the amount of the assistance. When an energy assistance payment is counted as income and the SNAP unit incurs a heating or cooling expense, allow the Air Conditioning/Heating Standard.
  • A SNAP unit that includes a qualifying member does not automatically qualify for use of a utility standard.

Group Home Residents

A resident of a group home does not qualify for use of the Air Conditioning/ Heating Standard, Limited Utility Standard, or the Single Utility Standard (see PM 13-01-08-b). The amount the group home states the client pays for shelter expenses, including utilities, is a housing cost for SNAP. A resident of a group home may qualify for the Telephone Standard if they pay for their own private telephone.

Supportive Living Facility (SLF) Residents

A resident of an SLF does not qualify for use of a utility standard, except telephone. A resident of an SLF may qualify for the Telephone Standard if they pay for their own private telephone.

Multiple Unit Situations

  • When 2 or more SNAP units live together and qualify for a utility standard, allow each unit that contributes toward the utility costs the appropriate standard. Do this regardless of the amount paid or whether or not they all receive Food Stamps.
  • When separate SNAP units live apart and share utilities, allow the appropriate standard to each SNAP unit that is sharing the expense.
  • Utility deposits are not an allowable utility cost.
  • For SNAP units that incur an expense for basic telephone service, allow the Telephone Standard rather than the actual amount. The service does not have to be in the client's own name to allow the Telephone Standard. The telephone may be a cellular phone.
  • When 2 or more units live together and share the telephone expense, allow each unit the whole Telephone Standard. See WAG 13-01-08-b for the Telephone Standard amount.