Use Best Estimate policy to anticipate future income expected to be received during the payment month.
Best Estimate is the method used to decide the amount of future income to count when determining eligibility and payment amount.
Use the following guidelines when determining Best Estimate for earned income and unearned income:
At initial application, REDE, or when adding a person with earnings
Use the person's income from the last 30 days to project future income unless a change in income is expected.
- Note: Do not use AWVS to verify earned income for SNAP. AWVS may be used to verify unemployment insurance benefits (UIB) or it may be used as an indicator of earnings unreported and need follow-up action to determine ongoing SNAP eligibility.
When a change in income is expected at initial application, REDE, when adding a person with earnings, or for active cases who report new employment
If a change in income is expected, best estimate is based on the person's statement of what the income will be. Document the method used to project the future income. For earned income, the estimate may be based on the person's statement such as but not limited to rate of pay, hours of work, and number of expected paychecks. For unearned income, best estimate is based on the client's statement of the income to be received.
Income Received Less Often Than Monthly
Income received less often than monthly may be averaged over the entire approval period.
Annualize the income and costs of doing business when budgeting contractual income or self-employment received less than monthly.
When Income is Discovered or Reported
When income is discovered or reported, any month before the receipt of a full month's income, budget only the amount anticipated to be received.
Beginning with the first full month that income will be received, convert the income to a monthly amount. See Best Estimate above to determine the amount of income to use. To determine the budgetable income if income is received weekly or bi-weekly, see PM 13-02-04.
When Income Ends
At initial application or REDE when income is expected to end do not use the income from the last 30 days to determine future income. Best Estimate is based on the person's statement of future earnings such as but not limited to rate of pay, hours of work, and number of expected paychecks.
For ending income, budget only the amount anticipated to be received in the month the income ends.
Budgeting Income that Varies
A client's earned or unearned income may vary during the SNAP approval period. For example, a client may know that they are going to work more hours in one particular month, or that they will miss some days of work because of anticipated surgery, or that child support will vary because the factory the child's other parent works at will go on a 2-week shutdown, or that contributions from a relative may vary, etc.
When you learn at initial application or REDE that the client's income will not be the same through out the 12-month period, anticipate the actual amount of income the client will make during the entire 12-month period. Divide that amount by 12 and budget that amount for each month of the period.
The reasons for budgeting income using this method may include, but are not limited to:
- a fluctuation in the number of hours worked,
- an increase or decrease in salary,
- a temporary absence from the job (e.g., expected time off without pay), or
- the loss of a job when other budgetable earnings still exist for the unit.
- a fluctuation in the receipt of unearned income.
NOTE: This policy does not apply to a school employee whose earnings end due to summer vacation. The anticipated loss of income or income from a new source anticipated later in the approval period is not subject to income that varies policy.
- If the customer is subject to SNAP change reporting requirements, tell them to report the change when monthly earned income changes by more than $125 or when the source of unearned income changes, or the amount changes by more than $125.
- If the customer is subject to Mid-Point Reporting policy, they are only required to report the change for SNAP when their income exceeds their Gross Income Standard and when completing the interim Mid-Point Report form. Mid-Point Reporting units are also required to comply with New Hire requirements. If they receive TANF or medical assistance they are required to report the change and if they do, act on the change for SNAP.