On December 8, 2004, the President signed The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005, Public Law 108-447. This law contains a provision which excludes from consideration as income in the Food Stamp Program additional pay received by military personnel as a result of deployment to a combat zone. Public Law 108-447 reads in pertinent part:
Under existing policy, the deployed member would not be included as a household member for purposes of determining the food stamp benefit level. Additionally, only money actually made available to the applicant or participating food stamp household by the absent family member is counted as income for food stamp purposes. Money is generally made available to the applicant or participating food stamp household via a direct deposit of all or a portion of the military person's pay into a joint checking account. Occasionally such funds are made available to the applicant or participating food stamp household via an "allotment" arrangement made by the military person for a portion of his or her pay to be sent to the applicant or participating food stamp household. (More often than not, when an "allotment" arrangement is made, it is the military person who receives the "allotment" with the bulk of his or her pay being sent directly to his or her family.) Regardless of the arrangement made by the deployed family member for his or her military pay, only that portion of his or her pay to which the applicant or participating food stamp household has access should be counted when determining the household's income for food stamp purposes.
As a result of the above noted provision of Public Law 108-477, staff will now be required to determine if any of the allotment made available to the household by an absent member deployed to a designated combat zone should be excluded when establishing the household's income for food stamp purposes. See page 3 for a listing of designated combat zones. Some of the pay items that clearly relate to deployment to a combat zone include incentive pay for hazardous duty and special pay for duty subject to hostile fire or imminent danger. (Reflected on the LES as HFP/IDP. The amount is currently $225).
USDA has concluded that the most practical way to determine the portion of income to exempt would be to:
First, establish what amount of the military person's pay was actually available to the household prior to the deployment of the military person to a designated combat zone. If the military person was part of the household for food stamp purposes prior to deployment this amount would be his or her net military pay. If the military person was not part of the household for food stamp purposes prior to the military person's deployment to a designated combat zone, this amount is the amount the absent military person actually made available to the family prior to deployment to the designated combat zone.
NOTE: USDA has stated that using before and after copies of bank statements is also acceptable documentation to exclude combat pay. For example, the deployed member’s bank account shows a direct military deposit of $1,000 each month. After deployment to a combat zone, the direct deposit is $1,225 per month. Since the income has increased after deployment to a combat zone, it can be assumed that the difference, or $225 in this case, is combat pay. We would exempt the combat pay and continue to count $1,000 a month as countable income on the FS case.
In regard to documenting the deployed person's income and location, the Leave and Earnings Statement (LES), is often sent directly to the family back home or can be mailed to the family back home by the deployed person. When the family back home has the LES, it will identify combat pay (HFP/IDP is one type as previously noted) if it is being received and can be used to establish deployment to a combat zone and the amount of combat pay. Deployment to a combat zone can also be established through orders issued to the military person. Frequently, entire units are deployed and the place of their deployment is a matter of public record. While specific arrangements can vary among the services and from base to base, applicant or participating households have various ways to obtain the pay information of the deployed person. Some have access via the web. Others can seek assistance via the local base financial office.
This provision is effective for federal fiscal year 2005 (October 1, 2004 - September 30, 2005). Due to legislative requirement, the policy is retroactive to October 1, 2004 for purposes of the Food Stamp Program only. For the other programs, this Policy Memo is effective March 1, 2005.
For food stamps, any household that had an increase in income as a result of the deployment of the service member to a designated combat zone that was counted in their food stamp case as of October 1, 2004, is entitled to restoration of lost benefits. Workers should make such a determination at the household's next review, unless the household requests a review of its case prior to that time. A household that was denied because excludable income was counted, would also be entitled to a restoration of lost benefits if so requested. Any income excluded
under the legislation would remain excluded until the household's next review, in the event the exclusion is not renewed for fiscal year 2006.
NOTE: Although this Policy Memo applies primarily to households receiving food stamps, for consistency purposes this income exclusion is also applicable to the cash programs, child care and LIEAP. A separate instruction will be issued by Health Care Policy regarding the impact on Family Medical Programs.
NOTE: See 6410 (25) regarding the exemption of hostile fire pay received while in active military service for the MS, QMB, LMB and QWD programs.
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This page was last updated: March 1, 2005 2:28 PM