SSR 80-25: Title XVI: Treatment of Assistance Received by SSI Applications or Beneficiaries as a Result of Catastrophes Declared by the President to be Major Disasters
To state policy for implementing Public Law 95-171 concerning assistance received under the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 or other Federal statutes.
Sections 2(b) and 4(b) of Public Law 94-331; Sections 6, 7, 8, and 9 of Public Law 95-171; Section 2125 of Public Law 94-455; Disaster Relief Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-288); Sections 1602, 1611(a)(2)(A), 1612(b) and 1613(a) of the Social Security Act; Regulations No. 16, sections 416.1125, 416.1126, 416.1127, 416.1145, 416.1156, 416.1201, 416.1210, 416.1232, and 416.1237.
By statute, the supplemental security income (SSI) program is required to count as income any cash or in-kind support and maintenance (food, clothing, or shelter) provided to an eligible individual unless its exclusion is authorized. Also, when property, such as cash, for example, received during one quarter is retained into the following quarter, it becomes a resource and must be considered as part of the $1,500/$2,250 statutory limits for SSI eligiblity unless there is provision for its exclusion.
Before June 30, 1976, disaster assistance (e.g., food, temporary housing, cash assistance) provided under the Federal Disaster Relief Act of 1974 or other Federal statutes because of a presidentially declared major disaster was countable income. This is because such assistance met the SSI definition of income and was not otherwise excluded under statue or regulations. Likewise, there was no provision for excluding assistance funds that had to be conserved for long periods of time from becoming countable resources.
Sections 2 and 4 of Public Law 94-331, section 2125 of Public Law 94-455, and sections 6, 7, 8, and 9 of Public Law 95-171, respectively, added and amended sections 1612(a)(2)(A)(iii), 1612(b)(11) and (12) and 1613(a) of the Social Security Act. These amendments concern treatment of assistance received by SSI beneficiaries who have been adversely affected by presidentially declared major disasters. Previously there were no provisions concerning treatment of (1) assistance funds, (2) any interest that might be earned thereon, and (3) in-kind support and maintenance received because of a presidentially declared major disaster. Also, there was no provision for those situations where the assistance could not be used within the time alloted because, for example, a contractor might not be available or a shortage of materials exists. Where circumstances warrant it, an extension of time can now be granted. The policy statement will explain the new policy in detail.
For catastrophes declared to be major disasters by the President, the following apply in determining eligibility for, and the amount of, benefits payable under title XVI of the Social Security Act:
Excluded from countable income are:
assistance funds received under the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 or other assistance provided under a Federal statute;
interest on the assistance funds in A., for up to 9 months from date of receipt of the assistance, and up to an additional 9 months where good cause is shown;
support and maintenance under certain conditions as stated in part IV of this Policy Statement.
Excluded from countable resources are:
assistance funds received under the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 or other Federal statutes and retained for up to 9 months from date of receipt, and up to an additional 9 months where good cause is shown;
interest on the assistance funds in II. A. for up to 9 months from date of receipt of the assistance, and up to an additional 9 months where good cause is shown.
Good cause is established when it is shown that circumstances beyond the individual's control (e.g., unavailability of contractors, materials, or illness) prevent the using of assistance funds and interest within the alloted time. An extension of up to 9 months may be granted for good cause.
In the consideration of support and maintenance and one-third reduction in Federal benefit rate (FBR), the value of support and maintenance in cash or in kind from any source is excluded from countable income, and the one-third reduction in the FBR does not apply, if all of the following conditions are met:
The individual (or individual and eligible spouse) was residing in the household maintained by the individual (or by the individual and another person) as his or her (or their) own home at the time of the catastrophe.
The catastrophe occurred within the area in which such household was located.
The individual (or individual and eligible spouse) ceases living in his or her (or their) own household because of the catastrophe and within 30 days thereafter begins receiving support and maintenance (as defined ijn section 416.1125(a)) while living in a residential facility (or private home) maintained by another person.
The period for which support and maintenance is excluded from income begins no earlier than the month in which the individual (or individual and eligible spouse) begins receiving support and maintenance and ends no later than whichever of the following occurs first:
The last day of the month in which the individual (or individual and eligible spouse) ceases to receive support and maintenance; or
the last day of the 17th month following the month in which the receipt of the support and maintenance began as described in paragraph C. above.
Final Regulations covering these policies were published in the Federal REgister on March 15, 1979 at 44 FR 15663. However, in accordance with the law which the regulations reflect, the policies are effective as follows:
June 30, 1976, is the effective day for excluding support and maintenance from income and suspending application of the one-third reduction in the FBR for presidentially declared major disasters occurring on or after June 1, 1976, through December 31, 1976.
July 1, 1976, is the effective date for excluding assistance funds and interest earned thereon from income and resources for presidentially declared major disasters occurring on or after June 1, 1976, through December 31, 1976.
January 1, 1978, is the effective date for excluding (1) support and maintenance, assistance funds and any interest earned on the assistance funds from income, (2) assistance funds and interest earned thereon from resources and (3) suspending application of one-third reduction in the FBR for presidentially declared major disasters occurring on or after December 31, 1976.
Where applicable, certain matters relating to the disaster, to the assistance and to the individual's circumstances must be documented. This includes:
(1) the occurrence of A catastrophe which is declared by the President to be a major disaster under the Disaster Relief Act of 1974, and which occurred on or after June 1, 1976, and before December 31, 1976, or occurs on or after December 31, 1976, as appropriate.
(2) A statement by the individual (or individual and eligible spouse) indicating the Federal statutory program providing the assistance, the kind of assistance received, and the beginning date of receipt.
(3) A declaration by the individual (or individual and eligible spouse, if any) that the individual (and eligible spouse, if any) ceased to live in his or her (or their) own home (or household) because of that catastrophe and within 30 days thereafter began receiving support and maintenance.
(4) The normal reporting requirements for changes in circumstances having the potential for affecting the individual's eligibility for or the amount of SSI payments. These include notification of change of living arrangements with new address, date when receipt of support and maintenance began, and the date when such support and maintenance terminates.
Where it is alleged that circumstances beyond the individual's control prevent using the assistance and interest within the allotted time, evidence must be obtained to show that an attempt was made in order for good cause to apply.
For any presidentially declared major disaster which occurred in 1977, where assistance funds have been received and expended or support and maintenance have ended before January 1, 1978, the income and resources exclusions will not apply.
Based on Public Law 95-171, interest income and assistance funds received in 1977 based on presidentially declared major disasters occurring on or after December 31, 1976, cannot be excluded from income. However, they may be excluded from resources beginning with January 1, 1978, if they are still on hand and some of the initial 9-month period (or up to an additional 9 months for good cause) has not yet expired. The initial 9-month period begins on the date the assistance funds are received and ends 9 months later, e.g., if receipt of funds is December 8, the 9-month period runs through September 7 of the following year. Any funds retained beyond the 9-month period (or the additional period allowed for good cause) will be treated as a countable resource and may affect eligibility for SSI payments on the first day of the quarter following the quarter in which the initial period (or the additional period for good cause) expires. Where there is an extension for good cause and the individual's intent to repair or replace a resource changes, any assistance (and interest retained for repair or replacement is a countable resource effective with the month the individual reports the change of intent. There is no exclusion for presidentially declared major disasters occurring before June 1, 1976.
Program Policy Statement No. 52, Treat of Assistance to Repair or Replace Excluded Resource is Which Are Lost, Damaged or Stolen; Claims Manual sections 12363, 12503, 12505.1, 12509.