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Decision by the Division of Social Services ("DSS") to approve food stamp benefits


In re: DCIS No. Redacted Redacted

Appearances:
Redacted, pro se, Appellant
Cheryl Wooden, Senior Social Worker/Case Manager, Division of Social Services
John Porch, Senior Social Worker/Case Manager, Division of Social Services

I.

Redacted ("Appellant") opposes a decision by the Division of Social Services ("DSS") to approve her food stamp benefits in the amount of $37.00 and ABC benefits in the amount of $248.00 beginning in September 2004 based upon an income of $850.00 per month. She contends that while she does receive somewhere between $550.00 and $600.00 per month to help pay her bills, she does not regularly receive $850.00.

The Division of Social Services ("DSS") contends that the Appellant's benefit levels are properly set based upon money she receives on a monthly basis from her mother.

II.

On August 20, 2004, Appellant filed a re-certification application for ABC, food stamps and medical assistance. On August 26, 2004, DSS approved Appellant's application for Medical Assistance, approved her ABC benefits in the amount of $248.00 per month, and approved her for food stamps in the amount of $388.00.

The Appellant filed three (3) requests for fair hearings. (Exhibits 2-4).

The Appellant was notified by letter dated October 28, 2004, that a fair hearing would be held on December 2, 2004. The hearing was conducted on that date in New Castle, DE.

This is the decision resulting from that hearing.

III.

The Appellant lives with four (4) children. On August 20, 2004, she sought re-certification for ABC, food stamp and medical assistance benefits. Prior to March 2004 she was assisted by a social worker other than Tony Watson. When she turned in her application, her new social worker reviewed the materials and determined that the Appellant's expenses outweighed her income. This prompted an investigation as to how she was managing her expenses when her income was not sufficient to cover them. While her situation had apparently not changed, her prior social worker had not made her income and expenses an issue. When asked, the Appellant indicated that her mother, Redacted, was assisting her by providing money to her on a regular basis.

On August 20, 2004, DSS received a Financial Responsibility Statement from Redacted, indicating that she provides $200.00 per month for electric and $400.00 per month for rent for her daughter, Redacted. (Exhibit 9)

DSS testified that on August 24, 2004, Mr. Smallwood of the Audit and Recovery Management Services ("ARMS") unit initiated a front-end investigation. He contacted the Appellant's mother on two (2) occasions and was told each time that money was provided directly to the Appellant and was not paid to her landlord and Conectiv for her utilities, but was paid directly to the Appellant. DSS further testified that on August 24, 2004, Mr. Smallwood completed a Form 182, which is a telephone verification form, which included the fact that Redacted provided the Appellant with $400.00 to assist with rent, $200.00 for electric and $250.00 for food. That form was not submitted as evidence for the hearing and Mr. Smallwood did not attend the hearing.

On October 12, 2004, Ms. Redacted submitted a Verification of Contributions form (Form 186) indicating that beginning in November 2004, she will be providing $150.00 per month for electric and $400.00 for rent to her daughter. (Exhibit 11) The form also indicates that additional money that was provided for the benefit of the Appellant was an additional gift of household and school supplies paid directly to the cashiers at a variety of stores. Finally, the form explains that she works the 3rd shift and was awakened when she was called by the DSS worker regarding this matter, and they misconstrued her answer regarding the $250.00 that is at issue. It is important to note that while the form indicates that the money is paid directly to the landlord and Conectiv, the money is, in fact, paid directly to the Appellant. This has a significant impact on the Appellant's case and would not be included in the Appellant's income if paid directly to the vendor.

The Appellant testified that the reason for the drop in the Conectiv from $200.00 to $150.00 was that she was repaying some past due monies.

DSS approved medical assistance benefits. Based on the information provided by Appellant and her mother, and the information gathered from the ARMS investigation, DSS concluded that Appellant had a net monthly income of $850.00. Thereafter, DSS approved ABC benefits in the amount of $248.00 per month and Food Stamps in the amount of $388.00 per month. See, Exhibits 5-7).

At issue in this case is the proper allocation and amount of money attributed to Appellant by DSS, from financial contributions made by her mother. Specifically, Appellant takes issue with the inclusion of $250.00 in her income as she contends that this money is not paid to her regularly, and was not, in fact, actually even paid to her, but rather for her benefit.

The convincing evidence provided at the hearing indicates that at the time of the application for benefits, the Appellant's mother was providing her with $400.00 per month for rent and $200.00 per month for electric. The $250.00 that ARMS found during its cursory investigation appears to have been a one-time gift that was not even paid directly to the Appellant. As such, it should not have been included in the household income pursuant to DSSM 4003. The evidence also indicated that starting in November 2004, the Appellant had a decline in the amount of her monthly income from her mother because of the reduction of money for her electric bill.

IV.

For these reasons, the decision of the Division of Social Services to approve Appellant's Medical Assistance benefits is AFFIRMED, however, a new notice should be issued showing the Appellant's income as $600.00 per month and not $850.00 as Money From Another Person.

The portion of the case relating to food stamp and ABC benefits is REVERSED and the case is REMANDED to DSS for a proper determination of food stamp and ABC benefits based upon an income of $600.00 and not $850.00 as Money from Another Person.

DSS shall make prompt corrective payments, if any are due. DSS shall also investigate and re-determine benefit levels, if appropriate, based upon the additional information it received in the Verification of Contributions form showing only $550.00 in income from Brenda Ringgold. (Exhibit 11).

Date: January 27, 2005

MICHAEL L. STEINBERG
HEARING OFFICER

THE FOREGOING IS THE FINAL DECISION OF THE DIVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES

POSTED
MLS/vmd

cc:
Redacted
Cheryl Wooden, DSS Pool 120
John Porch, DSS Pool 120

EXHIBITS FILED IN OR FOR THE PROCEEDING

  • EXHIBIT #1 - Copy of DSS Hearing Summary consisting of two (2) pages date-stamped October 20, 2004.
  • EXHIBIT #2 - Copy of Appellant's request for a fair hearing for food stamp benefits, date-stamped October 4, 2004, consisting of one (1) page.
  • EXHIBIT #3 - Copy of Appellant's request for a fair hearing for ABC benefits, date-stamped October 4, 2004, consisting of one (1) page.
  • EXHIBIT #4 - Copy of Appellant's request for a fair hearing for medical assistance benefits, date-stamped October 4, 2004, consisting of one (1) page.
  • EXHIBIT #5 - Copy of Notice to Approve Your Medical Assistance, dated August 26, 2004, consisting of five (5) pages.
  • EXHIBIT #6 - Copy of Notice to Approve Your ABC, dated August 26, 2004 consisting of six (6) pages.
  • EXHIBIT #7 - Copy of Notice to Approve Your Food Stamps, dated August 26, 2004, consisting of seven (7) pages.
  • EXHIBIT #8 - Copy of Residence and Household size Verification Form (Form 176), date-stamped March 18, 2004, consisting of one (1) page.
  • EXHIBIT #9 - Copy of Financial Responsibility Statement (Form 1007), date-stamped August 20, 2004, consisting of one (1) page.
  • EXHIBIT #10 - Copy of Residence and Household size Verification Form (Form 176), date-stamped August 20, 2004, consisting of one (1) page.
  • EXHIBIT #11 - Copy of Verification of Contributions (Form 186), date-stamped October 12, 2004, consisting of one (1) page.


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