(Revised 10/00 ML #2629)
The applicant's income and assets must be within the limits specified by the Heating Assistance Program for the month of the Emergency Assistance application or have been approved for heating assistance for some portion of the current fiscal year heating season.
Income averaging, as discussed in 415-25-05-15, will not be used in determining eligibility for Emergency Assistance benefits.
The following are suggested guidelines for determining eligibility for Emergency Services and must be documented on SFN 62, "Application for Emergency Assistance," each time a new request for Emergency Assistance is received. Guidelines, rather than mandatory specific requirements, permit the county social service board to evaluate the unique circumstances of each household to decide whether emergency assistance is needed and is an appropriate resolution of the crisis.
Community Resources: Other community programs to alleviate the crisis, such as county General Assistance, credit, churches, and other community agencies* must be denied or known to be unavailable to the applicant or inadequate to resolve the crisis.
**Energy Share of North Dakota is not considered a resource for supplemental heating costs.
Assets: All counted liquid assets of the household, as described in 415-25-10-10-05, are considered an available personal resource and must be considered. (Except each household member over age 60 may retain $2000 in counted assets.)
Income: For emergency assistance purposes, income is defined as the household's net income or the actual amount of funds available from any source that can be used for the household's basic living costs (see below), including heating fuel and utilities.
Do not make the deductions from income described in 415-25-05-05. The appropriate deductions will be accounted for in basic living costs described below.
All sources of income are considered available unless exempt by law, or it is the children's earned income described in 415-25-05-50, or it is a reimbursement of an expense paid from income previously counted, or it is restricted for some other specified expense. (Note. A portion of some types of income are restricted for the costs of producing the income.)
Available Credit: Credit or loans that may be available to an applicant household is also considered a resource. For example.
The dealer's credit policy for all of their customers may include the applicant household.
Bank loans may be available depending on the household's credit rating or equity of uncounted or counted assets that can be used as collateral.
Some business/farm operating loans include daily living expenses and could be released to purchase fuel.
Even unsecured personal loans may be available from an individual or organization in the community.
The household should be cautioned not to accept a loan if they do not have the realistic capability to repay the loan with interest.
Basic Living Expenses: Although not required, eligibility for emergency assistance is usually established if the assistance available from community sources combined with the household's income, assets, and credit, is equal to or less than totalmonthly basic living expenses.
Food--To determine actual household food costs the Food Stamp Thrifty Food Plan may be used as a guide, minus the value of any food stamps the household receives. Add any special food costs.
Shelter--Actual cost of rent or mortgage payment (include taxes and home insurance costs), and/or mobile home lot rent. Only the portion of the rent the household pays themselves should be counted if they are in subsidized housing.
Utility bill--The actual cost of water, sewer, phone, and lights that the household is obligated to pay each month. Do not include accumulated unpaid back bills.
Child support and/or alimony actually paid.
Paid medical bills--Include insurance premiums (see 25-05-05-05).
Child Care Costs--Out-of-pocket child care costs related to work, training, or educational purposes that are not reimbursed to the household from any source. CAUTIONS: See 415-25-05-05 #9 a-c.
Transportation costs--The actual monthly payment for one car, up to $300/month, plus actual insurance cost/year for one car, plus up to $50/month maintenance and gas.
Employment costs--Up to $100/month for costs that must be paid to retain employment.
Miscellaneous--Up to $100/month for up to three persons; up to $200/month for more than three persons.
Absent Student Expense--Up to $300/month may be deducted from household income for a head of household or spouse who must reside away from home for all of the school week for higher education purposes. Prorate the deduction down if the student is away for less than a full school week, but if the student is away less than 50% of the school week, no deduction will be allowed. This deduction will be further reduced by any portion of exempt educational income which is available to the student for living costs.
Absent Worker Expense--Up to $300/month may be deducted from the earnings of a head of household or spouse who must reside away from home for all of the work week for employment purposes. Prorate the deduction down if the worker is away for less than a full work week, but if the worker is away less than 50% of the work week, no deduction will be allowed. This deduction will be further reduced by any reimbursement or subsistence allowance provided by the employer for living expenses while on the job.
Other--Any other mandatory expense which affects the household's basic living needs. Installment payments must be evaluated to determine if they are pertinent to basic living costs, even if they are mandatory.
Action Plan: Following an analysis of the household basic living costs and total expenditures, especially unusual or impractical amounts, the county social service board may need to assist the household to develop a financial management plan that will prevent the reoccurrence of the energy crisis in the future. Frequently, authorizing emergency assistance is all that is necessary for the household to be self sufficient again. Conversely, authorizing emergency assistance may only provide temporary relief of the crisis and may or may not be cost effective or assure continued service.
The basic cause of the crisis must be identified and an appropriate resolution implemented. In this regard, the household may need assistance to negotiate a realistic credit or payment plan with the fuel supplier or other creditors. A monthly payment plan throughout the year to level out fuel and utilities cost could be beneficial. Or, the household budget deficiencies may be so extensive that credit or financial counseling must be secured by the household. Referral for employment counseling, case management services, or other problem-solving counseling or for a social evaluation and follow up services may be needed. Specific actions designed to solve the cause of the crisis may be required as a condition of the receipt of emergency benefits. In any event, the household situation must be carefully considered to assure that emergency assistance is appropriate, and the household is given the opportunity to become self sufficient whenever possible.
SFN 11, "Emergency Assistance Action Plan," shall be used, whenever the worker and applicant identify problems to self-sufficiency and agree upon a plan of action to work toward improved self-sufficiency or that will diminish the occurrence of future crises.
When an Emergency Assistance application is denied, or when no action is required, possible, or practical, a comment to that effect should be entered on SFN 62 and the SFN 11 is not required.