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8.4D TITLE IV-E, General Title IV-E Requirements, Concurrent Receipt of Federal Benefits
4.Are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits under Title XVI made to a child in foster care, including those funds conserved for the child in dedicated accounts, counted as a resource when determining eligibility for title IV-E?
Answer: There is no prohibition in title IV-E against claiming Federal financial participation (FFP) for foster care maintenance payments or adoption assistance payments made on behalf of a child who is receiving SSI benefits.
Foster Care: Although eligibility for title IV-E foster care is tied to eligibility for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) as was in effect on July 16, 1996 and AFDC precluded concurrent eligibility for payments from AFDC and title XVI (section 402 (a)(24) of the Social Security Act), this preclusion rule is not transferable to title IV-E for the purposes of foster care maintenance payment eligibility determinations. A child, if eligible, may receive benefits from both programs simultaneously.
Adoption Assistance: In the Adoption Assistance program, the applicant may choose to apply for either or both SSI and adoption assistance. Concurrent receipt of benefits from the adoption assistance program and SSI is not prohibited under title IV-E (section 473).
The adoptive parents of the child eligible to receive title IV-E adoption assistance payments and SSI benefits may make application for both programs and the child, if eligible, may receive benefits from both programs. In considering the most appropriate choice of programs and deciding whether to make application for one or both, the adoptive parents should be aware of the differences between SSI and the Adoption Assistance Program.
In the Adoption Assistance Program, the amount of the adoption assistance payment is determined after taking into consideration the circumstances of the adopting parents and the needs of the child being adopted. While the child's SSI benefit would be a consideration in the negotiation of the amount of the adoption assistance payment as part of the determination of the needs of the child being adopted, this income would not generate an automatic reduction in any standardized payment amount.
The amount agreed upon by the adoptive parents and the administering agency is limited, however, to the amount of the foster care maintenance payment which would have been paid if the child had been in a foster family home (section 473 (a)(3)).
Because there are many complexities and financial implications for the States and Tribes as well as the adoptive families, it is important for all parties to discuss all aspects of a combination of SSI and adoption assistance at the time the adoption assistance agreement is negotiated. Such discussions could include, in addition to the adoptive parents, representatives from title IV-E and title XVI programs.
With full knowledge of the SSI and Adoption Assistance programs, the adoptive parents can then make an informed decision about application for or receipt of benefits from either or both programs for which they or the child are eligible. They should be advised, however, that if they decline title IV-E adoption assistance and choose to receive only SSI for the child, and if they do not execute an adoption assistance agreement before the adoption is finalized and do not receive adoption assistance payments pursuant to such an agreement, they may not later receive title IV-E adoption assistance payments, as the child would no longer meet all of the eligibility requirements as a child with special needs (section 473 (c)(2)).
Answer: The difference between title XVI (SSI) and title IV-E should be considered carefully by the decision maker when choosing whether to apply for either or both title IV-E or SSI benefits on behalf of the child. Information regarding the benefits available under each program should be made available by the title IV-E agency so that an informed choice can be made in the child's best interest. To achieve this goal, title IV-E agencies should exchange information regarding eligibility requirements and benefits with local Social Security district offices and establish formal procedures to refer clients and their representatives to the local Social Security district office for consultation and/or application when appropriate.
Answer: Yes. An August 17, 1993 memorandum from the Acting Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families to the Administration for Children and Families Regional Administrators allowed a State to include children who are eligible for title IV-E but who are receiving SSI in lieu of title IV-E foster care maintenance payments when determining its administrative cost ratio. This practice was conceptualized by considering these children candidates for foster care. While the policy itself is sound, a child who is in foster care is not a candidate because s/he has already been removed from home. If a child is fully eligible for title IV-E a title IV-E agency's choice to fund that child's board and care through SSI rather than title IV-E does not negate that child's eligibility for title IV-E. The agency may, therefore, claim Federal financial participation under title IV-E for title IV-E administrative functions performed on behalf of that child.
Answer: No. The child must have been eligible for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) as it was in effect on July 16, 1996 (section 472(a) of the Social Security Act) to receive title IV-E foster care maintenance payments. The AFDC regulations at 45 CFR 233.20(a)(1)(ii) and 45 CFR 233.20 (a) (3)(x) exclude the needs, income and resources of individuals receiving benefits under title XVI in determining the need and amount of payment of an AFDC assistance unit. Thus, these exclusions apply to SSI-eligible children who are under the care and responsibility of the title IV-E agency and otherwise eligible for title IV-E.