|*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.
In cases where the child is eligible for both SSI and title IV-E and there is concurrent receipt of payments from both programs, "the child's SSI payment will be reduced dollar for dollar without application of any exclusion", thus decreasing the SSI benefit by the amount of the title IV-E payment (SSI Program Operations Manual). To reiterate, concurrent receipt is subject to the SSI rule that the SSI payment will be reduced by the amount of the foster care payment.
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).
Section 473 of title IV-E created an adoption assistance program which permits Federal matching funds for the costs of adoption assistance for the purpose of encouraging the placement of eligible children in adoptive homes. Under title IV-E adoption assistance (section 473), the scope of eligibility includes children with special needs who are eligible to receive SSI as well as those eligible for AFDC and title IV-E foster care. The statute's intention to extend the program of adoption assistance is clearly stated in section 473 (a)(2)(A)(i)(II): "Each State...shall...make adoption assistance payments...to parents...who... adopt a child who...(II) meets all of the requirements of title XVI with respect to eligibility for supplemental security income benefits...."
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.
Title XVI (SSI) is a needs based program and, as such, requires a test of income and resources of the adoptive parents in determining the amount of the SSI benefit to which a disabled child may be entitled. If (or when) the parental resources and income exceed a maximum level determined by SSI, the child is no longer eligible for SSI payments.
In cases where the income and resources of the adoptive parents do not affect the child's eligibility for SSI and there is concurrent receipt of payments from both programs, SSI will then count dollar-for-dollar the amount of title IV-E adoption assistance paid to the parents, thus decreasing the SSI benefit by the amount of the adoption assistance payment.
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, as in the SSI program.
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 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)).