Assumptions for Determining Work Support Eligibility
For each of the work supports the user selects in Step 4, the Family Resource Simulator determines the family’s eligibility and benefit level as the family’s earnings increase. Simulator calculations are based on policies in effect during the state Simulator year, and they take into account interactions among work supports as well as interactions between earnings, work supports, and expenses. These calculations require making certain assumptions and simplifications, including the following:
- Recipient criteria: The Simulator uses income eligibility criteria that apply to ongoing recipients. For some work supports, new applicants face more restrictive limits.
- Transitional work supports: Transitional work supports and time-limited earnings disregards generally are not reflected in the Simulator's results. Exception: Colorado's TANF cash assistance results reflect the 2/3 earned income disregard that is available during the first 6 months of assistance.
- Non-financial criteria: The Simulator generally assumes the family meets non-financial criteria for work supports, such as TANF work requirements and immigration status requirements. However, some state Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) subsidy programs require parents to work a minimum number of hours per week to qualify for subsidies. The Simulator determines whether this requirement has been met based on the family’s earnings (and, in two-parent families, user choices regarding the second parent’s employment) and, for families receiving TANF cash assistance, the state TANF program’s work requirements. For more information about how the Simulator estimates parents’ work hours, see Estimating Family Child Care Needs.
- Household composition: The Simulator assumes that no family member is pregnant, disabled, elderly, retired, or serves/d in the military. It also assumes the household contains only those family members listed (i.e., parents and minor children).
- Deductions for housing costs: In calculating the housing deduction for food stamp benefit determinations, the pre-2015 Simulator assumed that the lowest-income families pay no more than 52 percent of their income (including TANF benefits) on rent. As family income rises, the maximum percent paid in rent gradually declines to 30 percent. This method was also applied in calculating Vermont's renter rebate. For 2015 Simulators, we are calculating the housing deduction based on fair market rents, up to the maximum housing deduction allowed. (Reduction in rents due to the receipt of a Section 8 housing voucher do not reduce the amount of the SNAP housing deduction.) For 2015 Simulators, the Standard Utility Allowance, an allowance determined regularly by states and based on average statewide household energy costs, is included in the shelter deduction for families receiving more than the minimum amount set by federal law in LIHEAP benefits.
- Deductions for child care costs: In calculating child care deductions for benefit eligibility determinations, pre-2015 Simulators assumed that the lowest-income families pay no more on child care than the greater of: (1) $175 a month per child ($200 a month for a child under age 2) or (2) 33 percent of their income (including TANF benefits), assuming the family has 2 children in care. This percent of income gradually declines to 10 percent as family income rises; adjustments are made for the number and ages of children. For 2015 Simulators, child care deductions for Section 8 eligibility are calculated as the lesser of actual child care expenses or earnings. In the Ohio 2015 Simulator, child care deductions for determining TANF eligibility reflect the unsubsidized cost of child care (varies by age and type of care) if the family does not receive child care subsidies.
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