Implementer §§ 238 & 239 ― Temporary Family Assistance Standards
To be eligible for Temporary Family Assistance (TFA), Connecticut’s cash assistance program, a family must (1) have a dependent child (or pregnancy) and (2) meet income and asset limits. The monthly income limit for TFA applicants is known as the standard of need (SON), which represents the amount deemed necessary for a family’s normal, recurring, basic needs. Under current law, the DSS commissioner is required to set the SON based on the cost of living in the state. As a result, the SON currently depends on the (1) applicant’s family size and (2) region of residence. Beginning in FY 23, the bill eliminates the requirement for the commissioner to set the SON, and instead sets the standard at 55% of the federal poverty level (FPL). (In 2022, 55% of the FPL is $10,071 for a family of two and $12,667 for a family of three). It also appears to similarly eliminate an obsolete requirement for the commissioner to set a SON for the state-administered general assistance program.
In doing so, the bill replaces regional variability in TFA program standards with one consistent statewide standard that will be adjusted annually based on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ annual calculation of the FPL. It also makes conforming changes to eliminate references to regional standards under HUSKY C, which provides Medicaid coverage for people who are at least age 65, blind, or living with a disability. Under current law and the bill, HUSKY C income limits are 143% of TFA benefit levels.
The current TFA benefit amount is based on a payment standard (i.e., 73% of the standards of need in effect on June 30, 1995 under its predecessor program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children) that also depends on family size and region. Except for certain exempted fiscal years, current law generally requires the DSS commissioner to annually increase these payment standards by the average percentage increase in the consumer price index for urban consumers (CPI-U), but caps it at 5%. The bill eliminates this annual increase requirement for the TFA program and instead, beginning in FY 23, sets the payment standard at 73% of the new TFA standard of need, or approximately 40% of the FPL (see above).
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