TN 205 (09-23)

SI 00830.605 Home Energy Assistance and Support and Maintenance Assistance (HEA/SMA)


Social Security Act as amended, Section 1612(b)(13);
20 CFR 416.1124(c)(10), 416.1157, 416.1201(a)

A. Background

The legislative intent of this exclusion was to address charitable efforts by the community to help SSI recipients.

NOTE: See SI 00830.600 for instructions pertaining to energy assistance provided under Federal programs.

B. Policy - Definitions

1. Appropriate State Agency

The appropriate State agency is the agency designated by the chief executive officer of the State to handle the State responsibilities with regard to the home energy assistance and support and maintenance (HEA/SMA) exclusion.

2. Based on Need

For purposes of this exclusion, based on need means that the provider of the assistance:

  • does not have an express obligation to provide the assistance (see SI 00835.712 B. for discussion of express obligation);

  • states the aid is given for the purpose of support and maintenance assistance or for home energy assistance (e.g., vouchers for heating/cooling bills, storm doors); and

  • provides the aid for an SSI claimant, a member of the household in which an SSI claimant lives, or an SSI claimant's ineligible spouse, parent, essential person, or sponsor (or the sponsor's spouse) of an alien.

3. Private Nonprofit

A private nonprofit agency is a religious, charitable, educational, or other organization such as described in section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. (Actual tax exempt certification by IRS is not necessary.)

4. Rate-of-Return Entity

A rate-of-return entity is an entity (generally a utility company) whose revenues are primarily received from the entity's charges to the public for goods or services and such charges are based on rates regulated by a State or Federal governmental body.

5. Support And Maintenance Assistance (SMA)

Support and maintenance assistance (SMA) is in-kind support and maintenance as defined in SI 00835.020, or cash provided for the purpose of meeting food, clothing, or shelter needs. It includes home energy assistance.

NOTE: Remuneration for work is not assistance.

6. Home Energy Assistance (HEA)

Home energy assistance is any assistance related to meeting the costs of heating or cooling a home. It includes such items as payments for utility service or bulk fuels, assistance in kind such as portable heaters, fans, blankets, storm doors, or other items which help reduce the costs of heating and cooling such as conservation or weatherization materials and services.

C. Policy - Exclusion

1. Certification

a. General

Home energy or support and maintenance assistance is excluded from income if it is certified in writing by the appropriate State agency to be both based on need and:

  • provided in kind by a private nonprofit agency; or

  • provided in cash or in kind by a supplier of home heating oil or gas, a rate-of-return entity providing home energy, or a municipal utility providing home energy.

b. State Certification: Individual or Blanket

State certification may be in the form of an individual   certification of a particular case, or a “blanket” certification of a program or organization. A blanket certification serves as a precedent for assistance from the certified agency or program.

2. Recipient of Assistance

The exclusion applies to such assistance provided for:

  • an SSI applicant/recipient;

  • a member of the household in which an SSI applicant/recipient lives; or

  • an SSI applicant's/recipient's spouse, parent(s), sponsor (sponsor's spouse) or essential person.

D. Procedure

1. General

At times, the interaction of the private and public sectors and various funding sources may make it difficult to determine whether income received may be excluded under these instructions. Exclude assistance on the basis of the individual's allegation and a State certification precedent without further development unless you have reason to question the situation.

2. Statement Required-Income

Obtain the individual's statement either signed or recorded on a Report of Contact page which identifies:

  • the HEA or SMA received;

  • when the HEA or SMA was received;

  • who received the HEA or SMA; and

  • the source of the HEA or SMA.

3. Certification Before Assistance

  • Certification may be made before any assistance is actually provided. Follow regional instructions or contact the regional office (RO) for assistance if a group or organization seeks certification as a provider of excludable HEA/SMA before a case is involved.

  • Exclude assistance which might meet the requirements for State certification pending certification.

  • If you later find that the application of the exclusion was not appropriate, determine the individual to be without fault regarding any resulting overpayments (see GN 02250.026 for additional waiver development).

4. Certification Precedent Established

If a precedent has been established, document the file to state that a precedent exists unless the certification is listed in regional instructions. Exclude the income on the basis of the claimant's/recipient's allegation. (See D.2. above for documentation of the allegation.)

5. Certification Precedent not Established

  1. a. 

    Exclude any HEA/SMA assistance which might meet the requirements for State certification.

  2. b. 

    Contact the RO unless instructed to do otherwise by regional instructions.

  3. c. 

    Provide the name of the individual who allegedly received the assistance, and the alleged amount and/or form, date and/or frequency and source of the assistance.

  4. d. 

    Do not contact the State agency directly unless you have been instructed to do so by the RO.

E. Examples

1. State Certification Established

Mr. Gross alleges he ate his meals for 2 weeks at the Down Street Mission. There is a State certification precedent for this mission. No further development is needed.

2. Relationship of Alleged Source to Certified Entity

Mr. Smith alleges he received three bags of groceries and the source was the Full Closet. There is no State certification for the Full Closet; however, a regional instruction indicates that the Full Closet is operated by the First Methodist Church and there is a State certification precedent for the First Methodist Church. No further development is needed.

3. Certified Organization/Private Payment

Amy, a child recipient, resides in Hope Home, a private nonprofit facility. A State certification precedent has been established for Hope Home. In interviewing Amy's mother, she informs you that she is paying for Amy to be at Hope Home. Through further development the FO finds Amy's mother is paying the entire cost of Amy's stay in the facility. These instructions do not apply to what Amy receives from the facility despite the involvement of the certified entity. What she receives has not been provided by a certified entity for charitable reasons.

4. Private Entity/Certified Program

Mrs. Jones alleges she received a $50 food voucher from the local supermarket. The supermarket is a profit-making entity and cannot be certified by the State. However, because it is a profit-making entity, you doubt that the supermarket is just handing out vouchers. In pursuing this with Mrs. Jones, she tells you that her clergyman referred her to the supermarket. Further development reveals that the Food Resource Center, a state-certified entity, has arranged this program. The food voucher is excludable under these instructions despite the involvement of the supermarket which cannot be certified.

F. References

SI 00830.625, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) emergency food distribution and shelter programs.

SI 00835.331, effect of the HEA/SMA exclusion on determinations of in-kind support and maintenance in household situations.

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SI 00830.605 - Home Energy Assistance and Support and Maintenance Assistance (HEA/SMA) - 09/27/2023
Batch run: 09/27/2023