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Decision by the Division of Social Services ("DSS") to reduce food stamp benefits


In re: DCIS No. Redacted Redacted

Appearances:
Redacted, pro se, Appellant
Rosita Witherspoon, Acting Supervisor, Division of Social Services
Patricia Perkins, Social Worker/Case Manager, Division of Social Services

I.

Redacted ("Appellant") opposes a decision by the Division of Social Services ("DSS") to reduce her food stamp benefits from $233.00 to $139.00 beginning February 1, 2005. The Appellant maintains that she required dental surgery and was "in and out" of court; therefore, she could not complete her required hours in the Welfare to Work Program ("Workfare").

The Division of Social Services ("DSS") contends that they properly reduced food stamp benefits because the Appellant did not work the required hours in the Workfare Program.

II.

The Appellant received a Notice to Reduce Your Food Stamps dated January 20, 2005 and effective February 1, 2005. (Exhibit 3)

The Appellant filed a timely request for a fair hearing. (Exhibit 2).

The Appellant was sent a certified letter dated March 11, 2005, that a fair hearing would be held on April 4, 2005. The hearing was conducted on that date in New Castle, DE. This is the decision resulting from that hearing.

III.

Appellant had been receiving food stamp benefits for an unknown period of time. DSS issued a Notice to Reduce Your Food Stamps dated January 20, 2005. (Exhibit 3) This notice indicated that the Appellant's household food stamp benefit was to be reduced from $233.00 to $139.00. The notice revealed that DSS added the amount of the Appellant's TANF check and Food Stamps together and divided the amount by the minimum wage, or $6.15. If the TANF check was reduced to zero, which occurred in this case, the remaining hours would be multiplied by $6.15 to further reduce the food stamp benefit. In the present case, the Appellant's TANF check was reduced to zero with the food stamp benefit reduced by $135.00.

IV.

At hearing, DSS representative, Rosetta Witherspoon ("Witherspoon") testified that during the December 2004 cycle that included December 12, 2004 to January 11, 2005, the Appellant was required to work sixty-six (66) scheduled hours with Maximus, a subcontractor. Ms. Witherspoon further noted that the Appellant enrolled in the Workfare program on December 7, 2004 with EAS worker, Natasha Brandon ("Brandon"). At the time of enrollment, Ms. Brandon oriented the Appellant to the program and explained all aspects of her responsibilities. Ms. Witherspoon indicated that on January 31, 2005, DSS received notification that the Appellant was not in compliance with the Workfare program and subsequently issued the Notice to Reduce Your Food Stamps on January 20, 2005 informing Appellant of the upcoming February 1, 2005 action.

The Appellant testified that she was not in compliance with the Workfare program due to a combination of several events. First, the Appellant acknowledged that she was directed to schedule volunteer work for ten (10) days at the beginning of the program. The Appellant testified that Ms. Brandon never provided an exact date for her volunteer period to begin but seem to imply that December 21, 2004 was a possible start date. In addition, the Appellant noted that she was required to attend court for a divorce proceeding on December 22, 2004. However, the Appellant did not indicate if the proceedings required more than one (1) day in court. Sometime later, during the December 12, 2004 to January 11, 2005 period, the Appellant testified that she underwent dental surgery involving the extraction of eight (8) teeth requiring a recuperation period of "a few days." When questioned as to when the dental surgery occurred, the Appellant admitted that she could not locate the dental services paperwork at home. Although the Appellant revealed in testimony that she informed Ms. Brandon of the absences from the Workfare program, at the conclusion of the hearing, the Appellant admitted that she did not disagree with her benefit reduction.

Pursuant to Delaware Social Services Manual ("DSSM") 9085, for every hour that a participant fails to work, the TANF check will first be reduced by the current minimum wage. If the TANF grant reduces to zero, any remaining Workfare reduction amount will be used to reduce the food stamp allotment up to the portion used to meet the required hours of participation.

DSS maintains that the Appellant did not comply with the requirements of the Workfare Program where she agreed to work sixty-six (66) scheduled Workfare hours within the period December 12, 2004 to January 11, 2005. The record reveals that although the Appellant required one day in court to attend to her divorce proceedings and a "few days" for her dental surgery and recuperation period, the remainder of the month could have been scheduled with Workfare-related hours. Even taking into account the holiday season falling within the month and the potential that many businesses would be closed, there remained sufficient time within the December 12, 2005 to January 11, 2005 period for the Appellant to complete the required sixty-six (66) scheduled hours. Therefore, the Appellant did not work the required hours under the Workfare program and her food stamp benefit was reduced properly according the DSSM 9085.

V. Conclusion

For these reasons, the decision of the Division of Social Services to reduce Appellant's food stamp benefits, based upon the January 20, 2005 reduction notice, beginning February 1, 2005 is AFFIRMED.

Date: April 12, 2005

Michael L. Steinberg, J.D.
HEARING OFFICER

THE FOREGOING IS THE FINAL DECISION OF THE DIVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES

POSTED
MLS/vmd

cc:
Redacted
Rosita Witherspoon, Pool 135
Patricia Perkins, Pool 135

EXHIBITS FILED IN OR FOR THE PROCEEDING

  • EXHIBIT #1 - DSS Hearing Summary consisting of two (2) pages date stamped March 1, 2005.
  • EXHIBIT #2 - A Copy of Appellant's Request for a Fair Hearing date-stamped February 15, 2005, consisting of one (1) page.
  • EXHIBIT #3 - Copy of Notice to Reduce Your Food Stamps dated January 20, 2005, consisting of four (4) pages.


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