2002 Session

Budget Amendments - HB30 (Conference Report)

View Budget Item
View Budget Item amendments

Change in Locality Groupings for TANF Eligibility (language only)

Item 353 #9c

Item 353 #9c

Health And Human Resources
Social Services, Department of

Page 275, after line 39, insert:
"F.1.  The State Board of Social Services shall adopt necessary regulations by which local boards of social services may request changes in their locality grouping, which is used to determine the amount of payment for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.  The State Board shall establish criteria by which all such requests will be evaluated.  Such criteria shall include, but not be limited to, (i) a comparison of shelter costs in the petitioning locality with the shelter costs in adjacent localities; (ii) assuring that the Department of Social Services has the funding available to make any increased payments which result from the change before the approval of any request; and (iii) assuring that the locality has sufficient funding to cover any increased costs that may result from a change in locality grouping in the General Relief program.  The State Board shall establish regulations that specify the criteria that will be used in evaluating local board requests within 280 days of the effective date of this act.
2.  If the State Board approves a local board's request to be reclassified into a locality grouping with lower standards of assistance, (i) such reclassification shall be limited to the TANF and General Relief programs and (ii) the State Board may require that such reclassification be phased in by providing that eligibility and the amount of benefits in cases open at the time of such reclassification shall continue to be determined using the standards in effect in the former locality grouping at the time of the reclassification.
3.  The provisions contained in paragraphs F 1 and F 2 shall not apply to the determination of eligibility for medically needy individuals in the Medicaid program."

(This amendment provides a mechanism that localities can use to request a change in the standards of assistance for calculating TANF benefits so that variations among similarly situated localities are minimized. The current standards have not been updated in more than 20 years. Currently localities are grouped into three categories for determining TANF assistance. Group I localities have an assistance standard of $298 per month for a three-person household and include rural counties and small cities. Group II localities have an assistance standard of $390 per month for a three-person household and consist of suburban counties and cities. Group III localities have an assistance standard of $447 per month and include counties and cities in Northern Virginia. Changes in population and economic growth have made the three groupings problematic. For example, Spotsylvania and Stafford Counties are still included as Group I localities, while Virginia Beach is included as a Group II locality. Waynesboro and Charlottesville are included as Group III localities. Language is also added to limit the change to the TANF and General Relief programs and to allow the State Board to require that existing recipients be held harmless from benefit reductions. Language is added to clarify that the changes will not affect eligibility for the Medicaid program which was originally based on Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) payment standards, but has since been de-linked in the 1996 federal welfare reform legislation.)