The Vermont Statutes Online
§ 2101. Definitions
As used in this chapter:
(1) "Commissioner" means the Commissioner for Children and Families.
(2) "Family" means persons whom the recipient of General Assistance is required by law to support.
(3) "Found" means discovered, come upon, chanced upon, or met with by accident.
(4) "General Assistance" means financial aid to provide the necessities of life, including food, clothing, shelter, fuel, electricity, medical care, and other items as the Commissioner may prescribe by rule, when a need is found to exist and the applicant is otherwise found eligible.
(5) "House" means a structure in which people live, including a hospital.
(6) "Offense" means any act that gives rise to a cause of action in which the offender is committed to jail, excluding criminal acts.
(7) "Relief or relieving" means General Assistance limited to medical assistance and other assistance required in connection with medical assistance, but excluding financial assistance.
(8) "Reside" means having a domicile.
(9) "Residence" means a person's domicile.
(10) "Transient" means an individual who does not intend to establish a permanent residence within the State of Vermont. (Added 1967, No. 147, § 7, eff. Oct. 1, 1968; amended 1971, No. 176 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1973, No. 207 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2011, No. 63, § E.321.2; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 49, eff. May 20, 2014; 2021, No. 20, § 308.)
§ 2102. Repealed. 2015, No. 71 (Adj. Sess.), § 3.
§ 2103. Eligibility
(a) Consistent with available appropriations, the Department for Children and Families shall furnish General Assistance under this chapter, except as provided in this section, to any otherwise eligible individual unable to provide the necessities of life for the individual and for those whom the individual is legally obligated to support. Except for those in catastrophic situations as defined in rules, no General Assistance shall be provided in the following situations:
(1) to any individual whose income from any source, including the Department for Children and Families, during the 30 days immediately preceding the date on which assistance is sought is equal to the General Assistance eligibility standard;
(2) to any able-bodied individual without minor dependents included in his or her application.
(b) Eligibility standards for General Assistance as established by the Commissioner need not be the same as those applicable to the Department's categorical assistance programs. In addition, in determining eligibility, the Commissioner, pursuant to rule, may take into account payment to or for the benefit of the applicant under any Department program.
(c) It is further provided that in determining eligibility apart from the need standard, the Commissioner may adopt a reasonable standard pertaining to work-related efforts on the part of the applicant.
(d) Except for relief as provided in sections 2109-2112 of this chapter, General Assistance to transients shall be limited to that necessary to permit the transient to leave the State.
(e) As used in this section, "able-bodied individual" does not include a person subject to such conditions as are determined, by rule of the Commissioner for Children and Families, to constitute barriers to employment.
(f) [Repealed.] (Added 1967, No. 147, § 7, eff. Oct. 1, 1968; amended 1973, No. 152 (Adj. Sess.), § 25, eff. April 14, 1974; 1973, No. 207 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 1975, No. 132 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. Feb. 5, 1976; 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 107; 2013, No. 133 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 20, 2014; 2021, No. 20, § 309.)
§ 2104. Application or information
(a) A person may apply for General Assistance to the person or persons designated for that purpose by the Commissioner.
(b) When a person designated by the Commissioner pursuant to subsection (a) of this section receives an application for General Assistance or is informed that a person is in need of General Assistance the person so designated shall investigate and make a determination as to the applicant's eligibility for General Assistance, and provide under rules of the Department emergency assistance as may be required. (Added 1967, No. 147, § 7, eff. Oct. 1, 1968; amended 1971, No. 176 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 50, eff. May 20, 2014; 2021, No. 20, § 310.)
§ 2105. Action on application or information
The Commissioner shall cause an investigation and record to be made of the circumstances of the person alleged to need General Assistance to determine whether the person is eligible. Information shall be sought as to the residence of the person, his or her age, physical condition, earnings or other income, ability to be gainfully employed of all members of his or her family, the cause of the person's condition, the ability and willingness of persons legally liable for his or her support to assist, and other relevant facts. (Added 1967, No. 147, § 7, eff. Oct. 1, 1968; amended 1971, No. 176 (Adj. Sess.), § 4.)
§ 2106. Limitation on liability for medical assistance
The State shall not be liable for medical or surgical care furnished to any person eligible for General Assistance, unless the Department agrees to it. This section shall not apply to hospitals. (Added 1967, No. 147, § 7, eff. Oct. 1, 1968; amended 1973, No. 207 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2015, No. 71 (Adj. Sess.), § 4.)
§ 2107. Disqualification
(a) When the Commissioner or a person designated by the Commissioner pursuant to section 2104 of this title has reason to believe that an applicant for or recipient of General Assistance came into the State for the purpose of receiving General Assistance, he or she may find the applicant or recipient ineligible for General Assistance.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, an applicant in immediate need of General Assistance for himself or herself or a person dependent upon him or her shall be granted General Assistance on an emergency basis, which may include the furnishing of transportation to the nearest boundary of this State in the direction in which he or she desires to go to leave the State. (Added 1967, No. 147, § 7, eff. Oct. 1, 1968; amended 1971, No. 176 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 51, eff. May 20, 2014.)
§ 2108. Residential weatherization for fuel assistance recipients
(a) Recipients of emergency heating fuel or emergency aid for utility services, which are provided under the General Assistance Program, and any other federal Fuel Assistance Programs, shall receive a form which they may sign to request that their names and addresses be made available as potential recipients of Home Energy Audits and Weatherization Programs.
(b) The Commissioner by rule shall specify the names of organizations eligible to receive a list of the names and addresses of persons signing the consent form established in subsection (a) of this section. (Added 1981, No. 25.)
§ 2109. Relief by private persons and hospitals
(a) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, when a person, including a transient, is injured, suddenly taken sick or lame, or is otherwise disabled and confined to a house or hospital in this State, and is in need of relief, the person at whose house or hospital he or she is shall be at the expense of relieving and supporting the person, until notice in writing of the situation of the person is given to the Department, after which the Department shall provide for the relief and support of the person.
(b) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, in the case of a hospital, the notice required in subsection (a) of this section shall be supplemented, as soon as reasonably possible, with a plan or proposed method of collecting from the person for relief and care and other pertinent information requested by the Department. In the case of a person, after giving notice required in subsection (a) of this section, he or she shall file additional information with the Department on a form prescribed by the Commissioner.
(c) The Commissioner may provide by rule for an exemption from the notice and report requirements of subsections (a) and (b) of this section in the case of a hospital that makes and observes satisfactory arrangements considered adequate by the Commissioner. When so exempted, the provisions of subsection 2110(b) of this chapter shall not apply. (Added 1967, No. 147, § 7, eff. Oct. 1, 1968; amended 1969, No. 126, § 2; 1973, No. 207 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 52, eff. May 20, 2014; 2021, No. 20, § 311.)
§ 2110. Reimbursement for relief expenditures
(a) If the Department fails to provide relief for a person, including a transient, the person or hospital relieving him or her may recover for the relief provided in an action on this statute against the State of Vermont.
(b) Notwithstanding (a) of this section, no recovery may be had for any period in excess of 72 hours before notice is given to the Department if the plaintiff has failed to timely file the information required under subsection 2109(b) of this title.
(c) This section shall only be operative to the extent that funds are appropriated for it by the General Assembly. (Added 1967, No. 147, § 7, eff. Oct. 1, 1968; amended 1969, No. 126, § 3; 1973, No. 207 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; 1975, No. 254 (Adj. Sess.), § 148; 2021, No. 20, § 312.)
§ 2111. Death
When a person, including a transient, dies in the State in other than a State institution and no one appears to make funeral arrangements, the person in charge thereof shall report the death of the person to the nearest Economic Services Division office. (Added 1967, No. 147, § 7, eff. Oct. 1, 1968; amended 1969, No. 130, § 1, eff. Oct. 1, 1968; 1973, No. 207 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; 2015, No. 71 (Adj. Sess.), § 5.)
§ 2112. Repealed. 2015, No. 71 (Adj. Sess.), § 6.
§ 2113. Action for recovery of expenditures
Whenever a person who has received General Assistance from the Department owns or thereafter acquires real or personal property or an interest in real or personal property or becomes employed, the Department on behalf of the State of Vermont may recover on this statute against the person the amount the Department has expended for General Assistance furnished to the person or the person's family. If the person is deceased, the amount expended by the Department shall be allowed as a claim against the person's estate as a debt due the State. All statutory exemptions shall apply in the civil action. Statutes of limitations shall not be a defense or bar a debt due the State. (Added 1967, No. 147, § 7, eff. Oct. 1, 1968; amended 2021, No. 20, § 313.)
§ 2114. Rental or Mortgage Arrearage Program
(a) The Department for Children and Families shall provide up to three months of rental or mortgage arrearage assistance to eligible families. Assistance under this section is not an entitlement and shall be limited to the funds appropriated.
(b) As used in this section:
(1) "Disability" means:
(A) that an individual is receiving Medicaid, disability insurance benefits under the Social Security Act (SSI or SSDI), or Medicare based on a determination of disability;
(B) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of the individual or a record of such an impairment; or
(C) a physical or mental impairment that prevents an individual from working for at least 30 days as verified by a signed statement from a physician or licensed practitioner.
(2) "Extraordinary event" means a serious situation, occurrence, or emergency that either:
(A) happens unexpectedly and demands immediate attention, including an unanticipated need for a work-related expense necessary to preserve employment or for housing expenses required to remove life-threatening hazards or to keep the home habitable; or
(B) leads to additional expenses or loss of income which could not have been prevented by the family, including a death or illness of a family member.
(3) "Gross housing expenses" includes the family's rent or mortgage, insurance that is required as part of the mortgage, property taxes, condominium fees, and utility costs, including fuel, electricity, water, basic telephone service, and sewer, but excluding television service.
(4) "Income" shall be calculated using the Emergency Assistance rules, including the rules relating to deductions and exemptions.
(c) A family is eligible if:
(1) The family includes at least one dependent child.
(2)(A) The family is in imminent danger of losing its housing due to circumstances that could not reasonably have been avoided, including:
(i) the rent or mortgage payments were not made because the family experienced an extraordinary event that appropriately required the use of the funds;
(ii) a family member has a disability which contributed to the circumstances that could not reasonably have been avoided and resulted in the rent or mortgage payments not being made; or
(iii) the family's essential expenses exceeded the family's income or the family's gross housing expenses were equal to or greater than 60 percent of the family's income.
(B) The family is likely to be eligible for temporary housing assistance, and payment under this section would be more cost-effective than providing temporary housing.
(3) The payment of all or a portion of that arrearage will prevent, not merely postpone, homelessness.
(4) The family has received a notice of rental termination for nonpayment of rent or a sworn statement of the amount of rent owed from the landlord, or a mortgage demand notice from the mortgage holder.
(5) The landlord or mortgage holder agrees to terminate any action intended to evict or otherwise cause the family to relocate as a result of the payment and agrees not to reinstitute such action on the basis of obligations remaining as of the date of payment.
(6) The family meets all other criteria for Emergency Assistance, except that prior receipt of Emergency Assistance for another purpose shall not disqualify the family for assistance under this section. Assistance under this section shall be available not more than once every 12 months. (Added 2005, No. 215 (Adj. Sess.), § 140; amended 2015, No. 23, § 58.)
§ 2115. General assistance program report
On or before September 1 of each year, the Commissioner for Children and Families shall submit a written report to the Joint Fiscal Committee; the House Committees on Appropriations, on General, Housing, and Military Affairs, and on Human Services; and the Senate Committees on Appropriations and on Health and Welfare. The report shall contain the following:
(1) an evaluation of the General Assistance program during the previous fiscal year;
(2) any recommendations for changes to the program;
(3) a plan for continued implementation of the program;
(4) statewide statistics using deidentified data related to the use of emergency housing vouchers during the preceding State fiscal year, including demographic information, client data, shelter and motel usage rates, clients' primary stated cause of homelessness, average lengths of stay in emergency housing by demographic group and by type of housing; and
(5) other information the Commissioner deems appropriate. (Added 2015, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; amended 2017, No. 85, § E.321.2.)