The Vermont Statutes Online
Subchapter 001 : GENERAL PROVISIONS; ELIGIBILITY, AID, AND SERVICES(Cite as: 33 V.S.A. § 1103)
§ 1103. Eligibility and benefit levels
(a) Financial assistance shall be given for the benefit of a dependent child to the relative or caretaker with whom the child is living, unless otherwise provided. The amount of financial assistance to which an eligible person is entitled shall be determined with due regard to the income, resources, and maintenance available to that person and, as far as funds are available, shall provide that person a reasonable subsistence compatible with decency and health. The Commissioner may fix by rule maximum amounts of financial assistance and act to ensure that the expenditures for the programs shall not exceed appropriations for them consistent with section 101 of this title. In no case shall the Department expend State funds in excess of the appropriations for the programs under this chapter.
(b) Financial assistance may include the maintenance of one or both parents, if in need and in the dependent child's home, or a relative or caretaker with whom a dependent child is living, if the relative or caretaker is without sufficient means of support.
(c) The Commissioner shall adopt rules for the determination of eligibility for the Reach Up program and benefit levels for all participating families that include the following provisions:
(1) No less than the first $250.00 per month of earnings from an unsubsidized job and 25 percent of the remaining unsubsidized earnings shall be disregarded in determining the amount of the family's financial assistance grant. The family shall receive the difference between countable income and the Reach Up payment standard in a partial financial assistance grant.
(2) No less than the first $90.00 per month of earnings from a subsidized job shall be disregarded in determining the amount of the family's financial assistance grant. The family shall receive the difference between countable income and the Reach Up payment standard in a partial financial assistance grant. Earnings from subsidized jobs shall qualify for federal and State earned income credit if the family is otherwise eligible for such credit.
(3) Each family development plan shall provide for an incentive payment to be paid to the participating family for completing a required activity or task.
(4) Education stipends, employment stipends, job training stipends, and incentive payments, as determined by the Commissioner, shall be excluded in calculating the financial assistance grant.
(5)(A) The asset limitation shall be $9,000.00 for families for the purposes of determining initial and continuing eligibility for the Reach Up program, and the following savings accounts shall not be considered in the calculation for determining the asset limitation:
(i) a retirement account, such as an individual retirement arrangement (IRA), a defined contribution plan qualified under 26 U.S.C. § 401(k), or any similar account as defined in 26 U.S.C. § 408; and
(ii) a qualified child education savings account, such as the Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan, established in 16 V.S.A. § 2877, or any similar plan qualified under 26 U.S.C. § 529.
(B) The value of assets accumulated from the earnings of adults and children in participating families and from any federal or Vermont earned income tax credit shall be excluded for purposes of determining continuing eligibility for the Reach Up program.
(6) Transitional medical assistance of up to 36 months shall be provided to families with a working adult who becomes ineligible for financial assistance due to increased earnings, unless family income exceeds 185 percent of the federal poverty level, and provided that federal financial participation is available for such transitional medical assistance.
(7) The equity value of one operable motor vehicle for each adult in the family and the equity value of one operable motor vehicle for any child of driving age who needs a vehicle to attend school or work shall be excluded for purposes of determining eligibility for the Reach Up program. The Commissioner shall take all steps necessary to retain current resource protections under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) so that the rules under SNAP and the Reach Up program are compatible.
(8) An individual domiciled in Vermont shall be exempt from the disqualification provided for in 21 U.S.C. § 862a.
(d) In determining eligibility and benefit levels for two-parent participating families, the Commissioner shall:
(1) Allow two-parent families with earned income who would otherwise qualify for assistance to receive financial assistance, regardless of the number of hours worked, and supplement their earnings with partial financial assistance and medical assistance.
(2) Eliminate the requirements for two-parent families that the primary worker must have worked at least six quarters and be unemployed for at least 30 days. It is the intent of this subdivision that two-parent and one-parent families receive financial assistance under more similar rules.
(e) In determining eligibility and benefit levels for parents who are under 18 in participating families, the Commissioner shall:
(1) Require parents who are under 18 to attend school or an appropriate alternative education or training activity.
(2) Ensure that the family development plan of a parent who is under 18 includes a requirement to take part in a case-managed support, education, and training program.
(3) Adopt rules, which shall include appropriate exemptions, requiring parents who are under 18 and who are not emancipated minors in accordance with 12 V.S.A. § 7151 to live with a parent or in an approved supervised living arrangement. The sanctions provided for noncompliance with a Reach Up family development plan requirement under section 1116 of this title shall apply to noncompliance with the rules adopted under this subdivision.
(4) Allow parents who are under 18 and who live with their parents to have their eligibility for the Reach Up program and the amount of their financial assistance grant determined without consideration of their parents' income.
(f) The Commissioner shall disregard no less than $50.00 per month of child support payments in determining eligibility and benefit levels for participating families.
(g) The Commissioner shall use the family composition rules applicable to the welfare demonstration project established pursuant to 1994 Acts and Resolves No. 106 in determining eligibility and benefit levels for a financial assistance grant.
(h) The Department shall offer every eligible family the option of electronic or direct payment of financial assistance for the family's housing or other expenses to the person providing the lodging, utilities, or other service as provided for by rule. (Added 1967, No. 147, § 4; amended 1973, No. 152 (Adj. Sess.), § 21, eff. April 14, 1974; 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; 2005, No. 113 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2007, No. 30, § 4, eff. May 17, 2007; 2009, No. 1 (Sp. Sess.), § E.323; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 24, eff. May 20, 2014; 2013, No. 198 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2015; 2015, No. 58, § E.323; 2015, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § E.323.2; 2017, No. 29, § 2; 2017, No. 109 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2019, No. 72, § E.323.1; 2021, No. 74, § E.323.1.)