All DHHS rules posted on or after January 5, 2023 are available on the DHHS Rulemaking page.
- SNAP Rule #224A - March 2022 Standard Utility Allowance Updates
- TANF Rule #119A - Expansion of Transitional Transportation, and Adjustments to TANF Budgeting
- General Assistance Rule #24A - Recovery Residences
- HOPE Rule #101A - Internet Access, Updates to Eligible Careers and Degree Programs, Increased Program Participant Cap, and Additional Updates
- MaineCare Rule #300
|SNAP Rule #224A - March 2022 Standard Utility Allowance Updates||Rule - Track Changes (Word)||Rule - Clean (Word)|
Concise Summary: This rule implements increases to the standard utility allowances. As a result, SNAP benefits will increase for some households.
Each state agency is charged with determining standard utility allowances and having those approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Each year, Maine proposes figures based on the best available data in July for implementation in October. The utility allowance values for Federal Fiscal Year 2022 were calculated to increase using The Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 240.778% for June 2021 published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Department of Labor, and were submitted to and approved by the USDA. Between June and October 2021, the CPI increased another 11.88 percentage points. This increase is indicative of an additional $2 per month in phone expenses, an additional $14 per month in utility expenses for households without a heating or cooling expense, and an additional $42 per month in utility expenses for households with a heating or cooling expense. To accurately reflect the expense of Maine families, the Department has submitted and the USDA has approved updated standard utility allowances for the remainder of Federal Fiscal Year 2022. These same changes were incorporated into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Rules, in emergency rule making number 2022-031. This rulemaking makes those changes permanent to ensure that SNAP benefits are issued appropriately and accurately taking into account the high utility expenses experienced by Maine residents as verified by the Maine Public Utilities Commission and attested to by various media outlets .
This rule will not have an adverse impact on municipalities or small businesses.
Effective Date: May 30, 2022
|View Comments: Summary of Comments (Word)||Posted: May 18, 2023|
|TANF Rule #119A - Expansion of Transitional Transportation, and Adjustments to TANF Budgeting||Rule - Track Changes (Word)||Rule - Clean (Word)|
Concise Summary: This adopted rule amends Chapter III to clarify the exclusion of certain non-recurring payments as assets. Chapter III Section (B) increases the excluded threshold in recognition of inflation. Chapter V Section B extends the Transitional Transportation (TT) benefit to working families with income below 200% of the federal poverty level even if a family did not participate in ASPIRE-TANF, or lost TANF for a reason other than employment. Pursuant to P.L. 2021 ch. 1 N-1, this adopted rule restricts eligibility for this group to $1,400,000 per year.
Additional updates to Chapter V Section B(4) and (5) include changes related to Chapter V Sections B(4) and (5) regarding payment of TT supports. It also applies the $20 cap uniformly to all months rather than reduce it to $15 for the second six months. In addition, it also clarifies that this benefit is available so long as transportation is incurred regardless of the mode of transportation.
Chapter V(B)(6)(a)(v) is amended to clarify that households only need to report increases in income that put them over the applicable limit.
Appendix Charts page 1, The Table of Percentages for First Month Payment, corrects the rate for the 31st day of the month from 3.20 percent to 3.23 percent.
This adopted rulemaking includes minor changes such as correcting typographical errors, enumeration and formatting changes necessitated by more substantive changes, adding clarifying language, and reducing the use of stigma inducing language as well as modernizing the asset type list to include crypto currency.
All of the above changes are effective upon adoption of this rule.
Updates to Chapter V Section B(4) increases the mileage reimbursement to align with the rate afforded to those covered under the Maine State Employees Association (MSEA) contract. This change is effective retroactive to October 1, 2022, consistent with the MSEA contractual change.
Pursuant to 22 M.R.S. 3769-C(1)(D), this adopted rule increases Appendix Charts, page 2, Standard of Need and Maximum Grant, each October based on the Cost of Living Increase, used by the Social Security Administration.
To comply with 22 M.R.S. 3762(8)(C), Appendix Charts page 3, Worksheet For Calculating Transitional Child Care (TCC) Parent Fees and Subsidy Payments, is updated based on Federal Poverty Level (FPL) figures published in the Annual Update of the HHS Poverty Guidelines, Federal Register 87:14 (January 21, 2022) p. 3315. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/01/21/2022-01166/annual-update-of-the-hhs-poverty-guidelines effective retroactive to October 22, 2022.
Retroactive rulemaking is authorized by the Legislature in accordance with 22 M.R.S. 42(8) because this rule provides a benefit to recipients or beneficiaries and does not have an adverse financial effect on either providers or beneficiaries or recipients.
The adopted rule differs from the proposed rule in the following way:
Chapter V Section (B)(a)(i) is updated to Transitional Transportation (TT) is available for up to 18 months when requested within twelve months of TANF/PaS closure.
This adopted rule effectuates additional supports for working families and reduces complexity of the program for them and Department staff. Additional changes to the adopted rule intends to improve readability and contemporariness of the sections. Families receiving TANF may see an increase in their benefits. In addition, some families not previously eligible for TANF may be eligible under the new income guidelines.
The Department does not anticipate that this rulemaking will cause any specific, actual or any potential points of public controversary for stakeholders, businesses, or municipalities.
Effective Date: December 10, 2022
|View Comments: Summary of Comments (Word)||Posted: December 7, 2022|
|General Assistance Rule #24A - Recovery Residences||Rule - Track Changes (Word)||Rule - Clean (Word)|
Concise Summary: P.L. 2021 Ch. 472 sets requirements and limits on municipalities related to the use of housing assistance for individuals living in Recovery Residences. The Chapter further required the Department to establish in this manual appropriate maximum housing assistance levels for said individuals. Based on a survey of actual expenses for Recovery Residences, the Department has set this level at 75% of the one-bedroom allowance. This rulemaking complies with those requirements by- making edits to the definitions of "Household" and Pooling of Income and the adding of a definition of Recovery Residence in Section II, adding Subsection O to Section IV, adding Paragraph 4 to Section V(D), and making edits to Section VI(B)(3)(b)(ii).
Consistent with P.L. 2021 Ch. 472, the changes listed above are to be applied retroactively to July 1, 2022. Retroactive rulemaking is permitted under 22 M.R.S. 42(8). None of the changes below are being applied retroactively.
The Department regularly reviews rules for clarity and accessibility. Throughout these sections, modifications are being made to use gender neutral language. Uses of similar terms (such as individual, applicant, and recipient) were reviewed and changes made to provide clarity and specificity. Language is being modernized. E.g., references to Food Supplement are updated to SNAP. Citations were reviewed and are being updated for accuracy, specificity, and consistency of format. The enumeration of some subsections, paragraphs, etc. is being updated for clarity and ease of reference.
Within Section II, the following modifications are being made to enhance the clarity of the chapter. The definition of available resources is modified to more explicitly distinguish them from potential resources. A definition of Department of Health and Human Services is added to clarify that uses of this term, DHHS, and The Department throughout the manual are references to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Definitions of earned income and unearned income are added to specify what income fits each category and that all income fits one of these categories. Clarification is added to the definition of eligible person to specify that the 24-month limit applies only to those pursuing a lawful process to apply for immigration relief. The definitions of Family Development Accounts and household is simplified to avoid discrepancies as the statutory definitions are updated. The Department is removing the definition of federal poverty level as that term is no longer used in this chapter. The definition of homelessness is modified to include individuals who do not have a permanent residence upon exiting an institution. The Department is moving the definition of misspent income from Section IV to Section II for consistency and ease of reference. A definition of rehabilitation facility is added to help distinguish between this type of facility and a recovery residence. The definition of Resident is clarified to include individuals who intend to keep a particular town as their permanent residence even if they are temporarily absent. A definition of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is added.
Within Section IV the following modifications are being made to enhance clarity. Subsection A(2) is modified to clarify that recipients are not required to reapply every 30 days unless they are seeking further assistance. The Department is removing from Subsection B reiterations of definitions provided in Section II for brevity and to avoid potential future conflicts. In Subsection F, reiterative language is being removed. Furthermore, in light of current health insurance laws and regulations, Paragraph 1(b) is modified to acknowledge that all employer offered health and dental insurances are considered cost effective for the purposes of General Assistance budgeting. Additionally, Paragraph 2(b) has additional language clarifying that each municipality sets their mileage rate cap. Language is added to Subsection H Paragraph 4 (parallel to the language used in the preceding paragraphs) to spell out that it addresses the verification of expenses. Language is added to Subsection I(6)(b)(i) specifying that the greater of the state or federal minimum wage is used in the calculation of the value of workfare hours (consistent with Subsection L(4)). Subsection J(1) is broken into two paragraphs to more clearly articulate the financial responsibilities of parents and spouses as it relates to General Assistance budgeting. Subsection K is modified to clarify that a minor does not need to be pregnant or a parent to be eligible. Subsection L(5) is reworded to use language more consistent with the rest of the section and more immediately state the circumstances under which this paragraph applies. Furthermore, language is added to Paragraph 13 specifying that piece work standards are set by employers and that General Assistance administrators will adopt good cause determinations made by the Department of Labor, not apply their standards. Subsection M is amended to clarify that Emergency General Assistance is a subset of General Assistance, not a separate benefit. Furthermore, the start date of 120-day disqualification period in Paragraph 3(b) is clarified to the date of the disqualification determination. Additionally, Paragraph 4 is amended to specify that the disqualification only applies to a member of a recipient household. Paragraph 5 is, also, amended to specify that the process to appeal a decision is by requesting a fair hearing.
Section VI(B)(5) is amended to cover all applicants experiencing homelessness.
Effective Date: September 1, 2022
|View Comments: Summary of Comments (Word)||Posted: August 31, 2022|
|HOPE Rule #101A - Internet Access, Updates to Eligible Careers and Degree Programs, Increased Program Participant Cap, and Additional Updates||Rule - Track Changes (Word)||Rule - Clean (Word)|
Concise Summary: This rule provides a necessary support for HOPE participants required to engage in remote learning and provides clarification on eligibility requirements and limits for certain supports already being applied. Department staff will continue to determine eligibility for the HOPE Program and all supports according to current guidance.
The original HOPE rules did not anticipate the need to provide Internet access when establishing the support service funding cap on technology supports. In the interest of public health, Maine's institutions of higher learning suspended their in-person activities during the spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while continuing to provide education and career training programs online. Some of Maines most vulnerable people did not have sustained access to Internet connections necessary to avail themselves of those programs. This rule change allows funding of Internet access for HOPE participants when other cost-effective Internet options are not feasible. Furthermore, the Department regularly reviews policies for clarity, and applicability.
P.L. 2021 Ch. 149 amended 22 M.R.S. 3790-A(2)(C) so that the reference to acceptable target jobs more closely matches the language used by the Maine Department of Labor, and relaxed the criteria for acceptable post-secondary degree programs. This rule change brings the manual in compliance with those changes. These changes include the addition of definitions of "Adequate Job Outlook," Career Pathway, Substantial Improvement in Earnings and Benefits, and Universally Recognized and Accepted; the removal of the term Average Job Outlook; and related modifications to eligibility and verification criteria (the updates to the third sentence of Section 2, Section 3(A)(10)(b)(iv), and Section 7 Subsections B(1)(e) and E(1)(i)(vi) and the addition of Section 7(E)(1)(i)(v)). Although Subsection 1 of 22 M.R.S. 3790-A was not amended, the Department has decided to move forward with rule making as it has determined that the passage of this amendment is an implied repeal of the inconsistent language contained there. [T]he legislature cannot be supposed to have intended that there should be two distinct enactments embracing the same subject matter in force at the same time, and that the new statute, being the most recent expression of the legislative will, must be deemed a substitute for previous enactments, and the only one which is to be regarded as having the force of law. State v. Taplin, 247 A.2d 919, 921-22 (Me. 1968). These changes are effective Monday, October 18, 2021, the effective date of the legislation. Retroactive rulemaking is permissible under 22 M.R.S. 42(8) as the change affords this benefit to more residents of the State of Maine and does not adversely impact applicants, participants, beneficiaries, or providers.
P.L. 2021 Ch. 398 Part BBB amended 22 M.R.S. 3790-A to expand the number of individuals who may be enrolled in the HOPE program from 500 to 800. This rule change brings the manual in compliance with that change effective Thursday, July 1, 2021. Retroactive rulemaking is permissible under 22 M.R.S. 42(8) as the change affords this benefit to more residents of the State of Maine and does not adversely impact applicants, participants, beneficiaries, or providers.
The following changes are not being implemented retroactively:
In Section 1, Definitions, a number of terms are added or have their definitions updated. The definition of Application is updated to allow for electronically signed submissions. This change improves access especially at times that in-person contact is discouraged for health reasons. A definition of Credential is added to clarify this term as distinct from High-Value Credential. The definition of Matriculation is simplified and standardized. This change is necessitated by the vast spectrum of definitions of Matriculation used by various institutions, and the fact that some do not use the term at all. It is further amended to allow for test preparation courses when a HOPE participant has graduated from their primary Training or Education program but is using such a course to prepare for an exam necessary to achieve the related credential. A definition of Outstanding Tuition and Fees is added to help clarify what bills can and cannot be paid by HOPE supports. A definition of Specified Relative is added for consistency with other TANF funded OFI programs. A definition of Stackable Credential is added to facilitate a lifelong education, training, and employment program that leads to improved employability or increased earnings potential in a specific job sector. The definition of Working Age is simplified to avoid a potential conflict should the CWRI change its definition in the future.
In Section 3, Eligibility, the following items are clarified. Paragraphs 6, 8 and 10 of Subsection A are changed to provide more clarity and specificity to the eligibility criteria for Participants, Institutions, and Programs. A list of TANF programs that do not include cash payments is added to A(6). A(8) is modified to clarify that the individual must have aptitude for the career not just the training or education program. The standards of accreditation are added to A(10)(a)(i). In addition to modifications related to P.L. 2021 Ch. 149, A(10)(b) is amended to expand the criteria for cost effectiveness of a training or education program. Amendments to Subsection B(2) clarify the treatment or exclusion of certain income types.
In Section 4, Services, the following items are amended. Subsection B(1)(a) is amended to clarify that the Outstanding Tuition and Fees support does not apply to student loan payments or prior payments made to payment plans entered into before HOPE enrollment. The mileage reimbursement rate in Subsection B(3) is increased from 44 to 45 cents per mile consistent with the MSEA rate at https://www.maine.gov/osc/travel/mileage-other-info and the rate used by other OFI supports such as the Additional Support for People in Retraining and Employment (ASPIRE), Food Supplement Employment and Training (FSET) and Transitional Transportation programs. Paragraphs 3 and 7 of Subsection B are amended to specify that these supports are available only for vehicles being operated in accordance with Maine law. Subsection B(5) is amended to clarify that Technology and Software supports are only considered necessary if the Participant does not have sustained access to Technology and Software at their home. Subsection B(6) is added to allow funding of Internet access for HOPE participants who do not have other available, cost-effective Internet resources.
Section 7, Policies and Procedures, has the following modifications. Subsection B(1) is amended to allow for electronically signed submissions. Subsection B(1) is amended to clarify that applicants can have their denial reconsidered if they provide verifications within the month of denial or the month following. Finally, Subsection B(1) is amended to allow the same timeframe for waitlisted applicants to be reconsidered. These changes provide improved access. Subsections C and D are amended to clarify the end date of eligibility for supports. Subsection C(2) is amended to clarify that a change to an eligibility factor expected to last at least 30 days or a change to HOPE funded services expected to last at least 14 days needs to be reported. Subsection D is corrected to reflect the location of the caps for Supports as Section 4(B). Subsection D(3) is amended to clarify the timeframe during which Participants can request reimbursements. This change reduces the administrative burden on Participants and the Department. Subsection E is amended to reflect the clarifications made to Section 3(A)(6), (8), and (10) detailed above including detailing the acceptable verifications for the clarified eligibility criteria. Subsection E(1)(g) is amended for greater consistency with the terminology and requirements in Section 3(A)(9). Subsection E(1)(i)(v) is further amended to allow other documentation similar to those specified as evidence of acceptability of an online program.
Other changes are part of a standardization of practice across all OFI rules. Enumeration and lettering of subsections, paragraphs, etc. is updated as part of a general effort to make these systems consistent throughout OFI rules and as necessary to accommodate the addition and deletion of material. References to Maine law or regulations are reformatted for standardization within the document and consistency with the conventions detailed in Uniform Maine Citations by Michael D. Seitzinger, Charles K Leadbetter, and Sara T.S. Wolff. (https://digitalcommons.mainelaw.maine.edu/uniform-maine-citations). References to various website URLs are updated to reflect instances where the owner of the information changed the URL. Some references to other parts of this manual are corrected for clarity. Changes include using gender inclusive pronouns. Other grammatical and typographical errors are corrected. Redundant terms are removed. References to Caretaker Relative are changed to Specified Relative for consistency with other TANF funded Office for Family Independence (OFI) programs.
As proposed, this rule would only have authorized technology and software supports if they were not available to the participant. As a result of public comments, the adopted version of this rule clarifies that these supports are authorized if the participant does not have access to them at their home.
As a result of comments, clarification was added related to employability aptitude. The adopted rule specifies that verification of employability aptitude will only be requested if the Department receives information that the individual would not meet the standards defined by the professional licensing or regulatory board for the individuals chosen industry and provides added specificity as to what documentation is acceptable.
On the advice of the OAG, information was added on how to acquire the current income standards from the Department.
Effective Date: April 25, 2022
|View Comments: Summary of Comments (Word)||Posted: April 27, 2022|
|MaineCare Rule #300||Rule - Track Changes (Word)||Rule - Clean (Word)|
Concise Summary: P.L. 2021 Ch. 461 amended 22 M.R.S. 3174-G to incrementally increase the period of time an individual can receive postpartum coverage. P.L. 2022 Ch. 519 adjusted the timeframe of those extensions to comply with 42 U.S.C. 1396a(e) and 1397gg(e)(1) as amended by P.L. 117-2, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. This rulemaking incorporates those extended timeframes into Part 2 13.1(III) and Part 3 2.3(I) effective August 1, 2022.
P.L. 2021 Ch. 461 further amended 22 M.R.S. 3174-G to provide MaineCare coverage to non-citizens during their pregnant/postpartum period or under the age of 21 to the extent allowable under federal law. This rulemaking incorporates that coverage into Part 3 2.3(III). Consistent with amendments made by P.L. 2022 Ch. 519, and State Plan Amendments ME 22-0020 and ME-20-0021 these changes are, also, effective July 1, 2022.
P.L. 2021 Ch. 398 Part DDD established 22 M.R.S. 3174-FFF to provide state-funded MaineCare and CubCare to non-citizens under age 21 who would be eligible for the federally-funded program if not for their immigration status. This rulemaking incorporates that program in the definitions of "Cub Care" and Coverage for Noncitizens Under Age 21 in Part 2 1, Part 3 2.1(V), and Part 5 3(C) effective July 1, 2022 consistent with the timeframe in law.
Consistent with 8 U.S.C. 1612(b)(2)(G) as established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, P.L. 116-260, 208, this rulemaking extends MaineCare coverage to otherwise eligible non-citizens with Compact of Free Association (COFA) status. This addition of Subparagraph P to Part 2 3.4(I) is effective December 27, 2020.
The Department is adopting the preceding changes retroactively to the dates indicated. Retroactive rulemaking is permissible under 22 M.R.S. 42(8) as these changes afford benefits to more residents of the State of Maine and do not adversely impact applicants, participants, beneficiaries, or providers. The following changes are not adopted retroactively.
This rulemaking clarifies the requirements in Part 2 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, and 3.4 for applicants and the Department as they relate to noncitizen eligibility. These requirements are consistent with 42 U.S.C. 1320b-7 and 42 C.F.R. 435.956(a).
The Department is updating Part 2 11, and Part 5 1, 9, and 10 to reflect online application avenues that have changed.
The Department is removing language from Part 3 2.4 and Part 5 3 that was necessary immediately after the adoption of other rule changes, but no longer applies.
The following additional updates are being made to Part 2. Section 7.1 is amended to include a more accurate list of programs that do not require cooperation in obtaining medical support from a non-custodial parent. The Department is removing redundant language from Section 12.2. Additionally, general verification requirements in Section 12.1 are modified to specify that the Department must use electronic verifications systems when available. Only if eligibility cannot be determined based on those systems is verification required of the individual. These changes are necessary to comply with 42 C.F.R. 435.949. Section 13.1 is amended to more clearly articulate that while a child may be eligible for continuous coverage for 12 months, the category of eligibility may change. Section 13.3 is reworded to be more consistent with other sections that address change reporting. The Department is removing ambiguous language from Section 13.4. Clarity is added to Section 15 related to the types of computer matches that require timely noticing.
The following additional updates are being made to Part 3. A definition of Federal Poverty Level is added to Section 1. The Department is removing an unnecessary redundant definition in Section 2.1. Section 2.2 is corrected to indicate an individual is still considered to live with their parent or caretaker if they attended the Governor Baxter State School for the Deaf if services cannot be found in their home community. Section 2.3(II) is amended to clearly state that providers must communicate a decision to the Department as a whole, not to a specific regional office. It is further be amended to clarify that Presumptive Eligibility ends the earlier of the date the Department renders a decision or the end of the month following the month the provider renders a decision. Section 4.1.1 is amended to more clearly state which coverage groups may move to Transitional MaineCare. Section 4.2.2 is amended to reflect that recipients who are no longer employed must request a good cause determination before the Department can establish one.
The Department is removing redundant language from Part 5 Section 9.
Finally, some non-substantive changes are being made for clarity and inclusivity. Where possible, similar terms that may have carried stigma or are now out of date are replaced with noncitizen. The Department is using person first language except where it would create inconsistency in terminology used in other parts of the manual. Language is rendered gender neutral where possible. The Department is converting some language to the active voice for clarity. Some instances of bulleted items are converted to a more consistent outline style. Citations and cross references are updated as needed for accuracy, clarity, and consistency of format. Minor corrections to punctuation, grammar, and spelling are being made. Whole numbers zero through ten are being represented in word form with all other numbers being represented numerically (consistent with the method being applied to all Office for Family Independence Manuals). Date format is being made consistent throughout these parts. Part 2 8 is reorganized. These changes improve the readability of the manual without changing its meaning.
The adopted rule differs from the proposed rule in the following ways: Amendments have been made to clarify that the SAVE requirements do not apply to citizens or noncitizens who do not declare a qaualifying status; The reference to individuals being limited to Emergency Services if SAVE verification could not be completed within the reasonable opportunity period has been removed; the section on Emergency Services has been updated to clarify it does not apply to individuals under 21 or to pregnant individuals eligible for full coverage; References to the Mountain View Youth Development Center have been modernized to refer to the Mountain View Correctional Facility; And the CHIP coverage for pregnant individuals was updated to- include the correct effective date of July 1, 2022, eliminate language that may have been interpreted to limit the type of care covered, and clarify that coverage continues until the end of the month the pregnancy ends or longer if necessary to allow for adequate and timely notice.
See http://www.Maine.gov/dhhs/ofi/rules/index.shtml for rules and related rulemaking documents.
EFFECTIVE DATE: November 6, 2022
Effective Date: November 6, 2022
|View Comments: Summary of Comments (Word)||Posted: September 20, 2011|