Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

File No. 163

    February Session, 2018

Senate Bill No. 288

Senate, April 3, 2018

The Committee on Veterans' Affairs reported through SEN. FLEXER of the 29th Dist. and SEN. MARTIN of the 31st Dist., Chairpersons of the Committee on the part of the Senate, that the bill ought to pass.

AN ACT EXPANDING CERTAIN VETERANS' ACCESS TO PUBLIC ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 17b-28i of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) To the extent permissible by federal law, the Commissioner of Social Services shall disregard all federal non-service-connected pension benefits, including, but not limited to, the basic pension, the Aid and Attendance [pension benefits] benefit and the Housebound benefit, which pension benefits are granted to a veteran, as defined in section 27-103, or the surviving spouse of such veteran, when determining income eligibility for the state's Medicare savings, medical assistance and energy assistance programs administered under section 17b-2.

(b) The Commissioner of Social Services may seek approval of an amendment to the state Medicaid plan or a waiver from federal law, if necessary, to exempt such benefits from income eligibility criteria as unreimbursed medical expenses.

Sec. 2. Subsection (c) of section 17b-191 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(c) To be eligible for cash assistance under the program, a person shall (1) be (A) eighteen years of age or older; (B) a minor found by a court to be emancipated pursuant to section 46b-150; or (C) under eighteen years of age and the commissioner determines good cause for such person's eligibility, and (2) not have assets exceeding two hundred fifty dollars or, if such person is married, such person and his or her spouse shall not have assets exceeding five hundred dollars. In determining eligibility, the commissioner shall not consider as income any federal non-service-connected pension benefits, including, but not limited to, the basic pension, the Aid and Attendance [pension benefits] benefit and the Housebound benefit, which pension benefits are granted to a veteran, as defined in section 27-103, or the surviving spouse of such veteran. No person who is a substance abuser and refuses or fails to enter available, appropriate treatment shall be eligible for cash assistance under the program until such person enters treatment. No person whose benefits from the temporary family assistance program have terminated as a result of time-limited benefits or for failure to comply with a program requirement shall be eligible for cash assistance under the program.

Sec. 3. Section 17b-256f of the 2018 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

The Commissioner of Social Services shall increase income disregards used to determine eligibility by the Department of Social Services for the federal Qualified Medicare Beneficiary, the Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary and the Qualifying Individual programs, administered in accordance with the provisions of 42 USC 1396d(p), by such amounts that shall result in persons with income that is (1) less than two hundred eleven per cent of the federal poverty level qualifying for the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary program, (2) at or above two hundred eleven per cent of the federal poverty level but less than two hundred thirty-one per cent of the federal poverty level qualifying for the Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary program, and (3) at or above two hundred thirty-one per cent of the federal poverty level but less than two hundred forty-six per cent of the federal poverty level qualifying for the Qualifying Individual program. The commissioner shall not apply an asset test for eligibility under the Medicare Savings Program. The commissioner shall not consider as income any federal non-service-connected pension benefits, including, but not limited to, the basic pension, the Aid and Attendance [pension benefits] benefit and the Housebound benefit, which pension benefits are granted to a veteran, as defined in section 27-103, or the surviving spouse of such veteran. The Commissioner of Social Services, pursuant to section 17b-10, may implement policies and procedures to administer the provisions of this section while in the process of adopting such policies and procedures in regulation form, provided the commissioner prints notice of the intent to adopt the regulations on the department's Internet web site and the eRegulations System not later than twenty days after the date of implementation. Such policies and procedures shall be valid until the time final regulations are adopted.

Sec. 4. Section 17b-256f of the 2018 supplement to the general statutes, as amended by section 6 of public act 17-1 of the January special session, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2018):

The Commissioner of Social Services shall establish eligibility for the federal Qualified Medicare Beneficiary, the Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary and the Qualifying Individual programs, administered in accordance with the provisions of 42 USC 1396d(p), by such amounts that shall result in persons with income that is (1) less than one hundred per cent of the federal poverty level qualifying for the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary program, (2) at or above one hundred per cent of the federal poverty level but less than one hundred twenty per cent of the federal poverty level qualifying for the Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary program, and (3) at or above one hundred twenty per cent of the federal poverty level but less than one hundred thirty-five per cent of the federal poverty level qualifying for the Qualifying Individual program. The commissioner shall not apply an asset test for eligibility under the Medicare Savings Program. The commissioner shall not consider as income any federal non-service-connected pension benefits, including, but not limited to, the basic pension, the Aid and Attendance [pension benefits] benefit and the Housebound benefit, which pension benefits are granted to a veteran, as defined in section 27-103, or the surviving spouse of such veteran. The Commissioner of Social Services, pursuant to section 17b-10, may implement policies and procedures to administer the provisions of this section while in the process of adopting such policies and procedures in regulation form, provided the commissioner prints notice of the intent to adopt the regulations on the department's Internet web site and the eRegulations System not later than twenty days after the date of implementation. Such policies and procedures shall be valid until the time final regulations are adopted.

Sec. 5. Subsection (a) of section 17b-261 of the 2018 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) Medical assistance shall be provided for any otherwise eligible person whose income, including any available support from legally liable relatives and the income of the person's spouse or dependent child, is not more than one hundred forty-three per cent, pending approval of a federal waiver applied for pursuant to subsection (e) of this section, of the benefit amount paid to a person with no income under the temporary family assistance program in the appropriate region of residence and if such person is an institutionalized individual as defined in Section 1917 of the Social Security Act, 42 USC 1396p(h)(3), and has not made an assignment or transfer or other disposition of property for less than fair market value for the purpose of establishing eligibility for benefits or assistance under this section. Any such disposition shall be treated in accordance with Section 1917(c) of the Social Security Act, 42 USC 1396p(c). Any disposition of property made on behalf of an applicant or recipient or the spouse of an applicant or recipient by a guardian, conservator, person authorized to make such disposition pursuant to a power of attorney or other person so authorized by law shall be attributed to such applicant, recipient or spouse. A disposition of property ordered by a court shall be evaluated in accordance with the standards applied to any other such disposition for the purpose of determining eligibility. The commissioner shall establish the standards for eligibility for medical assistance at one hundred forty-three per cent of the benefit amount paid to a household of equal size with no income under the temporary family assistance program in the appropriate region of residence. In determining eligibility, the commissioner shall not consider as income any federal non-service-connected pension benefits, including, but not limited to, the basic pension, the Aid and Attendance [pension benefits] benefit and the Housebound benefit, which pension benefits are granted to a veteran, as defined in section 27-103, or the surviving spouse of such veteran. Except as provided in section 17b-277 and section 17b-292, the medical assistance program shall provide coverage to persons under the age of nineteen with household income up to one hundred ninety-six per cent of the federal poverty level without an asset limit and to persons under the age of nineteen, who qualify for coverage under Section 1931 of the Social Security Act, with household income not exceeding one hundred ninety-six per cent of the federal poverty level without an asset limit, and their parents and needy caretaker relatives, who qualify for coverage under Section 1931 of the Social Security Act, with household income not exceeding one hundred thirty-three per cent of the federal poverty level without an asset limit. Such levels shall be based on the regional differences in such benefit amount, if applicable, unless such levels based on regional differences are not in conformance with federal law. Any income in excess of the applicable amounts shall be applied as may be required by said federal law, and assistance shall be granted for the balance of the cost of authorized medical assistance. The Commissioner of Social Services shall provide applicants for assistance under this section, at the time of application, with a written statement advising them of (1) the effect of an assignment or transfer or other disposition of property on eligibility for benefits or assistance, (2) the effect that having income that exceeds the limits prescribed in this subsection will have with respect to program eligibility, and (3) the availability of, and eligibility for, services provided by the Nurturing Families Network established pursuant to section 17b-751b. For coverage dates on or after January 1, 2014, the department shall use the modified adjusted gross income financial eligibility rules set forth in Section 1902(e)(14) of the Social Security Act and the implementing regulations to determine eligibility for HUSKY A, HUSKY B and HUSKY D applicants, as defined in section 17b-290. Persons who are determined ineligible for assistance pursuant to this section shall be provided a written statement notifying such persons of their ineligibility and advising such persons of their potential eligibility for one of the other insurance affordability programs as defined in 42 CFR 435.4.

Sec. 6. Subsection (l) of section 17b-342 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(l) In determining eligibility for the program described in this section, the commissioner shall not consider as income any federal non-service-connected pension benefits, including, but not limited to, the basic pension, the Aid and Attendance [pension benefits] benefit and the Housebound benefit, which pension benefits are granted to a veteran, as defined in section 27-103, or the surviving spouse of such veteran.

Sec. 7. Subsection (a) of section 17b-104 of the 2018 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) The Commissioner of Social Services shall administer the program of state supplementation to the Supplemental Security Income Program provided for by the Social Security Act and state law. The commissioner may delegate any powers and authority to any deputy, assistant, investigator or supervisor, who shall have, within the scope of the power and authority so delegated, all of the power and authority of the Commissioner of Social Services. The commissioner shall establish a standard of need based on the cost of living in this state for the temporary family assistance program and the state-administered general assistance program. The commissioner shall make a reinvestigation, at least every twelve months, of all cases receiving aid from the state, except that such reinvestigation may be conducted every twenty-four months for recipients of assistance to the elderly or disabled with stable circumstances, and shall maintain all case records of the several programs administered by the Department of Social Services so that such records show, at all times, full information with respect to eligibility of the applicant or recipient. In the determination of need under any public assistance program, such income or earnings shall be disregarded as federal law requires, and such income or earnings may be disregarded as federal law permits. In determining eligibility, the commissioner shall disregard from income any federal non-service-connected pension benefits, including, but not limited to, the basic pension, the Aid and Attendance [pension benefits] benefit and the Housebound benefit, which pension benefits are granted to a veteran, as defined under section 27-103, or the surviving spouse of such veteran. The commissioner shall encourage and promulgate such incentive earning programs as are permitted by federal law and regulations.

Sec. 8. Subsection (a) of section 17b-801 of the 2018 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) The Commissioner of Social Services shall administer a state-appropriated fuel assistance program to provide, within available appropriations, fuel assistance to elderly and disabled persons whose household gross income is above the income eligibility guidelines for the Connecticut energy assistance program but does not exceed two hundred per cent of federal poverty guidelines. The income eligibility guidelines for the state-appropriated fuel assistance program shall be determined, annually, by the Commissioner of Social Services, in conjunction with the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management. In determining eligibility, the commissioner shall not consider as income any federal non-service-connected pension benefits, including, but not limited to, the basic pension, the Aid and Attendance [pension benefits] benefit and the Housebound benefit, which pension benefits are granted to a veteran, as defined under section 27-103, or the surviving spouse of such veteran. The commissioner may adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, to implement the provisions of this subsection.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

from passage

17b-28i

Sec. 2

from passage

17b-191(c)

Sec. 3

from passage

17b-256f

Sec. 4

July 1, 2018

17b-256f

Sec. 5

from passage

17b-261(a)

Sec. 6

from passage

17b-342(l)

Sec. 7

from passage

17b-104(a)

Sec. 8

from passage

17b-801(a)

VA

Joint Favorable

 

The following Fiscal Impact Statement and Bill Analysis are prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and do not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose. In general, fiscal impacts are based upon a variety of informational sources, including the analyst's professional knowledge. Whenever applicable, agency data is consulted as part of the analysis, however final products do not necessarily reflect an assessment from any specific department.


OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact:

Agency Affected

Fund-Effect

FY 19 $

FY 20 $

Social Services, Dept.

GF - Cost

See Below

See Below

Note: GF=General Fund

Municipal Impact: None

Explanation

The bill will result in a cost to the Department of Social Services (DSS) associated disregarding all federal non-service-connected pension benefits for veterans or their surviving spouses for purposes of determining income eligibility. By reducing the income that is currently counted towards income limits, the bill increases the number of individuals who could be eligible under the following DSS programs: Medicaid, the Medicare Savings Program, State Supplement (Aid to the Aged, Blind and Disabled), State Administered General Assistance, Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders, and fuel and weatherization assistance.

For context, there were 185,000 veterans in Connecticut on 9/30/17. The number of veterans participating in the assistance programs specified by the bill is unknown. The impact of the bill is dependent on (1) the number of veterans participating in each DSS program, (2) the benefit amount being disregarded, and (3) the income limits of the program.

The Out Years

The annualized ongoing fiscal impact identified above would continue into the future subject to the number of applicable veterans in DSS programs and the amount of benefit being disregarded.

OLR Bill Analysis

SB 288

AN ACT EXPANDING CERTAIN VETERANS' ACCESS TO PUBLIC ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS.

SUMMARY

To the extent allowed by federal law, this bill requires the Department of Social Services (DSS) commissioner, when determining income eligibility for certain state assistance programs, to disregard all non-service-connected pension benefits granted to veterans or their surviving spouses. Current law only requires the commissioner to disregard federal Aid and Attendance pension benefits. The bill specifically includes federal basic pension and Housebound benefits (see BACKGROUND) as required income disregards.

Under the bill, the DSS income disregards apply to the following programs:

Current law allows the commissioner to seek approval of an amendment to the State Medicaid Plan or a waiver from federal law to exempt Aid and Attendance pension benefits from income eligibility criteria. The bill allows him to seek such an exemption for all non-service connected pension benefits as unreimbursed medical expenses.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

BACKGROUND

Aid and Attendance

The Aid and Attendance monthly pension amount may be added to a veteran's monthly pension if the veteran needs aid to perform personal everyday living functions, is bedridden or in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity, or has specific limited eyesight.

Housebound Benefit

This increased monthly pension amount may be added to a veteran's monthly pension if he or she is substantially confined to his or her immediate premises due to permanent disability.

Related Bill

sHB 5038, reported favorably by the Human Services Committee, makes permanent a limit on eligibility for the state-funded portion of the Connecticut Home Care for Elders program.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Veterans' Affairs Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

14

Nay

0

(03/14/2018)

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