The home site is the one dwelling the a/r considers his/her established or principal home, along with all contiguous property, regardless of type of ownership (sole ownership, life estate, tenancy-in-common, tenancy-by-the entirety, etc.). It can be fixed or mobile and located on land or water (e.g., house, mobile home, camper, house boat, motor home).
Do not count the value of the homesite if one of the following applies:
1. The a/r states his subjective intent to return home. “Subjective intent” means that it is his/her intent to return regardless of the circumstances of the absence from the home. If the a/r is mentally competent, do not consider other factors such as the a/r’s age, physical condition, mental capacity or other circumstances. The time of return may be indefinite, and there is no time limit on this exclusion. The property must have been the individual's home prior to the time the individual left the property.
a. Verify the following at application and each redetermination by obtaining a signed statement of the a/r’s responses to following:
(1) When and why he left the home;
(2) Whether he intends to return, and If he does not intend to return, when that decision was made.
b. If the a/r is competent and the statement is not self-contradictory, the a/r’s statement supersedes all other statements made by any other individuals.
c. If the a/r has been found legally incompetent, or if the a/r’s statement is self-contradictory, obtain the signed statement from his representative (guardian, POA, spouse or family member).
Examples of self-contradictory statements:
“Sometimes I want to go home and sometimes I don't.”
“I intend to go home, but I want to stay here.”
“Yes, I want to go home, but I really don’t know if I should.”
2. There is a spouse or dependent relative remaining in the home. Dependency may be of any kind. The relative may depend upon the a/r for housing, financial support, food, clothing, etc. Accept the a/r’s statement, or if the a/r is unable to provide a statement, the written statement of the representative (guardian, POA, spouse or family member). The homesite continues to be excluded if the relative is temporarily absent from the home but intends to return.
Verify by obtaining a signed statement at application and redetermination showing:
a. Who is living in the home,
b. How they are related. Eligible relatives are:
(2) Child, stepchild or grandchild
(3) Aunt, uncle, niece, nephew
(4) Brother or sister (including step and half siblings)
c. How the person is dependent upon the a/r.
3. If the one of the above exclusions ends (spouse or dependent relative is no longer living on the property, or the a/r states he no longer intends to return home), reevaluate the use of the property. Count the property's equity in resources beginning the first day of the month following the month the exclusion ends, unless the property can be excluded for another reason.
Effective April 1, 1988, the value of an individual's ownership interest in jointly owned real property is an excluded resource for as long as sale of the property would cause undue hardship, due to loss of housing, to a co-owner.
1. Undue hardship would result if such co-owner:
a. Uses the property as his or her principal place of residence;
b. Would have to move if the property were sold; and
c. Has no other readily available housing.
2. Obtain a statement from the co-owner regarding whether he or she:
a. Uses the property as his or her principal place of residence;
b. Would have to move if the property were sold; and
c. Has other living quarters readily available.
Accept any reasonable allegation from the co-owner that there is no readily available housing (e.g., no other affordable housing available or no other housing with necessary physical modifications for a handicapped individual).
If undue hardship ceases to apply because the joint owner moves off the property or dies, etc., the property may be excluded to allow reasonable efforts to sell as outlined in V.D.
Effective with applications on or after December 1, 2009, SA no longer excludes from countable resources the value all burial spaces, plots, vaults, mausoleums, casket and urns in the a/r’s name. A burial space or agreement which represents the purchase of a burial space held for the burial of the a/r, his or her spouse, or any other member of his or her immediate family is an excluded resource, regardless of value.
Eligibility for SA is not affected for recipients who were eligible for SA prior to 12/1/09 and ongoing, who had all burial spaces, plots, vaults, mausoleums, casket and urns in their name prior to December 1, 2009. Continue to exclude from countable resources even those burial items purchased for someone other than an immediate family member prior to December 1, 2009. Document this in the case file.
Beginning December 1, 2009, if an ongoing recipient purchases a burial space, crypt, vault, mausoleum, casket or urn that is not designated for an immediate family member treat it as a change in situation. Count the value toward the individual resource limit of $2,000.00.
If SA correctly terminates and the client later reapplies for SA the applicant will be subject to the new resources policy, counting the equity value of burial spaces, plots, vaults, mausoleums, casket and urns not purchased for members of the a/r’s immediate family.
“Immediate family” also includes the spouse of the immediate family member. If the relative's relationship to the a/r is by marriage only, the marriage must be in effect in order for the burial space exclusion to continue to apply. For example, a burial space held for a sister-in-law is no longer excludable if she and the a/r’s brother divorce.
The a/r’s immediate family includes his or her:
1. Parents, including adoptive parents;
2. Minor or adult children, including adoptive and stepchildren;
3. Siblings (brothers and sisters), including adoptive and stepsiblings.
4. Of items that serve the same purpose, exclude only one per person. For example, exclude a cemetery lot and a casket for the same person, but not a casket and an urn.
5. General Exclusion Procedures:
a. If an a/r alleges owning only one burial space, or an individual and spouse (joint ownership) allege owning no more than two spaces, assume that the spaces are excluded.
b. If an a/r, or a/r and spouse (joint ownership), allege owning more than one or two spaces, respectively, obtain a signed statement showing:
(1) The name of the person for whose burial each space is intended; and
(2) The relationship of each such person to the a/r.
(3) Exclude only those spaces that are alleged to be for the burial of the a/r, the spouse, or a member of the immediate family.
6. Verifying the Value of Non-excluded Burial Property
Determine the amount the a/r paid for the property by examining the deed,
contract or bill of sale. This includes plots, crypts, vaults, mausoleums, caskets
and urns. If the a/r still owes payment for the property, subtract the amount owed from
the agreed upon cost, and count the equity toward the allowable SA resource limit of
1. In the operation (actively conducting business) of a trade, business, farm operation, or self-employment enterprise regardless of its equity value or amount of income.
2. For home consumption (such as land used to tend a garden or a boat used to fish). This exemption is limited. Only exempt up to $6,000 in total combined equity of all personal and real property used for this purpose.
3. If the a/r is blind or disabled, exclude resources that are identified as necessary to fulfill a plan for achieving self-support (PASS) which is in writing, has been approved by Social Security, and is being actively pursued by the a/r. A PASS is usually designed for up to 18 months, but may be extended by Social Security for up to 48 months. Begin counting the resources the first day of the month following the month in which the a/r fails to follow the conditions of his plan or reaches the goal of his plan.
a. It is presumed that a resource owned by an individual is also available to him, unless there are circumstances that make the resource unavailable.
b. The terms of a divorce decree, will, deed, court order, resulting trust or legally binding agreement may cause a resource technically owned by an individual to be unavailable to him.
c. A resulting trust exists when a person has a resource in his/her own name but is holding it for the benefit of another person and he:
(1) Retains no legal interest in the resource, and
(2) Will not benefit from the disposal of the resource.
d. If the a/r or a person financially responsible for the a/r alleging that a resource is held in trust for someone else continues to retain a legal interest in the resource and/or will receive the proceeds from the disposal of the resource, it is not considered to be held in trust for someone else and is a countable resource.
e. If the a/r or a person financially responsible for the a/r claims a resource is not available because of a resulting trust/legally binding agreement, he/she must cooperate by presenting necessary documentary evidence to show that the resource is unavailable.
f. A legally binding agreement may be either a written or a verbal contract. The evidence must be sufficient to:
(1) Convince others of the validity of the agreement,
(2) Show that the agreement existed at the time of the purchase/deposit of the resource, and
(3) Show that the legal titleholder holds the resource/property in trust for the party applying the purchase price or making the deposit.
a. When a resource is apparently owned by an individual who has applied for Special Assistance, determine whether it may not be actually available to him because of a legally binding agreement or resulting trust. Obtain verification at application or any change in situation involving a resulting trust/legally binding agreement. It is not necessary to reverify at redetermination.
(1) Written Contract
(a) Review the contract and determine if it affects the availability of the resource.
(b) Determine the intent and terms of the agreement between parties, including the type of resource, the date of the contract, reason for its existence, and specific terms of the agreement.
(c) Contact the county or agency attorney if there are questions regarding the terms or validity of the written contract.
(2) Verbal Contract/Agreement
Ask the a/r to submit 2 different types of the following evidence:
(a) Written statement(s)/affidavit(s) from the parties involved in the verbal agreement:
1. Giving the type of resource,
2. The intent and terms of the agreement, and
3. Describing the involvement of the parties to the agreement.
(b) Canceled checks or receipts for payments on a mortgage, loan, etc., showing who is making payments on the resource,
(c) Letter(s) or statement(s) from finance companies, banks, credit unions, loan officers, automobile salespersons, insurance companies or agents, or others identifying the type of resource and supporting claims that the resource is held for another individual who is making payments on the resource, or
(d) Written statements from at least 2 knowledgeable persons:
1. Identifying the type of resource, and
2. Giving the circumstances surrounding ownership, and
3. Availability of the resource and the basis for their knowledge.
(3) Real Property
(a) Contact the county attorney to request assistance in determining availability if the resource in question involves real property.
(b) Only a court can set aside a deed to real property.
(4) Liquid Assets/Bank Accounts
Obtain the following documentation for a bank account the a/r alleges is in his/her name only for check cashing purposes or because the other individual needs the a/r or financially responsible person's name on the account in the event of absence, illness, or for other reasons:
(a) Primary Verification
A written statement from each individual whose name is on the account, attesting to actual ownership of the funds and why the a/r's or financially responsible person's name is on the account.
(b) Alternative Verification
A statement regarding the ownership of funds from the a/r or financially responsible person and one other knowledgeable source, such as:
1. The parties involved in the agreement,
2. Finance companies, banks, credit unions, loan officers, automobile salespersons, insurance companies or agents, or
3. An individual who knows the circumstances surrounding ownership and availability of the resource.
(5) Motor Vehicles
Obtain the documentation in (a) below and one of the documents listed in items (b), (c), or (d), below for a motor vehicle in the name of the a/r or financially responsible person who alleges that he is not the owner:
(a) Written statement(s) or affidavit(s) from the a/r and the other party(ies) involved in a verbal contract:
1. Giving the intent and terms of the agreement and the involvement of the parties to the agreement, and
2. Stating that the true owner, who is not the a/r or financially responsible person, makes monthly payments on the vehicle and pays the insurance premiums or taxes on the vehicle.
(b) Cancelled checks or receipts for payments on a loan, etc., showing who is making payments on the vehicle.
(c) Letter(s) or statement(s) from finance companies, banks, credit unions, loan officers, automobile salesmen, insurance companies or agents, or others supporting claims of the cost or of responsibility for the vehicle.
(d) Written statements from at least 2 knowledgeable sources as to the circumstances surrounding ownership and availability of the vehicle. Include the basis for their knowledge.
b. Do not count the resource for the a/r who shows by the evidence that it is held in trust for another individual.
c. If the other individual applies for SA/MA, it must be counted as a resource for that individual.
1. Determine if the a/r has liquid assets needed to operate a business.
2. Verify the status of bank accounts used in the operation of a business.
a. DBA (doing business as) account- Verify with the bank and the records of the DBA account that these funds are not used for personal bills
b. Combined with personal funds- If the bank account is used for personal and business transactions, the business assets must be separately identified to be excluded.
2. Exclude a business account in the name of the business or corporation that is totally separate from personal funds. Count the income of the business. Refer to SA-3210, Income.
Tobacco allotments were administered by the Farm Service Agency and provided the right to produce a certain number of pounds of tobacco for harvest. Effective November of 2005 the Tobacco Transition Payment Program (TTPP) eliminated the tobacco quota or allotment system, calculating the value of lost quota and providing compensation in the form of cash installment payments to both owners and producers. Essentially the quotas were bought by the federal government. An initial payment was made to each quota owner and to each quota producer in November 2005.
Beginning January 2006, both tobacco quota owners and tobacco quota producers were given the option to receive annual payments over a ten year period or receive all payments in one lump sum.
Payments are distributed during the first couple of months each calendar year. Based on SSI policy, it has been determined by SSI that these payments will be treated differently for quota owners than they will be for quota producers.
1. TTPP payments to quota owners are a conversion of a resource, i.e., quota for cash. The rationale for treating the compensation to quota owners as a conversion of a resource is that the quota is assigned to the land ownership. Land meets the definition of a resource.
a. If the quota owner converts the quota to like property, i.e., another resource, treat the transaction as a conversion of a resource.
b. If the quota owner assigns the contract to a third party because he or she does not want the payments, i.e., gives it away, follow the transfer of resource policy.
2. TTPP payments to quota producers, or those who rent the land, are net earned self-employment income (NESE). The compensation for producers represents the value of lost price support in the sale of tobacco and should be treated as NESE.
If the quota producer assigns the contract to a third party because he or she does not
want the payments, i.e., gives it away, follow the transfer of resource policy in SA-3205.
In determining the resources of an individual (and spouse, if any) who is of Indian descent from a federally recognized Indian tribe, any interests of the individual (or spouse) in trust or restricted lands are excluded from resources.
If a/r alleges an interest in trust or restricted land as a member of an Indian Tribe:
1. Obtain for the file a copy of any document or documents that might identify it as such; and/or
2. Verify the allegation with the appropriate Indian agency.
If an a/r does not have resources that exceed the resource limit, incompetence is not an issue.
When an a/r has excess resources and he is alleged to be incompetent or has been ruled incompetent by a North Carolina court, use the following policy to determine if the resources may be excluded.
a. Resources owned by a/r or where the a/r has a legal interest are not available to the a/r if:
(1) He is alleged to be incompetent and has no legal representative/guardian/durable POA to make the resources available, or
(2) He has a legal representative/guardian/durable POA who does not act to make the resources available.
a. Otherwise countable and available/accessible resources, held solely or jointly by an alleged to be incompetent a/r, are exempt prior to a formal declaration of incompetency if:
(1) A written statement as described in IV.I.3.a. (3), below, from a knowledgeable source supports the allegation of incompetence, and
(2) The a/r is alleged to be incompetent for a period of at least 30 consecutive days or until his/her death, and
NOTE: If applicant is not alleged to be incompetent for 30 days hold application for the 30-day period.
(3) The resources cannot be accessed on behalf of the a/r because:
(a) He has no legal representative/guardian/durable POA, or
(b) His/her legal representative/guardian/durable POA is unable, fails, or refuses to act to make the resources available.
b. Incompetency for Special Assistance eligibility purposes may be:
(1) Alleged by someone who is in a position to know, as indicated in IV.I.3.a. (2) , below, or
(2) Adjudicated incompetent by a North Carolina court.
c. Incompetency may be alleged:
(1) At the application interview, or
(2) When an a/r receives new resources, or
(3) When unreported resources are discovered, or
(4) When a change in situation causes a previously exempt resource to become countable, or
(5) When the value of a resource increases.
d. Exclude otherwise countable resources of an alleged incompetent individual if a representative has not been previously established who is legally authorized to act on the alleged incompetent individual's behalf, including accessing his/her resources.
e. For purposes of Special Assistance eligibility, a formal judgment of incompetence is not required if the a/r has previously executed a valid durable POA and his/her attorney-in-fact is able and willing to act in the a/r's behalf.
(1) Resources held by the alleged incompetent a/r with a valid durable POA are considered available and countable.
(2) If the durable POA is unable or unwilling or otherwise fails or refuses to act on the a/r's behalf to make the resources available, the resources are unavailable, a legal guardian of the estate may be established to act for the a/r. IMC may refer to Adult Services for guardianship services. Continue to exclude resources until situation is resolved. See IV. H.3., below for procedures.
f. When the a/r has been adjudicated incompetent by a North Carolina court and the court has appointed a guardian of the estate, resources are available under certain conditions described in procedures below.
a. Alleged Incompetence
Inform the family member or legal representative of an a/r who may be incompetent, including a public agency acting on the a/r's behalf, that:
(1) Otherwise countable resources may be exempt for a certain period of time if the a/r is alleged to be incompetent for a period of at least 30 consecutive days or until his/her death, and
(a) The a/r does not have someone legally authorized to act on his/her behalf to access his/her resources, or
(b) His/Her legal representative/guardian/durable POA is unable, fails or refuses to act to make the resources available, and
NOTE: The individual must have been alleged incompetent for at least 30 consecutive days or have died before resources may be exempt.
(a) A physician, or
(b) A nurse, social worker, or psychologist, and
(a) An explanation of the reasons the a/r is alleged to be incompetent,
(b) The approximate onset of the alleged incompetence,
(c) The ending date of alleged incompetence, if the person has improved, and
(d) The basis for the knowledge or opinion of the individual alleging the incompetence.
b. Exclude Resources
Exclude all resources, beginning with the first month for which assistance is requested:
(1) For all months that the evidence as defined in IV.I.1. above clearly shows that the a/r was incompetent, and
(2) Until one of the following occurs:
(a) A North Carolina court rules that the a/r is incompetent and appoints a guardian of the estate or general guardian, or
(b) The court rules that the a/r is not incompetent, or
(c) The court does not rule and dismisses the case because of the death or recovery of the a/r.
Inform the a/r's family or representative that steps must be taken to establish the a/r's incompetence formally in a North Carolina court. If the a/r's representative states that he is willing and able to act on the a/r's behalf, explain that:
(1) All documents and petitions necessary to have the a/r formally declared incompetent must be filed with a North Carolina court in order to have a guardian of the estate or general guardian appointed by the court, and
(2) The necessary legal documents must be filed with the court within 30 calendar days of the latter of:
(a) The date of application for Special Assistance, or
(b) The discovery of a previously unreported resource or receipt of a new resource in an ongoing case.
Refer the case to the Adult Services Unit at any point that the a/r's representative:
(1) Requests guardianship services, or
(2) If the family or representative pursues guardianship, but only guardian of person is appointed, or
(3) States that he is unwilling or unable to pursue guardianship, or
(4) Refuses to participate or cooperate in the court proceedings required to make the resources available to the a/r, or
(5) Fails to take the necessary steps outlined in IV.I.3.c. , above, within 30 calendar days of contact by the IMC regarding his/her responsibilities.
e. No Ruling of Incompetence
Count resources at the beginning of the next month if:
(1) The court finds that the a/r is not incompetent, or
(2) The court dismisses the case, or
(3) The services unit determines that guardianship is not the appropriate alternative to meet the a/r's needs.
When an adjudication of incompetence has been established by a North Carolina court and a general guardian or guardian of the estate has been appointed, regard the resources as follows:
(1) Count liquid resources and personal property resources beginning with the first day of the month immediately following the month in which the legal guardian is appointed.
(2) Count real property resources only after the Court has given final approval for sale of the property.
(a) Inform the guardian that it may be in the a/r’s best interest to petition the Clerk of Court for approval to dispose of or convert the real property resource.
(b) Count the value of the real property resource on the first day of the month immediately following the month in which the Court issues an "Order Confirming Sale", unless the guardian has taken steps to exclude it by making it income-producing.
(c) The "Order Confirming Sale" is a document issued to the guardian authorizing final sale of the property and must be signed by the Clerk of Court and a Superior Court Judge. It is only issued after a sales contract has been executed and no
further bids have been received during a period of time allowed by the Court.
g. Failure of Legal Guardian to Act
(1) If a legal guardian fails to access liquid resources or fails to begin the process to access real property for the a/r's use within 30 calendar days of appointment, make a referral to Adult Services.
(2) The Social Worker may:
(a) Determine if the guardian is acting in the a/r's best interests, and
(b) Inform the IMC either that the present guardian is acting in the a/r's best interests or that a new guardian should be appointed.
(3) The Social Worker may notify the Clerk of Court for intervention if he determines that the a/r's interests are not being served or are questionable.
(4) Continue to exclude the resources until the Clerk of Court acts to appoint a successor.
(5) Count the resources as described in IV.I.3.f. , above, if the Social Worker determines that the a/r's best interests are being served or if the Clerk of Court appoints a new guardian. Continue to exclude resources until the new guardian has “Order Confirming Sale.”
(1) File copies of the durable POA and/or Letters of Guardianship in the a/r's case record.
(2) File the copy of “Order Confirming Sale” in the a/r’s case record.
(3) File copies of documents to show that all required steps have been taken to establish formal guardianship and that the guardian has taken the necessary actions to make the a/r's resources available.
i. Computation of Countable Resources
(1) Exclude all resources for any month or portion of a month for which assistance is requested and there is documentation that the a/r is alleged incompetent to access his/her resources.
(2) Count all resources that are available to the a/r if competency is restored by a court beginning with the first day of the month following restoration of legal competency.
For questions or clarification on any of the policy contained in these manuals, please contact your local county office.