State Veterans’ Benefits

 

The Chapter 115 Benefits Program is a state veterans’ benefits program administered by the Massachusetts Department Veterans’ Services (DVS). The program provides financial aid for living expenses and medical care to veterans and their dependents who have limited income.  DVS administers the program in partnership with local Veterans' Service Officers (VSO.

In some instances, VSOs make vendor payments on behalf of a veteran for housing costs, utility costs, medical care costs, and other expenses. These vendor payments must be excluded from countable income for SNAP eligibility purposes once verified.

EAEDC Eligibility  
EAEDC applicants and clients who are eligible for, or do receive state veterans’ benefits, are ineligible for EAEDC.

TAFDC Eligibility
Clients who are eligible for both TAFDC and state veterans’ benefits must be given the choice of which program in which they wish to participate. They cannot be in receipt of both services.

Chapter 115 State Veterans’ Benefits
When processing an application or recertification for a veteran who reports that s/he receives one or more state veterans’ benefits, you must explore what type(s) of benefit is received. Below is a table of the most common Chapter 115 Benefits.

 

 

 

Type

Description

Countable for SNAP?

Cash Assistance

 

 

 

A monthly cash payment available to eligible veterans based on living situation, special needs, and income.

Yes

Cash assistance payments paid directly to clients are considered countable unearned income.

Cash assistance payments made directly to a third-party (vendor), such as but not limited to a landlord or utility company, on behalf of a client in receipt of VA benefits are considered noncountable.   

See
Verifying State Veterans’ Benefits and Verifying State Veterans’ Vendor Payments below

 

 

For more, see Unearned Income Overview

Medical Expense Reimbursements

A full or partial payment earmarked for eligible veterans to pay for some medical expenses, such as insurance premiums, co-pays, hearing aids, and eyeglasses. These payments may also be sent directly to the third party.

Veterans may still be eligible to receive a medical expenses reimbursement even if their income exceeds the program limit for Chapter 115 Cash Assistance

No

 

For more, see:

·         Noncountable Income

·         Overview of Medical Expense Deduction

Emergency Assistance

A financial aid payment for veterans that are behind on rent or utilities, or in cases of natural disasters.

Emergency Assistance is usually received as a one-time payment.

No

 

Emergency assistance payments for rent or utility arrearage are considered noncountable reimbursements.

 

See Verifying State Veterans’ Benefits and Verifying State Veterans’ Vendor Payments below

 

For more, see Noncountable Income

 

 

Emergency Assistance (Loan)

A financial aid payment for veterans

in need of emergency home repairs.

 

Emergency Assistance payments for home repairs often include a lien on the individual’s home.

 

No

These payments are considered a noncountable loan.

For more, see
Noncountable Income

 

Annuities

A biannual payment for certain eligible veterans, their widows, spouses, and parents.

Annuities are issued in installments, paid on August 1 and February 1.

Yes

 

For more, see Unearned Income Overview

Burial Allowance

A monetary payment made to certain low-income households to pay for the burial of a veteran, or the dependents of a veteran.


No

 

Payments made directly to a third-party (vendor) for purposes of funeral and final disposition expenses, on behalf of a client in receipt of VA benefits are considered a noncountable vendor payment.

 

See Verifying State Veterans’ Benefits and Verifying State Veterans’ Vendor Payments below

For more, see
Noncountable Income

 

Moving Assistance

An assistance payment made to certain eligible veterans who have significant medical, financial, or social circumstances that can be reduced by relocation or who have insufficient resources to move on their own.

No

 

Moving Assistance payments made directly to a third-party (vendor), such as a moving company, on behalf of a client in receipt of VA benefits are considered a noncountable vendor payment.

 

See Verifying State Veterans’ Benefits and Verifying State Veterans’ Vendor Payments below

For more, see
Noncountable Income

 

Transportation to Medical Appointments

An assistance payment made to certain eligible veterans who have significant medical, financial, or social circumstances that can be alleviated by transportation assistance or who have insufficient resources to provide transportation on their own.

No

 

Transportation payments made directly to a third-party (vendor), such as but not limited to a taxi or other transportation company, on behalf of a client in receipt of VA benefits are considered a noncountable vendor payment.

 

See Verifying State Veterans’ Benefits and Verifying State Veterans’ Vendor Payments below

For more, see
Noncountable Income

 

State Education Benefits – Post 9/11 G.I. Bill (Chapter 33)

A program providing benefits for veterans pursuing certain education programs at an approved degree-granting institution.

No

 

Payments specifically allocated towards educational expenses and/or sent to the school on the student’s behalf are excluded (see 106 CMR 363.230(B) and 106 CMR 363.230 (D))

Reminder:
Any Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is considered countable income unless verification is provided showing that funds are sent directly to the landlord, utility company, or other third party vendor. This must be explored with the client.
(see Noncountable Income).

State Education Benefits – The Yellow Ribbon Program G.I. Bill Education Enhancement Program 

A program that allows approved institutions of higher learning and the VA to partially or fully fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed the established thresholds under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

No

 

Payments specifically allocated towards educational expenses and/or sent to the school on the student’s behalf are excluded (see 106 CMR 363.230(B) and 106 CMR 363.230 (D))

Reminder:
Any Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is considered countable income unless verification is provided showing that funds are sent directly to the landlord, utility company, or other third party vendor. This must be explored with the client.
(see Noncountable Income).

Vendor Payments

Payments made to a third-party (vendor), such as a landlord or utility company, on behalf of a client in receipt of VA benefits. 

No

 

See Verifying State Veterans’ Benefits below

 

For more, see:

·         Unearned Income Overview

·         Noncountable Income

 


Important

The table above is not a complete list of Chapter 115 benefits and may be subject to change.

 

If a client reports a Chapter 115 payment type that is not covered by the table above, staff are advised to contact the Procedural Mailbox. 

 

 

Clients enquiring about possible eligibility for Veterans' Benefit programs should be encouraged to contact their local VSO, or visit https://www.mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-department-of-veterans-services.  

A list of VSIs can be found at
https://massvetsadvisor.org/


Case Manager Responsibilities
When processing an application or recertification for a household that includes a veteran who reports that s/he receives state veterans’ benefits, you must ask the individual if the VSO makes a vendor payment directly to the veteran’s landlord and/or utility company.

If the answer is yes, the vendor payments must be verified prior to being excluded from countable income for SNAP eligibility purposes. Vendor payments made on behalf of a veteran may be verified by completion of the Veterans Vendor Payment Form by a VSO DVS, or U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), or by submission of a letter from any federal, state, or local veterans’ service organization.

For more, please see Noncountable Income and Vendor Payments.

All Chapter 115 vendor payments must be re-verified at recertification.  

Verifying State Veterans’ Benefits
All state veterans’ benefit payments must be verified in accordance with established procedures. For more see Unearned Income Overview and Verification Chart.

Verifying State Veterans’ Vendor Payments
The VSO must provide verification of vendor payments. Chapter 115 vendor payments are most commonly verified by an Explanation/Approval of Benefits letter provided by the VSO. Chapter 115 vendor payments may also be verified by completion of the Veterans Vendor Payment Form by a client’s local VSO.

When a client reports Chapter 115 vendor payments are made on their behalf, the Veterans Vendor Payment Form must be sent to client as a supplement. Clients may use this form or may submit a letter from the VSO or other person/agency making the payment on their behalf stating the amount of vendor payment(s) and to whom it is paid.

 


Important


When speaking to clients regarding the verification of Chapter 115 benefits, you must remind the client that their local VSO is able to assist in the completing the Veterans Vendor Payment Form and that this arrangement may help to increase SNAP benefit amounts.

For a complete list of Massachusetts VSOs, please visit
https://massvetsadvisor.org/

 

Chapter 115 vendor payments that are not verified must be included in the client’s countable income until they are verified. In these circumstances, you must include a detailed narrative detailing why the vendor payment has not been excluded from the client’s income. 
 

Entering State Veterans’ Benefits in BEACON
Entering veterans’ income for clients receiving state veterans’ benefits:

1. subtract the total amount of vendor payments, if any, from the total amount of the Veterans’ Benefits

2. enter the resulting income amount on BEACON as VA State in the Other Income Status window in the Assessed Person Income and Expenses workflow


Entering shelter expenses for clients receiving state veterans’ benefits:

3.subtract the amount of any vendor payment for shelter from the veteran’s full shelter cost and enter the remainder, if any, as the veteran’s shelter amount in the Housing Expenses window

Entering utility expenses for clients receiving state veterans’ benefits:

4.select the appropriate SUA based on the utility expense(s) that the veteran incurs

5.create a detailed narrative identifying the vendor payments made on the veteran’s behalf and the verification provided to confirm the vendor payment, and

6.wrap up the case

 

Example: Larry, a retired US Army veteran, applies for SNAP and verifies that his only source of income is $1,255 in Massachusetts Veterans’ Benefits. This amount includes a basic benefit for a single individual, plus allowances for an unheated shelter and fuel.
Larry’s rent is $900 per month, not including heat.

The Veterans' Administration makes vendor payments of $405 directly to the landlord for Larry’s rent and $250 to a utility company for heating/cooling.

When entering this information into BEACON, you must:

1. subtract the Vendor Payment amounts from the client’s income:

 $1255 income

 $  405 vendor payment for rent

-$  250 vendor payment for utilities

 $  600 countable income

2. enter $600 as VA State in the Other Income Status window

3. For shelter expenses, subtract the Vendor Payment amounts from the client’s shelter expense:

 $900 rent
-$405 vendor payment paid directly to the landlord
 $495 Allowable shelter expense

4. enter $495 for the allowable shelter expense in the Shelter Expenses page

5. answer ‘yes’ to the “Pay/Share heating cost question on the Standard Utility Allowance page

6.   Follow all other application processing guidelines. For more, please see SNAP Application Processing.



  Last Update:  December 12, 2019