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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 16-25



Program Guidelines for Veterans Temporary Assistance

[46 Pa.B. 109]
[Saturday, January 2, 2016]

 1. Purpose. The purpose of these guidelines is to describe the use of funds under 51 Pa.C.S. § 1721 (relating to Veterans' Trust Fund) to provide temporary financial assistance to eligible veterans and unmarried surviving spouses of eligible veterans when they face adverse financial circumstances and need assistance to provide themselves with the necessities of living. In general, assistance is provided under this section to replace or supplement income lost or reduced because of an unexpected change in circumstances or to offset unexpected increased costs or expenses that affect the ability to pay for the necessities of living.

 2. Definitions.

 (1) ''Bureau.'' The Bureau of Programs, Initiatives, Reintegration and Outreach (PIRO) or its successor of the Office of Veterans' Affairs (OVA).

 (2) ''Department.'' The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA).

 (3) ''Eligible Veteran.'' A person who served in the Armed Forces of the United States, who:

 (i) was discharged under honorable conditions after a period of active duty, other than active duty for training, as evidenced by a DD-Form 214 or other official documentation, or,

 (ii) died in service or was killed in action; or

 (iii) suffered a service-connected disability as certified by the United States Veterans' Administration.

 (4) ''Essential Furnishings and Fixtures.'' Items of tangible personal property, which are necessary and useful, in carrying out the activities of daily living and maintained in or about the applicant's shelter. A fixture is ordinarily affixed to the shelter property while furnishings are essentially portable. Luxury goods are excluded.

 (5) ''Necessities of Living.'' Expenses for water, food, shelter, clothing, health care, personal care, essential furnishings and fixtures, utilities, transportation, communication and laundry to the extent not provided by other government programs.

 (6) ''Need for Temporary Assistance.'' Financial circumstances unexpectedly resulting in insufficient funds to pay for shelter and necessities of living for the veteran and family, when:

 (i) a veteran is unable to provide the necessities of living and has a direct and immediate need for assistance. The assistance must be essential and not for the relief of an inconvenience, or the purchase of goods or services other than necessities of living, and,

 (ii) caused by an unexpected loss of income, assets or support due to sickness, disability, unemployment, natural or manmade disaster or other cause beyond the control of, and not as a result of misconduct by, the applicant, or,

 (iii) caused by an unexpected increase in costs or expenses beyond the control of, and not as a result of misconduct by, the applicant resulting in insufficient funds to pay for necessities of living.

 (7) ''Personal care expenses.'' Expenses, other than health care expenses, which are for the well-being, appearance, cleanliness, personal hygiene and presentability of the applicant, including toiletries, haircuts and hair care, and similar expenses.

 3. Eligibility. In order to qualify for temporary assistance, applicants must demonstrate that:

 (1) They are eligible veterans or unmarried surviving spouses of deceased eligible veterans.

 (2) They are bona fide residents of Pennsylvania who permanently reside in this Commonwealth and who maintain a legal residence in no other state for any purpose.

 (3) They are not receiving sufficient monetary assistance from any state or Federal agency based on the need for temporary assistance described in the application.

 (i) Applicants may be receiving Food Stamps and still qualify for temporary assistance under these guidelines.

 (ii) Applicants must show that other funds or resources are not available to address the need for temporary assistance.

 (4) They demonstrate a clear and present direct and immediate need for temporary assistance in order to provide themselves and their families with shelter and the necessities of living.

 4. Maximum Amount of Assistance. The maximum assistance under this program in any twelve-month period is the lesser of $1,600 or the documented amount of the need.

 (1) In no case will the amount of the assistance exceed the amount of the demonstrated need.

 (2) In no case will the amount of the assistance exceed $1,600 in any twelve-month period.

 (3) In no case will the amount of assistance exceed the amount of income lost or increase in expense incurred.

 (4) The Department may adjust the amount of assistance paid under this program so that total payments to qualified Veterans or unmarried surviving spouses do not exceed the amount of funds available for this purpose.

 (5) Only one grant will be made based upon need arising out of each event or episode to either the Veteran or the eligible spouse of the Veteran, but not to both.

 5. Fund Committee. The Deputy Adjutant General of Veterans Affairs (DAG-VA) will appoint a Veterans Temporary Assistance (VTA) Fund Committee to assist in administering the VTA program.

 (1) Composition. The Fund Committee will consist of:

 (i) A chairperson, who shall be the Chairman of the State Veterans' Commission.

 (ii) A vice chairperson, who shall be the President, Pennsylvania State Association of County Directors of Veterans' Affairs or designee.

 (iii) Three additional Committee members who shall be the Director, Programs, Initiatives, Reintegration and Outreach (PIRO), the Chief, Division of Programs andServices, the Veteran Service Office Supervisor, Division of Programs and Services, or designees.

 (iv) The Department's Office of Chief Counsel will provide legal advice and assistance to the fund committee (without vote).

 (2) Subcommittee on Application Review. At least three members of the Fund Committee or their designees will constitute a subcommittee to review applications for assistance referred to the subcommittee by the Bureau staff. The staff may refer applications and request assistance of the subcommittee in matters involving unusual facts and circumstance, major policy or legal questions or complexities, requests for assistance in amounts close to the annual limit, or where an appeal is anticipated. The membership of the application review subcommittee will rotate based on availability and to ensure that all Fund Committee members and designees have the opportunity to review applications from time to time.

 6. Application Procedures.

 (1) Application forms are available from the DMVA, including DMVA field offices, veterans' organizations named in section 1702 of the Military and Veterans Code, 51 Pa.C.S. § 1702 (relating to State Veterans' Commission), and Pennsylvania County Directors of Veterans' Affairs. A completed application for temporary assistance will include:

 a. Veteran's DD 214 or DD 1300/death certificate.

 b. Proof of residency.

 c. Copy of applicant's marriage license.

 d. Supporting documentation, to include proof of total household income from all sources, current copies of household bills, such as utilities, medical bills mortgage statement or rental agreement, vehicle payments and insurance, estimates for repairs, bank statements, earning statements and any other household bills.

 e. Certification under penalty of law, that the information is true and correct to the best of the knowledge, information and belief of the application.

 (2) Applications shall be submitted to the DMVA, Office of Veterans Affairs, through the applicable Pennsylvania County Director of Veterans' Affairs, veterans' organization, or the Adjutant General's Offices in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Fort Indiantown Gap.

 (3) The Bureau or Fund Committee shall review the applications and determine eligibility based on the eligibility criteria provided herein.

 If the Bureau or the Fund Committee determines the applicant eligible, it shall notify applicant of the amount and duration of the assistance.

 7. Grants:

 (1) Applications for grants will be evaluated according to the criteria set forth in 51 Pa.C.S. § 1702 and in paragraph 8 of these guidelines subject to the availability of funds and the exercise of the approval authority's discretion in evaluating the relative priority of requests if funds are not sufficient to satisfy all eligible requests.

 (2) Applicants must demonstrate that they have a direct and immediate financial need for assistance as a result of circumstances beyond the control of the applicant and not as a result of misconduct.

 (3) Grants may be made for purposes such as: food, rent, utilities, transportation and vehicle repair, medical/dental expenses, emergency home repairs necessary to maintain habitability, funeral expenses, as well as other emergency needs at the discretion of the approval authority.

 (4) It is recognized that neither 51 Pa.C.S. § 1702 nor these guidelines can describe every possible emergency scenario that might result in an immediate and direct financial need as a result of circumstances beyond the control of the applicant and not as a result of misconduct by the applicant. The following situations are appropriate examples:

 a. Failure to receive pay in a timely manner as a result of an error by the employer.

 b. Loss of income due to a medical issue or lay off.

 c. Unusual medical care not covered by insurance.

 d. Victims of a crime that result in a loss of income or property (for example identity theft).

 e. Death of a veteran or immediate relative that results in a loss of income or unexpected expenses.

 (5) The following are examples where temporary assistance is not appropriate:

 a. Pay for nonessential items, or to finance vacations.

 b. Pay fines or legal expenses in criminal matters.

 c. Assist with home purchase or financing or home improvements not required as a result of a natural or manmade disaster.

 d. Pay bills incurred through credit card debt.

 e. Loss of income as a result of the exhaustion of Unemployment Compensation or Workman's Compensation benefits.

 8. Evaluation Criteria: The criteria that will be considered in determining whether to approve applications for temporary assistance include:

 a. The nature of assistance required.

 b. The degree of financial hardship.

 c. Current household income.

 d. Current debts and obligations.

 e. Number of dependents.

 f. The cause of the financial hardship and its relationship if any, to the negligence of the applicant in managing income and debt.

 g. Change in income.

 h. Change in employment and income status of dependents.

 i. Bankruptcy filed or pending.

 j. Whether other aid is available.

 k. Amounts and dates of any funds previously awarded.

 l. Whether a HUD-VASH voucher was issued.

 Exceptions must be approved by the Board and final approval by DAG-VA.

 9. Appeals. Any applicant aggrieved by a staff decision with respect to a grant application may appeal the action of the staff to The Adjutant General in writing within 10 days of receiving the decision. The appeal will be under provisions of 1 Pa. Code § 35.20 (relating to appeals from actions of the staff). The appeal shall state the reasons for the appeal and describe the requested relief. The Adjutant General shall review the appeal and make a final decision concerning any appeal.

 10. Effective Date: These guidelines take effect based on the approval of the State Veterans Commission and upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, and apply to all grant applications submitted on or after the effective date and all grant applications pending on the effective date.

Major General, Pennsylvania
Army National Guard
The Adjutant General

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 16-25. Filed for public inspection December 31, 2015, 9:00 a.m.]

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