The Nutrition Assistance Program under the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs will be excluding the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and the stimulus as income for those applying for food stamps.
NAP administrator Walter Macaranas affirmed in an interview that FPUC and stimulus are not considered countable income.
“We won’t be requiring households to declare their FPUC payments. …[but] if you are receiving other than that, then we would ask for the income that you’re receiving,” said Macaranas.
Also, college students who are receiving food stamps on behalf of their family while also receiving the Free Application for Federal Student Aid scholarship, FAFSA, won’t have to declare it as income.
It’s a different matter for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
Macaranas stated that people who are receiving PUA must declare that as an income since it’s a monthly payment, or a source of income.
Income of foreign workers, or CWs, would still counted, but on a pro-rated basis. Meaning, if each CW has income, their income will be applied to all eligible members. For example, a household with one CW, perhaps the parent, and there are two U.S. citizen children. The CW’s gross income will be divided by three and multiplied twice (U.S. citizen children). Example:
1. CW’s gross income is $1,000 divide by 3 = $333.33
2. $333.33 multiplied x 2 = $166.66 (rounded to $167)
3. $167.00 is the gross income for the two children
To determine their benefit:
4. The maximum allotment for two households = $551 (on Saipan)
5. $551 minus $167 = $384 is the benefit amount (for the two U.S. citizen children)
If there is another ineligible member, perhaps a second parent who is also a CW in the household who is also earning income, then the above calculation will be performed for that ineligible member.
“CWs, in a sense, are not necessarily U.S. citizens. …Their children, who are U.S. citizens, can avail of the program based on submitting an application for their children,” said Macaranas.
Peak of beneficiaries
The NAP program saw its peak number of beneficiaries last July 2020, with a total of 5,300 families. Macaranas hopes to see the same number of beneficiaries by the end of the month since NAP increased its eligibility and benefit levels.
As of Feb. 2, NAP has under 4,000 families in the program, and distributing a total of $1.5 million a month. “The numbers are going to go up. …Right now we’re issuing benefits at just under $1.5 million. We’re looking at issuing about an additional $1 million per month in the following months,” said Macaranas.
He said the program will be helpful for those who are still having a rough time getting back on their feet with no work and students who are going back to school.
NAP was approved last week to increase its income eligibility standards and the maximum monthly benefit allotments. The changes took effect Monday. Macaranas said Saipan’s benefit allotment will increase 41.5% for a household of four.