The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service has granted the CNMI’s request for a waiver to exclude the treatment of “stimulus payments” as resources for Nutrition Assistance Program participants.
Previously, the NAP sought for clarity on stimulus payments because certain provisions in NAP differ from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Stimulus payments was regarded as a form of non-recurring lump sum payment. As a result, the NAP Office issued a press release on May 27, 2020, reminding households to report changes in their resources, as stated in provisions governing the CNMI NAP program under the NMI Administrative Code.
Money received in the form of a non-recurring lump sum payment shall be counted as resources in the month received unless specifically excluded from consideration as resources by other federal law. This is a NAP provision under § 55-30-130 (c)(5) of the NMI Administrative Code. Additionally, under § 55-30-250 (Household Responsibility to Report Changes) the adult head of household or its authorized representative is required to report changes in circumstances such as changes in income, household size, residence, and resources to its assigned eligibility worker within ten days after effect of the change.
As a reconsideration, the NAP Office sought a waiver from the USDA-FNS Western Region to exclude stimulus payments from the resources reporting requirement. The Western Region office immediately responded to the NAP request and approved the waiver. As a result, the stimulus payments that NAP households received will not be regarded as resources and are not required to be reported to the NAP office.
“This is welcome news,” said Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Robert Hunter, “and we are glad that we are able to get clarity on this as we continue to assist families during this pandemic. We are grateful to Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, [NAP] director Walter Macaranas, and the hardworking staff at the NAP office for their commitment to making sure we help every eligible family during these unprecedented times.” (PR)