Public Benefits Law


Prepared by:
Jessica L. Webster, Staff Attorney
Legal Services Advocacy Project

Acronyms Used in this Section

DHS = Minnesota Department of Human Services
FPG = Federal Poverty Guidelines
MFIP = Minnesota Family Investment Program
MHFA = Minnesota Housing Finance Agency
TANF = Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Chapter 108, Article 3, Section 44 (HF 1233)
Uncodified Section
Effective August 1, 2013

Note: This section is directed at the so-called the Family Independence Demonstration Program, a Citizens League initiative in the design phase, that seeks to incent through modest stipends to participants low-income families to save for self-directed goals that build personal and financial assets.

A. Absolute Exclusions

1. DHS Programs
Directs DHS to exclude conditional cash transfers made to families participating in a family independence demonstration when determining or redetermining eligibility for: (1) the Child Care Assistance Program; (2) General Assistance; (3) Group Residential Housing; (4) the Minnesota Family Investment Program; (5) the Work Benefit Program; and (6) the Diversionary Work Program.

2. MHFA Program
Directs MHFA to exclude conditional cash transfers made to families participating in a family independence demonstration when determining or redetermining eligibility for rental assistance.

B. Qualified Exclusion
Directs DHS to exclude these cash transfers for determining or redetermining eligibility for Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare, except for enrollees subject to a modified adjusted gross income calculation to determine eligibility, in which case the payments are as income if: (1) they are included on the enrollee's federal tax return as income; or (2) the payments can be taken into account in the month of receipt as a lump sum payment

Chapter 108, Article 3, Section 31 (HF 1233)
Amends Minn. Stat. § 256J.26, subd. 7
Effective January 1, 2016

Restores county and tribal MFIP performance funds to 100% (from 95%) of the county and tribal allocations. Clarifies that a county or tribe may lose 2.5% of its performance funds if it fails to meet expectations for two consecutive years.

Chapter 108, Article 3, Sections 24 - 32, 42, and 46; and Article 14, Section 2, Subdivision 6(a) (HF 1233)
Amends Minn. Stat. § 256J.08 subd. 24; 256J.21 subds.2 and 3; 256J.24, subds. 5, 7; 256J.35; 256J.621; and 256J.78
Repeals Minn. Stat. §256J.24, subd. 6
Various Effective Dates

A. Appropriations


(1) $2,168,000 each year in fiscal years 2015 and 2016 to paid work experience for MFIP participants;

(2) $250,000 each year in fiscal years 2015 and 2016 for work study jobs for MFIP participants;

(3) $2,000,000 each year in fiscal years 2015 and 2016 to local projects focused on reducing disparities in employment outcomes for communities of color;

(4) $200,000 each year in fiscal years 2014 and 2015 to support local collaborations providing home visiting services to MFIP teen parents; and

(5) $1,500,000 each year in fiscal years 2015 and 2016 in bonus funds to counties that exceed their expected range of performance on the MFIP self-support index.

B. Program Changes

1. Family Cap
Repeals the MFIP family cap. Reinstates cash assistance to children born to mothers receiving MFIP.
Repeals Minn. Stat. §256J.24, subd. 6
Amends Minn. Stat. § 256J.24 subd. 5
Effective January 1, 2015

Note: The repeal is not retroactive.

2. Family Wage Level
Effectively increases the initial income test for eligibility by requiring MFIP countable income to be below the "family wage level" rather than below the "transitional standard of assistance."
Amends Minn. Stat. §§ 256J.21 subd. 3; and 256J.24, subd. 7
Effective October 1, 2014 or upon approval from the US Dept. of Agriculture

3. Housing Assistance Grant
Creates a $110 monthly MFIP housing assistance grant for MFIP participants who do not receive HUD housing subsidies. Requires the program to be forecasted. Provides that child-only cases are ineligible for the grant. Excludes housing assistance grant income for purposes of establishing "family income" for initial MFIP eligibility.
Amends Minn. Stat. §§ 256J.21, subd. 2; and 256J.35
Effective July 1, 2015

4. Income Disregard
Increases the MFIP income disregard to 50% of gross earned income, effectively increasing the MFIP exit level from 115% to 140% FPG.
Amends Minn. Stat. § 256J.08 subd. 24
Effective October 1, 2014

5. EBT Subsidies to Retailers
Prohibits DHS from subsidizing retailers for SNAP EBT transactions.
Amends Minn. Session Laws 1998, Chapter 407, Article 6, section 116
Effective 30 day after the DHS notifies retailers of the termination of their agreement with the State

6. Work Participation Cash Benefit
Indefinitely suspends the MFIP $25 monthly work participation cash bonus. Authorizes the DHS to reinstate the bonus if the State does not meet the federal TANF work participation rate and receives notice of penalty. Requires DHS to notify the Legislature of any pending federal TANF penalties within 30 days of notification.
Amends Minn. Stat. § 256J.621
Effective December 1, 2014

C. TANF Waiver
Authorizes the DHS to pursue TANF demonstration projects or waivers of federal TANF requirements enabling MFIP to better serve the needs of Minnesota families. Describes the purpose as: (1) replacing federal TANF process measures with state-developed outcome measures that track adult employment and exits from cash assistance; (2) simplifying programmatic and administrative requirements; and (3) making other policy changes that improve participant outcomes. Requires a report to the Legislature by March 1, 2014 regarding the progress of the waiver or demonstration project.
Adds Minn. Stat. § 256J.78
Effective July 1, 2013