[Federal Register Volume 61, Number 202 (Thursday, October 17, 1996)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 54298-54303]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 96-26071]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
7 CFR Parts 272 and 273

[Amendment No. 365]
RIN 0584-AB98


Food Stamp Program: Monthly Reporting on Reservations Provision 
of the Food Stamp Program Improvements Act of 1994

AGENCY: Food and Consumer Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This final rulemaking amends Food Stamp Program regulations to 
establish procedures for implementing the restrictions concerning use 
of monthly reporting for households residing on reservations contained 
in the Food Stamp Program Improvements Act of 1994. It finalizes 
provisions of a proposed rule published in the Federal Register on June 
6, 1995.

DATES: This rule is effective December 16, 1996 and must be implemented 
no later than the first day of the first month after February 18, 1997.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Margaret Werts Batko, Assistant Branch 
Chief, Certification Policy Branch, Program Development Division, Food 
Stamp Program, Food and Consumer Service, USDA, 3101 Park Center Drive, 
Alexandria, Virginia 22302, or by telephone at (703) 305-2520, or over 
the internet at [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION

Executive Order 12866

    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866 and therefore has not been reviewed 
by the Office of Management and Budget.

Executive Order 12372

    The Food Stamp Program is listed in the Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance under No. 10.551. For the reasons set forth in the final 
rulemaking and related Notice(s) to 7 CFR 3105, Subpart V (Cite 48 FR 
29115, June 24, 1983; or 48 FR 54317, December 1, 1983, as appropriate, 
and any subsequent notices that apply), this program is excluded from 
the scope of Executive Order 12372 which requires intergovernmental 
consultation with State and local officials.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This final rulemaking has also been reviewed with respect to the 
requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-354, 
94 Stat. 1164, September 19, 1980). The Administrator of the Food and 
Consumer Service (FCS), has certified that this rulemaking would not 
have a significant economic impact on substantial number of small 
entities. The primary impact of the procedures in this rulemaking would 
be on FCS Regional Offices, State governments, and individuals who 
might apply for benefits in State agencies that use monthly reporting 
procedures. To the extent that county or other local governments assist 
in the administration of the Food Stamp Program, they would also be 
affected.

Executive Order 12778

    This final rulemaking has been reviewed under Executive Order 
12778, Civil Justice Reform. This rule is intended to have preemptive 
effect with respect to any State or local laws, regulations, or 
policies which conflict with its provisions or which would otherwise 
impede its full implementation. This rule is not intended to have 
retroactive effect unless so specified in the EFFECTIVE DATE section of 
this preamble. Prior to any judicial challenge to the provisions of 
this rule or the application of its provisions, all applicable 
administrative procedures must be exhausted. In the Food Stamp Program 
the administrative procedures are as follows: (1) for Program benefit 
recipients--state administrative procedures issued pursuant to 7 U.S.C. 
2020(e)(10) and 7 CFR 273.15; (2) for State agencies--administrative 
procedures issued pursuant to 7 U.S.C. 2023 set out at 7 CFR 276.7 (for 
rules related to nonquality control (QC) liabilities) or Part 283 (for 
rules related to QC

[[Page 54299]]

liabilities); (3) for retailers and wholesalers--administrative 
procedures issued pursuant to 7 U.S.C. 2023 set out at 7 CFR 278.8.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    Information collection burdens in 7 CFR 273.21 governing reporting 
and recordkeeping requirements for monthly reporting and retrospective 
budgeting were approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 
under OMB No. 0584-0064. The provisions contained in this final rule 
change the content of certain notices to households, but would not 
impose any additional or reduce any current reporting and recordkeeping 
burden requirements. Since this final rule is placing into effect 
through formal rulemaking an information collection burden already 
approved, this rule has no effect on the existing burden estimates. FCS 
will publish a notice in the Federal Register explaining in detail why 
the information collection burden approved under OMB No. 0584-0064 is 
not affected and providing a 60-day period for public comment on the 
existing burden estimates. As required by the Paperwork Reduction Act 
of 1995, FCS will submit an Information Collection Request to OMB for 
extension of OMB No. 0584-0064 addressing any comments received.

Background

    Section 1723 of the Mickey Leland Memorial Domestic Hunger Relief 
Act (Title XVII of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act 
of 1990, Pub. L. 101-624, 104 Stat. 3359, November 28, 1990) amended 
Section 6(c)(1)(A)(i) of the Food Stamp Act of 1977 (the Act), 7 U.S.C. 
2015(c)(1)(A)(i), to exempt households residing on reservations from 
monthly reporting and retrospective budgeting (MRRB) effective February 
1, 1992. The Department announced the regulatory adoption of the 
requirements of Section 1723 in a final rule amending 7 CFR 
273.21(b)(4) published on December 4, 1991, 56 FR 63605, and scheduled 
to take effect on February 1, 1992.
    Since that time, several other pieces of legislation have been 
enacted, each delaying the effective date of Section 1723. 
Implementation was initially postponed by Section 908 of the Food, 
Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act Amendments of 1991 (Pub. L. 
102-237, 105 Stat. 1818, December 13, 1991) until April 1, 1993, and 
then by Pub. L. 103-11 (107 Stat. 41, April 1, 1993) until February 1, 
1994. In response, in a November 1, 1993, rulemaking, the Department 
proposed at 58 FR 58459 a new implementation date of February 1, 1994. 
Following publication of that proposed rule, Section 1 of Pub. L. 103-
205 (107 Stat. 2418) was enacted on December 17, 1993, again postponing 
implementation of the prohibition concerning MRRB on reservations until 
March 15, 1994. State agencies were notified of this delay through an 
implementing memorandum dated January 6, 1994.
    On March 25, 1994, the Food Stamp Program Improvements Act of 1994 
(Pub. L. 103-225 (108 Stat. 106)) was enacted. Section 101(a) of that 
law modified the provision prohibiting monthly reporting for households 
residing on reservations that had been added to section 6(c)(1)(A) of 
the Act (7 U.S.C. 2015(c)(1)) by Section 1723 of the Leland Act. 
Section 6(c)(1)(C)(iii) now prohibits State agencies which were not 
requiring households residing on reservations to submit monthly reports 
on March 25, 1994, from establishing monthly reporting requirements for 
these households. These households may be retrospectively budgeted. 
State agencies that were using monthly reporting on March 25, 1994, for 
households residing on reservations may continue to do so if certain 
enumerated conditions are met. On August 29, 1994, in the Miscellaneous 
Provisions of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act 
Amendments of 1991 and the Earned Income Tax Credit Amendment final 
rule (59 FR 44303), the Department addressed the prohibition against 
establishing new monthly reporting requirements for households residing 
on reservations if no monthly reporting system was in place on March 
25, 1994.
    On June 6, 1995 at 60 FR 29767, the Department proposed regulations 
that would address the provisions in Section 101(a) of Pub. L. 103-225 
dealing with the one-month grace period afforded reservation households 
for submitting required reports, 7 U.S.C. 2015(c)(1)(C) (i) and (ii). 
This proposal was to establish the following requirements for a State 
agency if it requires monthly reporting for households residing on 
reservations:
    (1) Reinstate benefits without requiring a new application for any 
household that submits a report not later than one month after the end 
of the issuance month; and
    (2) do not delay, reduce, suspend, or terminate the allotment of a 
household that submits a report not later than one month after the end 
of the month in which the report is due; and
    (3) establish two-year certification periods for households on 
reservations required to submit monthly reports, unless the State 
agency is granted a waiver for shorter certification periods.
    The Department provided the public 60 days to comment on the 
regulatory proposals. For additional information on the provisions of 
this rule, the reader should refer to the preamble of the proposed 
rule, 60 FR 29767-70. The Department received two comments on the 
proposed rule, both from State agencies. Both commenters opposed the 
rule as proposed; one of the commenters offered alternative procedures. 
These comments are discussed below.

Definition of Residing on a Reservation

    Section 3(j) of the Act (7 U.S.C. 2012(j)) defines a reservation as 
``the geographically defined area or areas over which a tribal 
organization (as that term is defined in subsection (3)(p)) exercises 
governmental jurisdiction.'' Section 3(p) (7 U.S.C. 2012(p)) of the Act 
defines a tribal organization as ``the recognized governing body of an 
Indian tribe (including the tribally recognized intertribal 
organization of such tribes), * * *, as well as any Indian tribe, band, 
or community holding a treaty with a State government.'' Section 101(a) 
of Pub. L. 103-225 did not modify the Act's definition of a reservation 
or tribal organization. The Department proposed in Sec. 273.21(t)(1) to 
adopt these definitions for the purpose of determining whether a 
household is residing on a reservation. One commenter opposed these 
definitions because the boundaries of the reservations in his State did 
not correspond to geographic and ZIP code systems used by the State 
agency in its certification process. That commenter wanted to allow 
applicants and recipients to indicate to State agencies whether they 
resided on reservations and also wanted State agencies to not be 
responsible for inaccurate recipient indications of residency. The 
Department has no discretion in the definition of a reservation, since 
the term is described in the Act. Therefore, the Department is adopting 
Sec. 273.21(t)(1) as proposed.
    The regulation does not establish any proscriptive requirements on 
a State agency for determining residency on a reservation. Therefore, a 
State agency is free to establish its own method for establishing 
residency. However, existing quality control procedures would be used 
to determine whether a variance existed in a household's actual as 
opposed to claimed residency. The definition of a reservation used in 
the quality control procedure would be the definition in the 
regulations at 7 CFR 271.2.

[[Page 54300]]

Certification Periods

    In light of the amendments to Section 6(c)(1) of the Act made by 
Section 101(a) of Pub. L. 103-225, the Act now requires that State 
agencies establish two year certification periods for households 
residing on reservations that are required to submit monthly reports (7 
U.S.C. 2015(c)(1)(C)(iv)). Section 6(c)(1)(C)(iv) allows FCS to permit 
a State agency to establish certification periods for households 
residing on reservations shorter than two years if the State agency can 
show good cause for a shorter certification period. The Department 
proposed in Sec. 273.21(t)(2) that State agencies certify households 
residing on reservations subject to monthly reporting for two years; in 
Sec. 273.21(t)(2)(i), that a State agency may request a waiver from FCS 
to allow it to establish shorter certification periods for those 
households; and in Sec. 273.21(t)(2)(ii), that a State agency may, for 
administrative ease, opt to continue the two-year certification period 
for any household that moves off a reservation. The Department did not 
receive any comments on these provisions. Accordingly, the Department 
is adopting Sec. 273.21(t)(2) as proposed.

Missing and Incomplete Monthly Reports

    Section 101(a) of Pub. L. 103-225 (7 U.S.C. 2015(c)(1)(C)(ii)) 
prohibits a State agency from delaying, reducing, suspending, or 
terminating the benefits of a household residing on a reservation that 
submits a report not later than one month after the end of the month in 
which the report is due. Normally, if a complete monthly report is not 
received within the time frames specified in 7 CFR 273.21, a State 
agency would terminate the household. Under Section 101(a) of Pub. L. 
103-225, a State agency must now issue benefits to a household residing 
on a reservation on its normal issuance date even if the household has 
failed to submit a monthly report. In order to implement this 
provision, the Department proposed in Sec. 273.21(t)(3)(i) to require a 
State agency to provide a household residing on a reservation which 
does not submit its monthly report by the issuance date with the same 
benefit amount that the household received the previous month. This 
issuance must be provided to the household on the household's normal 
issuance date. If the household's report is received prior to the 
issuance date, but too late to be processed without delaying the 
household's issuance, the Department proposed that the household be 
issued its benefits on the normal issuance date.
    In Sec. 273.21(t)(3)(ii), the Department proposed to require a 
State agency to provide benefits to a household residing on a 
reservation on the normal issuance date if the household submitted an 
incomplete monthly report that could not be completed by the normal 
issuance date. The State agency would be required to attempt to have 
the household complete the report prior to the normal issuance date, in 
accordance with the procedures in 7 CFR 273.21(j).
    The Department proposed in Sec. 273.21(t)(3)(iii) that if a 
household failed to submit a monthly report or submitted an incomplete 
monthly report that was never fully completed and then failed to submit 
the next consecutive monthly report or submitted an incomplete report 
for the next consecutive monthly report that was not subsequently 
completed by the issuance date, the household's participation would be 
terminated in accordance with the provisions in 7 CFR 273.21(m). Also 
in Sec. 273.21(t)(3)(iii), the Department proposed that the household 
would not be terminated if it failed to ever submit or complete the 
first missing monthly report so long as it submitted the next report by 
the end of the month in which it was due.
    The Department received one comment on the proposed provisions in 
Sec. 273.21(t)(3). That commenter opposed the proposal as complicated, 
cumbersome, and costly. Further, the commenter believed that the 
proposal was contrary to the Department's efforts to improve program 
integrity and promote personal responsibility. The State agency 
commenting had already implemented the provision. In its implementation 
it was requiring the household to submit the missing report prior to 
any subsequent issuance after the initial grace month issuance. If the 
missing report was not submitted by the end of the issuance (or grace) 
month, the household would be terminated. The household would not be 
reinstated unless it submitted the missing report by the end of month 
following the issuance month.
    In light of this comment, the Department has decided to revise the 
proposed procedures significantly. These revisions are consistent with 
the Department's goals to increase administrative flexibility for State 
agencies. Therefore, the Department is replacing the proposed 
Sec. 273.21(t)(3) with the following language which essentially tracks 
the language of Section 6(c)(1)(C)(ii) of the Act: ``The State agency 
shall not delay, reduce, or suspend the allotment of a household that 
fails to submit a report by the issuance date.'' Each State agency will 
be responsible for deciding what report must be submitted--either the 
missing report [as the commenter suggested] or the next month's report 
[as was proposed]. The State agency shall make that decision based on 
what it believes is most appropriate for recipients and most 
administratively feasible for that State. Additionally, each State 
agency may unilaterally decide whether to consider a report received 
too late to act on or an incomplete report as ``submitted'' for 
purposes of this provision.

Benefit Determination

    The Department proposed in Sec. 273.21(t)(4) that, in appropriate 
instances, a State agency repeat the previous month's benefit amount if 
a report is not received by the issuance date of the next month's 
allotment. In addition, the Department proposed in Sec. 273.21(t)(4) 
that a State agency issue the household's benefits based on the 
previously submitted report without regard to any changes in the 
household's circumstances that were not completely reported on or 
verified. Finally, the Department proposed in Sec. 273.21(t)(4) that a 
State agency adjust the amount of the benefits issued if there was any 
information on the incomplete report that can be used as submitted. The 
Department received one comment addressing the requirement in 
Sec. 273.21(t)(4) to issue the previous month's benefit amount if a 
report is not received by the issuance date. That commenter opposed the 
proposal because it provided unequal treatment to households required 
to monthly report based on whether they lived on or off a reservation. 
The Department has no discretion in this requirement. Section 101(a)(2) 
of Pub. L. 103-225 (7 U.S.C. 2015(c)(1)(C)(ii)) requires that the State 
agency not delay, reduce, suspend, or terminate the allotment of a 
household that submits a report not later than one month after the end 
of the month in which the report is due; i.e., the State agency must 
issue benefits on the issuance date although a monthly report has not 
been received.
    As discussed above in the section of the preamble concerning 
missing and incomplete reports, a commenter opposed the requirements in 
Sec. 273.21(t)(3) to issue benefits when a report was incomplete. That 
commenter also opposed the requirement in proposed Sec. 273.21(t)(4) 
that State agencies act on information that would otherwise be 
considered incomplete. The Department has decided not to adopt 
Sec. 273.21(t)(4) as proposed. The

[[Page 54301]]

revisions in Sec. 273.21(t)(3), as adopted herein, specify that 
benefits not be delayed, reduced, suspended, or terminated. Thus, each 
State agency is required by that provision to issue benefits on the 
household's normal issuance date if it fails to submit a monthly 
report. Each State agency may decide whether to adjust benefits for 
completed information on an otherwise incomplete report. Final 
Sec. 273.21(t)(3) will consist of proposed (t)(3) and (t)(4), with the 
modifications discussed herein.

Reinstatement

    Section 101(a) of Pub. L. 103-225 (7 U.S.C. 2015(c)(1)(C)(i)) 
provides that, if a household is terminated for failing to submit or to 
complete a monthly report, the household shall be reinstated without 
being required to submit a new application if a monthly report is 
received no later than the last day of the month following the issuance 
month. The Department proposed at Sec. 273.21(t)(5) to require that a 
State agency reinstate a household terminated in accordance with 
Sec. 273.21(t)(3)(iii) without the household being required to submit a 
new application if a complete monthly report was received no later than 
the last day of the month following the month the household was 
terminated. One comment was received, opposing the provision as 
proposed. The Department has modified the proposed rule in light of the 
comment discussed above. The final rule on this is being renumbered 
Sec. 273.21(t)(4) as opposed to (t)(5) to reflect the decision not to 
adopt as final proposed Sec. 273.21(t)(4) discussed above. The phrase 
``or to complete'' is being removed from the proposal in this final 
rule. Removing this phrase reflects the options regarding reports 
available to the State agency as discussed above.

Notices

    In Sec. 273.21(t)(6)(i), the Department proposed that all notices 
regarding changes in a household's benefits meet the definition of 
adequate notice as defined in 7 CFR 271.2. The Department also proposed 
in Sec. 273.21(t)(6)(ii) that State agencies provide notice to 
households about missing or incomplete reports requesting that the 
household take the action necessary to submit the missing report or to 
complete an incomplete report. In order to ensure that a household 
receives adequate notice of any State agency action affecting the 
household's benefits, the Department proposed in Sec. 273.21(t)(5)(iii) 
that simultaneously with the issuance of benefits the State agency 
notify a household if its report has not been received or if it is 
incomplete. The household should also be informed that the benefits 
being provided are based on the previously submitted report and that 
the amount of the allotment does not reflect any changes in the 
household's circumstances from the previous issuance. Further, this 
notice would advise the household that, if the next monthly report was 
not filed timely and completely, the household would be terminated. The 
proposed notice requirement conformed notice requirements for these 
special circumstances with current notice requirements for monthly 
reporting. Finally, in order to ensure that the household would be 
aware of the termination and its right to reinstatement, the Department 
proposed in Sec. 273.21(t)(6)(iv) that, if the household is terminated 
in the consequent month, the State agency would send the notice so the 
household receives it no later than the date benefits would have been 
received. This notice would be required to advise the household of its 
right to reinstatement if a complete monthly report was submitted by 
the end of the month following termination. This proposed notice 
requirement was consistent with current notice requirements for monthly 
reporting.
    The Department did not receive any comments on the notice 
requirements. However, to be consistent with the modifications made 
above, the Department is modifying the requirements in the final rule 
to eliminate references to an incomplete report. The Department is 
adopting the provision as proposed except for this modification.

Supplements and Claims

    The Department proposed in Sec. 273.21(t)(7) that, if the household 
submitted or completed a monthly report after the issuance date but in 
the issuance month, the State agency would provide the household with a 
supplement, if warranted. Also, if the household submitted or completed 
a monthly report or the State agency became aware of a change that 
would have decreased benefits in some other manner at any time after 
the issuance date, the Department proposed that the State agency file a 
claim for any benefits overissued. The Department did not propose that 
households which submit reports after the issuance month receive 
restored benefits.
    The Department received one comment on proposed Sec. 273.21(t)(7). 
The commenter did not oppose the claims provision. The commenter 
opposed the proposal to provide a supplement when the monthly report is 
received during the issuance month. The commenter believes that 7 CFR 
273.12(c)(1)(i) conflicts with the proposed requirement to provide a 
supplement, and the commenter preferred the option in 7 CFR 
273.12(c)(1)(i) to provide increases in the following month, where 
warranted. That commenter also opposed providing supplements to these 
households as undermining the reporting requirements and diminishing 
household responsibility for reporting.
    The Department disagrees with the commenter. Section 
273.12(c)(1)(i) is not applicable in this situation. The proposed 
provision is a special provision that takes precedence over 7 CFR 
273.12(c)(1)(i). The provision for providing supplements as well as for 
establishing claims provides for equitable and consistent treatment of 
late reported information. The Department recognizes that Section 
101(a) of Pub. L. 103-225 was intended to provide special treatment to 
the households residing on reservations. For that reason, the 
Department is adopting the regulation as proposed. State agencies must 
provide supplemental benefits if a missing report is submitted during 
the issuance month. The commenter was concerned about which report 
would require a supplement to be issued--the missing report for the 
month for which benefits were issued or the subsequent month's report 
that would be due in the issuance month. The proposal has been revised 
to clarify that it only applies to the missing report and not the 
subsequent report for the following month.

Quality Control Procedures

    The legislative history provides that ``a State [agency] will not 
be adversely affected in regard to its quality control efforts related 
to those households whose monthly reports are not submitted until a 
month after the report is due.'' Congressional Record. S2905, March 11, 
1994. To implement this language, the Department proposed that those 
certification errors attributable to missing or incomplete monthly 
reports covered Section 101(a) of Pub. L. 103-225 shall be excluded 
from the error determination process. One commenter requested 
clarification of how quality control would handle two situations: (a) 
the household deliberately withholds a monthly report because they know 
the information would make them ineligible; and (b) the month prior to 
the incomplete or missing monthly report is a month in which the 
household either receives too many or too few food

[[Page 54302]]

stamps. The following quality control procedures apply to cases subject 
to the provisions of this rulemaking and with a review date that falls 
within the grace period: certification errors that occur during the 
grace period would be excluded; certification errors occurring prior to 
the grace period would be reviewed in accordance with existing 
procedures in the FCS Handbook 310.

Implementation

    The Food Stamp Program Improvements Act of 1994 was effective upon 
enactment, March 25, 1994. On March 31, 1994, the Department issued a 
memorandum notifying State agencies of the legislation and the March 
25, 1994, effective date. State agencies were directed to implement the 
requirements immediately. Recognizing that the statutory amendments 
regarding the monthly reporting on reservations have already been 
implemented through the above described memorandum and in order to 
provide for the orderly implementation of the specific provisions of 
this proposed rule, the Department proposed that this rule be effective 
in any given State upon implementation by the State agency but in no 
event later than the first day of the first month 60 days after 
publication of the final rule. The Department did not receive any 
comments on the implementation schedule as proposed. Accordingly, this 
action amends 7 CFR 272.1(g) to add a new paragraph to address 
implementation requirements for this final action.
    Quality control variances resulting from implementation of the 
remaining provisions of this final rule will be excluded for 120 days 
from the required implementation date, in accordance with 7 CFR 
275.12(d)(12), as modified by 7 U.S.C. 2025(c)(3)(A).

List of Subjects

7 CFR Part 272

    Alaska, Civil rights, Food stamps, Grant programs-social programs, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

7 CFR Part 273

    Administrative practice and procedures, Aliens, Claims, Food 
stamps, Grant programs-social programs, Penalties, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Social security, Students.

    Accordingly, 7 CFR Parts 272 and 273 are amended as follows:
    1. The authority citations of Parts 272 and 273 continue to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 2011-2032.

PART 272--REQUIREMENTS FOR PARTICIPATING STATE AGENCIES

    2. In Sec. 272.1, a new paragraph (g)(150) is added to read as 
follows:


Sec. 272.1  General terms and conditions.

* * * * *
    (g) Implementation. * * *
    (150) Amendment No. 365. This provision is effective December 16, 
1996 and must be implemented no later than March 1, 1997. Any variances 
resulting from implementation of the provisions of this amendment shall 
be excluded from error analysis for 120 days from this required 
implementation date in accordance with Sec. 275.12(d)(2)(vii) of this 
chapter.

PART 273--CERTIFICATION OF ELIGIBLE HOUSEHOLDS

    2a. In Sec. 273.21, a new paragraph (t) is added to read as 
follows:


Sec. 273.21  Monthly Reporting and Retrospective Budgeting (MRRB).

* * * * *
    (t) Monthly reporting requirements for households residing on 
reservations. The following procedures shall be used for households 
which reside on reservations and are required to submit monthly 
reports:
    (1) Definition of a reservation. For purposes of this section, the 
term ``reservation'' shall mean the geographically defined area or 
areas over which a tribal organization exercises governmental 
jurisdiction. The term ``tribal organization'' shall mean the 
recognized governing body of an Indian tribe (including the tribally 
recognized intertribal organization of such tribes), as well as any 
Indian tribe, band, or community holding a treaty with a State 
government.
    (2) Certification periods. Any household residing on a reservation 
that is required to submit a monthly report shall be certified for two 
(2) years.
    (i) A State agency may request a waiver from FCS to allow it to 
establish certification periods of less than two (2) years if it is 
able to justify the need for the shorter periods. Any request for a 
waiver shall include input from the affected Indian tribal 
organization(s) and quality control error rate information for the 
affected households.
    (ii) The State agency may opt to continue the two-year 
certification period for any household that moves off the reservation. 
If the State agency adopts this option and the household is still 
living off the reservation at the time it is subject to required 
recertification, the household shall be subject to the certification 
period requirements in Sec. 273.10(f)(4). If the State agency does not 
adopt this option, any household that moves off the reservation shall 
have its certification period shortened. A household continuing to be 
subject to monthly reporting shall not have its certification period 
shortened to less than six months. A household becoming subject to 
change reporting shall not have its certification period end any 
earlier than the month following the month in which the State agency 
determines that the certification period shall be shortened.
    (3) Benefit determination for missing reports. The State agency 
shall not delay, reduce, or suspend the allotment of a household that 
fails to submit a report by the issuance date.
    (4) Reinstatement. If a household is terminated for failing to 
submit a monthly report, the household shall be reinstated without 
being required to submit a new application if a monthly report is 
submitted no later than the last day of the month following the month 
the household was terminated.
    (5) Notices. (i) All notices regarding changes in a household's 
benefits shall meet the definition of adequate notice as defined in 
Sec. 271.2 of this chapter.
    (ii) If a household fails to file a monthly report by the specified 
filing date, the State agency shall notify the household within five 
days of the filing date:
    (A) That the monthly report is either overdue or incomplete;
    (B) What the household must do to complete the form;
    (C) If any verification is missing;
    (D) That the Social Security number of a new member must be 
reported, if the household has reported a new member but not the new 
member's Social Security number;
    (E) What the extended filing date is;
    (F) That the State agency will assist the household in completing 
the report; and
    (G) That the household's benefits will be issued based on the 
previous month's submitted report without regard to any changes in the 
household's circumstances if the missing report is not submitted.
    (iii) Simultaneously with the issuance, the State agency shall 
notify a household, if its report has not been received, that the 
benefits being provided are based on the previous month's submitted 
report and that this benefit does not reflect any changes in the 
household's circumstances. This notice shall also advise the household 
that, if a complete report is not filed timely, the household will be 
terminated.

[[Page 54303]]

    (iv) If the household is terminated, the State agency shall send 
the notice so the household receives it no later than the date benefits 
would have been received. This notice shall advise the household of its 
right to reinstatement if a complete monthly report is submitted by the 
end of the month following termination.
    (6) Supplements and claims. If the household submits the missing 
monthly report after the issuance date but in the issuance month, the 
State agency shall provide the household with a supplement, if 
warranted. If the household submits the missing monthly report after 
the issuance date or the State agency becomes aware of a change that 
would have decreased benefits in some other manner, the State agency 
shall file a claim for any benefits overissued.

    Dated: July 15, 1996.
Ellen Haas,
Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services.
[FR Doc. 96-26071 Filed 10-16-96; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-30-U