Verification of Eligibility

All applications selected for verification must be resolved.  All families selected must provide information that verifies or confirms their eligibility, or the families must be notified formally in writing that their benefits will change.  Changes in eligibility must be updated at the point of service for all family members in the LEA.

Correctly approved applications are effective for the entire school year. If a family selected for verification submits information that confirms either their income or receipt of SNAP/TANF/FDPIR benefits for the time period beginning the month before they applied through the time the application is verified (prior to November 15), the child's eligibility remains in effect. You may not change their status to reduced or paid if the family substantiates they were eligible for the free benefits when they applied.  This is true even if current income proves at the time of verification they are no longer eligible.

Written Evidence

Written evidence is the primary source of eligibility confirmation for all households, including TANF, FDPIR, Other Source Categorical Eligibility Programs, and foster child households. Written evidence most often includes pay stubs from employers or award letters from assistance agencies or other government agencies

Acceptable Written Evidence

Income Eligible

Contains:

  • The name of the household member
  • Amount of income received
  • Frequency received
  • The date the income was received

*A pay stub with no dates would be insufficient

Categorically Eligible:

Assistance Program

An official letter or notice indicating that the child or any household member is receiving benefits from that program, such as a notice of eligibility.

*A document from an Assistance Program that does not specify the certification period does not meet the documentation for verification.

*For example, the identification cards for SNAP or TANF would be insufficient unless it contains an expiration date.

Categorically Eligible: Other Source

An official letter, notice, or list from the appropriate State agency, social service agency, program office or coordinator, or court.

Note: Tax returns may be used to verify income of self-employed household members ONLY. 

When a Household Provides Pay Stubs

Households may provide pay stubs with income from employment. If a weekly pay stub is representative of what the household normally receives each week, one pay stub is sufficient.

If the household submits a pay stub that includes overtime, the determining official should work with the household to determine whether the overtime for the month being verified is representative of overtime received in other months. If the overtime is a one-time or sporadic source of income, income should be calculated based on the regular monthly income without overtime.

Indication of “No Income”

If a household is selected for verification, or the application is being verified for cause and the application indicates zero income, the LEA must request an explanation of how living expenses are met and may request additional written documentation or collateral contacts.  For example, the collateral contact may be asked to document the duration and type of assistance that is provided to the household.

Collateral Contacts

A collateral contact is a person outside of the household who is knowledgeable about the household’s circumstances and can give confirmation of a household’s income participation in Assistance Programs or Other Source Categorical Eligibility Program sources. Collateral contacts include employers, social service agencies, migrant workers’ agencies, and religious or civic organizations. The verifying official should request a collateral contact only in cases when the household has not been able to provide adequate written evidence.

The verifying official must give the household the opportunity to designate the collateral contact. However, the verifying official may select a collateral contact if the household fails to designate one or designates one who is unacceptable to the verifying official. In either case, no contact may be made without first notifying the household and obtaining its permission. At the time of the notice, the household may consent to the contact or provide acceptable documentation in another form. If the household refuses to choose one of these options, the household’s eligibility will be terminated in accordance with normal verification procedures. Households which dispute the validity of information acquired through collateral contacts or a system of records must be given the opportunity to provide other documentation.

All collateral contacts may be written or oral and must be documented, dated, and initialed. The LEA will examine any written information provided by the collateral contact or evaluate any oral information. If the collateral contact is unwilling or unable to provide the requested information, the LEA must contact the household to complete the verification process.

Foster Children

If a household application is selected for verification in which a foster child is listed as a family member, and State or local documentation certifying the foster child for free meal benefits has been provided to the school, then only the family income or SNAP/TANF/FDPIR case number must be verified for the other students listed on the application.

If the family application is the only form of certification for the foster child, then documentation verifying the foster child’s status would be required.  Documentation from a State or local foster agency or the court where the foster child received placement is acceptable for verification.

SNAP/TANF/FDPIR

Verification consists of confirming current receipt of SNAP (only for children not found in the direct certification matching process), TANF or FDPIR benefits for each child/household listed. If at least one member of the household confirms receipt of SNAP/TANF/FDPIR, the remainder of the children residing in the household shall remain eligible through confirmation of school enrollment records. Verification of eligibility for households that provided an Assistance Program case number on the application may be accomplished by submitting a list of names and Assistance Program case numbers to the local SNAP or assistance office for confirmation of certification of receipt of benefits from agency records or by directly verifying eligibility using the Direct Certification Matching Process (DCMP) data. Please see the “Direct Verification” section of this booklet for more information.

It is essential to cooperatively discuss and work out a mutually effective and efficient means for handling requests for verification of current SNAP/TANF participation by school officials and school meal applicants with local SNAP/TANF agencies. Refer to Attachment B for requesting verification from local SNAP/TANF agencies. Please note local SNAP/TANF agencies may not be able to provide this service. The LEA is encouraged to first utilize the DCMP data prior to conducting direct verification with local SNAP/TANF agencies.

Note: EBT cards cannot be used to confirm eligibility in SNAP or TANF.