ARIZONA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
First Regular Session
House: HHS DPA 9-0-0-0
HB 2559: DCS; federal benefits; dependent children.
Sponsor: Representative Montenegro, LD 29
Caucus & COW
Directs the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) to determine eligibility for benefits administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for all children in their care. Requires DCS to apply for those federal benefits on the children's behalf if they're deemed eligible.
The primary purpose of DCS is to protect children. To achieve this, DCS will do and focus equally on: 1) investigating reports of abuse and neglect; 2) assessing, promoting and supporting the safety of a child in a safe and stable family or other appropriate placement in response to allegations of abuse and neglect; 3) cooperating with law enforcement regarding reports that include allegations of criminal conduct; and 4) coordinating services to achieve and maintain permanency for the child, strengthen the family and provide prevention, intervention and treatment services without compromising the child's safety (A.R.S. § 8-451).
SSA is responsible for administering the nation's primary income support programs for older adults and individuals with disabilities: Social Security and Supplemental Security Income. Each program has different rules that determine how funds can be accessed, used or managed.
The VA offers a variety of benefits to veterans of the U.S. Armed forces and to certain members of their families. These benefits include financial assistance, health care, education and housing. Certain criteria must be met to be eligible for benefits administered by the VA.
1. Directs DCS to determine eligibility for SSA or VA benefits for all children in their care. (Sec. 1)
2. Requires DCS to apply for SSA or VA benefits on the child's behalf if DCS determines they are eligible for those federal benefits. (Sec. 1)
3. Instructs DCS to determine the best representative payee for receiving the child's federal benefits. (Sec. 1)
4. Specifies that if DCS is serving as the representative payee it must:
a) not use the child's federal benefits to pay or reimburse themselves or the state for any costs of the child's care;
b) use the child's federal benefits for the child's unmet needs beyond what the agency is obligated or required to pay;
c) establish an appropriate special needs trust for each child who is receiving federal benefits or name the child a beneficiary of a pooled special needs trust and conserve the child's unspent benefits in a manner consistent with federal and state requirements for special need trusts and that appropriately avoid any federal asset or resource limit; and
d) provide an annual accounting of the child's federal benefits to the child, child's attorney and their parents or guardians in addition to the reporting and accounting requirements for custodial trustees. (Sec. 1)
5. Specifies that the accounting must describe how and in what amount the child's federal benefits have been spent and conserved. (Sec. 1)
6. Requires DCS to notify the child, their parents, guardian and attorney of DCS's application for the child federal benefits. (Sec. 1)
Committee on Health & Human Services
1. Removes certain authorities from the DCS Director, which includes using the monies to defray the cost of care and services expended by the Department for the benefit, welfare and best interests of the child and investing those monies that the Director determines are not necessary for immediate use.
2. Requires DCS to determine eligibility for a child's federal benefits within 60 days after they enter their care.
3. Specifies that if a child is already receiving benefits before entering the department's care or if the department applies for benefits on behalf of the child, DCS must identify, in consultation with the child and the child's attorney, a representative payee in accordance with federal regulations and apply to become the representative payee only if no other suitable candidate is available.
4. Directs DCS to annually review cases of children in their care to determine whether a child may have become eligible for benefits after their initial assessment.
5. Outlines requirements for when a child is denied any federal benefits or when a child is not under the responsibility of the Department's care.
6. Makes technical and conforming changes.
---------- DOCUMENT FOOTER ---------
Initials AG Page 0 Caucus & COW
---------- DOCUMENT FOOTER ---------