How to Certify Applicants or Households with Pregnant Members
As a tax credit manager, you must be aware of households' composition and be aware of how life changes such as pregnancies among your households or applicants can invoke specific HUD rules when it comes to eligibility, income, and unit size. For example, suppose a married couple applies for a two-bedroom unit at your site. And based on their combined annual income, they don’t qualify under the two-person maximum income limit, but because the wife is pregnant, according to HUD rules, they may still be able to get a unit if they qualify under the maximum three-person income limit.
It's also important to be careful about how you use what you learn with regard to pregnant members and applicants so that you don’t treat these individuals in any different or unfair way. To help you avoid noncompliance and keep the owner's tax credits safe, we'll give you a few guidelines to avoid problems when you discover household members and applicants are expecting a new child.
Two Rules to Avoid Noncompliance
Generally speaking, unborn children are counted as household members for occupancy and income purposes, explains property management consultant Amanda Atkins. But unborn children are not considered dependents. Here are two principles for complying with HUD rules that apply to pregnancy:
Count unborn children to determine household size for income limits. The HUD Handbook requires you to count household members' unborn children as part of a low-income household for occupancy and income purposes [Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-6(E)(4)(d)]. You count a pregnant household member as two people, and use the income limits for a larger household size. This helps households with pregnant members qualify to live at your site.
Don't require expectant household member to verify pregnancy. HUD specifically bars you from verifying a household member's pregnancy in any way other than through self-certification [Handbook 4350.3, App. 3]. This means you cannot ask a pregnant woman to get written verification from her doctor. Instead, ask the household member herself to certify that she’s pregnant and, if she is, have the household member sign an affidavit swearing that she's pregnant. The member should also say in the affidavit how many children she's expecting.
You can use our Model Form: Ask Household Member to Certify That She’s Pregnant. When you’re requesting this certification, you should make it clear to the household member that you’re asking for the sole purpose of being able to count her unborn child for determining income limits and unit size.
How to Use Form
If you discover that a member is pregnant, the signed form will be all the proof you need to show your state housing agency that you complied with HUD's pregnancy verification requirements. This will cover you if your agency reviews a household's file and asks why you used, for example, a three-person income limit for that household when only two people signed the lease. Keep copies of your completed forms in the appropriate household's file. This way, you'll be able to easily access the form if your state housing agency or other staff members have questions later.
What Form Should Do
Your form, like our Model Form, should do the following:
Identify household member.The form should ask you to fill in the household member's name, unit number, and Building Identification Number (BIN).
State purpose.The form should state that the household member understands that the tax credit law and the HUD Handbook require you to count unborn children as household members for income and occupancy purposes.
Give certification date. Fill in the date of the household's initial certification or annual recertification.
Give pregnancy status. Your form should then ask the member to swear that she's pregnant and to check the correct box to indicate whether she knows how many children she's expecting from the pregnancy. If the member knows how many children she's expecting, she should write in the number. For instance, if a member knows she's pregnant with triplets, she should write “3” in the blank space, and you should count all three unborn children as household members (in addition to the pregnant household member. If the member doesn't know how many children she's expecting, but has no reason to believe she's expecting more than one child from her pregnancy, you should assume that she's expecting only one child and count that child as a household member.
Get adjusted income information as a result of pregnancy. Sometimes as a result of the pregnancy, members or applicants may have applied for or are receiving some sort of child support payment from a government agency or from a separated partner. Owners must count these periodic and determinable payments as income.
Get member's notarized signature and date. Have the household member sign the form in front of a notary public. Also, have the member write the date so that an auditor can see that you got her self-certification within 90 days of the household's certification or recertification [Handbook 4350.3, par. 5-17(B)(1)].
Amanda Atkins: Atkins Consulting Professionals, 624 Cowan Cove Rd., Asheville, NC 28806; www.atkinsconsultingprofessionals.com.