Food And Nutrition Services Prudent Person Concept

Hello and welcome to Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) Module on the Prudent Person Concept.  This module will provide you with the understanding of what a prudent person is as it pertains to the FNS Manual.

The policies and procedures in the (FNS) Manual are intended to guide you through the application and simplified reporting re-certification process.

The policy and procedures written in the manual are to ensure the limits imposed by the Food Stamp Act and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Regulations are followed. 

Although, the FNS manual includes all the policies and regulations required by state and federal law, the manual is unable to cover every scenario you will encounter when working a case.

Prudent Person Concept

Prudent Person Concept

Objectives

The objectives of this module is to define what actions the caseworker must take when addressing gray areas in FNS policy manual. The policy discussed in this module is located in section 105 of the FNS policy manual.

Upon completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Define the prudent person concept
  • Demonstrate the required actions  to take when addressing the gray areas of the FNS policy manual

Let's get started by defining what a prudent person is.

Prudent Person Defined

A prudent person is someone that:

  • Is careful or wise when handling practical matters
  • Exercises good judgment or common sense 

You should determine if your judgment is reasonable at all times, based on your experience and knowledge of the program.

Now let's take a look at the judgment skills of a prudent person.

 Prudent Person Judgment

Use prudent person skills when:

  • Making a certification decision
  • Evaluating cases
  • Asking questions
  • Requesting verification and explanations when using the DSS-8650 Notice of Information needed
  • Documenting decisions in NC FAST

Move on to see some examples of how a prudent person should handle a FNS case.

Prudent Person Example One

FNS Scenario:

  • FNS individual has no income
  • FNS individual’s bills are paid up
  • FNS individual is not behind on anything

Prudent person's response to situation:

  • This does not sound reasonable – how are your bills paid if you are without income?

Prudent Person Example Two

FNS Scenario:

  • FNS individual is present for re-determination
  • FNS individual’s household income is $450 per month
  • FNS individual provides paid rent receipt of $600

Prudent person's response to situation:

  • Do you have additional income that is not documented?
  • Are you receiving money from someone on a regular basis?
  • Can you explain for me how you are able to pay a $600 rent with an income of $450?


If the individual is unable to provide explanation or additional verification is needed, use the DSS-8650 form to request information.

Note: The FNS individual must always be given 10 full days to provide required verification.

It is prudent and reasonable to ask these type of questions and if the FNS individual cannot provide a reasonable explanation or verification deny the household assistance until they can provide a reasonable explanation.

 Always thoroughly document your decisions in NC FAST.

Other Required Actions

Being a prudent person does not eliminate the need to follow other required actions or guidelines .  This includes eligibility requirements for the Food Stamp Program.

Now that you know the actions to take, let's look at the change in policy.

Change In Policy

Always consult with your supervisor for specific case issues  or situations that may necessitate a change in policy or the development of new policy.

Note:

Case workers may encounter situations in which a worker should consult with their supervisor and if necessary the supervisor will contact Operational Support Team (OST) for clarifications.  OST evaluates and will suggest to the state division any situations that may require a change in policy or the development of new policy. 


Summary

Now that you have completed the module you should have a better understanding of the quality and characteristics of a prudent person. 

You should now be able to:

  • Define a prudent person
  • Demonstrate the required actions  to take when addressing the gray areas of the FNS policy manual

Module Assessment

Assessment

Let’s see what you’ve learned.  Move forward to test your knowledge of the prudent person concepts.  

Answer each question to complete the assessment.

Knowledge Check 1

  • The FNS policy is NOT intended to be flexible to allow the caseworker to exercise reasonable judgement in executing his/her responsibilities?

Knowledge Check 2

Scenario:

Worker M. Bee has been in this job a long time and considers her years of experience to be a great asset to the FNS program. You overhear M. Bee talking about a case with a coworker.

M. Bee says she knows what policy says but she just feels like something isn’t right about this case, so she has asked for extra verification.

Is Worker Bee demonstrating characteristics of a prudent person in this situation?

  • No
  • Yes