The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Wilson, determined that the child support payments made by father constituted income to mother (Ms. Leggio), not to the children. Therefore, although two of the children are full-time college students and ineligible for the SNAP (food stamp) program, the full amount of the child support must be considered in determining the family’s eligibility for the SNAP program. Applying the full amount of the child support to the mother’s income rendered the family ineligible:
… [I]f Ms. Leggio’s two eldest children are the owners of their pro rata shares of the child support she receives, the household would be eligible for SNAP benefits … . Conversely, if child support funds are considered income of the custodial parent who received them (here, Ms. Leggio) they are household income not subject to any exclusion, and Ms. Leggio’s household’s income would be too high to receive SNAP benefits. Although the consequences of allocating the income are clear, the threshold question, whether child support is income of the recipient-parent or of the beneficiary-child for purposes of determining eligibility for SNAP benefits, is unresolved by any federal or state statute or regulation or decision of this Court.
We conclude that OTDA’s [Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s] interpretation of the federal statutes it administers was not irrational and is entitled to deference and thus, for the purposes of SNAP, child support directly received by a parent is household income, even if it is used for the benefit of an ineligible college student living at home. Matter of Leggio v Devine, 2020 NY Slip Op 00999, Ct App 2-13-20