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20 ILCS 505/5.46

    (20 ILCS 505/5.46)
    (Text of Section from P.A. 102-1014)
    Sec. 5.46. Application for Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Veterans benefits, and Railroad Retirement benefits.
    (a) Definitions. As used in this Section:
    "Benefits" means Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Veterans benefits, and Railroad Retirement benefits.
    "Youth's attorney and guardian ad litem" means the person appointed as the youth's attorney or guardian ad litem in accordance with the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 in the proceeding in which the Department is appointed as the youth's guardian or custodian.
    (b) Application for benefits.
        (1) Upon receiving temporary custody or guardianship
    
of a youth in care, the Department shall assess the youth to determine whether the youth may be eligible for benefits. If, after the assessment, the Department determines that the youth may be eligible for benefits, the Department shall ensure that an application is filed on behalf of the youth. The Department shall prescribe by rule how it will review cases of youth in care at regular intervals to determine whether the youth may have become eligible for benefits after the initial assessment. The Department shall make reasonable efforts to encourage youth in care over the age of 18 who are likely eligible for benefits to cooperate with the application process and to assist youth with the application process.
        (2) When applying for benefits under this Section for
    
a youth in care the Department shall identify a representative payee in accordance with the requirements of 20 CFR 404.2021 and 416.621. If the Department is seeking to be appointed as the youth's representative payee, the Department must consider input, if provided, from the youth's attorney and guardian ad litem regarding whether another representative payee, consistent with the requirements of 20 CFR 404.2021 and 416.621, is available. If the Department serves as the representative payee for a youth over the age of 18, the Department shall request a court order, as described in subparagraph (C) of paragraph (1) of subsection (d) and in subparagraph (C) of paragraph (2) of subsection (d).
    (c) Notifications. The Department shall immediately notify a youth over the age of 16, the youth's attorney and guardian ad litem, and the youth's parent or legal guardian or another responsible adult of:
        (1) any application for or any application to become
    
representative payee for benefits on behalf of a youth in care;
        (2) any communications from the Social Security
    
Administration, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, or the Railroad Retirement Board pertaining to the acceptance or denial of benefits or the selection of a representative payee; and
        (3) any appeal or other action requested by the
    
Department regarding an application for benefits.
    (d) Use of benefits. Consistent with federal law, when the Department serves as the representative payee for a youth receiving benefits and receives benefits on the youth's behalf, the Department shall:
        (1) Beginning January 1, 2023, ensure that when the
    
youth attains the age of 14 years and until the Department no longer serves as the representative payee, a minimum percentage of the youth's Supplemental Security Income benefits are conserved in accordance with paragraph (4) as follows:
            (A) From the age of 14 through age 15, at least
        
40%.
            (B) From the age of 16 through age 17, at least
        
80%.
            (C) From the age of 18 through 20, 100%, when a
        
court order has been entered expressly allowing the Department to have the authority to establish and serve as an authorized agent of the youth over the age of 18 with respect to an account established in accordance with paragraph (4).
        (2) Beginning January 1, 2024, ensure that when the
    
youth attains the age of 14 years and until the Department no longer serves as the representative payee a minimum percentage of the youth's Social Security benefits, Veterans benefits, or Railroad Retirement benefits are conserved in accordance with paragraph (4) as follows:
            (A) From the age of 14 through age 15, at least
        
40%.
            (B) From the age of 16 through age 17, at least
        
80%.
            (C) From the age of 18 through 20, 100%, when a
        
court order has been entered expressly allowing the Department to have the authority to establish and serve as an authorized agent of the youth over the age of 18 with respect to an account established in accordance with paragraph (4).
        (3) Exercise discretion in accordance with federal
    
law and in the best interests of the youth when making decisions to use or conserve the youth's benefits that are less than or not subject to asset or resource limits under federal law, including using the benefits to address the youth's special needs and conserving the benefits for the youth's reasonably foreseeable future needs.
        (4) Appropriately monitor any federal asset or
    
resource limits for the benefits and ensure that the youth's best interest is served by using or conserving the benefits in a way that avoids violating any federal asset or resource limits that would affect the youth's eligibility to receive the benefits, including:
            (A) applying to the Social Security
        
Administration to establish a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) Account for the youth under the Social Security Act and determining whether it is in the best interest of the youth to conserve all or parts of the benefits in the PASS account;
            (B) establishing a 529 plan for the youth and
        
conserving the youth's benefits in that account in a manner that appropriately avoids any federal asset or resource limits;
            (C) establishing an Individual Development
        
Account for the youth and conserving the youth's benefits in that account in a manner that appropriately avoids any federal asset or resource limits;
            (D) establishing an ABLE account authorized by
        
Section 529A of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, for the youth and conserving the youth's benefits in that account in a manner that appropriately avoids any federal asset or resource limits;
            (E) establishing a Social Security Plan to
        
Achieve Self-Support account for the youth and conserving the youth's benefits in a manner that appropriately avoids any federal asset or resource limits;
            (F) establishing a special needs trust for the
        
youth and conserving the youth's benefits in the trust in a manner that is consistent with federal requirements for special needs trusts and that appropriately avoids any federal asset or resource limits;
            (G) if the Department determines that using the
        
benefits for services for current special needs not already provided by the Department is in the best interest of the youth, using the benefits for those services;
            (H) if federal law requires certain back payments
        
of benefits to be placed in a dedicated account, complying with the requirements for dedicated accounts under 20 CFR 416.640(e); and
            (I) applying any other exclusions from federal
        
asset or resource limits available under federal law and using or conserving the youth's benefits in a manner that appropriately avoids any federal asset or resource limits.
    (e) By July 1, 2024, the Department shall provide a report to the General Assembly regarding youth in care who receive benefits who are not subject to this Act. The report shall discuss a goal of expanding conservation of children's benefits to all benefits of all children of any age for whom the Department serves as representative payee. The report shall include a description of any identified obstacles, steps to be taken to address the obstacles, and a description of any need for statutory, rule, or procedural changes.
    (f) Accounting. The Department shall provide an annual accounting to the youth's attorney and guardian ad litem of how the youth's benefits have been used and conserved. In addition, within 10 business days of a request from a youth or the youth's attorney and guardian ad litem, the Department shall provide an accounting to the youth of how the youth's benefits have been used and conserved. The accounting shall include:
        (1) The amount of benefits received on the youth's
    
behalf since the most recent accounting and the date the benefits were received.
        (2) Information regarding the youth's benefits and
    
resources, including the youth's benefits, insurance, cash assets, trust accounts, earnings, and other resources.
        (3) An accounting of the disbursement of benefit
    
funds, including the date, amount, identification of payee, and purpose.
        (4) Information regarding each request by the youth,
    
the youth's attorney and guardian ad litem, or the youth's caregiver for disbursement of funds and a statement regarding the reason for not granting the request if the request was denied.
    When the Department's guardianship of the youth is being terminated, the Department shall provide (i) a final accounting to the Social Security Administration, to the youth's attorney and guardian ad litem, and to either the person or persons who will assume guardianship of the youth or who is in the process of adopting the youth, if the youth is under 18, or to the youth, if the youth is over 18 and (ii) information to the parent, guardian, or youth regarding how to apply to become the representative payee. The Department shall adopt rules to ensure that the representative payee transitions occur in a timely and appropriate manner.
    (g) Financial literacy. The Department shall provide the youth with financial literacy training and support, including specific information regarding the existence, availability, and use of funds conserved for the youth in accordance with this subsection, beginning by age 14. The literacy program and support services shall be developed in consultation with input from the Department's Statewide Youth Advisory Board.
    (h) Adoption of rules. The Department shall adopt rules to implement the provisions of this Section by January 1, 2023.
    (i) Reporting. No later than February 28, 2023, the Department shall file a report with the General Assembly providing the following information for State Fiscal Years 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 and annually beginning February 28, 2023, for the preceding fiscal year:
        (1) The number of youth entering care.
        (2) The number of youth entering care receiving each
    
of the following types of benefits: Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Veterans benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits.
        (3) The number of youth entering care for whom the
    
Department filed an application for each of the following types of benefits: Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Veterans benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits.
        (4) The number of youth entering care who were
    
awarded each of the following types of benefits based on an application filed by the Department: Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Veterans benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits.
    (j) Annually beginning December 31, 2023, the Department shall file a report with the General Assembly with the following information regarding the preceding fiscal year:
        (1) the number of conserved accounts established and
    
maintained for youth in care;
        (2) the average amount conserved by age group; and
        (3) the total amount conserved by age group.
(Source: P.A. 102-1014, eff. 5-27-22.)
 
    (Text of Section from P.A. 102-1029)
    Sec. 5.46. Extended Family Support Pilot Program. The Department may consult with independent partners to review Extended Family Support Program services and advise if additional services are needed prior to the start of the pilot program required under this Section. Beginning January 1, 2023, the Department shall implement a 3-year pilot program of additional resources for families receiving Extended Family Support Program services from the Department for the purpose of supporting relative caregivers. These resources may include, but are not limited to: (i) wraparound case management services, (ii) home visiting services for caregivers with children under the age of 5, and (iii) parent mentors for caregivers with children over the age of 3.
    The services for the Extended Family Support Program are expanded given the program's inclusion in the Family First Prevention Services Act's targeted populations. Other target populations include intact families, pregnant and parenting youth, reunification within 6 months, and post adoption and subsidized guardianship. Inclusion provides the array of evidence-based interventions included within the State's Family First Prevention Services plan. Funding through Title IV-E of the Social Security Act shall be spent on services to prevent children and youth who are candidates for foster care from coming into care and allow them to remain with their families. Given the inclusion of the Extended Family Support Program in the Family First Prevention Services Act, the program is a part of the independent evaluation of Family First Prevention Services. This includes tracking deflection from foster care.
    The resources provided by the pilot program are voluntary and refusing such resources shall not be used as evidence of neglect of a child.
    The Department shall arrange for an independent evaluation of the pilot program to determine whether the pilot program is successfully supporting families receiving Extended Family Support Program services or Family First Prevention Program services and preventing entrance into the foster care system. This evaluation will support determining whether there is a long-term cost benefit to continuing the pilot program.
    At the end of the 3-year pilot program, the Department shall submit a report to the General Assembly with its findings of the evaluation. The report shall state whether the Department intends to continue the pilot program and the rationale for its decision.
    The Department may adopt rules and procedures to implement and administer this Section.
(Source: P.A. 102-1029, eff. 5-27-22.)