PJs must assess all the facts underlying the income information collected. Below are
some of the considerations PJs must take into account.
Pay period. The PJ should determine the basis on which employees are paid:
- hourly, weekly, or monthly?
- with or without overtime?
An employee who gets paid "twice a month" may actually be paid either twice a month (24 times a year) or every two weeks (26 times a year). Be sure to get clarification!
An annual salary is counted as annual income regardless of the payment schedule. For example, if a teacher's annual salary is $30,000, this is the amount used to calculate annual (gross) income regardless of whether the teacher is paid over a nine- or 12-month period.
Variations in pay. For applicants whose jobs provide steady employment (e.g., 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year), it can be assumed that there will only be slight variations in the amount of earnings reflected in monthly or bi-weekly pay stubs. In such cases, three consecutive month's worth of income documentation is an appropriate amount upon which to base a projection of income over the following 12-month period.
For those whose annual employment is less stable or does not conform to a twelve month schedule (e.g., seasonal laborers, construction workers, teachers), PJs should examine income documentation that covers the entire previous twelve-month period. Such workers can experience substantial variations in earned income over the course of a year. As such, an examination of three month's worth of income documentation may not provide an accurate basis upon which to project the applicant's income over the following 12 months.
Sources of earned income. In addition to hourly earnings, PJs must account for all earned income. In addition to the base salary, this will include annual cost of living adjustments (COLAs), bonuses, raises, and overtime pay. In the case of overtime, it is important to clarify whether overtime is sporadic or a predictable component of an employee's income. If it is determined that an applicant has earned and will continue to earn overtime pay on a regular basis, PJs should calculate the average amount of overtime pay earned by the applicant over the pay period the PJ is using to calculate income eligibility (3 months or 12 months). This average amount is then to be added to the total amount of projected earned income over the following 12-month period.