Chapter 5101:4-7 Changes During the Certification Period; Income Eligibility Verification System (IEVS); Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE)

5101:4-7-01 Food assistance: reporting requirements during the certification period.

(A) What is a reporting requirement?

Every assistance group receiving benefits must report certain changes that affect eligibility. Reporting requirements ensure an accurate benefit amount is received and that only assistance groups who remain eligible continue to receive benefits.

(B) What are the requirements for reporting changes?

(1) Assistance groups shall report if their gross income exceeds one hundred thirty per cent of the monthly poverty income guideline for their assistance group size within ten days following the end of the month in which the change first occurred;

(2) All assistance groups shall be required to submit an interim report prior to the end of the sixth month of a twelve month certification period or prior to the end of the twelfth month of a twenty-four month certification period as defined in paragraph (H) of this rule. Assistance groups certified six months or less do not have to submit an interim report; and

(3) Able-bodied adults without dependents with countable earned income subject to the time limit set forth in rule 5101:4-3-20 of the Administrative Code are required to report any changes in work hours that bring an individual below twenty hours per week or eighty hours per month, as defined in rule 5101:4-3-20 of the Administrative Code, within ten days following the end of the month in which the change first occurred.

(C) How are changes reported?

The assistance group may report changes as follows:

(1) By returning a JFS 04196, "Food Assistance Reporting" (rev. 9/2011). The county agency shall pay the postage for return of the form.

(2) In person, electronically or over the telephone. The county agency shall use discretion in determining if further verification is necessary. These changes shall be acted on in the same manner as those reported on a change report form.

(D) When shall the county agency provide a change report form?

A change report form shall be provided to assistance groups at application, recertification, and whenever the assistance group returns a change report form. The county agency can provide the form more often at its option.

(E) How does an assistance group know their reporting requirements?

Assistance groups will be advised of their reporting requirements on the notice of approval and/or notice of change at application, reapplication or any time a change occurs and is reported.

(F) What must an applicant report during the application process?

(1) Once the applicant submits an application, the applicant shall report any changes in the information on the application at the certification interview.

(2) The applicant shall report all changes that occur after the certification interview but before receiving the notice of their eligibility, within ten days of the receipt of the notice.

(G) What are the reporting requirements when the application was taken at the local social security administration?

The county agency shall not impose any additional reporting requirements other than those listed in paragraph (B) of this rule. Assistance groups whose applications were taken by the social security administration are required to report all changes to the county department of job and family services.

(H) What is the interim report and how is it processed?

Assistance groups assigned a twelve or twenty-four month certification period shall be required to complete a JFS 07221 "Cash and Food Assistance Interim Report" (rev. 9/2011) or the client registry information system enhanced (CRIS-E) equivalent. The interim report will provide the county agency with updated information on the assistance group's circumstances.

(1) An interim report will be sent to the assistance group during the fifth or eleventh month of certification, depending on the assistance group's certification period, through CRIS-E.

(2) The assistance group shall return the interim report to the county agency prior to the end of the twenty-first day of the fifth or eleventh month of certification, depending on the length of the certification period.

(3) The county agency shall propose termination of benefits for any assistance group who fails to return a signed interim report by the twenty-first day of the fifth or eleventh month, depending on the assistance group's certification period.

(4) The county agency shall reinstate benefits without a new application for any assistance group whose benefits have been terminated when the county agency receives the interim report within thirty days of the closure date. The county agency shall prorate the assistance group's benefits beginning the day the report was returned.

(I) How does the county agency process changes?

(1) The county agency shall take action within ten days on all reported changes to determine if the change affects the assistance group's ongoing eligibility or allotment. Reported changes include changes reported by the assistance group, changes considered verified upon receipt, and changes known to the county agency. Even if there is no change in the allotment, the county agency shall document the reported change in the case file, provide another change report form to the assistance group, and notify the assistance group of the receipt of the change report. If the reported change affects the assistance group's eligibility or level of benefits the adjustment shall also be reported to the assistance group.

(2) The county agency shall also advise the assistance group of additional verification requirements, if any, and state that failure to provide verification shall result in the reduction or termination of benefits.

(3) The county agency shall document the date a change is reported, which shall be the date the county agency receives a report form or is advised of the change over the telephone, electronically or by a personal visit.

(4) Restoration of lost benefits shall be provided to any assistance group if the county agency fails to take action on a change which increases benefits within the time limits specified in paragraph (K)(3) of this rule.

(J) What are the verification requirements for changes?

(1) Changes reported during the certification period are subject to the verification procedures set forth in rule 5101:4-2-09 of the Administrative Code. The county agency shall verify changes which result in an increase in an assistance group's benefits prior to taking action on these changes.

(2) The assistance group must be allowed ten days to provide any mandatory verification. If the assistance group provides verification within this period, the county agency shall take action on the changes within the time periods described in paragraphs (K)(3)(a) and (K)(3)(b) or paragraph (K)(4) of this rule. The time periods shall begin from the date the change is reported, not from the date of verification.

(3) If the assistance group fails to provide the required verification within ten days after the request date but does provide the verification at a later date, the time periods shall begin from the date verification is provided rather than from the date the change is reported.

(4) In cases where the county agency has determined that an assistance group has refused to cooperate, the county agency shall terminate the assistance group's eligibility after issuing the notice of adverse action as set forth in rule 5101:6-2-04 of the Administrative Code.

(5) During the certification period, the county agency may obtain information about changes in an assistance group's circumstances from which the county agency cannot readily determine the effect of the change on the assistance group's benefit amount. The county agency may receive unclear information from a third party or from the assistance group itself. The county agency shall verify the assistance group circumstances by sending the assistance group a JFS 04219, "Request For Contact" (rev. 4/2010) or its CRIS-E equivalent. The request for contact shall clearly advise the assistance group of the verification it must provide or the actions it must take to clarify its circumstances, notify the assistance group that it has at least ten days to respond and state the consequences if the assistance group fails to respond.

If the assistance group does not respond to the request for contact, does respond but refuses to provide sufficient information to verify its circumstances, or the county agency is unable to obtain the necessary information by contacting the assistance group in the above manner, the county agency shall propose termination of the food assistance benefits and a notice of adverse action shall be issued as described in rule 5101:6-2-04 of the Administrative Code. The county agency shall follow the procedures set forth in rule 5101:4-2-09 of the Administrative Code to verify unclear information received during the certification period. If the assistance group responds to the request for contact and provides sufficient information, the county agency must act on the new circumstances in accordance with paragraph (K) of this rule.

(K) What are the timeframes in which the county agency must act on a change?

(1) Changes in income: If an assistance group reports a change in income, and the new circumstance is expected to continue for at least one month beyond the month in which the change is reported, the county agency shall act on the change in accordance with paragraphs (K)(3) and (K)(4) of this rule.

(2) Changes in medical expenses: During the certification period the county agency shall not act on changes in the medical expenses which it learns of from a source other than the assistance group and which, in order to take action, require the county agency to contact the assistance group for verification. The county agency shall only act on those changes in medical expenses that it learns about from a source other than the assistance group if those changes are verified upon receipt and do not necessitate contact with the assistance group.

(3) Changes that increase benefits:

(a) For changes which result in an increase in benefits, other than changes described in paragraph (K)(3)(b) of this rule, the county agency shall make the change effective no later than the first allotment issued ten days after the date the change was reported to the county agency.

(i) For example, a thirty dollar decrease in income reported on the fifteenth of May would increase the assistance group's June allotment. If the same decrease was reported on May twenty-eighth, and the assistance group's normal issuance cycle was on June first, the assistance group's allotment would have to be increased by July.

(ii) The increase should be included in the assistance group's routine issuance for the first month affected, if possible. If the increase is not included in the routine issuance, a supplement shall be authorized.

(b) For changes which result in an increase in an assistance group's benefits due to the addition of a new assistance group member who is not a member of another certified assistance group, or due to a decrease of fifty dollars or more in the assistance group's gross monthly income, the county agency shall make the change effective no later than the first allotment issued ten days after the date the change was reported. However, in no event shall these changes take effect any later than the month following the month in which the change is reported. Therefore, if the change is reported after the twentieth of a month and it is too late for the county agency to adjust the following month's allotment, the county agency shall authorize supplemental benefits by the tenth calendar day of the following month, or the assistance group's normal issuance cycle in that month, whichever is later.

(i) For example, an assistance group reporting a one hundred dollar decrease in income any time during May would have its June allotment increased. If the assistance group reported the change after the twentieth of May and it was too late for the county agency to adjust the allotment normally authorized on June first, the county agency would authorize a supplementary issuance for the amount of the increase by June tenth.

(ii) Exception: An assistance group reporting the theft of income normally received during the month is not entitled to additional food assistance benefits. It is the responsibility of the provider of the income to make whatever restitution that may be appropriate. The loss is not deducted from income to the assistance group nor is it counted as income when and/or if it is replaced.

(4) Changes that decrease benefits:

If the assistance group's benefit level decreases or the assistance group becomes ineligible as a result of the change, the county agency shall issue a notice of adverse action within ten days of the date of the change unless one of the exceptions to the notice of adverse action in rule 5101:6-2-05 of the Administrative Code applies. When a notice of adverse action is used the decrease in the benefit level shall be made effective with the allotment for the month following the month in which the notice of adverse action period has expired, provided a fair hearing and continuation of benefits have not been requested. When a notice of adverse action is not used due to one of the exceptions of rule 5101:6-2-05 of the Administrative Code, the decrease shall be made effective no later than the month following the change.

(L) When should a county agency reinstate benefits without a new application?

The county agency shall reinstate an assistance group's benefits without a new application if the assistance group returns requested mandatory verifications or takes a required action within thirty days after the food assistance closure date. Benefits shall be prorated from the date the verifications are returned or the required action was taken, following the procedure set forth in rule 5101:4-4-27 of the Administrative Code. However, if the eligibility factor is met or the required action is taken in the last month of the certification period benefits cannot be reinstated. The county agency shall require the assistance group to complete a reapplication.

(M) What happens when a county agency discovers an assistance group failed to report a change?

If the county agency discovers that the assistance group failed to report a required change and, as a result, received benefits to which it was not entitled, the county agency shall file a claim against the assistance group as set forth in rule 5101:4-8-15 of the Administrative Code. If the discovery is made within the certification period, the assistance group is entitled to a notice of adverse action if its benefits are reduced or terminated. An assistance group shall not be held liable for a claim because of a change in assistance group circumstances which it is not required to report.

Effective: 03/01/2012
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 04/01/2015
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 5101.54
Rule Amplifies: 329.04 , 329.042 , 5101.54
Prior Effective Dates: 6/2/80, 12/1/80, 4/1/81, 6/18/81, 1/22/82, 9/27/82, 8/16/85 (Emer.), 11/1/85 (Emer.), 1/1/86, 5/1/86 (Emer.), 8/1/86 (Emer.), 10/1/86, 5/1/89 (Emer.), 10/1/89, 10/1/90, 5/1/91 (Emer.) 6/1/91, 12/1/91, 8/1/95, 8/1/95 (Emer.), 10/13/95, 4/1/97 (Emer.), 6/6/97, 8/1/98, 6/1/01 (Emer.), 8/17/01, 3/2/02 (Emer.), 5/13/02, 7/1/02 (Emer.), 8/1/02, 7/10/03, 11/01/03, 12/8/05, 4/1/10

5101:4-7-03 Food assistance: Mass change during the certification period.

Mass change: federal adjustments to eligibility standards, allotments, and deductions and state adjustments to utility standards.

Certain changes are initiated by the state or federal government which may affect the entire caseload or significant portions of the caseload. These changes include, but are not limited to, adjustments to the income eligibility standards, the shelter and dependent care deduction, the maximum food assistance allotment, and the standard deduction; annual and seasonal adjustments to the state's utility standards; periodic cost-of-living adjustments to retirement, survivors, and disability insurance (RSDI), supplemental security income (SSI), and other federal benefits; periodic adjustments to Ohio work first (OWF) or disability financial assistance (DFA) payments; and other changes in the eligibility and benefit criteria based on legislative or regulatory changes. Federal adjustments to the eligibility standards, allotments and deductions, and state adjustments to utility standard shall go into effect for all assistance groups (AGs) at a specific point in time. State annual adjustments of the utility standards shall go into effect for all affected AGs at the same time.

(A) Required notice

County agencies shall publicize these mass changes through the news media, through posters in certification offices, issuance locations, or other sites frequented by certified AGs, or through general notices mailed to AGs. The county agency shall notify adversely affected AGs of these mass changes in accordance with Chapter 5101:6-2 of the Administrative Code. In addition, any AG whose certification period overlaps an annual adjustment in the utility standard shall be advised at the time of initial certification of when the adjustment will occur and what the variation in the benefit level will be, if known.

(B) Mass changes in public assistance (PA)

When the state agency makes an overall adjustment to PA payments, corresponding adjustments in the AG's food assistance benefits shall be handled as a mass change.

(1) More than thirty days advance knowledge

When the county agency has at least thirty days advance knowledge of the amount of the PA adjustment, the county agency shall recompute food assistance benefits to be effective in the same month as the PA change.

(2) Less than thirty days advance knowledge

If the county agency does not have sufficient notice, the food assistance change shall be effective no later than the month following the month in which the PA change was made.

(C) Mass changes in federal benefits

The county agency shall establish procedures for making mass changes to reflect cost-of-living adjustments in benefits and any other mass changes under RSDI, SSI, and other programs such as veterans' assistance under Title 38 of the United States Code, (1/2007) and the black lung program, where information on cost-of-living adjustments is readily available and is applicable to all or a majority of those programs' beneficiaries.

(D) AGs on change reporting

AGs shall not be responsible for reporting these changes. The county agency shall be responsible for automatically adjusting an AG's food assistance benefit level. These changes shall be reflected no later than the second allotment issued after the month in which the change becomes effective.

Effective: 09/01/2009
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 05/20/2009 and 09/01/2014
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 5101.54
Rule Amplifies: 329.04 , 329.042 , 5101.54
Prior Effective Dates: 6/2/80, 4/1/81, 10/1/81, 9/24/83, 8/16/85 (Emer.), 11/1/85 (Emer.), 1/1/86, 8/20/86 (Emer.), 11/15/86, 4/10/87 (Emer.), 6/22/87, 4/1/89, 5/1/91 (Emer.), 6/1/91, 2/3/92, 8/1/95 (Emer.), 10/13/95, 5/1/99, 5/22/04

5101:4-7-07 Food assistance: recertification.

(A) What is the recertification process?

(1) All food assistance assistance groups are assigned a certification period for which they are eligible. An assistance group may not participate beyond the expiration of its assigned certification period without a determination of eligibility for a new period. Assistance groups must apply for recertification and comply with interview and verification requirements.

(2) The agency must collect sufficient information and necessary verifications to ensure an accurate determination of eligibility and benefits as set forth in rule 5101:4-2-09 of the Administrative Code.

(3) The recertification process can only be utilized for those assistance groups which apply for recertification prior to the end of their current certification period, except for delayed applications as specified in paragraphs (H)(5) and (H)(6) of this rule.

(B) How is a recipient notified it is time for a recertification?

(1) The county agency shall provide assistance groups certified for expedited benefits a notice of expiration at the time of certification.

(2) All other certified assistance groups shall receive the CRIS-E generated notice of expiration before the first day of the last month of the certification period, but not before the first day of the next-to-the-last month.

(3) Jointly processed Ohio works first (OWF) or disability financial assistance (DFA) assistance groups should not receive a separate appointment notice if they are recertified for food assistance benefits at the same time as their OWF or DFA reapplication.

(C) What must the assistance group provide to establish an application date for recertification?

(1) If the assistance group indicates that it wishes to establish a filing date for its recertification prior to its interview, the assistance group shall be provided a JFS 07200, "Request for Cash, Food, and Medical Assistance" (rev. 12/12) or JFS 07204, "Request to Reapply for Cash and Food Assistance" (rev. 06/12) and instructions to complete and submit the form. The assistance group shall be advised that the date of application for recertification will be established when the form is submitted with a name, address, and signature.

(2) If an interactive interview is not conducted, the county agency shall complete the JFS 01846 "Case Worksheet: Cash, Food Stamps and Medical Assistance Interview" (rev. 5/05).

(3) If an interactive interview is conducted, and neither a JFS 07200 or JFS 01846 were completed and signed by an assistance group member or authorized representative, the date the printed copy of the information (PCI) or JFS 07204 was signed, contained an address and was received establishes the date of application.

(D) Is an interview required at the time of recertification?

(1) As part of the recertification process the county agency must conduct an interview with a member of the assistance group or its authorized representative at least once every twelve months for assistance groups certified for twelve months or less. The standard interview practices in rule 5101:4-2-07 of the Administrative Code also apply to interviews for recertification.

The interview can be conducted:

(a) Face-to-face: if a face-to-face interactive interview is conducted the assistance group's application form is the printed copy of information (PCI), provided that a JFS 07200 or JFS 01846 was not previously completed and signed by an assistance group member or authorized representative. The application date is established when the PCI contains an address and a signature from an assistance group member or its authorized representative.

The county agency shall provide the assistance group with the JFS 07501, "Program Enrollment and Benefit Information" (rev. 10/12) form as provided in rule 5101:4-2-01 of the Administrative Code. The county agency must also notify the assistance group of the date the verification requirements must be received. The assistance group must be allowed a minimum of ten days to provide required verification information.

(b) Telephone: if a telephone interactive interview is conducted the assistance group's application form is the JFS 07204 provided that a JFS 07200 or JFS 01846 was not previously completed and signed by an assistance group member or authorized representative. The application date is established when the agency receives the JFS 07204 with a name, address, and a signature from an assistance group member or its authorized representative.

The county agency shall provide the assistance group with the JFS 07501 form as provided in rule 5101:4-2-01 of the Administrative Code. The county agency must also notify the assistance group of the date the verification requirements must be received. The assistance group must be allowed a minimum of ten days to provide required verification information.

Telephone interviews may be conducted in lieu of a face-to-face interview unless the agency has determined the assistance group's situation requires a face-to-face interview or the assistance group requests a face-to-face interview.

(2) For elderly or disabled assistance groups certified for twenty-four months the county agency must have at least one contact with each elderly/disabled assistance group every twelve months. The JFS 07221 "Cash and Food Assistance Interim Report" (rev. 09/11) form will serve as the contact.

(3) County agencies shall schedule interviews so that the assistance group has at least ten days after the interview in which to provide verification before the certification period expires. If an assistance group misses its scheduled interview, the county agency shall send the assistance group a JFS 04218, "Notice Of Missed Interview" (rev. 09/11). If an assistance group misses its scheduled interview and requests another interview, the county agency shall schedule a second interview as set forth in rule 5101:4-2-09 of the Administrative Code.

(E) What must be verified at recertification?

(1) Information provided by the assistance group shall be verified in accordance with rule 5101:4-2-09 of the Administrative Code.

(2) Any assistance group whose eligibility is not determined by the end of its current certification period due to the time period allowed for submitting any missing verification shall receive an opportunity to participate, if eligible, within five working days after the assistance group submits the missing verification. Benefits cannot be prorated.

(F) When is an application for recertification considered timely?

(1) Assistance groups certified for expedited benefits shall have fifteen days from the date the notice of expiration is received to file a timely reapplication.

(2) Assistance groups, except those certified for expedited benefits which submit an application by the fifteenth day of the last month of the certification period shall be considered to have made a timely application.

(3) For assistance groups consisting of applicants or recipients of supplemental security income (SSI) which apply for food assistance recertification at the social security administration (SSA) office, a reapplication shall be considered filed for normal processing purposes when the signed application is received by the SSA by the fifteenth day of the last month of the recertification period.

(G) What are the processing timeframes for timely recertifications?

(1) Assistance groups that were certified for expedited benefits and have met all required application procedures shall be notified of their eligibility or ineligibility within twenty-four hours or seven days depending on the expedited service they qualify for as set forth in rule 5101:4-6-09 of the Administrative Code.

(2) Assistance groups certified under normal processing standards shall be provided an opportunity to participate by the assistance group's normal issuance cycle in the month following the end of its current certification period.

(3) Other assistance groups that have met all reapplication requirements shall be notified of their eligibility or ineligibility by the end of their current certification period.

(H) What is delayed processing?

(1) If an eligible assistance group files an application before the end of the certification period, but the recertification process cannot be completed within thirty days after the date of the application because of the county agency, the county agency must continue to process the case and provide a full month's allotment for the first month of the new certification period.

(2) If an assistance group files an application before the end of the certification period, but fails to take a required action, the county agency may deny the case at that time, at the end of the certification period, or at the end of thirty days. Although the county agency may have the right to issue a denial prior to the end of the certification period, the assistance group has thirty days after the end of the certification period to complete the process and have its application treated as an application for recertification.

(3) If the assistance group takes the required action before the end of the certification period, the county agency must reopen the case and provide a full month's benefit for the initial month of the new certification period.

(4) If the assistance group takes the required action after the end of the certification period, but within thirty days after the end of the certification period, the county agency shall reopen the case and provide retroactive benefits to the date the assistance group took the required action.

(5) If an assistance group files an application within thirty days after the end of the certification period, the application shall be considered an application for recertification; however, benefits must be prorated in accordance with rule 5101:4-4-27 of the Administrative Code.

(6) If an assistance group's application for recertification is delayed beyond the first of the month of what would have been its new certification period through the fault of the county agency, the county agency shall provide restored benefits back to the date the assistance group's certification period should have begun.

(7) The county agency shall determine cause for any delay in processing a reapplication in accordance with the provisions of rule 5101:4-5-07 of the Administrative Code.

(I) Do the expedited service provisions apply at recertification?

(1) The expedited service provisions of rule 5101:4-6-09 of the Administrative Code are not applicable if the assistance group applies for recertification before the end of its current certification period.

(2) If there is a break between the end of the assistance group's certification period and the date the assistance group completes the recertification process, the assistance group may be entitled to expedited services if the assistance group's circumstances fall within the expedited criteria in accordance with rule 5101:4-6-09 of the Administrative Code.

Effective: 02/01/2013
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 06/01/2015
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 5101.54
Rule Amplifies: 329.04 , 329.042 , 5101.54
Prior Effective Dates: 6/2/80, 12/1/80, 6/18/81, 10/1/81, 1/22/82, 6/17/83, 12/25/83 (Temp.), 3/1/84, 7/20/88 (Emer.), 10/16/88, 7/11/89 (Emer.), 9/17/89, 5/1/91 (Emer.), 6/1/91, 2/3/92, 7/1/92, 8/1/95 (Emer.), 10/13/95, 4/1/97, (Emer.), 6/6/97, 5/1/99, 6/1/01 (Emer.), 8/27/01, 3/2/02 (Emer.), 5/13/02, 07/01/03, 05/01/05, 08/01/05, 05/1/09, 8/01/10, 7/1/11

5101:4-7-08 Food assistance: new hire reporting program (W-4).

(A) What is the new hire reporting program?

Pursuant to section 3121.891 of the Revised Code, all employers are required to provide information to the Ohio department of job and family services (ODJFS) about employees who are newly hired, rehired, or who have returned to work within twenty days from the date of hire. This requirement was mandated under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, Pub. l. 104-193, 1996, 42 U.S.C. 653a .

(B) How is the new hire information used?

Pursuant to section 3121.898 of the Revised Code, the county agency shall use new hire information to ensure all employment information has been reported, verified, and used appropriately when determining food assistance benefits. Alerts are generated in the client registry information system enhanced (CRIS-E) when there is a match with new hire information.

(C) What is the county agency's responsibility when a new hire alert is received?

(1) Immediately upon receipt of a new hire alert, but no later than three working days, the county agency must make telephone contact with the assistance group. The information obtained as a result of the telephone contact shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

(a) Hourly rate of pay;

(b) Hours worked per week;

(c) Correct mailing address of the employer.

(2) If the assistance group does not have a telephone or cannot be immediately reached, the JFS 04219 "Request for Contact Important Notice" (rev. 4/2010) or the CRIS-E equivalent shall be sent within three working days.

(3) All information reported by the client shall be immediately followed up with a request for hard copy verification (e.g., pay stubs, employment verification form). If the assistance group is having trouble obtaining the verification, the best available documentation may be acceptable (e.g. third party statement, call to the employer, or client statement).

(4) Information reported by client statement shall be used in determining eligibility for food assistance benefits until the employer verification can be obtained.

Replaces: 5101:4-7-08

Effective: 02/10/2011
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 11/01/2015
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: 3121.8911 , 5101.54
Rule Amplifies: 329.04 , 329.042 , 3121.891 , 5101.54
Prior Effective Dates: 8/1/98, 5/11/02, 12/8/05

5101:4-7-09 Food assistance: state income and eligibility verification system.

(A) What is the state income and eligibility verification system (IEVS) match?

An IEVS match is wage and benefit information that has been requested by the Ohio department of job and family services (ODJFS) or county agencies. Through IEVS, ODJFS and county agencies can request income, resource, and benefit information from the agencies identified in paragraph (B) of this rule. This information can then be maintained and used in verifying eligibility and in determining the amount of benefits. IEVS information shall be requested and used with respect to all assistance group members. This includes ineligible assistance group members as set forth in rule 5101:4-6-13 of the Administrative Code, whenever the social security numbers(SSNs) of such ineligible assistance group members are available to the county agency.

(B) What benefit information is collected through IEVS and what agency is it from?

(1) Wage information from the state wage information collection agency;

(2) Income from self-employment, wages, federal retirement, and survivors, disability, supplement security income (SSI), and related benefit information maintained by the social security administration (SSA). Employers provide wage and retirement information to the SSA on an annual basis. The SSA makes this information available pursuant to Section 6103 (l)(7)(A) of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Code of 1954 as amended.

(a) Twice a month ODJFS transmits a request through the SSA's benefit earnings exchange record for all medicaid, Ohio works first (OWF), and food assistance applicants and assistance group members. Whenever information is added to the file, it is matched against all other data in the file. The SSA processes the benefit earnings exchange record request twice a month and returns the matched file information to ODJFS for review.

(b) The benefit earnings exchange record match includes out-of-state employers, federal employers and beneficiary and earnings data exchange (BENDEX) wage information. This information is expected to duplicate most of the information provided by state wage information collection agency. However, the federal wage records match includes employers who do not report to the state wage information collection agency. Matches from this source will be displayed to the county agency as soon as they are received and are to be considered as a lead that must be verified before benefits may be affected.

(c) The ODJFS state verification and exchange system (SVES) provides an electronic interface with the SSA. The interface allows the transfer of social security and SSI benefit information from the SSA.

(3) Unearned income information from the IRS available pursuant to Section 6103 (l)(7)(B) of the IRS Code of 1954 as amended; and

(4) Claim information about unemployment compensation benefits, and any information in addition which is useful for verifying eligibility and benefits, subject to the provisions and limitations of Section 303 (D) of the Social Security Act of 1935 as amended.

(C) What are data exchange agreements?

Data exchange agreements must specify the information to be exchanged and the procedures which will be used to exchange the information. Policy regarding data exchange agreements is the responsibility of the office of fiscal and monitoring services. ODJFS must maintain data exchange agreements with the agencies listed in paragraph (B) of this rule in order to exchange information with other agencies.

(D) Under what programs can ODJFS and county agencies exchange IEVS information?

ODJFS and the county agency may exchange IEVS information with other state agencies when it is determined that the information is being used for the same program determinations which include:

(1) Temporary assistance for needy families;

(2) Medicaid;

(3) Unemployment compensation;

(4) Food assistance;

(5) Any state program administered under a plan approved under title I, X, or XIV adult categories, or title XVI of the Social Security Act of 1935; and

(6) Agencies administering the child support program (title IV-D of the Social Security Act) and titles II (federal old age, survivors, and disability insurance benefits) and title XVI ( SSI for the aged, blind and disabled of the Social Security Act of 1935.)

(E) What should county agencies do when IEVS information is received?

(1) Information verified upon receipt includes:

(a) The county agency shall send proper notices to the assistance group to terminate, deny, or reduce benefits based on information obtained through IEVS which is considered verified upon receipt. Information considered verified upon receipt includes:

(i) Social security and SSI benefit information obtained from SSA; and

(ii) Unemployment compensation benefit information.

(b) If the information the IEVS obtained about a particular assistance group is questionable the information shall be considered unverified and the county agency shall take action as specified in paragraph (E)(2) of this rule.

(2) Information unverified upon receipt:

Prior to taking action to terminate, deny, or reduce benefits based on information obtained through IEVS which is considered unverified upon receipt, county agencies shall independently verify the information. Information considered unverified upon receipt includes:

(a) IRS information; and

(b) Wage information from SSA or the state wage information collection agency.

(3) What is considered independent verification of unverified information and how does the county agency obtain it?

(a) Independent verification shall include verification of the amount of the asset or income involved, whether the assistance group actually has or had access to such asset or income and the period during which access occurred. If a county agency has information which indicates that independent verification is not needed, such verification is not required. Unearned income from IRS would be the exception to this policy.

(b) The county agency shall obtain independent verification of unverified information obtained from IEVS by contacting the assistance group or the appropriate income, resource or benefit source. If the county agency chooses to contact the assistance group, it must do so in writing, informing them of the information that has been received, and requesting the assistance group to respond within ten days. If the assistance group fails to respond within ten days of the request, the county agency shall send a notice of adverse action as specified in Chapter 5101:6-2 of the Administrative Code. The county agency may contact the appropriate source by the means best suited to the situation. When the assistance group or appropriate source provides the independent verification, the county agency shall properly notify the assistance group of the action it intends to take and provide the assistance group an opportunity to request a state hearing prior to any adverse action.

(F) What actions must be taken when data exchange information is received?

When information is received as a result of data exchange agreements, county agencies must initiate and pursue action on the assistance groups. The following should occur:

(1) Review of the information and comparison of it to case record information;

(2) For all new or previously unverified information received, contact the assistance groups and/or collateral contacts to resolve discrepancies as specified in rule 5101:4-2-09 of the Administrative Code and paragraphs (E)(1) and (E)(2) of this rule; and

(3) If discrepancies warrant reducing benefits or terminating eligibility, send notices of adverse action.

(4) County agencies shall initiate, pursue and complete the actions specified in this paragraph within ninety days from receipt of the information. Actions may be completed later than ninety days from the match if the only reason the actions cannot be completed is the non-receipt of verification requests from the collateral contacts and the actions are completed as specified in rule 5101:4-7-01 of the Administrative Code. The results of these actions should be documented on the compliance tracking selection(DESL) and compliance tracking results (DEEV) screens.

(5) When an overpayment is determined, county agencies shall establish and take actions on claims as specified in Chapter 5101:4-8 of the Administrative Code.

(G) What are the appropriate uses for data received through IEVS?

(1) County agencies shall use information obtained through IEVS to:

(a) Verify an assistance group's eligibility;

(b) Verify the proper amount of benefits;

(c) Investigate to determine whether participating assistance groups received benefits to which they were not entitled; and

(d) Obtain information which can be used in conducting criminal or civil prosecutions based on receipt of food assistance benefits to which participating assistance groups were not entitled.

(2) ODJFS may continue to use income information from an alternate source or sources to meet the requirements specified in this rule.

(H) What are the timeframes for the county agencies to request and process the IEVS data?

(1) Information shall be requested at the next available opportunity after the date of application even if the applicant assistance group has been determined eligible by that time.

(2) Information about members of applicant assistance groups who cannot provide SSNs at application shall be requested at the next available opportunity after the county agency is notified of their SSNs.

(3) Information received within the thirty-day application period shall be used to determine the assistance group's eligibility and benefits. However, county agencies shall make eligibility and benefit determinations without waiting for receipt of IEVS data to comply with the promptness standard of rule 5101:4-2-11 of the Administrative Code.

(4) Information received from a source after an eligibility determination has been made shall be used as specified in paragraph (E) of this rule.

(I) When is IEVS information received and is it considered verified upon receipt?

(1) State wage information collection agency data - Ohio employers report earnings information to the state wage information collection agency quarterly. Older information may be available for new applicants. State wage information is generally more current than federal wage information. None of the information is considered verified upon receipt.

(2) IRS - IRS information is a year old upon receipt and is considered unverified. The information is based on 1099 data sent to the IRS.

(3) Unemployment - this information is reported weekly as the payments are rendered to recipients.

(4) Earnings information from BENDEX matches may be eighteen months old or older due to the reporting requirements for employers and the time needed for SSA to process the information. There is a lag time from the source to the reporting agency to ODJFS. Only the year of employment can be determined from the match. Only by supplementing correct matches with employer verification can a determination be made of earnings received during an active certification period. This information may be a lead to current employment and should be used to check past eligibility.

(J) Is there a requirement to safeguard matches with federal tax information?

(1) Matches containing federal tax information are confidential. County agencies must ensure that the information is safeguarded as required in rule 5101:4-1-13 of the Administrative Code. The data must be stored in an area that is physically safe from access by unauthorized individuals and the information cannot be commingled with the rest of the case record.

(2) Records destruction is addressed in rule 5101:9-9-21 of the Administrative Code. Division 5101:9 of the Administrative Code addresses access and safeguarding provisions for systems data.

(3) IRS, SSA and the United States department of agriculture (USDA) food and nutrition service (FNS) shall be permitted to make onsite inspections to ensure that adequate safeguards are being maintained and that proper procedures are followed.

(K) What is considered proper disclosure of the IEVS data?

The IEVS match information may only be disclosed as discussed in rule 5101:4-1-13 of the Administrative Code and used as discussed in paragraph (G) of this rule.

(L) Is a record of disclosure required when IEVS information is released?

IRS and SSA require ODJFS and county agencies to keep a record of any disclosure of federal tax information, including SSA match information, to any person or agency who is not an employee of ODJFS or the county agency. The record of the disclosure must be retained in the case file for five years or the active life of the application, whichever is longer. In addition, the county agency shall record all disclosures in its central file of BENDEX. The record of disclosure shall contain:

(1) A description of the information disclosed;

(2) The date of the disclosure;

(3) The identity of the persons or agencies to whom the information was disclosed; and

(4) The purpose of the disclosure.

(M) Is there a penalty for improper disclosure of information?

Rule 5101:9-9-25 of the Administrative Code sets forth employee awareness requirements for unauthorized disclosure of IEVS and federal tax return information.

(N) Is it possible to receive a match error?

The validity of the IEVS match information is dependent upon the accuracy of the SSN supplied, the SSN contained in SSA's earnings file, and IRS's file. The accuracy of the SSN supplied by ODJFS is dependent upon the accuracy of the number provided by the county agency. SSA accuracy is dependent upon the accuracy of the reporting employer and the employee who supplies the SSN. Accuracy of the IRS information is dependent on the institution providing the information. An error from any one of these financial sources may cause the IEVS match to attribute earnings, benefits, or resources to an assistance group member which belongs to another person. Therefore, the county agency shall determine the match is valid prior to taking any action on benefits.

(O) How is an error in the data match detected?

When the name of the recipient is different than the name on the match, the match may be an error or it may be an indication of an intentional program violation. The agency worker shall make this decision based upon all of the information from the appropriate match source and the case file. The following are examples of possible reasons for conflicting information:

(1) At times the surnames do not match, but the given names match or are similar. Sometimes a maiden name is used for one activity and a married name for the other.

(2) The name and address of the employer may also give an indication about whether a discrepancy is a match error. For example, if the address of the employer is out of state it may indicate that the match is in error. However, because this could indicate the corporate office of a local business, this information should not be considered conclusive.

(P) How is an SSN validated?

Since an incorrect SSN that is undetected could cause incorrect overpayment charges the county agency must review the case file to determine how the number was verified at the time it was obtained. If there is no copy of the social security card in the case file, the county agency shall request the assistance group to provide it at that time. If the assistance group member no longer has the card, the county agency shall complete an JFS 07355 "Notice of Application for a Social Security Number" (rev. 4/01) in order to verify the SSN with SSA files. The requirement to verify the SSN is the responsibility of the county agency, not the assistance group. All SSNs within IEVS are verified through SSA. The county agency may also complete SVRQ in CRIS-E to verify the SSN.

(Q) Is a match verification of earnings, dividends, or benefits?

An IEVS match is not verification of earnings, dividends, or benefits. It is only an indication that an assistance group member may have had income while receiving food assistance or that an assistance group member may have withheld income information. The match is an opportunity for the county agency to confirm an assistance group's previous statement. If there appears to have been unreported income, the county agency shall obtain actual verification from a third party to check previous eligibility.

Replaces: 5101:4-7-09

Effective: 02/10/2011
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 11/01/2015
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 5101.54
Rule Amplifies: 329.04 , 329.042 , 5101.54
Prior Effective Dates: 6/2/80, 3/1/84 (Temp.), 6/1/84, 11/1/86 (Emer.), 1/16/87, 10/1/89 (Emer.), 12/16/89, 8/1/95 (Emer.), 10/13/95, 7/1/96 (Emer.), 8/25/96, 5/1/99, 7/15/99, 6/1/01 (Emer.), 8/27/01, 12/08/05

5101:4-7-11 Food assistance: providing replacement issuance to assistance groups.

County agencies shall provide replacement issuances to an assistance group when the assistance group reports that food purchased with food assistance benefits was destroyed in an assistance group's misfortune. Lost or stolen benefits cannot be replaced.

(A) How is a replacement requested?

(1) Prior to issuing a replacement, the county agency shall obtain a signed JFS 07222, "Statement Requesting Replacement of Food Assistance Benefits," (rev. 03/10) from a member of the assistance group or authorized representative attesting to the assistance group's loss.

(2) The JFS 07222 may be mailed to the county agency if the assistance group member is unable to come into the office because of age, handicap or distance from the office and is unable to appoint an authorized representative.

(B) What are the time limit requirements for requesting and issuing replacement benefits?

(1) Replacement issuances shall be provided only if an assistance group timely reports a loss orally or in writing. The report will be considered timely if it is made to the county agency within ten days of the date food purchased with food assistance benefits was destroyed in an assistance group misfortune.

(2) Prior to issuing a replacement a JFS 07222 must be received. The JFS 07222 must be received within ten days of the date the misfortune was reported.

(3) Replacement issuances shall be provided to an assistance group within ten days after a loss is reported or within two working days of receiving the signed JFS 07222 whichever date is later.

(4) If the signed JFS 07222 is not received by the county agency within ten days of the date of reporting the misfortune, no replacement shall be made. If the tenth day falls on a weekend or holiday, and the JFS 07222 is received the day after the weekend or holiday, the county agency shall consider the JFS 07222 received timely. If the JFS 07222 is received more than ten days after the date of the report, a JFS 07235, "Action Taken on Your Request for Replacement of Food Assistance Benefits," (rev. 12/12) or its computer-generated equivalent in accordance with Chapter 5101:6-2 of the Administrative Code denying the replacement shall be issued within two working days.

(5) The county agency shall deny or delay replacement issuances in cases in which available documentation indicates that the assistance group's request for replacement appears to be fraudulent.

(C) What are the replacement restrictions?

(1) There shall be no limit on the number of replacements of food purchased with food assistance benefits which was destroyed in an assistance group misfortune.

(2) When a federal disaster declaration has been issued and the assistance group is eligible for disaster food assistance benefits under the provisions of 7 CFR 280 (12/5/05), the assistance group shall not receive both the disaster allotment and a replacement allotment for the misfortune.

(3) Replacement issuances shall be provided in the amount of the loss to the assistance group, up to a maximum of one month's allotment.

(D) How is assistance group misfortune verified?

Upon receiving a request for replacement the county agency shall determine:

(1) If the issuance was validly issued for the month in which the disaster occurred; and

(2) That the destruction occurred in an assistance group misfortune or disaster, such as, but not limited to, a fire or flood. This shall be verified through a collateral contact which may include but is not limited to: documentation from the fire department, red cross, a utility company or a home visit.

(E) Is there a requirement to track replacements?

(1) The county agency shall document in the assistance group's case file each request for replacement, the date, the reason, and whether or not the replacement was provided. This information may be recorded exclusively on the JFS 07222 required in paragraph (A) of this rule.

(2) The county agency shall maintain, in readily-identifiable form, a record of the replacements granted to the assistance group, the reason, and the month. The record may be a case action sheet maintained in the case file, notations on the master issuance file, if readily accessible, or a document maintained solely for this purpose.

(F) Are there hearing rights on replacements?

The assistance group shall be informed of its right to a fair hearing to contest a denial or delay of a replacement issuance in accordance with Chapter 5101:6-2 of the Administrative Code. Replacements shall not be made while the denial or delay is being appealed.

(G) What is the process for intercounty replacements?

If an assistance group that has recently moved from one county to another requests a replacement of benefits or food destroyed in a misfortune, both county agencies shall cooperate in determining whether replacement is appropriate. If it is determined a replacement issuance is appropriate, the county of current residence shall issue the replacement.

(H) What is the process if there is presidential disaster declaration?

If there is a federal declaration we would follow our state disaster plan set forth under 7 CFR 280.

Replaces: 5101:4-7-11, 5101:4-6-32

Effective: 06/01/2013
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 06/01/2018
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 5101.54
Rule Amplifies: 329.04 , 329.042 , 5101.54
Prior Effective Dates: 6/2/80, 5/1/82, 9/27/82, 3/20/83, 8/1/92 (Emer.), 10/30/92, 2/1/95, 5/1/97, 5/1/99, 2/1/04, 05/22/04, 3/23/06, 1/1/09, 9/1/09

5101:4-7-13 Food assistance: reducing, suspending, or cancelling food stamp benefits.

This rule sets forth the procedures to be followed if the secretary of the United States department of agriculture (USDA) mandates a reduction, suspension or a cancellation of monthly food assistance allotments in order to stay within federal appropriations pursuant to section 18 of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008. Actions to comply with section 18 of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, may be a suspension or cancellation of allotments for one or more months, a reduction in allotment levels for one or more months or a combination of these three actions. If a reduction in allotments is deemed necessary, allotments shall be reduced by reducing maximum food assistance allotment amounts for each assistance group

(AG) size by the same percentage.

(A) General provisions applicable to reductions, suspensions, or cancellations

The provisions in this rule are applicable to all three of the above cost-saving measures. Also, once these provisions are put into effect, they supersede and override other analogous rules used during the program's normal operation.

(1) Notification of eligible AGs

Reductions, suspensions, and cancellations of allotments shall be considered to be federal adjustments to allotments. As such, state and county agencies shall notify AGs of reductions, suspensions, and cancellations of allotments in accordance with the notice provisions of rule 5101:4-7-03 of the Administrative Code, except that county agencies shall not provide individual notices of adverse action to AGs affected by reductions, suspensions, or cancellations of allotments.

(2) Fair hearings

Any AG that has its allotment reduced, suspended, or cancelled as a result of an order issued by food and nutrition service (FNS) may request a fair hearing if it disagrees with the action, subject to the following conditions. :

(a) Benefit level computed incorrectly

The Ohio department of job and family services (ODJFS) shall not be required to hold fair hearings unless the request for a fair hearing is based on an AG's belief that its benefit level was computed incorrectly under these rules or that the rules were misapplied or misinterpreted. ODJFS shall be allowed to deny fair hearings to those AGs who are merely disputing the fact a reduction, suspension, or cancellation was ordered.

(b) No continuation of benefits

Since the reduction, suspension, or cancellation would be necessary to avoid an expenditure of funds beyond those appropriated by congress, AGs do not have a right to a continuation of benefits pending the fair hearing.

(c) Restored benefits

An AG may receive restored benefits in an appropriate amount if it is determined its benefits were reduced by more than the amount by which the county agency was directed to reduce benefits.

(3) Points and hours of certification and issuance services

In months the issuance of benefits has been suspended or cancelled, county agencies shall determine what types of issuance services to make available, where they should be located, and when they should be available. County agencies' determinations should be based on the schedule and volume of issuance in the affected month and on the variables affecting the provision of issuance services.

(4) Application processing

Determinations of the eligibility of applicant AGs shall not be affected by reductions, suspensions, or cancellations of allotments. County agencies shall accept and process applications during a month(s) in which a reduction, suspension, or cancellation is in effect.

(a) Eligibility determinations during reductions

If an applicant is found to be eligible for benefits and a reduction is in effect, the amount of benefits shall be calculated by reducing the normal maximum food assistance allotment amount for the AG size by the reduction percentage that was ordered, and then deducting thirty per cent of the AG's net food assistance income from the reduced maximum food assistance allotment amount.

(b) Eligibility determinations during suspensions or cancellations

If an applicant is found to be eligible for benefits while a suspension or cancellation is in effect, no benefits shall be issued to the applicant until issuance is again authorized by FNS.

(5) Expedited service

AGs eligible to receive expedited service shall have their cases processed as follows:

(a) Reductions

AGs eligible for expedited service will be issued reduced benefit amounts and will have their cases processed in accordance with rule 5101:4-6-09 of the Administrative Code.

(b) Suspensions

Those AGs eligible to receive expedited service in months in which suspensions are in effect and determined to be eligible shall have benefits issued to them in accordance with rule 5101:4-6-09 of the Administrative Code. However, if the suspension is still in effect at the time issuance is to be made, the issuances shall be suspended until the suspension is ended.

(c) Cancellations AGs eligible to receive expedited service who apply for program benefits during months in which cancellations are in effect shall receive expedited service. AGs with zero net income shall have their benefits determined within twenty-four hours, or if mitigating circumstances occur, within seventy-two hours. However, the deadline for completing the processing of other expedited AGs shall be five calendar days or the end of the month of application, whichever is later. All other rules pertaining to expedited service shall be applicable to these cases.

(6) Reapplications

The reduction, suspension, or cancellation of allotments in a given month shall have no effect on the certification periods assigned to AGs. Those participating AGs whose certification periods expire during a month in which allotments have been reduced, suspended, or cancelled shall be recertified. AGs found eligible to participate during a month in which allotments have been reduced, suspended, or cancelled shall have certification periods assigned.

(7) Restoration of benefits

AGs whose allotments are reduced or cancelled as a result of the enactment of these procedures are not entitled to the restoration of lost benefits at a future date. However, if there is a surplus of funds as a result of the reduction or cancellation, FNS shall direct state agencies to provide affected AGs with restored benefits unless the USDA determines that the amount of surplus funds is too small to make this practicable. County agencies must still keep a record of all benefits to be restored during these periods so that in the event FNS directs the restoration of benefits, such benefits are issued promptly.

(8) Ninety per cent rule

In the event of a suspension or cancellation, or a reduction exceeding ninety per cent of the affected month's projected issuance, all AGs, including oneand two-person AGs, shall have their benefits suspended, cancelled, or reduced by the percentage specified by FNS.

(9) Penalties

Notwithstanding any other provision of this rule, FNS may take one or more of the following actions against a county agency failing to comply with a directive to reduce, suspend, or cancel allotments in a particular month.

(a) If FNS and ODJFS ascertain that a county agency does not plan to comply with a directive to reduce, suspend, or cancel allotments for a particular month, a warning will be issued advising the county agency that if it does not comply, ODJFS may cancel a share of the county agency's administrative costs for the affected month(s). If, after receiving such a warning, a county agency does not comply with a directive to reduce, suspend, or cancel allotments, ODJFS may cancel a share of the county agency's administrative costs for the affected month(s).

(b) After warning a county agency, if ODJFS ascertains that the county agency does not plan to comply with a directive to reduce, suspend, or cancel allotments, a court injunction may be sought to compel compliance.

(c) If a county agency fails to reduce, suspend, or cancel allotments as directed, FNS will bill the state agency for all resulting overpayments. If a state agency fails to remit the billed amount to FNS within a prescribed period of time, the funds will be recovered through offsets against the federal share of the state agency's administrative costs, or any other means available under law. The state, in turn, will demand repayment of these funds from the affected county(s).

(B) Reductions

If a decision is made to reduce monthly food assistance allotments, ODJFS shall notify county agencies of the date the reduction is to take effect and by what percentage maximum food assistance allotment amounts are to be reduced.

(1) Reduction method

Revised allotment tables showing the reduced amounts will be distributed to county agencies if such tables are available in a timely manner from FNS. However, if the reduction must be done manually, the procedure illustrated in paragraph (B)(2) of this rule must be followed.

(2) Manual reduction procedure

If a benefit reduction is ordered, county agencies shall reduce the maximum food assistance allotment amounts for each AG size by the percentage ordered in the FNS notice on benefit reductions. County agencies shall multiply the maximum food assistance allotment amounts by the percentage specified in the FNS notice and shall round the result up to the nearest higher dollar amount if it ends in one through ninety-nine cents, and subtract the result from the normal maximum food assistance allotment amount. County agencies shall then deduct thirty per cent of each AG's net food assistance income from the reduced maximum food assistance allotment amount.

(3) Minimum allotment

Except as provided in paragraph (B)(4) of this rule, if the amount of benefits obtained by the calculation in paragraph (B)(2) of this rule is less than the minimum benefit for one- and two-person AGs only, the AG shall be provided the minimum benefit.

(4) Ninety per cent reductions

In the event the national reduction in benefits is ninety per cent of the projected issuance for the affected month, the provision for a minimum benefit may be disregarded and all AGs may have their benefits lowered by reducing maximum food assistance allotment amounts by the percentage specified by FNS. The benefit reduction notice issued by FNS to effectuate a benefit reduction will specify whether minimum benefits are to be provided to AGs.

(5) Timeliness standard

Whenever a reduction of allotments is ordered for a particular month, reduced benefits shall be calculated for all AGs for the designated month. All requests or waivers to delay implementation will be denied.

(6) Restored or retroactive benefits

Allotments or portions of allotments representing restored or retroactive benefits for a prior unaffected month shall not be reduced, suspended, or cancelled, even if they are issued during an affected month.

(C) Suspensions and cancellations

If a decision is made to suspend or cancel the distribution of food assistance benefits in a given month, ODJFS shall notify county agencies of the date the suspension or cancellation is to take effect.

(1) Minimum allotment provision deleted

In the event of a suspension or cancellation of benefits, the provision for the minimum benefit for AGs with one or two members shall be disregarded and all AGs shall have their benefits suspended or cancelled.

(2) Timeliness standard

Upon receiving notification that an upcoming month's issuance is to be suspended or cancelled, county agencies shall take immediate action to effect the suspension or cancellation in the month indicated. No delays will be permitted.

(3) Resumption benefits

Upon being notified by ODJFS that a suspension of benefits is over, county agencies shall act immediately to resume issuing benefits to certified AGs and shall resume benefit issuance as soon as practicable.

(4) Cases still must be processed

If the action in effect is a suspension or cancellation, eligible AGs shall have their allotment levels calculated according to normal procedures. However, the allotments shall not be issued for the month the suspension or cancellation is in effect.

Effective: 09/01/2009
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 05/20/2009 and 09/01/2014
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 5101.54
Rule Amplifies: 329.04 , 329.042 , 5101.54
Prior Effective Dates: 6/18/81, 10/1/81, 5/20/83, 9/24/83 (Temp.), 11/11/83, 2/1/84, 3/24/88 (Emer.), 6/18/88, 10/1/89 (Emer.), 12/21/89, 5/1/91 (Emer.), 6/1/91, 8/1/92 (Emer.), 10/30/92, 5/1/99, 5/22/04

5101:4-7-14 Food assistance: systematic alien verification for entitlements program.

A county agency shall use the systematic alien verification for entitlements (SAVE) program established by the department of homeland security United States citizenship and immigration service (USCIS). The county agency can access this system through the web-enabled SAVE system to verify the validity of documents provided by aliens applying for food assistance benefits. When accessing the SAVE system the county agency shall ensure that the individual's privacy is protected to the maximum degree possible.

(A) How does the county agency verify the authenticity of documents using SAVE?

There are two web-based verification methods for SAVE: initial verification and additional verification:

(1) Initial or primary verification uses the alien's alien registration number, or "A-number". This verification is used for most applicants.

(2) Additional or secondary verification provides a more extensive validation if problems appear in the verification of alien status. Secondary verification is required in any of the following situations:

(a) The document appears to be counterfeit or altered.

(b) An individual presents unfamiliar USCIS documentation or a document indicates immigration status, but does not contain an "A-number."

(c) The document contains an "A-number" in the A60 000 000 series.

(d) The document contains an "A-number" in the A80 000 000 series.

(e) An alien has no immigration documentation and is hospitalized, medically disabled, or can otherwise show good cause for the alien's inability to present documentation, and for whom securing such documentation would constitute an undue hardship.

(f) An alien presents a foreign passport and/or a I-94 "Arrival-Departure Record" form and the "Admission for Permanent Residence" endorsement is more than one year old.

(g) When an individual claims lawful permanent (or conditional) resident status because they are a battered alien, a parent of a battered child(ren) or a victim of domestic violence.

(h) A "Certificate of Naturalization" or a "Certificate of Citizenship" is presented, and verification of U.S. citizenship status is required.

(i) When an automated check through the SAVE system returns with a response "institute additional verification" or when there is a material discrepancy between an individual's documentation and the record contained in the SAVE system.

(B) What is the SAVE system?

(1) The SAVE system is an information-sharing initiative allowing authorized staff to validate a noncitizen's immigration status by accessing USCIS data. The USCIS protects the individual's privacy in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1952 and other applicable statutes. No consent for release of information is required to use SAVE.

(2) The county agency shall compare the information provided through the SAVE system with the documents provided by the individual. If the documentation matches in SAVE, the process is complete.

(3) SAVE does not determine eligibility; SAVE only provides information regarding alien status. Eligible alien status shall be determined in accordance with rule 5101:4-3-07 of the Administrative Code.

(C) How does SAVE verification affect eligibility?

(1) No eligibility determination is delayed, denied, reduced or terminated solely because of pending SAVE verification.

(2) If an individual appears eligible with available USCIS documentation and all other program eligibility criteria are met, the county agency shall issue benefits to the assistance group while awaiting a response from USCIS.

(3) If the county determines an alien is ineligible after using the SAVE system, the county agency shall send prior notice of adverse action to the assistance group in accordance with the provisions set forth in rule 5101:6-2-04 of the Administrative Code.

(D) What is the process to request verification manually?

(1) The manual verification process is required when the automated check or initial inspection of an individual's documentation, or information provided from such documentation, reveals discrepancies.

(2) To conduct a manual verification the county agency shall mail the following documents to USCIS:

(a) The G-845 "Document Verification Request" (07/08).

(b) A copy of the individual's original immigration documentation.

(c) If necessary, the G-845 supplement "Document Verification Request Supplement" (07/08) should be used to request additional information regarding the alien's immigration status in order to make an eligibility determination. The G-845 supplement shall be submitted with the G-845 and cannot be used alone.

(E) How is the use of SAVE documented?

(1) When the initial verification response from SAVE is received, the county agency shall print a copy of the "Initial Verification Result" for the case file.

(2) If an additional verification request was submitted to SAVE, the county agency shall print a copy of the "Additional Verification Result" for the case file.

(3) Whenever the county agency initiates a manual third step verification, the case file shall contain a copy of the G-845, photocopies of documentation, and a copy of the G-845 supplement, if necessary.

(4) Once the SAVE response is received, the case file shall contain a copy of the annotated G-845.

(F) What are allowable uses of information received through SAVE?

The county agency shall use information obtained through the SAVE program only for:

(1) Verifying the validity of documentation of alien status presented by an applicant;

(2) Verifying an individual's eligibility for benefits;

(3) Investigating whether participating assistance groups received benefits to which they were not entitled, if an individual was previously certified to receive benefits on the basis of eligible alien status; and

(4) Assisting with or conducting administrative disqualification hearings, or criminal or civil prosecutions based on receipt of food assistance benefits to which participating assistance groups were not entitled.

Replaces: 5101:4-7-14

Effective: 03/01/2011
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 12/01/2015
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 5101.54
Rule Amplifies: 329.04 , 329.042 , 5101.54
Prior Effective Dates: 6/1/93, 5/1/99, 3/1/02 (Emer.), 4/11/02, 4/1/04, 12/8/05, 10/6/08