(A) Application processing definitions.
(1) "Assistance group" is a group of recipients receiving benefits together under a specific category of assistance. In the Ohio works first (OWF) program, "assistance group", is defined in section 5107.02 of the Revised Code, and means a group of individuals treated as a unit for purposes of determining eligibility for and the amount of assistance provided under OWF.
(2) An "authorized representative" is an individual, eighteen years of age or older, who stands in place of the assistance group. The authorized representative may act on behalf of individuals inside or outside the household in which the authorized representative lives.
(3) A "case" consists of one or more assistance groups.
(4) "Household" is defined as a personal place of residence. A commercial establishment such as a hotel or boarding house is not a household. However, a household can exist within a commercial establishment.
(B) What is the application process?
(1) The application process is a series of activities which includes:
(a) A request for assistance,
(b) An interactive interview, and
(c) Approval or denial of benefits.
(2) For OWF applicants the application process also includes:
(a) Prior to authorization, the county agency shall assess, appraise, and enter into a written self sufficiency contract (SSC) for each work eligible individual, minor head of household and adult member of the assistance group, as set forth in rule 5101: 1-3-11 of the Administrative Code.
(b) As agreed in the SSC, the county agency may require a work eligible individual to complete a job search and job readiness applicant assignment as set forth in rule 5101: 1-3-12.5 of the Administrative Code, prior to authorization of OWF benefits as set forth in rule 5101: 1-3-11 of the Administrative Code. In accordance with rule 5101: 9-2-02 of the Administrative Code, if the work eligible individual discloses, has, or appears to have a physical or mental condition that substantially limits one or more major life activities, the county agency shall ensure that the assignment is consistent with its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) plan in accordance with rule 5101: 9-2-02 of the Administrative Code.
(3) The application process requires the complete cooperation of the assistance group and the prompt responsiveness of the county agency.
(4) The application process shall be administered with courtesy, consideration, and respect.
(5) Administrative duties shall be performed in such a manner as to secure for every assistance group the full amount of benefits to which it is legally entitled according to program regulations.
(6) The distinction must be drawn between a "request for public assistance" (an application) and a "request for information" (an inquiry). An inquiry will not always result in an application. Any individual has the right to apply for benefits for themselves or on behalf of another individual.
(C) What must be included in the application packet?
At the time the application request is made, the following documents are given or sent to the applicant or authorized representative:
(1) The JFS 07200 "Request for Cash, Food Assistance, and Medical Assistance" (rev. 12/2012), which includes the voter registration form. If an assistance group is currently receiving food assistance and decides to apply for cash assistance at recertification, the JFS 07204 "Request to Reapply for Cash and Food Assistance" (rev. 1/2013) complete with a name, address and signature shall establish the date of application for these additional benefits.
(2) The JFS 07501 "Program Enrollment and Benefit Information" (rev. 07/2014).
(D) When is an application packet provided?
(1) The county agency shall provide an application upon request. When the request is made in person at the county agency, the application packet shall be given the same day as the request.
(2) When the county agency receives the request by telephone or letter, the application packet is mailed the day that the request is received.
(3) The right to apply shall not be discouraged or denied. An individual/family who appears ineligible shall still be allowed to exercise the right to apply for assistance.
(E) Who must sign the application?
(1) The application must be signed and dated by one of the following individuals in order to register the application:
(a) A payee for the assistance group;
(b) A caretaker for the assistance group;
(c) Another responsible member of the assistance group;
(d) A spouse or natural or adoptive parent of a member of the assistance group who is not an assistance group member, who resides with the assistance group, and can reasonably be determined to be acting responsibly for the assistance group; or
(e) An authorized representative for the assistance group.
(2) For other assistance groups identified on the application, an individual meeting one of the definitions provided in paragraph (E)(1) of this rule must sign and date the application in order to register the request for assistance for that assistance group. The county agency shall notify the potential assistance groups of this requirement in writing no later than one working day following the interview.
(3) Since the interview may be scheduled after the actual date an application is submitted, and initial benefits are affected by the date of application, the county agency should provide a potential assistance group identified on the application an opportunity to sign and date the application as soon as possible.
(F) What are the requirements for authorized representatives?
(1) The assistance group shall provide a written statement naming the authorized representative and the duties which the named authorized representative may perform on the assistance group's behalf.
(2) When written authorization cannot be obtained because of the individual's incompetency or incapacity, the county agency may waive the written statement and assist in naming a responsible party to act as authorized representative for the assistance group.
(3) The assistance group is responsible for notifying the county agency of any change in the named authorized representative.
(4) When the assistance group has an authorized representative named to act on its behalf, all notices and correspondence issued by the county agency on behalf of the assistance group shall be issued to both the authorized representative and the assistance group.
(5) In situations where an authorized representative provides incorrect or fraudulent eligibility information, the assistance group may still be held liable for any overpayments that occur. The authorized representative will be held responsible for overpayments when the authorized representative is the legal guardian or legal trustee for the assistance group.
(6) If it is determined that the authorized representative has given incorrect information intentionally through no fault of the assistance group, a referral shall be made to the county prosecutor to determine if fraud occurred on the part of the authorized representative. If the prosecutor's determination is that the authorized representative committed fraud, the authorized representative may be found liable for the overpayment.
(G) How is the application completed?
(1) The application should be filled out as completely as possible by the individual signing and dating the application for the assistance group.
(a) If the application is completed at the county agency, the person completing it may not be able to answer all of the questions completely from memory or personal knowledge.
(b) Each question on the application shall be completed to the fullest extent possible and any missing information must be supplied during the interview or through the required verifications.
(c) Even though an application may not be complete, it is still considered a formal application on the date that it is submitted with the date and a signature of an individual meeting one of the definitions set forth in paragraph (E)(1) of this rule.
(2) The assistance group and/or authorized representative shall make an accurate and complete disclosure of all information necessary for a determination of eligibility. Such disclosure shall be made at the time of initial application, at reapplication, and within ten days of the date that any change specifically identified in rule 5101: 1-2-20 of the Administrative Code occurs.
(3) The assistance group's report of an impending change in circumstances does not negate its responsibility to report any change identified in rule 5101: 1-2-20 of the Administrative Code as a reporting requirement within ten days from the date the change actually occurs.
(H) What is the application date and how is an application registered?
(1) The county agency shall accept the application on the day it is turned in to the county agency. The "date of application" is the date on which a signed and dated JFS 07200, or JFS 07204 for existing assistance groups completing a telephone interview, is received by the county agency.
(2) When a signed and dated application is received by the county agency, the county agency shall provide a document that states the application date.
(3) For cases containing multiple assistance group payees, the county agency shall give each assistance group signing the application a receipt showing that assistance group's date of application. For applications returned by mail, the receipt shall be provided at the interview.
(4) Upon receipt of a signed and dated application, the county agency shall enter the information into the client registry information system-enhanced (CRIS-E).
(5) The date of application shall not be delayed by the county agency because of any local office procedure. The date of the interview shall not be used to delay the application date.
(6) The assistance group shall be given the opportunity to complete and return the application on the same date the application is requested. When this occurs, the date of application is the same day as the request.
(7) The county agency shall advise that the date of the application and the beginning date of benefits are dependent upon the date the signed and dated application is returned to the county agency provided all other eligibility factors are met on or before the date received.
(8) When a signed and dated application is returned by mail, the date of application shall be the date the county agency receives the application. When the county agency receives a signed and dated application from the social security administration, the date of application for all public assistance programs, except food assistance, shall be the date the county agency receives the application. All applications received by mail shall be date stamped the day received.
(9) Applications signed through the use of electronic signature techniques or applications containing a handwritten signature and then transmitted by fax or other electronic transmission are acceptable. When an application is submitted by fax or electronically, the date of application shall be the date the county agency receives the application.
(I) What is the role of the county agency in the completion of the application process?
(1) The county agency shall help complete the application when assistance is requested and no other family member, close friend, authorized representative, or other appropriate individual is available.
(2) When the county agency assists or completes an application, the employee of the county agency shall sign his or her name and title/relationship to the assistance group on the application.
(3) A county agency employee shall not alter any answers given by the assistance group on the application. The county agency employee may assist in completing the application by asking the assistance group for answers needed to complete the application. The county agency employee may then mark or fill in the answer on the application.
(4) The normal process of inputting data provided by the applicant during the interview shall not be construed to mean that the county agency has assisted with the completion of the application.
(J) What are the interview requirements?
(1) An interview shall be scheduled as promptly as possible after the receipt of a signed and dated application to insure that an eligible assistance group receives an opportunity to participate within the time frames for completion of the application process pursuant to paragraph (M) of this rule.
(2) If the primary language of the individual completing the interview is not English, the county agency shall offer an interpreter at no cost to the individual. The individual shall not be required to provide his or her own interpreter or use a family member, unless they desire to do so.
(3) If the individual who satisfies the interview requirement for the assistance group is not an assistance group member (e.g., authorized representative), and the county agency questions the information provided by that individual, the county agency retains the right to contact the assistance group to clarify the information.
(4) The county agency shall give a dated receipt for all documents, originals, or copies submitted. When an original document is submitted, the county agency shall copy the document and return the original. If a face-to-face interview is conducted, every effort must be made to copy the documents prior to concluding the interview.
(K) How can the interview be conducted?
(1) The county agency may conduct an:
(a) Office interview;
(b) Telephone interview; or
(c) Home visit (as long as it is scheduled in advance with the assistance group).
(2) The type of interview conducted is left to the county agency's discretion unless the applicant requests a face-to-face interview. The county agency shall grant a face-to-face interview to any assistance group which requests one.
(L) What are the county agency's responsibilities for the interview?
(1) The county agency shall provide the:
(a) JFS 07344 "Direct Deposit Authorization" (rev. 08/2009) if applicable; and
(b) The JFS 07501 if one has not already been provided.
(2) If CRIS-E is unavailable, the JFS 01846, "Case Worksheet: Cash, Food Stamp, and Medical Assistance Interview" (rev. 05/2005), and the JFS 07501 shall be used to conduct the interview. The applicant shall be given a copy of the JFS 07501. The information obtained on the JFS 01846 shall be entered into CRIS-E.
(3) Assist in obtaining verification and completing the voter registration forms if requested by the assistance group.
(4) Gather medical documentation and refer the case to the disability determination unit (DDU) if a member of an assistance group has, appears to have, or alleges to have a physical or mental condition which may limit the member's ability to work pursuant to rules 5101: 1-39-03 and 5101: 1-5-20 of the Administrative Code.
(5) Determine eligibility as soon as possible after the application requirements are complete.
(6) Document the eligibility determination in the case record.
(7) Send the JFS 07092, "Notice to Individuals Applying for or Participating in Ohio Works First (OWF) Regarding Cooperation with the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA)" (rev. 03/2009), to the child support enforcement agency (CSEA) each time that an individual signs the form to claim good cause for refusal to cooperate with child support.
(M) What is the time frame for determining eligibility?
(1) The determination of eligibility shall be completed within thirty calendar days from the date of application.
(2) No more than forty-five days may elapse between the date of application and the issuance of the benefit, or the notification of the approval or denial of assistance.
(3) A disability financial assistance (DFA) application awaiting a disability determination may pend up to ninety days before the appropriate approval or denial notice is mailed.
(4) The determination of eligibility for DFA shall proceed concurrently with the determination of disability and shall be completed within forty-five days. The forty-five day standard of promptness may not be used as the basis for any denial.
(5) An OWF application awaiting completion of an applicant assignment may pend up to, but no longer than, thirty days from the date of application before authorization.
(6) The time frames may be exceeded in situations where completion of the determination of eligibility is delayed because of circumstances which are considered beyond the control of the county agency or assistance group such as:
(a) Failure, with good cause, to secure necessary verifications;
(b) Failure or delay on the part of an examining physician to provide all needed information.
(7) When calculating the thirty, forty-five or ninety-day time periods, the following provisions are applicable:
(a) The initial day is excluded from the computation and the last day is included;
(b) When the last day of the time period falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the time period shall end on the next working day;
(c) This method shall be used in calculating all time periods, unless specified as working days.
(8) If the application pends longer than thirty days, running record comments shall be documented at least every thirty days with the reason for the delay.
(N) What is the purpose and location of the application interview?
(1) The interview shall be scheduled as promptly as possible after the receipt of a signed and dated application to insure that an eligible assistance group receives an opportunity to participate within the time frames for completion of the application process pursuant to paragraph (M) of this rule.
(2) The interview is used to inform the assistance group of all required verifications, the time period in which the verifications must be submitted to the county agency, and the responsibility of the county agency to assist if help is needed in obtaining any items. The interview is also used to determine if the application has been thoroughly completed and if the information provided accurately represents the assistance group's situation.
(3) If the interview cannot be conducted in the county agency offices or by telephone, alternative locations and/or hours must be arranged.
(O) What shall be covered in the application interview?
(1) The eligibility requirements for cash, medical and food assistance, including issuance and use.
(2) All information contained on the JFS 07501.
(3) The required verifications and information that must be provided. This will include a review of those verifications already provided and those verifications remaining to be secured. The county agency shall also inform the assistance group of assistance that they can provide in securing the required verifications and information.
(4) The importance of abiding by the time limits for providing the verifications and additional information. The county agency shall emphasize that the application cannot be processed until the verifications and additional information are submitted.
(5) The joint responsibility for exploring all the factors of eligibility and the circumstances under which the assistance group will be held responsible for presenting records or documents in its possession to support statements.
(6) The consequences for failing to accurately report the circumstances of the assistance group at the point of application and later if the circumstances should change. Possible recoupment of overpayments and/or referral to law enforcement officials for civil or criminal prosecution could result from a failure to fully and honestly report the circumstances at all times.
(7) The availability, purpose, and provision of appropriate social services programs within and outside the agency regardless of an individual's receipt of financial assistance.
(8) The responsibility of the parent for minor children and spouses for each other.
(9) The ability of the assistance group to meet its needs pending the receipt of the first benefit.
(10) The availability of free legal services through legal aid.
(11) For individuals applying for DFA, interim assistance for individuals who have a supplemental security income (SSI) application pending and an explanation of the SSI case management program.
(12) An explanation of eligibility for a pregnant minor or minor parent and child to receive assistance as set forth in section 5107.24 of the Revised Code.
(13) An explanation of the SSC and the time limit requirements and extensions for the OWF program.
(14) An explanation of the waiver of OWF eligibility requirements due to domestic violence, including the good cause exception for refusal to cooperate with child support when applicable.
(15) An explanation of the individual's rights under the ADA, including the right to request reasonable modification in program activities.
(P) Follow-up after the application interview.
During the interview, the county agency shall offer assistance in getting any additional verifications or information that is needed in order to process the case. The county agency shall use the JFS 07105 "Application/Reapplication Verification Request Checklist" (rev. 3/2013). The checklist must provide a date for the return of the verifications. If the required information and verifications are not received by this date, benefits are denied.
(Q) What is considered a failure in the application process?
Failure to cooperate in the application process and the verification requirements shall result in a denial of the OWF, DFA or refugee cash assistance (RCA) application. Failure occurs:
(1) When the information/verification is not provided after the county agency properly advised what information/verification is needed to determine eligibility provided no request for assistance in obtaining information/verification is received by the county agency; or
(2) When the county agency is not given necessary information to assist in obtaining the verification needed to determine eligibility; or
(3) When the assistance group fails to participate in a scheduled application interview.
(4) For OWF, when any work eligible individual, minor head of household, or adult member of the assistance group fails to enter into a written SSC with the county agency.
Five Year Review (FYR) Dates: 10/01/2017
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: 5101.49, 5107.02, 5107.03, 5107.04, 5107.05, 5115.05
Rule Amplifies: 5101.49, 5107.02, 5107.04, 5107.05, 5107.12, 5107.121, 5107.71, 5107.711, 5107.712, 5107.713, 5107.714, 5107.715, 5107.716. 5107.717, 5115.05
Prior Effective Dates: 8/1/75, 6/1/76, 7/14/77, 12/31/77, 9/1/82, 11/1/84, 4/1/86, 10/1/87 (Emer.), 12/24/87, 4/1/88 (Emer.), 6/10/88, 1/1/88 (Emer.), 9/1/88, 10/1/88 (Emer.), 10/25/88 (Emer.), 12/20/88, 12/1/89, 4/1/90 (Emer.), 6/22/90, 8/1/90 (Emer.), 10/25/90, 1/1/91 (Emer.), 2/21/91, 4/1/91 (Emer.), 6/1/91, 7/1/91 (Emer.), 9/15/91, 10/1/91 (Emer.), 12/20/91, 7/1/92, 1/1/93 (Emer.), 2/11/93, 3/18/93, 5/1/93, 9/1/93, 1/1/94, 1/1/95 (Emer.), 4/1/95, 7/1/95, 10/1/95, 6/1/96, 10/1/96 (Emer.), 12/15/96, 10/1/97 (Emer.), 12/30/97, 7/1/98, 10/1/99, 7/1/00, 8/1/01, 5/2/05, 1/1/08, 5/1/09, 1/1/10, 12/1/10, 3/1/11, 7/1/11, 5/7/12, 10/15/12