Chapter 5101:4-1 General Provisions
(A) This rule sets forth the terms and meanings used to administer the food assistance program. These definitions are not intended to fully explain or to limit the scope of any action in the administration of the program.
(1) "Alien status verification index (ASVI)" means the automated database maintained by the department of homeland security, United States (U.S.) citizenship and immigration services (USCIS) office which may be accessed by county agencies to verify immigration status.
(2) "Allotment" means the total value of food assistance benefits an assistance group is authorized to receive during each month or other time period. The allotment may be issued in the form of a check (cash-out) or electronic benefit transfer (EBT).
(3) "Assessment" means an in-depth evaluation of employability skills coupled with counseling on how and where to search for employment.
(4) "Assistance group" means those persons potentially eligible or determined eligible to receive benefits together under one assistance group name. This was formerly referred to as the food assistance household. The assistance group is also known as the standard filing unit (SFU) in the CRIS-E system.
(5) "Assistance group name" means the case name. All assistance groups will have an assistance group name. The assistance group name may or may not be the applicant. The person designated as the assistance group name will be the person to receive all notices and will assume all responsibilities such as reviewing the application form for completeness and validity, signing and dating the application, participating in the interactive interview and accepting the program rights and responsibilities unless the assistance group has designated an authorized representative to apply on their behalf.
(6) "Assistance group payee" means a person who is designated to receive the benefits for an assistance group. The person who is the assistance group name will be the payee unless the assistance group has an authorized representative to receive the benefits. There will only be one assistance group payee per assistance group and benefits will only be issued to this person.
(7) "Beneficiary and earnings data exchange (BENDEX)" means the system that is used to verify social security benefit information.
(8) "Case" means all assistance groups who live in the same household. The county agency shall make every effort to assign all assistance groups contained in the same case to one eligibility worker.
(9) "Case Worksheet-Cash, Food Stamp, and Medical Assistance Interview (JFS 01846)" (5/2005) means the document which is utilized by the state of Ohio to gather data for the cash, food, and medical assistance programs for home visits and telephone interviews when CRIS-E is unavailable. The applicant must acknowledge the information on the form by signing and dating the form.
(10) "Client registry information system enhanced (CRIS-E)" means the centralized statewide automated system that supports all eighty-eight county agencies.
(11) "Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)" means the codification of the rules published in the Federal Register by the U. S. government.
(12) "Date of entry" means the date established by U.S. citizenship and immigration services (USCIS) as the date an alien was admitted into the United States.
(13) "Department of housing and urban development (HUD)" means a governmental agency that provides housing to low-income households.
(14) "Disability financial assistance (DFA)" means the state-funded program which provides cash assistance to individuals in accordance with Chapter 5101:1-5 of the Administrative Code.
(15) "Drug addiction or alcoholic treatment and rehabilitation program" means any drug addiction or alcoholic treatment and rehabilitation program conducted by a private nonprofit organization or institution, or publicly operated community mental health center, under part B of Title XIX of the Public Health Service Act ( 42 USC 300x et seq.) (1992), as amended.
(16) "Elderly or disabled member" means a member of an assistance group who:
(a) Is sixty years of age or older;
(b) Receives supplemental security income benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act of 1935, as amended, or disability or blindness payments under Title I, II, X, XIV, or XVI of the Social Security Act;
(c) Is a veteran with a service-connected or nonservice-connected disability rated by the veterans' administration as total or paid as total under Title 38 of the United States Code (U.S.C.) (2002), as amended;
(d) Is considered in need of regular aid and attendance or permanently housebound under such title of the code;
(e) Is a surviving spouse of a veteran and considered by the veterans' administration to be in need of regular aid and attendance or permanently housebound or a surviving child of a veteran and considered by the veterans' administration to be permanently incapable of self-support under Title 38 of the U.S.C.;
(f) Is a surviving spouse or surviving child of a veteran and considered by the veterans' administration to be entitled to compensation for a service-connected death or pension benefits for a nonservice-connected death under Title 38 of the U.S.C. and has a disability considered permanent under section 221(i) of the Social Security Act. "Entitled" as used in this definition refers to those veterans' surviving spouses and children who are receiving the compensation or pension benefits stated or have been approved for such payments, but are not receiving them;
(g) Receives federally or state-administered supplemental benefits under section 1616(a) of the Social Security Act provided that the eligibility to receive the benefits is based upon the disability or blindness criteria used under Title XVI of the Social Security Act;
(h) Receives disability retirement benefits from a governmental agency because of disability considered permanent under section 221(i) of the Social Security Act;
(i) Received an annuity payment under section (2)(a)(1)(iv) of the Railroad Retirement Act of 1974, as amended, and is determined to be eligible to receive medicare by the railroad retirement board; or section (2)(a)(1)(v) of the Railroad Retirement Act of 1974 and is determined to be disabled based upon the criteria used under Title XVI of the Social Security Act;
(j) Is a recipient of interim assistance benefits pending the receipt of supplemental security income; or
(k) Receives federally or state administered supplemental benefits under section 212(a) of 42 U.S.C. 1382, (03/2004).
(17) "Eligibility determination/benefit calculation (ED/BC)" means the automated process of determining eligibility and the level of benefits by the CRIS-E system which is based on data entered into the system.
(18) "Eligibility worker" means an employee of the county agency responsible for determining eligibility for food assistance.
(19) "Eligible foods" means:
(a) Any food or food product intended for human consumption except alcoholic beverages, tobacco, hot foods, hot food products prepared for immediate consumption;
(b) Seeds and plants to grow foods for the personal consumption of eligible assistance groups;
(c) Meals prepared and delivered by an authorized meal delivery service;
(d) Meals served by a communal dining facility for the elderly and their spouses, disabled recipients who receive social security or supplemental security income (SSI) and their spouses, and to homeless assistance groups;
(e) Meals prepared and served by an authorized drug addict or alcoholic treatment and rehabilitation center to narcotic addicts or alcoholics and their children who live with them;
(f) Meals prepared and served by a group living arrangement facility to residents who are blind or disabled as defined in paragraphs (B)(16)(b) to (B)(16)(k) of this rule;
(g) Meals prepared and served by a shelter for battered women and children to its eligible residents; and
(h) Meals prepared and served by an authorized public or private nonprofit establishment (e.g., soup kitchen, temporary shelter), as determined by the county agency, which provides meals on a regular basis to homeless persons.
(20) "Employment and training component" means a work experience, work training or job search program as described in section (6)(4)(B)(iv) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 ( 7 U.S.C. 2014 ), (06/2008) designed to help food assistance recipients move promptly into unsubsidized employment.
(21) "Employment and training mandatory participant" means a food assistance program applicant or participant who is required to be work-registered according to rule 5101:4-3-11 of the Administrative Code.
(22) "Employment services" means the agency responsible for work registration and job search activities.
(23) "Food Assistance employment and training program" means a program operated by each county agency consisting of one or more work, training, education or job search components.
(24) "Food and nutrition service (FNS)" means the federal agency responsible for the overall administration of the food assistance program.
(25) "Food assistance program" means a program designed to promote general welfare and to safeguard the health and well-being of the nation's population by raising the levels of nutrition among low-income households.
(26) "Group home" means a public or private nonprofit residential setting that provides its residents with a majority of their meals (over fifty per cent of their meals daily), has no more than sixteen residents, and is certified by a public agency of the state of Ohio under section 1616(e) of the Social Security Act, or under standards determined by the secretary of the United States department of agriculture to be comparable to standards implemented by appropriate state agencies under section 1616(e) of the Social Security Act.
(27) "Group living arrangement" means the same as a group home.
(28) "Homeless individual" means an individual who lacks a fixed and regular night time residence or an individual whose primary night time residence is:
(a) A supervised shelter designed to provide temporary accommodations (such as a welfare hotel or congregate shelter);
(b) A halfway house or similar institution that provides temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized;
(c) A night time residence which is a temporary accommodation for no more than ninety days from the date the temporary accommodation began in the residence of another individual; or
(d) A place not designated for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings (a hallway, a bus station, a lobby or similar places).
(29) "Homeless meal provider" means an authorized public or private establishment (e.g., soup kitchen, temporary shelter), which provides meals on a regular basis to homeless persons, as determined by the county agency.
(30) "Household" means a personal place of residence where persons live together at the same common address. The persons may or may not be related. Group homes and commercial establishments such as hotels or boarding houses are not included in this definition of household. The entire household will be referred to as the case. A household may contain more than one assistance group.
(31) "Income and Eligibility Verification System (IEVS)" means a system of information acquisition and exchange for purposes of income and eligibility verification which meets the requirements of section 1137 of the Social Security Act.
(32) "Interactive interview" means the interview between the eligibility worker and the applicant to discuss eligibility information to determine benefits. The interview may be conducted face-to-face or by telephone.
(33) "Internal revenue service (IRS)" means the federal agency responsible for the administration of governmental income from taxes.
(34) "Management evaluation (ME) review," means an analysis conducted to determine if a county is administering and operating the food assistance program in accordance with program requirements.
(35) "Minimum benefit" means the lowest full monthly amount of food assistance that an eligible one or two person assistance group may receive. By law, this amount is eight per cent of the maximum allotment for an assistance group containing one member.
(36) "Non-assistance" means an assistance group that participates in the food assistance program but at least one of its members does not receive public assistance.
(37) "Ohio works first (OWF)" means a program funded under Title IV-A of the Social Security Act. This program was formerly referred to as the "TANF program" and the "ADC program."
(38) "Ohio works first (OWF) recipient" means any person who receives an OWF payment, whose entire OWF grant is being recouped, whose entire OWF assistance group is in suspended status, who has no actual OWF benefit issued because the monthly grant is less than the minimum amount for a benefit to be issued, or for whom OWF has been authorized but payment has yet to be received.
(39) "Overpayment" means the amount by which benefits issued to an assistance group exceed the amount the assistance group was eligible to receive.
(40) "Printed copy of information (PCI)" means the hard-copy application generated by CRIS-E based on the answers provided by an applicant during an interactive interview.
(41) "Public assistance (PA)" means any of the following programs authorized by the Social Security Act: old-age assistance; TANF funded under Title IV-A of the Social Security Act, aid to the blind; aid to the permanently and totally disabled; and aid to the aged, blind, or disabled. Public assistance also refers to DFA, except for purposes of the employment and training program and for purposes of resource exclusions in accordance with rule 5101:4-4-03.3 of the Administrative Code.
(42) "Quality control (QC) review" means a review of a statistically valid sample of active and negative cases to determine the extent to which households are receiving the food assistance allotments to which they are entitled, and to determine the extent to which decisions to deny, suspend or terminate cases are correct.
(43) "Retail food store" means an establishment or recognized department of an establishment, or a house-to-house trade route, whose eligible food sales volume as determined by visual inspection, sales records, or other methods that are customary or reasonable in the retail food industry, is more than fifty per cent staple food items for home preparation and consumption; public or private communal dining facilities and meal delivery services; private nonprofit drug addict or alcoholic treatment and rehabilitation programs; publicly operated community mental health centers for drug addicts and/or alcoholics; public or private nonprofit group living arrangements; public or private nonprofit shelters for battered women and children; public or private establishments approved by an appropriate state or local agency that feeds homeless persons; any private nonprofit cooperative food purchasing venture, including those whose members pay for food prior to receipt of the food; and a farmer's market.
(44) "Request for Cash, Food, and Medical Assistance (JFS 07200)" means the document (formerly referred to as the APPL) utilized by the state of Ohio as an application for cash, food, and medical assistance. It is also a screening device for determining entitlement to expedited food assistance benefits. It is the beginning step in the application process and is used in conjunction with the interactive interview.
(45) "Shelter for battered women and children" means a public or private nonprofit residential facility that serves battered women and their children. If such a facility serves other individuals, a portion of the facility must be set aside on a long-term basis to serve only battered women and their children.
(46) "Social security administration (SSA)" means the federal agency responsible for the administration of benefits for old age, unemployment, or disability.
(47) "Spouse" means:
(a) Those defined as married to each other under applicable state law. Ohio does not recognize same sex marriage; or
(b) Those who are living together and are holding themselves out to the community as husband and wife by representing themselves as such to relatives, friends, neighbors, or tradespeople. Since October 10, 1991 Ohio has not recognized common law marriages so only couples established as a common law marriage prior to October 10, 1991 fall under this definition.
(48) "Standard filing unit (SFU)" means the automated process of determining which persons shall comprise an assistance group based on data entered into the CRIS-E system.
(49) "State agency" means the Ohio department of job and family services, including the local offices, which have the responsibility for the administration of the federally aided public assistance programs within the state.
(50) "State data exchange (SDX)" means the system used to verify supplemental security income (SSI) benefits.
(51) "Supplemental security income (SSI)" means cash payments made under the authority of Title XVI of the Social Security Act, as amended, to the aged, blind, and disabled; or section 1616(a) of the Social Security Act.
(52) "Supplemental security income (SSI) recipient" means a person who receives SSI payments, whose entire SSI grant is being recouped, whose SSI case is in suspended status, or whose SSI has been authorized but payment has yet to be received.
(53) "Systematic alien verification for entitlements (SAVE)" means the U.S. citizenship and immigration services (USCIS) whereby county agencies may verify the validity of documents provided by aliens applying for food assistance benefits by obtaining information from a central data file.
(54) "Temporary assistance for needy families (TANF)" means a program funded under Title IV-A of the Social Security Act. This is the title used in federal legislation and regulations. Ohio has adopted the title "Ohio works first (OWF)" for its Title IV-A cash assistance program and the prevention, retention, and contingency program (PRC) for its benefits and services program.
(55) "Thrifty food plan" means the diet required to feed a family of four persons consisting of a man and a woman ages twenty through fifty, a child ages six through eight, and a child ages nine through eleven determined in accordance with the secretary of agriculture's calculations. The cost of such diet shall be the basis for uniform allotments for all assistance groups regardless of their actual composition. In order to develop maximum food assistance allotments, the secretary of agriculture shall make assistance group size and other adjustments in the thrifty food plan taking into account economies of scale and other adjustments as required by law.
(56) "U.S. citizenship and immigration service (USCIS)" (formerly known as the immigration and naturalization service) is an agency under the department of homeland security.
(57) "United States department of agriculture (USDA)" means the federal agency responsible for overseeing the food assistance program.
(58) "Workforce Investment Act (WIA)" means the legislation providing funding for job training, adult education, education for youths, employment for dislocated workers, and vocationally rehabilitation. This legislation was formerly administered by the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) of 1982.
(59) "Work program" means:
(a) A program under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 ( Pub. L. No. 105-220 );
(b) A program under section 236 of the Trade Act of 1974 ( 49 U.S.C. 2296 ); and
(c) A program of employment and training operated or supervised by a state or political subdivision of a state that meets standards approved by the governor of the state, including a program under subsection (d)(4) of the Food and Nutrition Act.
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 08/01/2015
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, 10/1/81, 7/1/82, 6/1/83, 12/25/83 (Temp.), 2/1/84 (Temp), 2/16/84 (Temp.), 4/1/84, 8/1/84 (Emer.), 10/20/84, 2/15/85 (Emer.), 5/12/85, 8/16/85 (Emer.), 11/1/85 (Emer.), 1/1/86, 6/15/86 (Emer.), 9/13/86, 1/16/87 (Emer.), 4/10/87 (Emer.), 6/22/87, 7/1/87 (Emer.), 9/28/87, 1/1/88 (Emer.), 2/26/88, 3/24/88 (Emer.), 6/18/88, 7/11/89 (Emer.), 9/17/89, 10/1/89 (Emer.), 12/21/89, 1/5/90 (Emer.), 4/7/90, 7/1/91, 2/3/92, 7/1/92, 8/1/92 (Emer.), 10/30/92, 6/1/93, 8/1/94, 9/1/94 (Emer.), 10/17/94, 12/1/94 (Emer.), 1/1/95, 5/1/95, 8/1/95 (Emer.), 10/13/95, 2/1/96, 9/22/96 (Emer.), 12/21/96, 4/1/97 (Emer.), 6/6/97, 10/1/97 (Emer.), 12/15/97, 7/15/99, 10/1/01 (Emer.), 10/11/01, 05/02/05, 10/1/08 (Emer.), 12/18/08, 8/1/10
(A) How are benefits issued?
Food assistance benefits are issued to assistance groups on an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card using a direct access system known as an EBT on-line system.
(B) What can assistance groups use food assistance benefits for?
Food assistance benefits can be used by assistance group members to purchase eligible foods, including seeds and plants, for home consumption and use. Items allowed to be purchased with the EBT card are established by the United States department of agriculture (UDSA) food and nutrition service (FNS) and are set forth in rule 5101:4-1-03 of the Administrative Code.
(C) Must an applicant have a place to prepare food to be eligible for benefits?
Assistance groups are not required to have cooking facilities or access to cooking facilities to be eligible for the program.
(D) Where can an EBT card be used?
Local FNS field offices are responsible for the licensing and monitoring of retail food stores participating in the food assistance program. FNS will authorize participation of:
(1) Retail food outlets;
(2) Communal dining facilities;
(3) Meals on wheels programs;
(4) Drug and alcohol treatment centers;
(5) Residents of group living arrangements;
(7) Homeless meal providers;
(8) Shelters for battered women and children; and
(9) Soup kitchens.
(E) What is a communal dining facility?
A communal dining facility is a public or nonprofit establishment, approved by FNS, which prepares and serves meals for elderly persons or supplemental security income (SSI) recipients and their spouses. It also includes senior citizens' centers, apartment buildings occupied primarily by the elderly or SSI recipients and their spouses, or private nonprofit establishments (eating or otherwise) that feed elderly persons or SSI recipients and their spouses, and federally subsidized housing for the elderly at which meals are prepared for and served to the residents.
(F) When is it allowable to use an EBT card for a meals on wheels program?
Eligible assistance group members, sixty years of age or over, or members who are housebound, physically handicapped, or otherwise disabled to the extent they are unable to adequately prepare all their meals, and their spouses, may use benefits issued to them to purchase meals from a nonprofit meal delivery service authorized by FNS.
(G) When can an EBT card be used at a cooperative?
Benefits may be used to purchase food at any private nonprofit cooperative authorized by FNS, including those whose members pay for food prior to its receipt.
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 01/01/2016
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, 6/12/83, 3/24/88 (Emer.), 6/18/88, 12/1/94, 5/1/96, 2/1/99, 10/01/01(Emer.), 10/11/01, 8/1/05
(A) Personnel standards
(1) County agency personnel used in the certification process shall be employed in accordance with the current standards for the merit system of personnel administration or any standards later prescribed by the United States civil service commission under section 208 of the Intergovernmental Personnel Act of 1970. County agency employees meeting the above requirements shall perform the interview required by rule 5101:4-2-07 of the Administrative Code. Supplemental security income(SSI) assistance groups certified under the joint processing requirements and disaster victims applying under emergency eligibility standards authorized by the United States department of agriculture food and nutrition service (FNS) may be certified by personnel who are not under the state merit personnel system.
(2) Volunteers and other non-county agency employees shall not conduct certification interviews or certify food assistance applicants. County agencies are encouraged to use volunteers in related activities such as outreach, prescreening, assisting applicants in completing the application, and securing needed verification. Individuals and organizations who are parties to a strike or lockout may not be used in the certification process except as a source of verification of information supplied by the applicant. Only authorized employees of the state and county agencies, electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card issuers, and federal employees involved in administration of the program shall be permitted access to issuance documents. FNS has further clarified that work experience program (WEP) participants who work at the county agency shall be fully informed of confidentiality provisions and shall sign a nondisclosure pledge. In addition, any individuals involved in a work activity program who have access to the client registry information system enhanced (CRIS-E) shall be subject to existing confidentiality regulations. County agencies shall follow their own policies and procedures regarding confidentiality issues. For example, some county agencies require that employees pass police background checks prior to CRIS-E access.
(3) The county agency shall employ sufficient staff to certify and issue benefits to eligible assistance groups and process fair hearing requests within the timeliness standards. Outreach activities and other program functions must also be performed as specified.
(B) Bilingual staff and materials
(1) Based on the estimated total number of low-income assistance groups in a county speaking the same non-English language (a single language minority), the county agency shall provide bilingual program information and certification materials, and staff or interpreters. "Single language minority" refers to assistance groups speaking the same non-English language and do not contain adult(s) fluent in English as a second language.
(2) The county agency shall provide materials used in program informational activities in the appropriate language(s) as follows:
(a) In counties with less than two thousand low-income assistance groups, if approximately one hundred or more of those assistance groups are of a single language minority;
(b) In counties with two thousand or more low-income assistance groups, if five per cent or more of those assistance groups are of a single language minority; or
(c) In counties with bilingual county agency staff.
(3) The county agency shall provide both certification materials in the appropriate language and bilingual staff or interpreters if they provide service to over one hundred single language minority low-income assistance groups, or if the county has a total of less than one hundred low-income assistance groups and a majority of those assistance groups are of a single language minority.
(a) Certification materials shall include the food assistance application form, change report form, and notices to assistance groups.
(b) If notices are required in only one language other than English, notices may be printed in English on one side and in the other language on the reverse side. If the county agency is required to use several languages, the notice may be printed in English and may contain statements in other languages summarizing the purpose of the notice and the telephone number (toll-free number or a number where collect calls will be accepted for assistance groups outside the local calling area) the assistance group may call to receive additional information.
(4) In counties with a seasonal influx of non-English speaking assistance groups, the county agency shall provide bilingual materials and staff or interpreters as required if, during the seasonal influx, enough single language minority, low-income assistance groups move into the area to trigger the requirements.
(5) The county agencies subject to the requirements of paragraph (B)(2) or (B)(3) of this rule shall provide sufficient bilingual staff or interpreters for the timely processing of non-English speaking applicants.
(C) Records and reports
(1) Each county agency shall keep such records and submit such reports and other information as required by the Ohio department of job and family services (ODJFS). Each county agency shall retain all program records in an orderly fashion for audit and review purposes.
(2) Program records shall be retained in an automated system or manually for a period of three years from the month of origin of each record. These records include applications for certification or recertification, including required FNS or state agency forms: work sheets used in the computation of income for eligibility and benefit level; documentation including verification techniques employed by the eligibility worker; copies of forms sent to the issuance unit authorizing or changing participation or basis of issuance; and copies of notices of adverse action and other notices sent to the client. County agencies shall also retain responses received from applicants, fair hearing decisions, reconsiderations, and copies of compliance reports completed by the county agency.
(3) The county agency shall retain fiscal records and accountable documents in an automated system or manually for three years from the date of fiscal or administrative closure. Such records include, but are not limited to, claims and documentation of lost benefits. "Fiscal closure" means the obligation for or against the federal government has been liquidated. "Administrative closure" means no further action to eliminate the obligation is appropriate. Acceptable alternative retention methods for issuance documents are provided in rules 5101-9-21 to 5101-9-21.1 of the Administrative Code.
(4) All other records and reports not otherwise mentioned above shall be retained indefinitely unless prior approval for destruction has been received from the ODJFS office of legal services.
(5) All county-published forms that do not exactly duplicate the format of state-approved forms require the approval of the ODJFS, food assistance policy section prior to their use. No state hearing form shall deviate from copies of forms in the "State Hearings Manual," or their CRIS-E equivalents, unless prior approved by ODJFS.
(6) In order to safeguard certification and issuance records, the county agency shall establish an organizational structure dividing responsibility for eligibility determinations and food assistance benefit issuance among certification, data management, and issuance units.
(7) Under the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, each state agency is responsible for determining and reporting certification error rates as calculated by the state's quality control subsystem which is one part of the performance reporting system (along with the management evaluation program). State quality control reviews must be conducted in accordance with the provisions of 7 CFR sections 275.10 (07/1999) to 275.14 (12/1984) as well as the material contained in the "FNS Handbook" sections 310 and 311.
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 12/01/2014
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 5101.54
Rule Amplifies: 329.04, 329.042, 5101.54
Prior Effective Dates: 6/2/80, 4/1/83, 6/17/83, 1/1/86 (Emer.), 4/6/87, 10/1/89 (Emer.), 12/21/89, 2/1/96, 5/1/97, 11/1/97, 10/1/98, 6/1/01 (Emer.), 8/27/01, 9/1/04
(A) Availability of information
(1) State agency handbooks shall be available for examination upon request at each local county agency as well as at the state agency and the United States department of agriculture- food and nutrition service (FNS) regional and national offices.
(2) County agencies may make available printed materials such as pamphlets, fliers and posters that contain current basic information about the following items: eligibility requirements and program benefits; application procedures including how to obtain and file applications; the documentation required for completing applications; and applicants' rights to receive applications when they are requested, file applications the day they are received, and receive benefits (if determined to be eligible) within thirty days of filing applications; expedited service; fair hearings; out-of-office interview provisions; procedures for filing a complaint; the locations and hours of operation of the county agency. This material shall be in languages other than English as required in rule 5101:4-1-05 of the Administrative Code and shall include the food assistance program nondiscrimination statement. County agencies may provide a telephone number where information on filing complaints and the location and hours of service may be obtained in lieu of providing this information in printed form.The following posters are required in all county agencies:
(a) The "And Justice for All" poster (Form AD-475B) (rev. 12/99). This poster may be downloaded from the FNS web site at http://www.fns.usda.gov/cr/justice.htm.
(b) The JFS 07207 "Your Food Assistance Rights in Ohio" (rev. 10/09) poster.
(c) The JFS 08048 "Your Civil Rights" (rev. 02/2002) poster.
(3) County agencies are responsible for setting their hours of operation. In doing so, county agencies must take into account the special needs of the populations they serve including assistance groups containing a working person.
(4) County agencies must establish procedures that best serve the assistance groups in the county, including assistance groups with special needs, such as, but not limited to:
(a) Assistance groups with elderly or disabled members,
(b) Assistance groups in rural areas with low-income members,
(c) Homeless individuals,
(d) Assistance groups residing on reservations,
(e) Assistance groups with adult members who are not proficient in English, and
(f) Assistance groups with earned income.
(5) The county agency must provide timely, accurate, and fair service to applicants for, and participants in, the food assistance program. The county agency cannot, as a condition of eligibility, impose additional application or application processing requirements. The county agency must have a procedure for informing persons who wish to apply for food assistance about the application process and their rights and responsibilities. The county agency must base food assistance eligibility solely on the criteria contained in the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 and this certification handbook.
(6) County agencies are encouraged to inform applicant and participant assistance groups about the importance of a nutritious diet and the relationship between diet and health. The Ohio state university research foundation contracts with the Ohio department of job and family services (ODJFS) to provide nutrition education in several counties throughout the state.
(7) Use or disclosure of case file information to persons not part of the assistance group shall be restricted to the persons and conditions listed below:
(a) The following persons are provided case file information without being required to make a written request:
(i) Persons directly connected with the administration or enforcement of the provisions of the Food and Nutrition Act or regulations, other federal assistance programs, or federally assisted state programs which provide assistance on a means-tested basis to low-income individuals or local or state Ohio works first (OWF) assistance programs. Examples are medicaid, supplemental security income (SSI) and disability financial assistance (DFA) program personnel, persons directly connected with nutrition education and program information efforts, state and local personnel connected with the emergency food assistance program (TEFAP), local county prosecutors investigating possible food assistance fraud, officials from the office of inspector general, auditor of state's office, ODJFS bureau of external audits, and management evaluation (ME) and quality assurance (QA) reviewers.
(ii) Employees of the comptroller general's office of the United States for audit examination authorized by any other provision of law.
(iii) Persons directly connected with the administration or enforcement of the programs that are required to participate in the income and eligibility verification system (IEVS), to the extent the food assistance information is useful in establishing or verifying eligibility or benefit amounts under those programs.
(iv) Persons directly connected with the administration of the child support program under part D, Title IV of the Social Security Act of 1935 in order to assist in the administration of that program, and employees of the secretary of health and human services as necessary to assist in establishing or verifying eligibility or benefits under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act.
(v) Persons directly connected with the verification of immigration status of aliens applying for food assistance benefits, through the systematic alien verification for entitlements (SAVE) program, to the extent the information is necessary to identify the individual for verification purposes.
(b) Persons indirectly connected with the enforcement of the provisions of the Food and Nutrition Act or regulations, such as local, state or federal law enforcement officials, upon their written request for the purpose of investigating an alleged violation of the Food and Nutrition Act or regulations. The written request shall include the identity of the individual requesting the information and his authority to do so, the violation being investigated, and the identity of the person on whom the information is requested. Examples are officials of the federal bureau of investigation, the United States secret service, department of homeland security (DHS) (unless the county agency initiated contact with DHS in accordance with rule 5101:4-3-08 of the Administrative Code), or other law enforcement agencies, if the investigation concerns an assistance group fraudulently obtaining benefits or otherwise violating the Food and Nutrition Act or regulations. These requests must be made in writing prior to the disclosure.
Local, state, or federal law enforcement officers, may present a request in writing for the address, social security number or photograph of any assistance group member who:
(i) Is fleeing to avoid prosecution or custody for a crime, or an attempt to commit a crime, that would be classified as a felony (or in the state of New Jersey, a high misdemeanor); or
(ii) Is violating a condition of probation or parole imposed under a federal or state law.
The written request shall include the identity of the individual requesting the information and his or her authority to do so. The written request shall also include the identity of the individual who is suspected of fleeing, including but not limited to, the full name, date of birth, and documentation indicating the person is fleeing to avoid prosecution or custody for a felony (i.e. factual details, copies of the police incident report and a copy of the felony warrant that was issued), or has violated a condition of probation or parole (i.e. a copy of the alleged infraction and arrest warrant issued).
The county agency shall provide the requested information regarding an assistance group member when a law enforcement officer is acting in his or her official capacity and presents a request in writing, where such member has information necessary for the apprehension or investigation of another member who is fleeing to avoid prosecution or custody for a felony, or has violated a condition of probation or parole. The county agency shall disclose only such information as is necessary to comply with a specific written request of a law enforcement agency.
If a law enforcement officer provides written documentation indicating an assistance group member is fleeing for any of the reasons listed above, the county agency shall terminate the participation of the member. If the county agency receives a request for information on an assistance group member, but it did not include the written documentation of how the assistance group member was considered fleeing under one of the categories above, the county agency shall not propose termination of the individual's eligibility for food assistance.
If anyone makes a report other than a law enforcement officer, the county agency shall take the following actions:
(a) Contact the appropriate law enforcement agency to give the law enforcement agency thirty days to determine if the individual is actually fleeing and to arrest or extradite the individual.
(b) If within the thirty days the law enforcement agency arrests or extradites the assistance group member, the county agency will take appropriate action to remove the individual from the case.
(c) If by the end of the thirty days the law enforcement agency has not been able to arrest or extradite the assistance group member, the county agency will take appropriate action to impose ineligibility under this paragraph for as long as the law enforcement agency continues to take appropriate action to arrest or extradite the individual.
(d) If within the thirty days the law enforcement agency indicates that it will not attempt to arrest or extradite the assistance group member or the assistance group member is not fleeing, the county agency will not impose ineligibility under this paragraph and the individual will not be considered fleeing.
(c) In all other cases (including requests from law enforcement officials conducting non-food assistance related investigations), a waiver signed by the recipient on whom the information is requested must be secured by the county agency and retained in its files. The waiver shall be dated, include to whom the information is to be released, state what information is to be released (either itemizing or stating a general release of any information requested), and the period of time the release is intended to cover. The written request shall include the same information as specified in paragraph (A)(8)(b) of this rule.
(8) Recipients of information released under paragraph (A)(8) of this rule must adequately protect the information against unauthorized disclosure to persons or for purposes not specified in paragraph (A)(8) of this rule. In addition, information received through IEVS must be protected from unauthorized disclosure as required by regulations established by the information provider. Information released to the county agency pursuant to section 6103(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 as amended shall be subject to the safeguards established by the secretary of the treasury in section 6103(1) of the Internal Revenue Code and implemented by the internal revenue service in its publication, "Tax Information and Security Guidelines for Federal, State, and Local Agencies and Entities", Publication 1075 (rev. 10/07).
(9) If there is a written request by a responsible member of the assistance group, its currently authorized representative, or a person acting on its behalf, to review materials and information contained in its case file, the material and information contained in the case file shall be made available for inspection during normal business hours. However, the county agency may withhold confidential information, such as the names of individuals who have disclosed information about the assistance group without the assistance group's knowledge, or the nature or status of pending criminal prosecutions.
(B) Income eligibility verification systems (IEVS) information
(1) ODJFS has the authority to request benefits and wage information from the social security administration under provisions of section 6103(l)(7)(A) of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Code of 1954, state wage information collection agency, IRS pursuant to section 6103(1)(7)(B) of the IRS Code, and unemployment compensation benefits subject to the provision and limitations of section 303(d) of the Social Security Act and sections 272.8(a) to 272.8(e) of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (11/2000).
(2) The county agency shall use information obtained through IEVS in verifying eligibility for and the amount of food assistance benefits due to eligible assistance groups in accordance with rule 5101:4-7-09 of the Administrative Code.
(3) If not otherwise documented, the county agencies must obtain written agreements from these information provider agencies affirming that they must not record any information about individual food assistance assistance groups and that staff in those agencies are subject to the disclosure restrictions of the information provider agencies and section 272.1(c) of Title 7 of the CFR.
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 12/01/2014
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 5101.54
Rule Amplifies: 329.04, 329.042, 5101.54
Prior Effective Dates: 6/2/80, 4/4/81, 1/22/82, 9/27/82, 3/1/84 (Temp.), 6/1/84, 12/31/84 (Emer.), 4/1/85, 8/16/85 (Emer.), 11/1/85 (Emer.), 1/1/86, 4/10/87 (Emer.), 6/22/87, 3/24/88 (Emer.), 6/18/88, 2/17/91, 6/1/93, 8/1/95 (Emer.), 10/13/95, 7/1/96 (Emer.), 8/25/96, 9/22/96 (Emer.), 12/21/96, 11/1/97, 6/1/01 (Emer.), 8/27/01, 9/1/04, 10/6/08, 12/1/09
(A) What is the nondiscrimination policy for food assistance?
Discrimination in any aspect of program administration is prohibited by program regulations, the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 as amended, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 ( PL 94-135 ) as amended, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U. S. C. 2000d) as amended, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.
Enforcement action may be brought under any applicable federal law. Title VI complaints shall be processed in accord with 7 CFR Part 15, United States department of agriculture's regulations on nondiscrimination.
County agencies shall not discriminate against any applicant or participant in any aspect of program administration, including, but not limited to:
(1) The certification of assistance groups;
(2) The issuance of benefits;
(3) The conduct of fair hearings; or
(4) The conduct of any other program service for reasons of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, religion or political beliefs.
(B) What steps shall be followed if an individual feels they were subjected to discrimination?
Individuals who believe they have been subject to discrimination may file a written complaint with:
(1) "The United States Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington D.C., 20250-9410," telephone number (866)632-9992, (202)260-1026 , or (202)401-0216 (TDD), and/or
(2) "The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Bureau of Civil Rights, 30 East Broad Street, 37th Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215- 3414."
(C) What needs to be included in a formal complaint to facilitate an investigation?
(1) Name, address, telephone number, or other means of contacting the person alleging discrimination.
(2) Location and name of the organization or office which is accused of discriminatory practices.
(3) The nature of the incident or action of program administration that led the person to allege discrimination.
(4) The reason for the alleged discrimination (age, race, color, sex, disability, religious creed, national origin, or political belief).
(5) The names, titles (if appropriate), and addresses of persons who may have knowledge of the alleged discriminatory acts.
(6) The date or dates on which the alleged discrimination occurred.
(D) What shall happen if the individual is unable to put the complaint in writing?
If an individual makes allegations verbally and is unable or is reluctant to put the allegations in writing, the person to whom the allegations are made shall document the complaint in writing. Every effort shall be made by the individual accepting the complaint to have the individual filing the complaint provide the information listed in paragraph (C) of this rule.
(E) What department accepts the written complaints?
Written complaints will be accepted by the secretary of agriculture or the administrator of food and nutrition service (FNS) even if the above information is not complete. However, investigations will be conducted only if the information in paragraphs (C)(1), (C)(2), (C)(3), and (C)(4) of this rule is provided.
(F) Is there a deadline for filing a complaint?
A complaint must be filed no later than one hundred eighty days from the date of the alleged discrimination; however, the time for filing may be extended by the United States secretary of agriculture.
(G) What are the county agencies required to do?
County agencies must:
(1) Provide information on the nondiscrimination clause.
(a) Publicize the procedures described in paragraphs (B) and (C) of this rule, and, if applicable, the county agency's complaint procedures.
(b) Ensure that all offices involved in administering the program and that also serve the public display the "And Justice For All" nondiscrimination poster form AD-475A (revised 3-98) provided by food and nutrition service (FNS).
(c) Ensure that participants and other low-income assistance groups have access to information regarding nondiscrimination statutes and policies, complaint procedures, and their rights, within ten days of the date of a request for the information.
(2) Obtain data on the assistance groups by race/ethnicity.
(a) The race/ethnicity categories are: American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, black (not of Hispanic origin), Hispanic, and white (not of Hispanic origin).
(b) The food assistance application requests that applicants voluntarily identify their race/ethnicity on the application form. The application clearly indicates that the information is voluntary, that it will not affect eligibility or the level of benefits, and that the reason for the information is to ensure that program benefits are distributed without regard to race, color, or national origin.
(c) In order to comply with required reporting of racial/ethnic data, the county agency shall collect the racial and ethnic data from observation during the interview when the information is not voluntarily provided by the assistance group on the application form.
(3) Establish and maintain a system for complaints.
(a) The county agency shall make information on the complaint system and how to file a complaint available to participants, potential participants, and other interested persons. The county agency may make the information available through written materials or posters at certification offices or other appropriate means.
(b) Each county agency shall establish and maintain a system for handling program complaints filed by participants, potential participants, or other concerned individual or groups. This includes but is not limited to the following:
(i) Processing standards;
(ii) Services to participants and potential participants;
(iii) Long waiting lines;
(iv) Location and hours of service;
(v) Availability of applications; and
(vi) Availability of twenty-four hour service.
(4) After a complaint is received the county agency must:
(a) Obtain as much information as possible to get a clear understanding of what the complaint is;
(b) Establish a corrective action plan in an effort to correct the issue;
(c) Respond to the individual who submitted the complaint explaining how the issue will be resolved; and
(d) Maintain records of complaints received and their disposition, and shall review records at least annually to assess whether patterns of problems may be present. The county agency shall make these records available for review by the state agency and FNS upon request.
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 09/01/2016
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, 6/18/81, 8/1/81, 1/22/82, 7/1/96, 11/1/97, 12/1/02 (Emer.), 1/6/03, 7/1/06
This rule sets forth the definition of the project area for any approved county collaboration. The approved county collaborations allow multiple counties to come together under a common agreement and operate as one project area when determining eligibility. Throughout the remainder of the food assistance certification handbook the term "county agency" is used in establishing the requirements for the food assistance program. All county collaborations are required to follow the established rules; however, where the term "county agency" is used the county collaborations will insert the term "project area".
(A) What is a project area?
Project area means the county or similar subdivision designated by a state as the administrative unit for program operations. Upon prior United States department of agriculture (USDA) food and nutrition services (FNS) approval, a city, Indian reservation, human service district, or any other entity with clearly defined geographic boundaries, or any combination of such entities, may be designated as a project area, or a state as a whole may be designated as a single project area.
(B) What counties are included in the approved county collaboration project areas?
(f) Sandusky; and
(2) In accordance with section 329.40 of the Revised Code:
(a) South central Ohio job and family services:
(ii) Ross; and
(b) Defiance/Paulding consolidated department of job and family services:
(i) Defiance; and