DTA Transitions from 2013 are posted here.
January 2013 Quality Corner -- Negative errors- disability status incorrectly entered as pending in BEACON, case denied prior to day 30; Hotline -- Hotline index of policy/procedure questions and answers through 2012, by topic (EAEDC, SNAP, TAFDC); FYI -- SSI payment standards change.
February 2013 Quality Corner -- SNAP Shelter expenses calculation for residents of licensed group homes, Invalid SNAP denial where verification checklist sent on day 21 and "pending denial form" also not issued on day of interview; Hotline -- Money received cashing in a life insurance policy is treated for TAFDC/EAEDC/SNAP as an asset, otherwise is noncountable for SNAP; Treatment of workers comp, UI and social security when they become lump sum through one time payments; cashout of burial insurance as countable v. prepaid funeral arrangements and special SNAP treatment; FYI -- Transportation costs for medical/dependent care deductions now at 56.5 cents/mile.
March 2013 Quality Corner -- Legal FS Disqualified Indicator should be yes for LPR adult family members to maximize SNAP for the rest of the household; a SNAP household was closed for "not meeting the SNAP program household requirements", whereas it should have been closed for having voluntarily quit a job (1st time) as the reason, which also tells the case manager there is a three month disaqualifying period before the household can reapply; Hotline -- An ADA request to waive the TAFDC asset limit would fundamentally alter the program; it is a reasonable accommodation to disregard the value of adaptive features in calculating assets; caseworkers with ADA questions should contact Ruth Greenholz, DTA legal division; income from the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCEP or the Mature Worker Program) may be excluded; FYI -- New voter registration forms and agency workbook.
April 2013 Quality Corner -- Case managers need to process recertification changes in BEACON and check the financial results tab for errors: where dependent care expenses not reported in recertification but dependent care expense page not changed, overissuance occurred; client's case was closed in error for "failure to complete an interim report" despite client's timely completion and return of interim report - case manager needed to issue a timely verification checklist after interim report was returned - recommended guides for case managers re managing/prioritizing interim reports; FYI -- Relocation benefit payment invoice must id vendor supplying goods not third party, and if invoice id's client as customer, case managers can only accept "sold to" billing invoices; Hotline -- Former TAFDC client can keep receiving ESP child care services only if meeting standards for ESP training/education activity started before end of TAFDC; the child care can't continue beyond finish of education/training program, or 6 months after TAFDC finishes, whichever is earlier; Former TAFDC clients within 12 months of TAFDC close who are working can get Transitional Child Care referral; transitional child care lasts no more than 12 consecutive months from TAFDC close; client whose case is closing, who is working and has 3 months left for edu activity with ESP child care should be transitioned immediately to Transitional child care at case close (even though completing edu activity, too).
May 2013 Quality Corner -- Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (RSDI) and errors in BEACON disability coding: RSDI does not mean client has disability. Coding a disability takes away gross income test, lifts shelter cap, changes certification times and can cause overissuance; Hotline -- Veterans may be eligible for federal or state Veterans' Services Benefits (VSB). If eligible for state VSB, they can get either state VSB or TAFDC/EAEDC, they can't get both. If getting federal VSB, the amount of VSB has to be deducted from cash assistance. State or federal VSB is countable unearned income for SNAP, but is not disqualifying. Some of VSB can be excluded from countable income for SNAP, for instance if a vendor payment direct to landlord/utility; From the Commissioner -- Phase 1 Program Integrity Enhancements, chart of new agency cross-checks, verifications, and other changes.
June 2013 Quality Corner -- Errors in processing interim reports leading to invalid denials and underpayments: case in which worker processed interim report with no changes, although verified wage decrease reported further in report, and case in which worker reported income as weekly rather than biweekly, leading to invalid closing of SNAP case- workers must be carefully review and enter information; Hotline -- When SNAP client's son turns 18, his wages are countable income; for TAFDC, if a full time high school student his part-time earnings are noncountable for 6 months for the 185% test, not counted for the 2nd financial eligibility test, and not counted for grant calculation; if a part time high school student, his wages are countable for 185% test, not countable for 2nd test or grant calculation. For SNAP, state and federal income tax refunds and earned income credits are nonrecurring lump sum payments and are excluded income; if household is not categorically eligible, lump sum payments are assets for month received and EIC counts as asset in 3rd month; for TAFDC state and federal tax refunds are noncountable income but countable asset, and EIC is countable asset in 3rd month (1 year exception for any refunds between 12/31/2009 and 12/31/2012). FYI -- Participation and Attendance Data Forms must be sent by caseworkers 1st business day of week before last Saturday in month. Clients must return by 10th day of following month (or 1st business day if 10th is weekend). Caseworkers must enter information by 18th of month or will automatically create participation sanction.
July 2013 Quality Corner -- NPA SNAP household on change reporting reported no income but then didn't report new job, resulting in overissuance until job discovered in BEACON match. Overissuance could be prevented by checking New Hire Match in BEACON's Match History Tab. Case manager must do fraud referral for overpayment; Hotline -- Same sex couple and their child eligible for SNAP and must be same household if parental control. If same sex parents meet relationship requirement (eg hospital record for child, even if not biologically related), whole family eligible for TAFDC. TAFDC child support forms not required for other biological parent- child born to legally married couple presumed to be child of both in marriage. If biological parent not part of household sends money, this counts as countable unearned income for SNAP and TAFDC; From the Commissioner -- Official signing of State Law Enforcement Bureau agreement with USDA to track SNAP fraud/abuse.
August 2013 Quality Corner -- SNAP overissuance based on misreading of prescription drug coverage sheet provided for medical expense deduction. Workers should identify only costs clients paid; Hotline -- identity is only verification needed for expedited benefits, client reporting of income/asset information should be seen as most up to date information, any additional information requests should not delay 7 day processing; for households found eligible for expedited, benefits should issue no later than 7th day from application, even if delayed contact with client beyond 7th day- see 106 CMR 365.820; FYI -- Globe Santa Gift Fund 2013 verification notices.
September 2013 Quality Corner -- Earnings not reported in interim report are available on BEACON earned income match, Match History Tab, which caseworkers should check before signing off, along with following up on client information re future changes in income; despite SNAP client's timely return of interim report with no changes, case was invalidly closed due to case manager's delay in processing report- caseworkers encouraged to look to Reevaluation Status Detail Report and Operations Memo 2011-43 and Operations Memo 2011-8A to prioritize processing; Training Corner -- How to calculate a prorated supplemental benefit for SNAP; Hotline -- caseworkers should NOT close TAFDC/SNAP clients' cases if name appears on out of state EBT card useage view, residency verification will be sent by Central Office; TAFDC + EAEDC clients can have 60 days preapproved absence from state- caseworkers should enter reason in BEACON Temporary Absence page so no centralized case closing; if timely verification of residency (not limited to one document- Operations Memo 2010-55, 106 CMR 361.640(A) and 106 CMR 702.340), caseworkers should dispose of out of state card use match and make note on Narrative tab so no case closing; if verification after automated case closing, caseworkers should remove closing if still pending, otherwise do normal processing; if verification 31 days after case closing, client will need to reapply; FYI -- Fuel Assistance 2013- applications start Nov 1 2013, but brochures/income verification letters no longer sent out- clients can request via MAP, interactive voice response telephone system or in-office request.
October 2013 Quality Corner -- When SNAP client reported change of address on recertification form but no change in utility or shelter costs, case manager should have followed up with client on new address and costs- because of no followup when rent had in fact increased, there was an underissuance of SNAP; Hotline -- Case managers should NOT automatically put clients on mandatory vendor payments if no lease and behind on rent- LL not likely to agree to inspection, and risk of eviction. Verifications for exception to mandatory vendor payments when no lease can be client declarations or 3rd party statements and case managers should help collect proofs. 3rd party and self declarations are also good proof when no other proofs available, and for proof of an exception to inspection + mandatory vendor payments in double up situations - where often inspections are not practical and could increase risk of homelessness; DV self declarations are also good proof, to be followed up by DV specialist check. Where TAFDC client fell behind 3 months on utility bills when TAFDC and UI ended, but now is getting TAFDC again with job, she still currently has reasonable cause for "temporary setback/emergency" option for utility arrearage: Reasonable cause option exists for a temporary setback past or present; FYI -- Entering RSDI, SSI and SSP Information on the Other Income Page of BEACON; Settlements and awards added to BEACON as unearned income type for EAEDC, TAFDC and SNAP.
November 2013 Quality Corner -- Caseworkers should review Interim Report for changes even if 'no changes' box checked; caseworkers should send verification checklist and issue pending denial form on day of interview, giving client 60 days from application to get verifications; more information on pending denial form.
December 2013 Quality Corner -- When denying a client disqualified for 12 months, the case manager wrongly suppressed the BEACON-generated denial notice, and the denial was invalid because the client never received the denial notice also giving hearing rights. Client was wrongly denied SNAP and cash assistance prior to day 30 after missing two appointments: workers should send notice of missed interview (NOMI) after first missed interview, and denials prior to day 30 are for financial or categorical reasons only; Hotline -- Time-limited clients in 23rd month making extension requests should be given chance to participate in ESP activity, and if they fail to, should be sanctioned. In appeal hearing of 24 month extension denial, workers should present any history of sanctions, regardless of how they relate to work program requirement. Factors to be used in considering extension requests: 106 CMR 203.210; what to bring to extension appeal hearing. State Letters -- Asset limit increase for elderly/disabled households; SNAP household misfortune regs amended.