7 CFR 253.8 - Administrative disqualification procedures for intentional program violation.

§ 253.8 Administrative disqualification procedures for intentional program violation.
(a) What is an intentional program violation? An intentional program violation is considered to have occurred when a household member knowingly, willingly, and with deceitful intent:
(1) Makes a false or misleading statement, or misrepresents, conceals, or withholds facts in order to obtain Food Distribution Program benefits which the household is not entitled to receive; or
(2) Commits any act that violates a Federal statute or regulation relating to the acquisition or use of Food Distribution Program commodities.
(b) What are the disqualification penalties for an intentional program violation? Household members determined by the State agency to have committed an intentional program violation will be ineligible to participate in the program:
(1) For a period of 12 months for the first violation;
(2) For a period of 24 months for the second violation; and
(3) Permanently for the third violation.
(c) Who can be disqualified? Only the household member determined to have committed the intentional program violation can be disqualified. However, the disqualification may affect the eligibility of the household as a whole, as addressed under paragraphs (e)(5) and (h) of this section.
(d) Can the disqualification be appealed? Household members determined by the State agency to have committed an intentional program violation may appeal the disqualification, as provided under § 253.7(h)(1).
(e) What are the State agency's responsibilities? (1) Each State agency must implement administrative disqualification procedures for intentional program violations that conform to this section.
(2) The State agency must inform households in writing of the disqualification penalties for intentional program violations each time they apply for benefits, including recertifications. This notice must also advise households that an intentional program violation may be referred to authorities for prosecution.
(3) The State agency must attempt to substantiate all suspected cases of intentional program violation. An intentional program violation is considered to be substantiated when the State agency has clear and convincing evidence demonstrating that a household member committed one or more acts of intentional program violation, as defined in paragraph (a) of this section.
(4) Within 10 days of substantiating that a household member has committed an intentional program violation, the State agency must provide the household member with a notice of disqualification, as described in paragraph (f) of this section. A notice must still be issued in instances where the household member is not currently eligible or participating in the program.
(5) The State agency must advise any remaining household members if the household's benefits will change or if the household will no longer be eligible as a result of the disqualification.
(6) The State agency must provide the household member to be disqualified with an opportunity to appeal the disqualification through a fair hearing, as required by § 253.7(h).
(7) The State agency must refer all substantiated cases of intentional program violations to Tribal, Federal, State, or local authorities for prosecution under applicable statutes. However, a State agency that has conferred with its legal counsel and prosecutors to determine the criteria for acceptance for possible prosecution is not required to refer cases that do not meet the prosecutors' criteria.
(8) The State agency must establish claims, and pursue collection as appropriate, on all substantiated cases of intentional program violation in accordance with § 253.9.
(f) What are the requirements for the notice of disqualification? (1) Within 10 days of substantiating the intentional program violation, the State agency must issue to the household member a notice of disqualification. The notice must allow an advance notice period of at least 10 days. The disqualification must begin with the next scheduled distribution of commodities that follows the expiration of the advance notice period, unless the household member requests a fair hearing. A notice must still be issued in instances where the household member is not currently eligible or participating in the program.
(2) The notice must conform to the requirements of § 253.7(b)(3)(iii)(C) for notices of adverse action.
(g) What are the appeal procedures for administrative disqualifications?—(1) Appeal rights. The household member has the right to request a fair hearing to appeal the disqualification in accordance with the procedures at § 253.7(h).
(2) Notification of hearing. The State agency must provide the household member with a notification of the time and place of the fair hearing as described in § 253.7(h)(7). The notice must also include:
(i) A warning that if the household member fails to appear at the hearing, the hearing decision will be based solely on the information provided by the State agency; and
(ii) A statement that the hearing does not prevent the Tribal, Federal, State, or local government from prosecuting the household member in a civil or criminal court action, or from collecting any overissuance(s).
(h) What are the procedures for applying disqualification penalties? (1) If the household member did not request a fair hearing, the disqualification must begin with the next scheduled distribution of commodities that follows the expiration of the advance notice period of the notice of adverse action. If the commodities are normally made available to the household within a specific period of time (for example, from the first day of the month through the tenth day of the month), the effective date of the disqualification will be the first day of that period. The State agency must apply the disqualification period (that is, 12 months, 24 months, or permanent) specified in the notice of disqualification. The State agency must advise any remaining household members if the household's benefits will change or if the household is no longer eligible as a result of the disqualification.
(2) If the household member requested a fair hearing and the disqualification was upheld by the fair hearing official, the disqualification must begin with the next scheduled distribution of commodities that follows the date the hearing decision is issued. If the commodities are normally made available to the household within a specific period of time (for example, from the first day of the month through the tenth day of the month), the effective date of the disqualification will be the first day of that period. The State agency must apply the disqualification period (that is, 12 months, 24 months, or permanent) specified in the notice of disqualification. No further administrative appeal procedure exists after an adverse fair hearing decision. The decision by a fair hearing official is binding on the State agency. The household member, however, may seek relief in a court having appropriate jurisdiction. As provided under § 253.7(h)(11)(iii)(B), the State agency must advise any remaining household members if the household's benefits will change, or if the household is no longer eligible as a result of the disqualification.
(3) Once a disqualification has begun, it must continue uninterrupted for the duration of the penalty period (that is, 12 months; 24 months; or permanent). Changes in the eligibility of the disqualified household member's household will not interrupt or shorten the disqualification period.
(4) The same act of intentional program violation continued over a period of time will not be separated so that more than one penalty can be imposed. For example, a household intentionally fails to report that a household member left the household, resulting in an overissuance of benefits for 5 months. Although the violation occurred over a period of 5 months, only one penalty will apply to this single act of intentional program violation.
(5) If the case was referred for Tribal, Federal, State, or local prosecution and the court of appropriate jurisdiction imposed a disqualification penalty, the State agency must follow the court order.
[64 FR 73384, Dec. 30, 1999]

Title 7 published on 2014-01-01

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