7 CFR 273.16 - Disqualification for intentional Program violation.

§ 273.16 Disqualification for intentional Program violation.
(a) Administrative responsibility. (1) The State agency shall be responsible for investigating any case of alleged intentional Program violation, and ensuring that appropriate cases are acted upon either through administrative disqualification hearings or referral to a court of appropriate jurisdiction in accordance with the procedures outlined in this section. Administrative disqualification procedures or referral for prosecution action should be initiated by the State agency in cases in which the State agency has sufficient documentary evidence to substantiate that an individual has intentionally made one or more acts of intentional Program violation as defined in paragraph (c) of this section. If the State agency does not initiate administrative disqualification procedures or refer for prosecution a case involving an overissuance caused by a suspected act of intentional Program violation, the State agency shall take action to collect the overissuance by establishing an inadvertent household error claim against the household in accordance with the procedures in § 273.18. The State agency should conduct administrative disqualification hearings in cases in which the State agency believes the facts of the individual case do not warrant civil or criminal prosecution through the appropriate court system, in cases previously referred for prosecution that were declined by the appropriate legal authority, and in previously referred cases where no action was taken within a reasonable period of time and the referral was formally withdrawn by the State agency. The State agency shall not initiate an administrative disqualification hearing against an accused individual whose case is currently being referred for prosecution or subsequent to any action taken against the accused individual by the prosecutor or court of appropriate jurisdiction, if the factual issues of the case arise out of the same, or related, circumstances. The State agency may initiate administrative disqualification procedures or refer a case for prosecution regardless of the current eligibility of the individual.
(2) Each State agency shall establish a system for conducting administrative disqualifications for intentional Program violation which conforms with the procedures outlined in paragraph (e) of this section. FNS shall exempt any State agency from the requirement to establish an administrative disqualification system if the State agency has already entered into an agreement, pursuant to paragraph (g)(1) of this section, with the State's Attorney General's Office or, where necessary, with county prosecutors. FNS shall also exempt any State agency from the requirement to establish an administrative disqualification system if there is a State law that requires the referral of such cases for prosecution and if the State agency demonstrates to FNS that it is actually referring cases for prosecution and that prosecutors are following up on the State agency's referrals. FNS may require a State agency to establish an administrative disqualification system if it determines that the State agency is not promptly or actively pursuing suspected intentional Program violation claims through the courts.
(3) The State agency shall base administrative disqualifications for intentional Program violations on the determinations of hearing authorities arrived at through administrative disqualification hearings in accordance with paragraph (e) of this section or on determinations reached by courts of appropriate jurisdiction in accordance with paragraph (g) of this section. However, any State agency has the option of allowing accused individuals either to waive their rights to administrative disqualification hearings in accordance with paragraph (f) of this section or to sign disqualification consent agreements for cases of deferred adjudication in accordance with paragraph (h) of this section. Any State agency which chooses either of these options may base administrative disqualifications for intentional Program violation on the waived right to an administrative disqualification hearing or on the signed disqualification consent agreement in cases of deferred adjudication.
(b) Disqualification penalties. (1) Individuals found to have committed an intentional Program violation either through an administrative disqualification hearing or by a Federal, State or local court, or who have signed either a waiver of right to an administrative disqualification hearing or a disqualification consent agreement in cases referred for prosecution, shall be ineligible to participate in the Program:
(i) For a period of twelve months for the first intentional Program violation, except as provided under paragraphs (b)(2), (b)(3), (b)(4), and (b)(5) of this section;
(ii) For a period of twenty-four months upon the second occasion of any intentional Program violation, except as provided in paragraphs (b)(2), (b)(3), (b)(4), and (b)(5) of this section; and
(iii) Permanently for the third occasion of any intentional Program violation.
(2) Individuals found by a Federal, State or local court to have used or received benefits in a transaction involving the sale of a controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802)) shall be ineligible to participate in the Program:
(i) For a period of twenty four months upon the first occasion of such violation; and
(ii) Permanently upon the second occasion of such violation.
(3) Individuals found by a Federal, State or local court to have used or received benefits in a transaction involving the sale of firearms, ammunition or explosives shall be permanently ineligible to participate in the Program upon the first occasion of such violation.
(4) An individual convicted by a Federal, State or local court of having trafficked benefits for an aggregate amount of $500 or more shall be permanently ineligible to participate in the Program upon the first occasion of such violation.
(5) Except as provided under paragraph (b)(1)(iii) of this section, an individual found to have made a fraudulent statement or representation with respect to the identity or place of residence of the individual in order to receive multiple food stamp benefits simultaneously shall be ineligible to participate in the Program for a period of 10 years.
(6) The penalties in paragraphs (b)(2) and (b)(3) of this section shall also apply in cases of deferred adjudication as described in paragraph (h) of this section, where the court makes a finding that the individual engaged in the conduct described in paragraph (b)(2) and (b)(3) of this section.
(7) If a court fails to impose a disqualification or a disqualification period for any intentional Program violation, the State agency shall impose the appropriate disqualification penalty specified in paragraphs (b)(1), (b)(2), (b)(3), (b)(4), and (b)(5) of this section unless it is contrary to the court order.
(8) One or more intentional Program violations which occurred prior to April 1, 1983 shall be considered as only one previous disqualification when determining the appropriate penalty to impose in a case under consideration.
(9) Regardless of when an action taken by an individual which caused an intentional Program violation occurred, the disqualification periods specified in paragraphs (b)(2) and (b)(3) of this section shall apply to any case in which the court makes the requisite finding on or after September 1, 1994.
(10) For the disqualification periods in paragraphs (b)(1), (b)(5) or (b)(6) of this section, if the offense occurred prior to the implementation of these penalties, the State agency may establish a policy of disqualifying these individuals in accordance with the disqualification periods in effect at the time of the offense. This policy must be consistently applied for all affected individuals.
(11) State agencies shall disqualify only the individual found to have committed the intentional Program violation, or who signed the waiver of the right to an administrative disqualification hearing or disqualification consent agreement in cases referred for prosecution, and not the entire household.
(12) Even though only the individual is disqualified, the household, as defined in § 273.1, is responsible for making restitution for the amount of any overpayment. All intentional Program violation claims must be established and collected in accordance with the procedures set forth in § 273.18.
(13) The individual must be notified in writing once it is determined that he/she is to be disqualified. The disqualification period shall begin no later than the second month which follows the date the individual receives written notice of the disqualification. The disqualification period must continue uninterrupted until completed regardless of the eligibility of the disqualified individual's household.
(c) Definition of intentional Program violation. Intentional Program violations shall consist of having intentionally:
(1) Made a false or misleading statement, or misrepresented, concealed or withheld facts; or
(2) Committed any act that constitutes a violation of the Food Stamp Act, the Food Stamp Program Regulations, or any State statute for the purpose of using, presenting, transferring, acquiring, receiving, possessing or trafficking of coupons, authorization cards or reusable documents used as part of an automated benefit delivery system (access device).
(d) Notification to applicant households. The State agency shall inform the household in writing of the disqualification penalties for intentional Program violation each time it applies for Program benefits. The penalties shall be in clear, prominent, and boldface lettering on the application form.
(e) Disqualification hearings. The State agency shall conduct administrative disqualification hearings for individuals accused of intentional Program violation in accordance with the requirements outlined in this section.
(1) Consolidation of administrative disqualification hearing with fair hearing. The State agency may combine a fair hearing and an administrative disqualification hearing into a single hearing if the factual issues arise out of the same, or related, circumstances and the household receives prior notice that hearings will be combined. If the disqualification hearing and fair hearing are combined, the State agency shall follow the timeframes for conducting disqualification hearings. If the hearings are combined for the purpose of settling the amount of the claim at the same time as determining whether or not intentional Program violation has occurred, the household shall lose its right to a subsequent fair hearing on the amount of the claim. However, the State agency shall, upon household request, allow the household to waive the 30-day advance notice period required by paragraph (e)(3)(i) of this section when the disqualification hearing and fair hearing are combined.
(2) Disqualification hearing procedures. (i) State agencies have the option of using the same hearing officials for disqualification hearings and fair hearings or designating hearing officials to conduct only disqualification hearings.
(ii) The provisions of § 273.15 (m), (n), (o), (p), and (q)(1) are also applicable for disqualification hearings.
(iii) At the disqualification hearing, the hearing official shall advise the household member or representative that they may refuse to answer questions during the hearing.
(iv) Within 90 days of the date the household member is notified in writing that a State or local hearing initiated by the State agency has been scheduled, the State agency shall conduct the hearing, arrive at a decision and notify the household member and local agency of the decision. The household member or representative is entitled to a postponement of the scheduled hearing, provided that the request for postponement is made at least 10 days in advance of the date of the scheduled hearing. However, the hearing shall not be postponed for more than a total of 30 days and the State agency may limit the number of postponements to one. If the hearing is postponed, the above time limits shall be extended for as many days as the hearing is postponed.
(v) The State agency shall publish clearly written rules of procedure for disqualification hearings, and shall make these procedures available to any interested party.
(3) Advance notice of hearing. (i) The State agency shall provide written notice to the individual suspected of committing an intentional Program violation at least 30 days in advance of the date a disqualification hearing initiated by the State agency has been scheduled. If mailed, the notice shall be sent either first class mail or certified mail-return receipt requested. The notice may also be provided by any other reliable method. If the notice is sent using first class mail and is returned as undeliverable, the hearing may still be held.
(ii) If no proof of receipt is obtained, a timely (as defined in paragraph (e)(4) of this section) showing of nonreceipt by the individual due to circumstances specified by the State agency shall be considered good cause for not appearing at the hearing. Each State agency shall establish the circumstances in which non-receipt constitutes good cause for failure to appear. Such circumstances shall be consistent throughout the State agency.
(iii) The notice shall contain at a minimum:
(A) The date, time, and place of the hearing;
(B) The charge(s) against the individual;
(C) A summary of the evidence, and how and where the evidence can be examined;
(D) A warning that the decision will be based solely on information provided by the State agency if the individual fails to appear at the hearing;
(E) A statement that the individual or representative will, upon receipt of the notice, have 10 days from the date of the scheduled hearing to present good cause for failure to appear in order to receive a new hearing;
(F) A warning that a determination of intentional Program violation will result in disqualification periods as determined by paragraph (b) of this section, and a statement of which penalty the State agency believes is applicable to the case scheduled for a hearing;
(G) A listing of the individual's rights as contained in § 273.15(p);
(H) A statement that the hearing does not preclude the State or Federal Government from prosecuting the individual for the intentional Program violation in a civil or criminal court action, or from collecting any overissuance(s); and
(I) If there is an individual or organization available that provides free legal representation, the notice shall advise the affected individual of the availability of the service.
(iv) A copy of the State agency's published hearing procedures shall be attached to the 30-day advance notice or the advance notice shall inform the individual of his/her right to obtain a copy of the State agency's published hearing procedures upon request.
(v) Each State agency shall develop an advance notice form which contains the information required by this section.
(4) Scheduling of hearing. The time and place of the hearing shall be arranged so that the hearing is accessible to the household member suspected of intentional Program violation. If the household member or its representative cannot be located or fails to appear at a hearing initiated by the State agency without good cause, the hearing shall be conducted without the household member being represented. Even though the household member is not represented, the hearing official is required to carefully consider the evidence and determine if intentional Program violation was committed based on clear and convincing evidence. If the household member is found to have committed an intentional Program violation but a hearing official later determines that the household member or representative had good cause for not appearing, the previous decision shall no longer remain valid and the State agency shall conduct a new hearing. The hearing official who originally ruled on the case may conduct the new hearing. In instances where good cause for failure to appear is based upon a showing of nonreceipt of the hearing notice as specified in paragraph (e)(3)(ii) of this section, the household member has 30 days after the date of the written notice of the hearing decision to claim good cause for failure to appear. In all other instances, the household member has 10 days from the date of the scheduled hearing to present reasons indicating a good cause for failure to appear. A hearing official must enter the good cause decision into the record.
(5) Participation while awaiting a hearing. A pending disqualification hearing shall not affect the individual's or the household's right to be certified and participate in the Program. Since the State agency cannot disqualify a household member for intentional Program violation until the hearing official finds that the individual has committed intentional Program violation, the State agency shall determine the eligibility and benefit level of the household in the same manner it would be determined for any other household. For example, if the misstatement or action for which the household member is suspected of intentional Program violation does not affect the household's current circumstances, the household would continue to receive its allotment based on the latest certification action or be recertified based on a new application and its current circumstances. However, the household's benefits shall be terminated if the certification period has expired and the household, after receiving its notice of expiration, fails to reapply. The State agency shall also reduce or terminate the household's benefits if the State agency has documentation which substantiates that the household is ineligible or eligible for fewer benefits (even if these facts led to the suspicion of intentional Program violation and the resulting disqualification hearing) and the household fails to request a fair hearing and continuation of benefits pending the hearing. For example, the State agency may have facts which substantiate that a household failed to report a change in its circumstances even though the State agency has not yet demonstrated that the failure to report involved an intentional act of Program violation.
(6) Criteria for determining intentional Program violation. The hearing authority shall base the determination of intentional Program violation on clear and convincing evidence which demonstrates that the household member(s) committed, and intended to commit, intentional Program violation as defined in paragraph (c) of this section.
(7) Decision format. The hearing authority's decision shall specify the reasons for the decision, identify the supporting evidence, identify the pertinent FNS regulation, and respond to reasoned arguments made by the household member or representative.
(8) Imposition of disqualification penalties. (i) If the hearing authority rules that the individual has committed an intentional Program violation, the household member must be disqualified in accordance with the disqualification periods and procedures in paragraph (b) of this section. The same act of intentional Program violation repeated over a period of time must not be separated so that separate penalties can be imposed.
(ii) No further administrative appeal procedure exists after an adverse State level hearing. The determination of intentional Program violation made by a disqualification hearing official cannot be reversed by a subsequent fair hearing decision. The household member, however, is entitled to seek relief in a court having appropriate jurisdiction. The period of disqualification may be subject to stay by a court of appropriate jurisdiction or other injunctive remedy.
(iii) Once a disqualification penalty has been imposed against a currently participating household member, the period of disqualification shall continue uninterrupted until completed regardless of the eligibility of the disqualifed member's household. However, the disqualified member's household shall continue to be responsible for repayment of the overissuance which resulted from the disqualified member's intentional Program violation regardless of its eligibility for Program benefits.
(9) Notification of hearing decision. (i) If the hearing official finds that the household member did not commit intentional Program violation, the State agency shall provide a written notice which informs the household member of the decision.
(ii) If the hearing official finds that the household member committed intentional Program violation, the State agency shall provide written notice to the household member prior to disqualification. The notice shall inform the household member of the decision and the reason for the decision. In addition, the notice shall inform the household member of the date the disqualification will take effect. If the individual is no longer participating, the notice shall inform the individual that the period of disqualification will be deferred until such time as the individual again applies for and is determined eligible for Program benefits. The State agency shall also provide written notice to the remaining household members, if any, of either the allotment they will receive during the period of disqualification or that they must reapply because the certification period has expired. The procedures for handling the income and resources of the disqualified member are described in § 273.11(c). A written demand letter for restitution, as described in § 273.18(d)(3), shall also be provided.
(iii) Each State agency shall develop a form for notifying individuals that they have been found by an administrative disqualification hearing to have committed intentional Program violation. The form shall contain the information required by this section.
(10) Local level hearings. (i) The State agency may choose to provide administrative disqualification hearings at the local level in some or all of its project areas with a right to appeal to a State level hearing. If a local level disqualification hearing determines that a household member committed intentional Program violation, the notification of hearing decision described in paragraph (e)(9) of this section shall also inform the household member of the right to appeal the decision within 15 days after the receipt of the notice, the date the disqualification will take effect unless a State level hearing is requested, and that benefits will be continued pending a State level hearing if the household is otherwise eligible. If the household member appeals the local level decision, the advance notice of hearing, as described in paragraph (e)(3) of this section, shall be provided at least 10 days in advance of the scheduled State level hearing and shall also inform the household member that the local hearing decision will be upheld if the household or its representative fails to appear for the hearing without good cause. When a local level decision is appealed, the State agency shall conduct the State level hearing, arrive at a decision, and notify the household member and local agency of the decision within 60 days of the date the household member appealed its case. The prior decision shall not be taken into consideration by the State hearing officer in making the final determination. In all other respects, local level disqualification hearings shall be handled in accordance with the procedures specified in this section for State level hearings.
(ii) The State agency shall develop appropriate forms which contain the information required by this section for notification of a local level hearing decision and advance notice of a scheduled State level hearing for appeal of a local level decision.
(f) Waived hearings. Each State agency shall have the option of establishing procedures to allow accused individuals to waive their rights to an administrative disqualification hearing. For State agencies which choose the option of allowing individuals to waive their rights to an administrative disqualification hearing, the procedures shall conform with the requirements outlined in this section.
(1) Advance notification. (i) The State agency shall provide written notification to the household member suspected of intentional Program violation that the member can waive his/her right to an administrative disqualification hearing. Prior to providing this written notification to the household member, the State agency shall ensure that the evidence against the household member is reviewed by someone other than the eligibility worker assigned to the accused individual's household and a decision is obtained that such evidence warrants scheduling a disqualification hearing.
(ii) The written notification provided to the household member which informs him/her of the possibility of waiving the administrative disqualification hearing shall include, at a minimum:
(A) The date that the signed waiver must be received by the State agency to avoid the holding of a hearing and a signature block for the accused individual, along with a statement that the head of household must also sign the waiver if the accused individual is not the head of household, with an appropriately designated signature block;
(B) A statement of the accused individual's right to remain silent concerning the charge(s), and that anything said or signed by the individual concerning the charge(s) can be used against him/her in a court of law;
(C) The fact that a waiver of the disqualification hearing will result in disqualification and a reduction in benefits for the period of disqualification, even if the accused individual does not admit to the facts as presented by the State agency;
(D) An opportunity for the accused individual to specify whether or not he/she admits to the facts as presented by the State agency. This opportunity shall consist of the following statements, or statements developed by the State agency which have the same effect, and a method for the individual to designate his/her choice:
(1) I admit to the facts as presented, and understand that a disqualification penalty will be imposed if I sign this waiver; and
(2) I do not admit that the facts as presented are correct. However, I have chosen to sign this waiver and understand that a disqualification penalty will result;
(E) The telephone number and, if possible, the name of the person to contact for additional information; and
(F) The fact that the remaining household members, if any, will be held responsible for repayment of the resulting claim.
(iii) The State agency shall develop a waiver of right to an administrative disqualification hearing form which contains the information required by this section as well as the information described in paragraph (e)(3) of this section for advance notice of a hearing. However, if the household member is notified of the possibility of waiving his/her right to an administrative disqualification hearing before the State agency has scheduled a hearing, the State agency is not required to notify the household member of the date, time and place of the hearing at that point as required by paragraph (e)(3)(i)(A) of this section.
(2) Imposition of disqualification penalties. (i) If the household member suspected of intentional Program violation signs the waiver of right to an administrative disqualification hearing and the signed waiver is received within the timeframes specified by the State agency, the household member shall be disqualified in accordance with the disqualification periods specified in paragraph (b) of this section. The period of disqualification shall begin with the first month which follows the date the household member receives written notification of the disqualification. However, if the act of intentional Program violation which led to the disqualification occurred prior to the written notification of the disqualification periods specified in paragraph (b) of this section, the household member shall be disqualified in accordance with the disqualification periods in effect at the time of the offense. The same act of intentional Program violation repeated over a period of time shall not be separated so that separate penalties can be imposed.
(ii) No further administrative appeal procedure exists after an individual waives his/her right to an administrative disqualification hearing and a disqualification penalty has been imposed. The disqualification penalty cannot be changed by a subsequent fair hearing decision. The household member, however is entitled to seek relief in a court having appropriate jurisdiction. The period of disqualification may be subject to stay by a court of appropriate jurisdiction or other injunctive remedy.
(iii) Once a disqualification penalty has been imposed against a currently participating household member, the period of disqualification shall continue uninterrupted until completed regardless of the eligibility of the disqualified member's household. However, the disqualified member's household shall continue to be responsible for repayment of the overissuance which resulted from the disqualified member's intentional Program violation regardless of its eligibility for Program benefits.
(3) Notification of disqualification. The State agency shall provide written notice to the household member prior to disqualification. The State agency shall also provide written notice to any remaining household members of the allotment they will receive during the period of disqualification or that they must reapply because the certification period has expired. The notice(s) shall conform to the requirements for notification of a hearing decision specified in paragraph (e)(9) of this section. A written demand letter for restitution, as described in § 273.18(d)(3), shall also be provided.
(4) Waiver of hearing at local level. Any State agency which has adopted the two-tiered approach for administrative disqualification hearings may also provide for waiver of the right to disqualification hearing procedures outlined in this section.
(g) Court referrals. Any State agency exempted from the requirement to establish an administrative disqualification system in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section shall refer appropriate cases for prosecution by a court of appropriate jurisdiction in accordance with the requirements outlined in this section.
(1) Appropriate cases. (i) The State agency shall refer cases of alleged intentional Program violation for prosecution in accordance with an agreement with prosecutors or State law. The agreement shall provide for prosecution of intentional Program violation cases and include the understanding that prosection will be pursued in cases where appropriate. This agreement shall also include information on how, and under what circumstances, cases will be accepted for possible prosecution and any other criteria set by the prosecutor for accepting cases for prosecution, such as a minimum amount of overissuance which resulted from intentional Program violation.
(ii) State agencies are encouraged to refer for prosecution under State or local statutes those individuals suspected of committing intentional Program violation, particularly if large amounts of food stamps are suspected of having been obtained by intentional Program violation, or the individual is suspected of committing more than one act of intentional Program violation. The State agency shall confer with its legal representative to determine the types of cases which will be accepted for possible prosecution. State agencies shall also encourage State and local prosecutors to recommend to the courts that a disqualification penalty as provided in section 6(b) of the Food Stamp Act be imposed in addition to any other civil or criminal penalties for such violations.
(2) Imposition of disqualification penalties. (i) State agencies shall disqualify an individual found guilty of intentional Program violation for the length of time specified by the court. If the court fails to impose a disqualification period, the State agency shall impose a disqualification period in accordance with the provisions in paragraph (b) of this section, unless contrary to the court order. If disqualification is ordered but a date for initiating the disqualification period is not specified, the State agency shall initiate the disqualification period for currently eligible individuals within 45 days of the date the disqualification was ordered. Any other court-imposed disqualification shall begin within 45 days of the date the court found a currently eligible individual guilty of civil or criminal misrepresentation or fraud.
(ii) Once a disqualification penalty has been imposed against a currently participating household member, the period of disqualification shall continue uninterrupted until completed regardless of the eligibility of the disqualified member's household. However, the disqualified member's household shall continue to be responsible for repayment of the overissuance which resulted from the disqualified member's intentional Program violation regardless of its eligibility for Program benefits.
(3) Notification of disqualification. If the court finds that the household member committed intentional Program violation, the State agency shall provide written notice to the household member. The notice shall be provided prior to disqualification, whenever possible. The notice shall inform the household member of the disqualification and the date the disqualification will take effect. The State agency shall also provide written notice to the remaining household members, if any, of the allotment they will receive during the period of disqualification or that they must reapply because the certification period has expired. The procedures for handling the income and resources of the disqualified member are described in § 273.11(c). In addition, the State agency shall provide the written demand letter for restitution described in § 273.18(d)(3).
(h) Deferred adjudication. Each State agency shall have the option of establishing procedures to allow accused individuals to sign disqualification consent agreements for cases of deferred adjudication. State agencies are encouraged to use this option for those cases in which a determination of guilt is not obtained from a court due to the accused individual having met the terms of a court order or which are not prosecuted due to the accused individual having met the terms of an agreement with the prosecutor. For State agencies which choose the option of allowing individuals to sign disqualification consent agreements in cases referred for prosecution, the procedures shall conform with the requirements outlined in this section.
(1) Advance notification. (i) The State agency shall enter into an agreement with the State's Attorney General's Office or, where necessary, with county prosecutors which provides for advance written notification to the household member of the consequences of consenting to disqualification in cases of deferred adjudication.
(ii) The written notification provided to the household member which informs him/her of the consequences of consenting to disqualification as a part of deferred adjudication shall include, at a minimum:
(A) A statement for the accused individual to sign that the accused individual understands the consequences of consenting to disqualification, along with a statement that the head of household must also sign the consent agreement if the accused individual is not the head of household, with an appropriately designated signature block.
(B) A statement that consenting to disqualification will result in disqualification and a reduction in benefits for the period of disqualification, even though the accused individual was not found guilty of civil of criminal misrepresentation or fraud.
(C) A warning that the disqualification periods for intentional Program violations under the Food Stamp Program are as specified in paragraph (b) of this section, and a statement of which penalty will be imposed as a result of the accused individual having consented to disqualification.
(D) A statement of the fact that the remaining household members, if any, will be held responsible for repayment of the resulting claim, unless the accused individual has already repaid the claim as a result of meeting the terms of the agreement with the prosecutor or the court order.
(iii) The State agency shall develop a disqualification consent agreement, or language to be included in the agreements reached between the prosecutors and accused individuals or in the court orders, which contains the information required by this section for notifying a household member suspected of intentional Program violation of the consequences of signing a disqualification consent agreement.
(2) Imposition of disqualification penalties. (i) If the household member suspected of intentional Program violation signs the disqualification consent agreement, the household member shall be disqualified in accordance with the disqualification periods specified in paragraph (b) of this section, unless contrary to the court order. The period of disqualification shall begin within 45 days of the date the household member signed the disqualification consent agreement. However, if the court imposes a disqualification period or specifies the date for initiating the disqualification period, the State agency shall disqualify the household member in accordance with the court order.
(ii) Once a disqualification penalty has been imposed against a currently participating household member, the period of disqualification shall continue uninterrupted until completed regardless of the eligibility of the disqualified member's household. However, the disqualified member's household shall continue to be responsible for repayment of the overissuance which resulted from the disqualified member's intentional Program violation regardless of its eligibility for Program benefits.
(3) Notification of disqualification. If the household member suspected of intentional Program violation signs the disqualification consent agreement, the State agency shall provide written notice to the household member. The notice shall be provided prior to disqualification, whenever possible. The notice shall inform the household member of the disqualification and the date the disqualification will take effect. The State agency shall also provide written notice to the remaining household members, if any, of the allotment they will receive during the period of disqualification or that they must reapply because the certification period has expired. The procedures for handling the income and resources of the disqualified member are described in § 273.11(c). In addition, the State agency shall provide the written demand letter for restitution described in § 273.18(d)(3).
(i) Reporting requirements. (1) Each State agency shall report to FNS information concerning individuals disqualified for an intentional Program violation, including those individuals disqualified based on the determination of an administrative disqualification hearing official or a court of appropriate jurisdiction, and those individuals disqualified as a result of signing either a waiver of right to a disqualification hearing or a disqualification consent agreement in cases referred for prosecution. This information shall be submitted to FNS so that it is received no more than 30 days after the date the disqualification took effect.
(2) State agencies shall report information concerning each individual disqualified for an intentional Program violation to FNS. FNS will maintain this information and establish the format for its use.
(i) State agencies shall report information to the disqualified recipient database in accordance with procedures specified by FNS.
(ii) State agencies shall access disqualified recipient information from the database that allows users to check for current and prior disqualifications.
(3) The elements to be reported to FNS are name, social security number, date of birth, gender, disqualification number, disqualification decision date, disqualification start date, length of disqualification period (in months), locality code, and the title, location and telephone number of the locality contact. These elements shall be reported in accordance with procedures prescribed by FNS.
(i) The disqualification decision date is the date that a disqualification decision was made at either an administrative or judicial hearing, or the date an individual signed a waiver to forego an administrative or judicial hearing and accept a disqualification penalty.
(ii) The disqualification start date is the date the disqualification penalty was imposed by any of the means identified in § 273.16(i)(3)(i).
(iii) The locality contact is a person, position or entity designated by a State agency as the point of contact for other State agencies to verify disqualification records supplied to the disqualified recipient database by the locality contact's State.
(4) All data submitted by State agencies will be available for use by any State agency that is currently under a valid signed Matching Agreement with FNS.
(i) State agencies shall, at a minimum, use the data to determine the eligibility of individual Program applicants prior to certification, and for 1 year following implementation, to determine the eligibility at recertification of its currently participating caseload. In lieu of the 1-year match at recertification requirement and for the same purpose, State agencies may conduct a one-time match of their participating caseload against active disqualifications in the disqualified recipient database. State agencies have the option of exempting minors from this match.
(ii) State agencies shall also use the disqualified recipient database for the purpose of determining the eligibility of newly added household members.
(5) The disqualification of an individual for an intentional Program violation in one political jurisdiction shall be valid in another. However, one or more disqualifications for an intentional Program violation, which occurred prior to April 1, 1983, shall be considered as only one previous disqualification when determining the appropriate penalty to impose in a case under consideration, regardless of where the disqualification(s) took place. State agencies are encouraged to identify and report to FNS any individuals disqualified for an intentional Program violation prior to April 1, 1983. A State agency submitting such historical information should take steps to ensure the availability of appropriate documentation to support the disqualifications in the event it is contacted for independent verification.
(6) If a State determines that supporting documentation for a disqualification record that it has entered is inadequate or nonexistent, the State agency shall act to remove the record from the database.
(7) If a court of appropriate jurisdiction reverses a disqualification for an intentional Program violation, the State agency shall take action to delete the record in the database that contains information related to the disqualification that was reversed in accordance with instructions provided by FNS.
(8) If an individual disputes the accuracy of the disqualification record pertaining to him/herself the State agency submitting such record(s) shall be responsible for providing FNS with prompt verification of the accuracy of the record.
(i) If a State agency is unable to demonstrate to the satisfaction of FNS that the information in question is correct, the State agency shall immediately, upon direction from FNS, take action to delete the information from the disqualified recipient database.
(ii) In those instances where the State agency is able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of FNS that the information in question is correct, the individual shall have an opportunity to submit a brief statement representing his or her position for the record. The State agency shall make the individual's statement a permanent part of the case record documentation on the disqualification record in question, and shall make the statement available to each State agency requesting an independent verification of that disqualification.
(j) Reversed disqualifications. In cases where the determination of intentional program violation is reversed by a court of appropriate jurisdiction, the State agency shall reinstate the individual in the program if the household is eligible. The State agency shall restore benefits that were lost as a result of the disqualification in accordance with the procedures specified in § 273.17(e).
[Amdt. 242, 48 FR 6855, Feb. 15, 1983, as amended by Amdt. 269, 51 FR 10793, Mar. 28, 1986; Amdt. 357, 60 FR 43515, Aug. 22, 1995; 66 FR 4468, Jan. 17, 2001; 77 FR 48057, Aug. 13, 2012]

Title 7 published on 2014-01-01

no entries appear in the Federal Register after this date.

This is a list of United States Code sections, Statutes at Large, Public Laws, and Presidential Documents, which provide rulemaking authority for this CFR Part.

This list is taken from the Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules provided by GPO [Government Printing Office].

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United States Code