7 CFR 273.7 - Work provisions.

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§ 273.7 Work provisions.
(a) Work requirements. (1) As a condition of eligibility for food stamps, each household member not exempt under paragraph (b)(1) of this section must comply with the following Food Stamp Program work requirements:
(i) Register for work or be registered by the State agency at the time of application and every 12 months after initial registration. The member required to register need not complete the registration form.
(ii) Participate in a Food Stamp Employment and Training (E&T) program if assigned by the State agency, to the extent required by the State agency;
(iii) Participate in a workfare program if assigned by the State agency;
(iv) Provide the State agency or its designee with sufficient information regarding employment status or availability for work;
(v) Report to an employer to whom referred by the State agency or its designee if the potential employment meets the suitability requirements described in paragraph (h) of this section;
(vi) Accept a bona fide offer of suitable employment, as defined in paragraph (h) of this section, at a site or plant not subject to a strike or lockout, at a wage equal to the higher of the Federal or State minimum wage or 80 percent of the wage that would have governed had the minimum hourly rate under section 6(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act been applicable to the offer of employment.
(vii) Do not voluntarily and without good cause quit a job of 30 or more hours a week or reduce work effort to less than 30 hours a week, in accordance with paragraph (j) of this section.
(2) The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has defined the meaning of “good cause,” and “voluntary quit,” and “reduction of work effort” as used in paragraph (a)(1)(vii) of this section. See paragraph (i) of this section for a discussion of good cause; see paragraph (j) of this section for a discussion of voluntary quit and reduction of work effort.
(3) Each State agency will determine the meaning of any other terms used in paragraph (a)(1) of this section; the procedures for establishing compliance with Food Stamp Program work requirements; and whether an individual is complying with Food Stamp Program work requirements. A State agency must not use a meaning, procedure, or determination that is less restrictive on food stamp recipients than is a comparable meaning, procedure, or determination under the State agency's program funded under title IV-A of the Social Security Act.
(4) Strikers whose households are eligible under the criteria in § 273.1(e) are subject to Food Stamp Program work requirements unless they are exempt under paragraph (b)(1) of this section at the time of application.
(5) State agencies may request approval from FNS to substitute State or local procedures for work registration for PA households not subject to the work requirements under title IV of the Social Security Act or for GA households. However, the failure of a household member to comply with State or local work requirements that exceed the requirements listed in this section must not be considered grounds for disqualification. Work requirements imposed on refugees participating in refugee resettlement programs may also be substituted, with FNS approval.
(6) Household members who are applying for SSI and for food stamps under § 273.2(k)(1)(i) will have Food Stamp Program work requirements waived until they are determined eligible for SSI and become exempt from Food Stamp Program work requirements, or until they are determined ineligible for SSI, at which time their exemptions from Food Stamp Program work requirements will be reevaluated.
(b) Exemptions from work requirements. (1) The following persons are exempt from Food Stamp Program work requirements:
(i) A person younger than 16 years of age or a person 60 years of age or older. A person age 16 or 17 who is not the head of a household or who is attending school, or is enrolled in an employment training program, on at least a half-time basis, is also exempt. If the person turns 16 (or 18 under the preceding sentence) during a certification period, the State agency must register the person as part of the next scheduled recertification process, unless the person qualifies for another exemption.
(ii) A person physically or mentally unfit for employment. For the purposes of this paragraph (b), a State agency will define physical and mental fitness; establish procedures for verifying; and will verify claimed physical or mental unfitness when necessary. However, the State agency must not use a definition, procedure for verification, or verification that is less restrictive on food stamp recipients than a comparable meaning, procedure, or determination under the State agency's program funded under title IV-A of the Social Security Act.
(iii) A person subject to and complying with any work requirement under title IV of the Social Security Act. If the exemption claimed is questionable, the State agency is responsible for verifying the exemption.
(iv) A parent or other household member responsible for the care of a dependent child under 6 or an incapacitated person. If the child has his or her 6th birthday during a certification period, the State agency must work register the individual responsible for the care of the child as part of the next scheduled recertification process, unless the individual qualifies for another exemption.
(v) A person receiving unemployment compensation. A person who has applied for, but is not yet receiving, unemployment compensation is also exempt if that person is complying with work requirements that are part of the Federal-State unemployment compensation application process. If the exemption claimed is questionable, the State agency is responsible for verifying the exemption with the appropriate office of the State employment services agency.
(vi) A regular participant in a drug addiction or alcoholic treatment and rehabilitation program.
(vii) An employed or self-employed person working a minimum of 30 hours weekly or earning weekly wages at least equal to the Federal minimum wage multiplied by 30 hours. This includes migrant and seasonal farm workers under contract or similar agreement with an employer or crew chief to begin employment within 30 days (although this will not prevent individuals from seeking additional services from the State employment services agency). For work registration purposes, a person residing in areas of Alaska designated in § 274.10(a)(4)(iv) of this chapter, who subsistence hunts and/or fishes a minimum of 30 hours weekly (averaged over the certification period) is considered exempt as self-employed. An employed or self-employed person who voluntarily and without good cause reduces his or her work effort and, after the reduction, is working less than 30 hours per week, is ineligible to participate in the Food Stamp Program under paragraph (j) of this section.
(viii) A student enrolled at least half-time in any recognized school, training program, or institution of higher education. Students enrolled at least half-time in an institution of higher education must meet the student eligibility requirements listed in § 273.5. A student will remain exempt during normal periods of class attendance, vacation, and recess. If the student graduates, enrolls less than half-time, is suspended or expelled, drops out, or does not intend to register for the next normal school term (excluding summer), the State agency must work register the individual, unless the individual qualifies for another exemption.
(2)
(i) Persons losing exemption status due to any changes in circumstances that are subject to the reporting requirements of § 273.12 must register for employment when the change is reported. If the State agency does not use a work registration form, it must annotate the change to the member's exemption status. If a work registration form is used, the State agency is responsible for providing the participant with a work registration form when the change is reported. Participants are responsible for returning the completed form to the State agency within 10 calendar days from the date the form was handed to the household member reporting the change in person, or the date the State agency mailed the form. If the participant fails to return the completed form, the State agency must issue a notice of adverse action stating that the participant is being terminated and why, but that the termination can be avoided by returning the form.
(ii) Those persons who lose their exemption due to a change in circumstances that is not subject to the reporting requirements of § 273.12 must register for employment at their household's next recertification.
(c) State agency responsibilities. (1) The State agency must register for work each household member not exempted by the provisions of paragraph (b)(1) of this section. As part of the work registration process, the State agency must explain to the individual the pertinent work requirements, the rights and responsibilities of work-registered household members, and the consequences of failure to comply. The State agency must provide a written statement of the above to each individual in the household who is registered for work. A notice must also be provided when a previously exempt individual or new household member becomes subject to a work requirement, and at recertification. The State agency must permit the applicant to complete a record or form for each household member required to register for employment in accordance with paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section. Household members are considered to have registered when an identifiable work registration form is submitted to the State agency or when the registration is otherwise annotated or recorded by the State agency.
(2) The State agency is responsible for screening each work registrant to determine whether or not it is appropriate, based on the State agency's criteria, to refer the individual to an E&T program, and if appropriate, referring the individual to an E&T program component. Upon entry into each component, the State agency must inform the participant, either orally or in writing, of the requirements of the component, what will constitute noncompliance and the sanctions for noncompliance. The State agency may, with FNS approval, use intake and sanction systems that are compatible with its title IV-A work program. Such systems must be proposed and explained in the State agency's E&T State Plan.
(3) The State agency must issue a notice of adverse action to an individual, or to a household if appropriate, within 10 days after learning of the individual's noncompliance with Food Stamp Program work requirements. The notice of adverse action must meet the timeliness and adequacy requirements of § 273.13. If the individual complies before the end of the advance notice period, the State agency will cancel the adverse action. If the State agency offers a conciliation process as part of its E&T program, it must issue the notice of adverse action no later than the end of the conciliation period.
(4) The State agency must design and operate an E&T program that may consist of one or more or a combination of employment and/or training components as described in paragraph (e)(1) of this section. The State agency must ensure that it is notified by the agency or agencies operating its E&T components within 10 days if an E&T mandatory participant fails to comply with E&T requirements.
(5) Each component of the State agency's E&T program must be delivered through its statewide workforce development system, unless the component is not available locally through such a system.
(6) In accordance with § 272.2(d) and § 272.2(e) of this chapter, the State agency must prepare and submit an E&T Plan to its appropriate FNS Regional Office. The E&T Plan must be available for public inspection at the State agency headquarters. In its E&T Plan, the State agency will detail the following:
(i) The nature of the E&T components the State agency plans to offer and the reasons for such components, including cost information. The methodology for State agency reimbursement for education components must be specifically addressed;
(ii) An operating budget for the Federal fiscal year with an estimate of the cost of operation for one full year. Any State agency that requests 50 percent Federal reimbursement for State agency E&T administrative costs, other than for participant reimbursements, must include in its plan, or amendments to its plan, an itemized list of all activities and costs for which those Federal funds will be claimed, including the costs for case management and casework to facilitate the transition from economic dependency to self-sufficiency through work. Costs in excess of the Federal grant will be allowed only with the prior approval of FNS and must be adequately documented to assure that they are necessary, reasonable and properly allocated;
(iii) The categories and types of individuals the State agency intends to exempt from E&T participation, the estimated percentage of work registrants the State agency plans to exempt, and the frequency with which the State agency plans to reevaluate the validity of its exemptions;
(iv) The characteristics of the population the State agency intends to place in E&T;
(v) The estimated number of volunteers the State agency expects to place in E&T;
(vi) The geographic areas covered and not covered by the E&T Plan and why, and the type and location of services to be offered;
(vii) The method the State agency uses to count all work registrants as of the first day of the new fiscal year;
(viii) The method the State agency uses to report work registrant information on the quarterly Form FNS-583;
(ix) The method the State agency uses to prevent work registrants from being counted twice within a Federal fiscal year. If the State agency universally work registers all food stamp applicants, this method must specify how the State agency excludes those exempt from work registration under paragraph (b)(1) of this section. If the State agency work registers nonexempt participants whenever a new application is submitted, this method must also specify how the State agency excludes those participants who may have already been registered within the past 12 months as specified under paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section;
(x) The organizational relationship between the units responsible for certification and the units operating the E&T components, including units of the statewide workforce development system, if available. FNS is specifically concerned that the lines of communication be efficient and that noncompliance be reported to the certification unit within 10 working days after the noncompliance occurs;
(xi) The relationship between the State agency and other organizations it plans to coordinate with for the provision of services, including organizations in the statewide workforce development system, if available. Copies of contracts must be available for inspection;
(xii) The availability, if appropriate, of E&T programs for Indians living on reservations;
(xiii) If a conciliation process is planned, the procedures that will be used when an individual fails to comply with an E&T program requirement. Include the length of the conciliation period; and
(xiv) The payment rates for child care established in accordance with the Child Care and Development Block Grant provisions of 45 CFR 98.43, and based on local market rate surveys.
(xv) The combined (Federal/State) State agency reimbursement rate for transportation costs and other expenses reasonably necessary and directly related to participation incurred by E&T participants. If the State agency proposes to provide different reimbursement amounts to account for varying levels of expenses, for instance for greater or lesser costs of transportation in different areas of the State, it must include them here.
(xvi) Information about expenses the State agency proposes to reimburse. FNS must be afforded the opportunity to review and comment on the proposed reimbursements before they are implemented.
(7) A State agency interested in receiving additional funding for serving able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) subject to the 3-month time limit, in accordance with paragraph (d)(3) of this section, must include in its annual E&T plan:
(i) Its pledge to offer a qualifying activity to all at-risk ABAWD applicants and recipients;
(ii) Estimated costs of fulfilling its pledge;
(iii) A description of management controls in place to meet pledge requirements;
(iv) A discussion of its capacity and ability to serve at-risk ABAWDs;
(v) Information about the size and special needs of its ABAWD population; and
(vi) Information about the education, training, and workfare components it will offer to meet the ABAWD work requirement.
(8) The State agency will submit its E&T Plan annually, at least 45 days before the start of the Federal fiscal year. The State agency must submit plan revisions to the appropriate FNS regional office for approval if it plans to alter the nature or location of its components or the number or characteristics of persons served. The proposed changes must be submitted for approval at least 30 days prior to planned implementation.
(9) The State agency will submit an E&T Program Activity Report to FNS no later than 45 days after the end of each Federal fiscal quarter. The report will contain monthly figures for:
(i) Participants newly work registered;
(ii) Number of ABAWD applicants and recipients participating in qualifying components;
(iii) Number of all other applicants and recipients (including ABAWDs involved in non-qualifying activities) participating in components; and
(iv) ABAWDs subject to the 3-month time limit imposed in accordance with § 273.24(b) who are exempt under the State agency's 15 percent exemption allowance under § 273.24(g).
(10) The State agency will submit annually, on its first quarterly report, the number of work registrants in the State on October 1 of the new fiscal year.
(11) The State agency will submit annually, on its final quarterly report:
(i) A list of E&T components it offered during the fiscal year and the number of ABAWDs and non-ABAWDs who participated in each; and
(ii) The number of ABAWDs and non-ABAWDs who participated in the E&T Program during the fiscal year. Each individual must be counted only once.
(12) Additional information may be required of the State agency, on an as needed basis, regarding the type of components offered and the characteristics of persons served, depending on the contents of its E&T Plan.
(13) The State agency must ensure, to the maximum extent practicable, that E&T programs are provided for Indians living on reservations.
(14) If a benefit overissuance is discovered for a month or months in which a mandatory E&T participant has already fulfilled a work component requirement, the State agency must follow the procedure specified in paragraph (m)(6)(v) of this section for a workfare overissuance.
(15) If a State agency fails to efficiently and effectively administer its E&T program, the provisions of § 276.1(a)(4) of this chapter will apply.
(d) Federal financial participation—(1) Employment and training grants—(i) Allocation of grants. Each State agency will receive a 100 percent Federal grant each fiscal year to operate an E&T program in accordance with paragraph (e) of this section. The grant requires no State matching.
(A) In determining each State agency's 100 percent Federal E&T grant, FNS will apply the percentage determined in accordance with paragraph (d)(1)(i)(B) of this section to the total amount of 100 percent Federal funds authorized under section 16(h)(1)(A) of the Act for each fiscal year.
(B) FNS will allocate the funding available each fiscal year for E&T grants using a formula designed to ensure that each State agency receives its appropriate share.
(1) Ninety percent of the annual 100 percent Federal E&T grant will be allocated based on the number of work registrants in each State as a percentage of work registrants nationwide. FNS will use work registrant data reported by each State agency on the FNS-583, Employment and Training Program Activity Report, from the most recent Federal fiscal year.
(2) Ten percent of the annual 100 percent Federal E&T grant will be allocated based on the number of ABAWDs in each State, as determined by food stamp QC data for the most recently available completed fiscal year, which provide a breakdown of each State's population of adults age 18 through 49 who are not disabled and who do not live with children.
(C) No State agency will receive less than $50,000 in Federal E&T funds. To ensure this, FNS will, if necessary, reduce the grant of each State agency allocated more than $50,000. In order to guarantee an equitable reduction, FNS will calculate grants as follows. First, disregarding those State agencies scheduled to receive less than $50,000, FNS will calculate each remaining State agency's percentage share of the fiscal year's E&T grant. Next, FNS will multiply the grant—less $50,000 for every State agency under the minimum—by each remaining State agency's same percentage share to arrive at the revised amount. The difference between the original and the revised amounts will represent each State agency's contribution. FNS will distribute the funds from the reduction to State agencies initially allocated less than $50,000.
(D) If a State agency will not obligate or expend all of the funds allocated to it for a fiscal year under paragraph (d)(1)(i)(B) of this section, FNS will reallocate the unobligated, unexpended funds to other State agencies during the fiscal year or the subsequent fiscal year on a first come-first served basis. Each year FNS will notify all State agencies of the availability of carryover funding. Interested State agencies must submit their requests for carryover funding to FNS. If the requests are determined reasonable and necessary, FNS will allocate carryover funding to meet some or all of the State agencies' requests, as it considers appropriate and equitable. The factors that FNS will consider when reviewing a State agency's request will include the size of the request relative to the level of the State agency's E&T spending in prior years, the specificity of the State agency's plan for spending carryover funds, and the quality of program and scope of impact for the State's E&T program and proposed use of carryover funds.
(ii) Use of Funds. (A) A State agency must use E&T program grants to fund the administrative costs of planning, implementing and operating its food stamp E&T program in accordance with its approved State E&T plan. E&T grants must not be used for the process of determining whether an individual must be work registered, the work registration process, or any further screening performed during the certification process, nor for sanction activity that takes place after the operator of an E&T component reports noncompliance without good cause. For purposes of this paragraph (d), the certification process is considered ended when an individual is referred to an E&T component for assessment or participation. E&T grants may also not be used to subsidize the wages of participants, or to reimburse participants under paragraph (d)(3) of this section.
(B) A State agency's receipt of its 100 percent Federal E&T grant is contingent on FNS's approval of the State agency's E&T plan. If an adequate plan is not submitted, FNS may reallocate a State agency's grant among other State agencies with approved plans. Non-receipt of an E&T grant does not release a State agency from its responsibility under paragraph (c)(4) of this section to operate an E&T program.
(C) Federal funds made available to a State agency to operate an educational component under paragraph (e)(1)(vi) of this section must not be used to supplant nonfederal funds for existing educational services and activities that promote the purposes of this component. Education expenses are approvable to the extent that E&T component costs exceed the normal cost of services provided to persons not participating in an E&T program.
(D) In accordance with section 6(d)(4)(K) of the Food Stamp Act, and notwithstanding any other provision of this paragraph (d), the amount of Federal E&T funds, including participant and dependent care reimbursements, a State agency uses to serve participants who are receiving cash assistance under a State program funded under title IV-A of the Social Security Act must not exceed the amount of Federal E&T funds the State agency used in FY 1995 to serve participants who were receiving cash assistance under a State program funded under title IV-A of the Social Security Act.
(1) Based on information provided by each State agency, FNS established claimed Federal E&T expenditures on this category of recipients in fiscal year 1995 for the State agencies of Colorado ($318,613), Utah ($10,200), Vermont ($1,484,913), and Wisconsin ($10,999,773). These State agencies may spend up to a like amount each fiscal year to serve food stamp recipients who also receive title IV assistance.
(2) All other State agencies are prohibited from expending any Federal E&T funds on title IV cash assistance recipients.
(2) Additional administrative costs. Fifty percent of all other administrative costs incurred by State agencies in operating E&T programs, above the costs referenced in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, will be funded by the Federal government.
(3) Additional allocations. In addition to the E&T program grants discussed in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, FNS will allocate $20 million in Federal funds each fiscal year to State agencies that ensure availability of education, training, or workfare opportunities that permit ABAWDs to remain eligible beyond the 3-month time limit.
(i) To be eligible, a State agency must make and comply with a commitment, or “pledge,” to use these additional funds to defray the cost of offering a position in an education, training, or workfare component that fulfills the ABAWD work requirement, as defined in § 273.24(a), to each applicant and recipient who is:
(A) In the last month of the 3-month time limit described in § 273.24(b);
(B) Not eligible for an exception to the 3-month time limit under § 273.24(c);
(C) Not a resident of an area of the State granted a waiver of the 3-month time limit under § 273.24(f); and
(D) Not included in each State agency's 15 percent ABAWD exemption allotment under § 273.24(g).
(ii) While a participating pledge State may use a portion of the additional funding to provide E&T services to ABAWDs who do not meet the criteria discussed in paragraph (d)(3)(i) of this section, it must guarantee that the ABAWDs who do meet the criteria are provided the opportunity to remain eligible.
(iii) State agencies will have one opportunity each fiscal year to take the pledge described in paragraph (d)(3)(i) of this section. An interested State agency, in its E&T Plan for the upcoming fiscal year, must include the following:
(A) A request to be considered as a pledge State, along with its commitment to comply with the requirements of paragraph (d)(3)(i) of this section;
(B) The estimated costs of complying with its pledge;
(C) A description of management controls it has established to meet the requirements of the pledge;
(D) A discussion of its capacity and ability to serve vulnerable ABAWDs;
(E) Information about the size and special needs of the State's ABAWD population; and
(F) Information about the education, training, and workfare components that it will offer to allow ABAWDs to remain eligible.
(iv) If the information provided in accordance with paragraph (d)(3)(iii) of this section clearly indicates that the State agency will be unable to fulfill its commitment, FNS may require the State agency to address its deficiencies before it is allowed to participate as a pledge State.
(v) If the State agency does not address its deficiencies by the beginning of the new fiscal year on October 1, it will not be allowed to participate as a pledge State.
(vi) No pledges will be accepted after the beginning of the fiscal year.
(vii)
(A) Once FNS determines how many State agencies will participate as pledge States in the upcoming fiscal year, it will, as early in the fiscal year as possible, allocate among them the $20 million based on the number of ABAWDs in each participating State, as a percentage of ABAWDs in all the participating States. FNS will determine the number of ABAWDs in each participating State using food stamp QC data for the most recently available completed fiscal year, which provide a breakdown of each State's population of adults age 18 through 49 who are not disabled and who do not live with children.
(B) Each participating State agency's share of the $20 million will be disbursed in accordance with paragraph (d)(6) of this section.
(C) Each participating State agency must meet the fiscal recordkeeping and reporting requirements of paragraph (d)(7) of this section.
(viii) If a participating State agency notifies FNS that it will not obligate or expend its entire share of the additional funding allocated to it for a fiscal year, FNS will reallocate the unobligated, unexpended funds to other participating State agencies during the fiscal year, as it considers appropriate and equitable, on a first come-first served basis. FNS will notify other pledge States of the availability of additional funding. To qualify, a pledge State must have already obligated its entire annual 100 percent Federal E&T grant, excluding an amount that is proportionate to the number of months remaining in the fiscal year, and it must guarantee in writing that it intends to obligate its entire grant by the end of the fiscal year. A State's annual 100 percent Federal E&T grant is its share of the regular 100 percent Federal E&T allocation plus its share of the additional $20 million (if applicable). Interested pledge States must submit their requests for additional funding to FNS. FNS will review the requests and, if they are determined reasonable and necessary, will reallocate some or all of the unobligated, unspent ABAWD funds.
(ix) Unlike the funds allocated in accordance with paragraph (d)(1) of this section, the additional pledge funding will not remain available until obligated or expended. Unobligated funds from this grant must be returned to the U.S. Treasury at the end of each fiscal year.
(x) The cost of serving at-risk ABAWDs is not an acceptable reason to fail to live up to the pledge. A slot must be made available and the ABAWD must be served even if the State agency exhausts all of its 100 percent Federal E&T funds and must use State funds to guarantee an opportunity for all at-risk ABAWDs to remain eligible beyond the 3-month time limit. State funds expended in accordance with the approved State E&T Plan are eligible for 50 percent Federal match. If a participating State agency fails, without good cause, to meet its commitment, it may be disqualified from participating in the subsequent fiscal year or years.
(4) Participant reimbursements. The State agency must provide payments to participants in its E&T program, including applicants and volunteers, for expenses that are reasonably necessary and directly related to participation in the E&T program. The Federal government will fund 50 percent of State agency payments for allowable expenses, except that Federal matching for dependent care expenses is limited to the maximum amount specified in paragraph (d)(4)(i) of this section. These payments may be provided as a reimbursement for expenses incurred or in advance as payment for anticipated expenses in the coming month. The State agency must inform each E&T participant that allowable expenses up to the amounts specified in paragraphs (d)(4)(i) and (d)(4)(ii) of this section will be reimbursed by the State agency upon presentation of appropriate documentation. Reimbursable costs may include, but are not limited to, dependent care costs, transportation, and other work, training or education related expenses such as uniforms, personal safety items or other necessary equipment, and books or training manuals. These costs must not include the cost of meals away from home. If applicable, any allowable costs incurred by a noncompliant E&T participant after the expiration of the noncompliant participant's minimum mandatory disqualification period, as established by the State agency, that are reasonably necessary and directly related to reestablishing eligibility, as defined by the State agency, are reimbursable under paragraphs (d)(4)(i) and (d)(4)(ii) of this section. The State agency may reimburse participants for expenses beyond the amounts specified in paragraphs (d)(4)(i) of this section; however, only costs that are up to but not in excess of those amounts are subject to Federal cost sharing. Reimbursement must not be provided from E&T grants allocated under paragraph (d)(1)(i) of this section. Any expense covered by a reimbursement under this section is not deductible under § 273.10(d)(1)(i).
(i) The State agency will reimburse the cost of dependent care it determines to be necessary for the participation of a household member in the E&T program up to the actual cost of dependent care, or the applicable payment rate for child care, whichever is lowest. The payment rates for child care are established in accordance with the Child Care and Development Block Grant provisions of 45 CFR 98.43, and are based on local market rate surveys. The State agency will provide a dependent care reimbursement to an E&T participant for all dependents requiring care unless otherwise prohibited by this section. The State agency will not provide a reimbursement for a dependent age 13 or older unless the dependent is physically and/or mentally incapable of caring for himself or herself or is under court supervision. The State agency must provide a reimbursement for all dependents who are physically and/or mentally incapable of caring for themselves or who are under court supervision, regardless of age, if dependent care is necessary for the participation of a household member in the E&T program. The State agency will obtain verification of the physical and/or mental incapacity for dependents age 13 or older if the physical and/or mental incapacity is questionable. Also, the State agency will verify a court-imposed requirement for the supervision of a dependent age 13 or older if the need for dependent care is questionable. If more than one household member is required to participate in an E&T program, the State agency will reimburse the actual cost of dependent care or the applicable payment rate for child care, whichever is lowest, for each dependent in the household, regardless of the number of household members participating in the E&T program. An individual who is the caretaker relative of a dependent in a family receiving cash assistance under title IV-A of the Social Security Act in a local area where an employment, training, or education program under title IV-A is in operation is not eligible for such reimbursement. An E&T participant is not entitled to the dependent care reimbursement if a member of the E&T participant's food stamp household provides the dependent care services. The State agency must verify the participant's need for dependent care and the cost of the dependent care prior to the issuance of the reimbursement. The verification must include the name and address of the dependent care provider, the cost and the hours of service (e.g., five hours per day, five days per week for two weeks). A participant may not be reimbursed for dependent care services beyond that which is required for participation in the E&T program. In lieu of providing reimbursements for dependent care expenses, a State agency may arrange for dependent care through providers by the use of purchase of service contracts, by providing vouchers to the household or by other means. A State agency may require that dependent care provided or arranged by the State agency meet all applicable standards of State and local law, including requirements designed to ensure basic health and safety protections (e.g., fire safety). An E&T participant may refuse available appropriate dependent care as provided or arranged by the State agency, if the participant can arrange other dependent care or can show that such refusal will not prevent or interfere with participation in the E&T program as required by the State agency.
(ii) The State agency will reimburse the actual costs of transportation and other costs (excluding dependent care costs) it determines to be necessary and directly related to participation in the E&T program up the maximum level of reimbursement established by the State agency. Such costs are the actual costs of participation unless the State agency has a method approved in its E&T Plan for providing allowances to participants to reflect approximate costs of participation. If a State agency has an approved method to provide allowances rather than reimbursements, it must provide participants an opportunity to claim actual expenses up to the maximum level of reimbursements established by the State agency.
(iii) No participant cost that has been reimbursed under a workfare program under paragraph (m)(7)(i) of this section, title IV of the Social Security Act or other work program will be reimbursed under this section.
(iv) Any portion of dependent care costs that are reimbursed under this section may not be claimed as an expense and used in calculating the dependent care deduction under § 273.9(d)(4) for determining benefits.
(v) The State agency must inform all mandatory E&T participants that they may be exempted from E&T participation if their monthly expenses that are reasonably necessary and directly related to participation in the E&T program exceed the allowable reimbursement amount. Persons for whom allowable monthly expenses in an E&T component exceed the amounts specified under paragraphs (d)(4)(i) and (d)(4)(ii) of this section are not required to participate in that component. These individuals will be placed, if possible, in another suitable component in which the individual's monthly E&T expenses would not exceed the allowable reimbursable amount paid by the State agency. If a suitable component is not available, these individuals will be exempt from E&T participation until a suitable component is available or the individual's circumstances change and his/her monthly expenses do not exceed the allowable reimbursable amount paid by the State agency. Dependent care expenses incurred that are otherwise allowable but not reimbursed because they exceed the reimbursable amount specified under paragraph (d)(4)(i) of this section will be considered in determining a dependent care deduction under § 273.9(d)(4).
(5) Workfare cost sharing. Enhanced cost-sharing due to placement of workfare participants in paid employment is available only for workfare programs funded under paragraph (m)(7)(iv) of this section at the 50 percent reimbursement level and reported as such.
(6) Funding mechanism. E&T program funding will be disbursed through States' Letters of Credit in accordance with § 277.5 of this chapter. The State agency must ensure that records are maintained that support the financial claims being made to FNS.
(7) Fiscal recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Total E&T expenditures are reported on the Financial Status Report (SF-269) in the column containing “other” expenses. E&T expenditures are also separately identified in an attachment to the SF-269 to show, as provided in instructions, total State and Federal E&T expenditures; expenditures funded with the unmatched Federal grants; State and Federal expenditures for participant reimbursements; State and Federal expenditures for E&T costs at the 50 percent reimbursement level; and State and Federal expenditures for optional workfare program costs, operated under section 20 of the Food Stamp Act and paragraph (m)(7) of this section. Claims for enhanced funding for placements of participants in employment after their initial participation in the optional workfare program will be submitted in accordance with paragraph (m)(7)(iv) of this section.
(e) Employment and training programs. Work registrants not otherwise exempted by the State agency are subject to the E&T program participation requirements imposed by the State agency. Such individuals are referred to in this section as E&T mandatory participants. Requirements may vary among participants. Failure to comply without good cause with the requirements imposed by the State agency will result in disqualification as specified in paragraph (f)(2) of this section.
(1) Components. To be considered acceptable by FNS, any component offered by a State agency must entail a certain level of effort by the participants. The level of effort should be comparable to spending approximately 12 hours a month for two months making job contacts (less in workfare or work experience components if the household's benefit divided by the minimum wage is less than this amount). However, FNS may approve components that do not meet this guideline if it determines that such components will advance program goals. An initial screening by an eligibility worker to determine whom to place in an E&T program does not constitute a component. The State agency may require Food Stamp Program applicants to participate in any component it offers in its E&T program at the time of application. The State agency must not impose requirements that would delay the determination of an individual's eligibility for benefits or in issuing benefits to any household that is otherwise eligible. In accordance with section 6(o)(1)(A) of the Food Stamp Act and § 273.24, job search and job search training, when offered as components of an E&T program, are not qualifying activities relating to the participation requirements necessary to maintain food stamp eligibility for ABAWDs. However, job search or job search training activities, when offered as part of other E&T program components, are acceptable as long as those activities comprise less than half the total required time spent in the components. An E&T program offered by a State agency must include one or more of the following components:
(i) A job search program. The State agency may require an individual to participate in job search from the time an application is filed for an initial period established by the State agency. Following this initial period (which may extend beyond the date when eligibility is determined) the State agency may require an additional job search period in any period of 12 consecutive months. The first such period of 12 consecutive months will begin at any time following the close of the initial period. The State agency may establish a job search period that, in its estimation, will provide participants a reasonable opportunity to find suitable employment. The State agency should not, however, establish a continuous, year-round job search requirement. If a reasonable period of job search does not result in employment, placing the individual in a training or education component to improve job skills will likely be more productive. In accordance with section 6(o)(1)(A) of the Food Stamp Act and § 273.24, a job search program is not a qualifying activity relating to the participation requirements necessary to maintain food stamp eligibility for ABAWDs. However, such a program, when operated under title I of the WIA, or under section 236 of the Trade Act, is considered a qualifying activity relating to the participation requirements necessary to maintain food stamp eligibility for ABAWDs.
(ii) A job search training program that includes reasonable job search training and support activities. Such a program may consist of job skills assessments, job finding clubs, training in techniques for employability, job placement services, or other direct training or support activities, including educational programs determined by the State agency to expand the job search abilities or employability of those subject to the program. Job search training activities are approvable if they directly enhance the employability of the participants. A direct link between the job search training activities and job-readiness must be established for a component to be approved. In accordance with section 6(o)(1) of the Food Stamp Act and § 273.24, a job search program is not a qualifying activity relating to the participation requirements necessary to maintain food stamp eligibility for ABAWDs. However, such a program, when operated under title I of the WIA or under section 236 of the Trade Act, is considered a qualifying activity relating to the participation requirements necessary to maintain food stamp eligibility for ABAWDs.
(iii) A workfare program as described in paragraph (m) of this section.
(A) The participation requirements of section 20(b) of the Food Stamp Act and paragraphs (m)(5)(i)(A) and (m)(5)(i)(B) of this section for individuals exempt from Food Stamp Program work requirements under paragraphs (b)(1)(iii) and (b)(1)(v) of this section, are not applicable to E&T workfare components.
(B) In accordance with section 20(e) of the Food Stamp Act and paragraph (m)(6)(ii) of this section, the State agency may establish a job search period of up to 30 days following certification prior to making a workfare assignment. This job search activity is part of the workfare assignment, and not a job search “program.” Participants are considered to be participating in and complying with the requirements of workfare, thereby meeting the participation requirement for ABAWDs.
(C) The sharing of workfare savings authorized under section 20(g) of the Food Stamp Act and paragraph (m)(7)(iv) of this section are not available for E&T workfare components.
(iv) A program designed to improve the employability of household members through actual work experience or training, or both, and to enable individuals employed or trained under such programs to move promptly into regular public or private employment. Such an employment or training experience must:
(A) Not provide any work that has the effect of replacing the employment of an individual not participating in the employment or training experience program; and
(B) Provide the same benefits and working conditions that are provided at the job site to employees performing comparable work for comparable hours.
(v) A project, program or experiment such as a supported work program, or a WIA or State or local program aimed at accomplishing the purpose of the E&T program.
(vi) Educational programs or activities to improve basic skills or otherwise improve employability including educational programs determined by the State agency to expand the job search abilities or employability of those subject to the program. Allowable educational activities may include, but are not limited to, high school or equivalent educational programs, remedial education programs to achieve a basic literacy level, and instructional programs in English as a second language. Only educational components that directly enhance the employability of the participants are allowable. A direct link between the education and job-readiness must be established for a component to be approved.
(vii) A program designed to improve the self-sufficiency of recipients through self-employment. Included are programs that provide instruction for self-employment ventures.
(2) Exemptions. Each State agency may, at its discretion, exempt individual work registrants and categories of work registrants from E&T participation. Each State agency must periodically reevaluate its individual and categorical exemptions to determine whether they remain valid. Each State agency will establish the frequency of its periodic evaluation.
(3) Time spent in an employment and training program. (i) Each State agency will determine the length of time a participant spends in any E&T component it offers. The State agency may also determine the number of successive components in which a participant may be placed.
(ii) The time spent by the members of a household collectively each month in an E&T work program (including, but not limited to, those carried out under paragraphs (e)(1)(iii) and (e)(1)(iv) of this section) combined with any hours worked that month in a workfare program under paragraph (m) of this section must not exceed the number of hours equal to the household's allotment for that month divided by the higher of the applicable Federal or State minimum wage. The total hours of participation in an E&T component for any household member individually in any month, together with any hours worked in a workfare program under paragraph (m) of this section and any hours worked for compensation (in cash or in kind), must not exceed 120.
(4) Voluntary participation. (i) A State agency may operate program components in which individuals elect to participate.
(ii) A State agency must not disqualify voluntary participants in an E&T component for failure to comply with E&T requirements.
(iii) The hours of participation or work of a volunteer may not exceed the hours required of E&T mandatory participants, as specified in paragraph (e)(3) of this section.
(f) Failure to comply—(1) Ineligibility for failure to comply. A nonexempt individual who refuses or fails without good cause, as defined in paragraphs (i)(2) and (i)(3) of this section, to comply with the Food Stamp Program work requirements listed under paragraph (a)(1) of this section is ineligible to participate in the Food Stamp Program, and will be considered an ineligible household member, pursuant to § 273.1(b)(7).
(i) As soon as the State agency learns of the individual's noncompliance it must determine whether good cause for the noncompliance exists, as discussed in paragraph (i) of this section. Within 10 days of establishing that the noncompliance was without good cause, the State agency must provide the individual with a notice of adverse action, as specified in § 273.13. If the State agency offers a conciliation process as part of its E&T program, it must issue the notice of adverse action no later than the end of the conciliation period.
(ii) The notice of adverse action must contain the particular act of noncompliance committed and the proposed period of disqualification. The notice must also specify that the individual may, if appropriate, reapply at the end of the disqualification period. Information must be included on or with the notice describing the action that can be taken to avoid the disqualification before the disqualification period begins. The disqualification period must begin with the first month following the expiration of the 10-day adverse notice period, unless a fair hearing is requested.
(iii) An E&T disqualification may be imposed after the end of a certification period. Thus, a notice of adverse action must be sent whenever the State agency becomes aware of an individual's noncompliance with Food Stamp Program work requirements, even if the disqualification begins after the certification period expires and the household has not been recertified.
(2) Disqualification periods. The following disqualification periods will be imposed:
(i) For the first occurrence of noncompliance, the individual will be disqualified until the later of:
(A) The date the individual complies, as determined by the State agency;
(B) One month; or
(C) Up to three months, at State agency option.
(ii) For the second occurrence, until the later of:
(A) The date the individual complies, as determined by the State agency;
(B) Three months; or
(C) Up to six months, at State agency option.
(iii) For the third or subsequent occurrence, until the later of:
(A) The date the individual complies, as determined by the State agency;
(B) Six months;
(C) A date determined by the State agency; or
(D) At the option of the State agency, permanently.
(3) Record retention. In accordance with § 272.1(f) of this chapter, State agencies are required to retain records concerning the frequency of noncompliance with FSP work requirements and the resulting disqualification actions imposed. These records must be available for inspection and audit at any reasonable time to ensure conformance with the minimum mandatory disqualification periods instituted.
(4) Disqualification plan. In accordance with § 272.2(d)(1)(xiii) of this chapter, each State agency must prepare and submit a plan detailing its disqualification policies. The plan must include the length of disqualification to be enforced for each occurrence of noncompliance, how compliance is determined by the State agency, and the State agency's household disqualification policy.
(5) Household ineligibility. (i) If the individual who becomes ineligible to participate under paragraph (f)(1) of this section is the head of a household, the State agency, at its option, may disqualify the entire household from Food Stamp Program participation.
(ii) The State agency may disqualify the household for a period that does not exceed the lesser of:
(A) The duration of the ineligibility of the noncompliant individual under paragraph (f)(2) of this section; or
(B) 180 days.
(iii) A household disqualified under this provision may reestablish eligibility if:
(A) The head of the household leaves the household;
(B) A new and eligible person joins the household as the head of the household, as defined in § 273.1(d)(2); or
(C) The head of the household becomes exempt from work requirements during the disqualification period.
(iv) If the head of the household joins another household as its head, that household will be disqualified from participating in the Food Stamp Program for the remaining period of ineligibility.
(6) Fair hearings. Each individual or household has the right to request a fair hearing, in accordance with § 273.15, to appeal a denial, reduction, or termination of benefits due to a determination of nonexempt status, or a State agency determination of failure to comply with Food Stamp Program work requirements. Individuals or households may appeal State agency actions such as exemption status, the type of requirement imposed, or State agency refusal to make a finding of good cause if the individual or household believes that a finding of failure to comply has resulted from improper decisions on these matters. The State agency or its designee operating the relevant component must receive sufficient advance notice to either permit the attendance of a representative or ensure that a representative will be available for questioning over the phone during the hearing. A representative of the appropriate agency must be available through one of these means. A household must be allowed to examine its E&T component casefile at a reasonable time before the date of the fair hearing, except for confidential information (that may include test results) that the agency determines should be protected from release. Confidential information not released to a household may not be used by either party at the hearing. The results of the fair hearing are binding on the State agency.
(7) Failure to comply with a work requirement under title IV of the Social Security Act, or an unemployment compensation work requirement. An individual exempt from Food Stamp Program work requirements by paragraphs (b)(1)(iii) or (b)(1)(v) of this section because he or she is subject to work requirements under title IV-A or unemployment compensation who fails to comply with a title IV-A or unemployment compensation work requirement will be treated as though he or she failed to comply with the Food Stamp Program work requirement.
(i) When a food stamp household reports the loss or denial of title IV-A or unemployment compensation benefits, or if the State agency otherwise learns of a loss or denial, the State agency must determine whether the loss or denial resulted when a household member refused or failed without good cause to comply with a title IV-A or unemployment compensation work requirement.
(ii) If the State agency determines that the loss or denial of benefits resulted from an individual's refusal or failure without good cause to comply with a title IV or unemployment compensation requirement, the individual (or household if applicable under paragraph (f)(5) of this section) must be disqualified in accordance with the applicable provisions of this paragraph (f). However, if the noncomplying individual meets one of the work registration exemptions provided in paragraph (b)(1) of this section (other than the exemptions provided in paragraphs (b)(1)(iii) or (b)(1)(v) of this section) the individual (or household if applicable under paragraph (f)(5) of this section) will not be disqualified.
(iii) If the State agency determination of noncompliance with a title IV-A or unemployment compensation work requirement leads to a denial or termination of the individual's or household's food stamp benefits, the individual or household has a right to appeal the decision in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (f)(6) of this section.
(iv) In cases where the individual is disqualified from the title IV-A program for refusal or failure to comply with a title IV-A work requirement, but the individual meets one of the work registration exemptions provided in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, other than the exemption in paragraphs (b)(1)(iii) of this section, the State agency may, at its option, apply the identical title IV-A disqualification on the individual under the Food Stamp Program. The State agency must impose such optional disqualifications in accordance with section 6(i) of the Food Stamp Act and with the provisions of § 273.11(1).
(g) Ending disqualification. Except in cases of permanent disqualification, at the end of the applicable mandatory disqualification period for noncompliance with Food Stamp Program work requirements, participation may resume if the disqualified individual applies again and is determined by the State agency to be in compliance with work requirements. A disqualified individual may be permitted to resume participation during the disqualification period (if otherwise eligible) by becoming exempt from work requirements.
(h) Suitable employment. (1) Employment will be considered suitable unless:
(i) The wage offered is less than the highest of the applicable Federal minimum wage, the applicable State minimum wage, or eighty percent (80%) of the Federal minimum wage if neither the Federal nor State minimum wage is applicable.
(ii) The employment offered is on a piece-rate basis and the average hourly yield the employee can reasonably be expected to earn is less than the applicable hourly wages specified under paragraph (h)(1)(i) of this section.
(iii) The household member, as a condition of employment or continuing employment, is required to join, resign from, or refrain from joining any legitimate labor organization.
(iv) The work offered is at a site subject to a strike or lockout at the time of the offer unless the strike has been enjoined under section 208 of the Labor-Management Relations Act (29 U.S.C. 78) (commonly known as the Taft-Hartley Act), or unless an injunction has been issued under section 10 of the Railway Labor Act (45 U.S.C. 160).
(v) It fails to meet additional suitability criteria established by State agencies.
(2) In addition, employment will be considered suitable unless the household member involved can demonstrate or the State agency otherwise becomes aware that:
(i) The degree of risk to health and safety is unreasonable.
(ii) The member is physically or mentally unfit to perform the employment, as documented by medical evidence or by reliable information from other sources.
(iii) The employment offered within the first 30 days of registration is not in the member's major field of experience.
(iv) The distance from the member's home to the place of employment is unreasonable considering the expected wage and the time and cost of commuting. Employment will not be considered suitable if daily commuting time exceeds 2 hours per day, not including the transporting of a child to and from a child care facility. Nor will employment be considered suitable if the distance to the place of employment prohibits walking and neither public nor private transportation is available to transport the member to the jobsite.
(v) The working hours or nature of the employment interferes with the member's religious observances, convictions, or beliefs.
(i) Good Cause. (1) The State agency is responsible for determining good cause when a food stamp recipient fails or refuses to comply with Food Stamp Program work requirements. Since it is not possible for the Department to enumerate each individual situation that should or should not be considered good cause, the State agency must take into account the facts and circumstances, including information submitted by the employer and by the household member involved, in determining whether or not good cause exists.
(2) Good cause includes circumstances beyond the member's control, such as, but not limited to, illness, illness of another household member requiring the presence of the member, a household emergency, the unavailability of transportation, or the lack of adequate child care for children who have reached age six but are under age 12.
(3) Good cause for leaving employment includes the good cause provisions found in paragraph (i)(2) of this section, and resigning from a job that is unsuitable, as specified in paragraphs (h)(1) and (h)(2) of this section. Good cause for leaving employment also includes:
(i) Discrimination by an employer based on age, race, sex, color, handicap, religious beliefs, national origin or political beliefs;
(ii) Work demands or conditions that render continued employment unreasonable, such as working without being paid on schedule;
(iii) Acceptance of employment by the individual, or enrollment by the individual in any recognized school, training program or institution of higher education on at least a half time basis, that requires the individual to leave employment;
(iv) Acceptance by any other household member of employment or enrollment at least half-time in any recognized school, training program or institution of higher education in another county or similar political subdivision that requires the household to move and thereby requires the individual to leave employment;
(v) Resignations by persons under the age of 60 which are recognized by the employer as retirement;
(vi) Employment that becomes unsuitable, as specified in paragraphs (h)(1) and (h)(2) of this section, after the acceptance of such employment;
(vii) Acceptance of a bona fide offer of employment of more than 30 hours a week or in which the weekly earnings are equivalent to the Federal minimum wage multiplied by 30 hours that, because of circumstances beyond the individual's control, subsequently either does not materialize or results in employment of less than 30 hours a week or weekly earnings of less than the Federal minimum wage multiplied by 30 hours; and
(viii) Leaving a job in connection with patterns of employment in which workers frequently move from one employer to another such as migrant farm labor or construction work. There may be some circumstances where households will apply for food stamp benefits between jobs particularly in cases where work may not yet be available at the new job site. Even though employment at the new site has not actually begun, the quitting of the previous employment must be considered as with good cause if it is part of the pattern of that type of employment.
(4) Verification. To the extent that the information given by the household is questionable, as defined in § 273.2(f)(2), State agencies must request verification of the household's statements. The primary responsibility for providing verification, as provided in § 273.2(f)(5), rests with the household.
(j) Voluntary quit and reduction of work effort—(1) Period for establishing voluntary quit and reduction of work effort. For the purpose of establishing that a voluntary quit without good cause or reduction in work effort without good cause occurred prior to applying for food stamps, a State agency may, at its option, choose a period between 30 and 60 days before application in which to determine voluntary quit or reduction in work effort.
(2) Individual ineligibility. An individual is ineligible to participate in the Food Stamp Program if, in a period established by the State agency between 30 and 60 day before applying for food stamp benefits or at any time thereafter, the individual:
(i) Voluntarily and without good cause quits a job of 30 hours a week or more; or
(ii) Reduces his or her work effort voluntarily and without good cause and, after the reduction, is working less than 30 hours per week.
(3) Determining whether a voluntary quit or reduction of work effort occurred and application processing. (i) When a household files an application for participation, or when a participating household reports the loss of a source of income or a reduction in household earnings, the State agency must determine whether any household member voluntarily quit his or her job or reduced his or her work effort. Benefits must not be delayed beyond the normal processing times specified in § 273.2 pending the outcome of this determination.
(ii) The voluntary quit provision applies if the employment involved 30 hours or more per week or provided weekly earnings at least equivalent to the Federal minimum wage multiplied by 30 hours; the quit occurred within a period established by the State agency between 30 to 60 days prior to the date of application or anytime thereafter; and the quit was without good cause. Changes in employment status that result from terminating a self-employment enterprise or resigning from a job at the demand of the employer will not be considered a voluntary quit for purposes of this paragraph (j). An employee of the Federal Government, or of a State or local government who participates in a strike against such government, and is dismissed from his or her job because of participation in the strike, will be considered to have voluntarily quit his or her job without good cause. If an individual quits a job, secures new employment at comparable wages or hours and is then laid off or, through no fault of his own, loses the new job, the individual must not be disqualified for the earlier quit.
(iii) The reduction of work effort provision applies if, before the reduction, the individual was employed 30 hours or more per week; the reduction occurred within a period established by the State agency between 30 and 60 days prior to the date of application or anytime thereafter; and the reduction was voluntary and without good cause. If the individual reduces his or her work hours to less than 30 a week, but continues to earn weekly wages that exceed the Federal minimum wage multiplied by 30 hours, the individual remains exempt from Program work requirements, in accordance with paragraph (b)(1)(vii) of this section, and the reduction in work effort provision does not apply. Minor variations in the number of hours worked or in the weekly minimum wage equivalent wages are inevitable and must be taken into consideration when assessing a recipient's compliance with Program work rules.
(iv) In the case of an applicant household, the State agency must determine if any household member subject to Food Stamp Program work requirements voluntarily quit his or her job or reduced his or her work effort within a period established by the State agency between 30 and 60 days prior to date of application. If the State agency learns that a household has lost a source of income or experienced a reduction in income after the date of application but before the household is certified, the State agency must determine whether a voluntary quit or reduction in work effort occurred.
(v) Upon determining that an individual voluntarily quit employment or reduced work effort, the State agency must determine if the voluntary quit or reduction of work effort was with good cause as defined in paragraph (i) of this section.
(vi) In the case of an individual who is a member of an applicant household, if the voluntary quit or reduction in work effort was without good cause, the individual will be determined ineligible to participate and will be disqualified according to the State agency's established minimum mandatory sanction schedule. The ineligible individual must be considered an ineligible household member, pursuant to § 273.1(b)(7). The disqualification is effective upon the determination of eligibility for the remaining household members. If the individual who becomes ineligible is the head of the household, as defined in § 273.1(d)(2), the State agency may choose to disqualify the entire household, in accordance with paragraph (f)(5) of this section. If the State agency chooses to disqualify the household, the State agency must provide the applicant household with a notice of denial in accordance with § 273.2(g)(3). The notice must inform the household of the proposed period of disqualification; its right to reapply at the end of the disqualification period; and of its right to a fair hearing. The household's disqualification is effective upon the issuance of the notice of denial.
(vii) In the case of an individual who is a member of a participating household, if the State agency determines that the individual voluntarily quit his or her job or reduced his or her work effort without good cause while participating in the program or discovers that the individual voluntarily quit his or her job or reduced his or her work effort without good cause during a period established by the State agency between 30 and 60 days prior to the date of application for benefits or between application and certification, the State agency must provide the individual with a notice of adverse action as specified in § 273.13 within 10 days after the determination of a quit or reduction in work effort. The notification must contain the particular act of noncompliance committed, the proposed period of ineligibility, the actions that may be taken to avoid the disqualification, and it must specify that the individual, if otherwise eligible, may resume participation at the end of the disqualification period if the State agency determines the individual to be in compliance with Program work requirements. The individual will be disqualified according to the State agency's established minimum mandatory sanction schedule. The ineligible individual must be considered an ineligible household member, pursuant to § 273.1(b)(7). The disqualification period will begin the first month following the expiration of the 10-day adverse notice period, unless the individual requests a fair hearing. If a voluntary quit or reduction in work effort occurs in the last month of a certification period, or is determined in the last 30 days of the certification period, the individual must be denied recertification for a period equal to the appropriate mandatory disqualification period, beginning with the day after the last certification period ends and continuing for the length of the disqualification, regardless of whether the individual reapplies for food stamps. Each individual has a right to a fair hearing to appeal a denial or termination of benefits due to a determination that the individual voluntarily quit his or her job or reduced his or her work effort without good cause. If the participating individual's benefits are continued pending a fair hearing and the State agency determination is upheld, the disqualification period must begin the first of the month after the hearing decision is rendered.
(viii) If the individual who voluntarily quit his or her job, or who reduced his or her work effort without good cause is the head of a household, as defined in § 273.1(d), the State agency, at its option, may disqualify the entire household from Food Stamp Program participation in accordance with paragraph (f)(5) of this section.
(4) Ending a voluntary quit or a reduction in work disqualification. Except in cases of permanent disqualification, following the end of the mandatory disqualification period for voluntarily quitting a job or reducing work effort without good cause, an individual may begin participation in the program if he or she reapplies and is determined eligible by the State agency. Eligibility may be reestablished during a disqualification and the individual, if otherwise eligible, may be permitted to resume participation if the individual becomes exempt from Program work requirements under paragraph (b)(1) of this section.
(5) Application in the final month of disqualification. Except in cases of permanent disqualification, if an application for participation in the Program is filed in the final month of the mandatory disqualification period, the State agency must, in accordance with § 273.10(a)(3), use the same application for the denial of benefits in the remaining month of disqualification and certification for any subsequent month(s) if all other eligibility criteria are met.
(k) Employment initiatives program—(1) General. In accordance with section 17(d)(1)(B) of the Food Stamp Act, qualified State agencies may elect to operate an employment initiatives program, in which an eligible household can receive the cash equivalent of its food stamp coupon allotment.
(2) State agency qualification. A State agency qualifies to operate an employment initiatives program if, during the summer of 1993, at least half of its food stamp households also received cash benefits from a State program funded under title IV-A of the Social Security Act.
(3) Qualified State agencies. The State agencies of Alaska, California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Wisconsin meet the qualification. These 10 State agencies may operate an employment initiatives program.
(4) Eligible households. A food stamp household in one of the 10 qualified State agencies may receive cash benefits in lieu of a food stamp coupon allotment if it meets the following requirements:
(i) The food stamp household elects to participate in an employment initiatives program;
(ii) An adult member of the household:
(A) Has worked in unsubsidized employment for the last 90 days, earning a minimum of $350 per month;
(B) Is receiving cash benefits under a State program funded under title IV-A of the Social Security Act; or
(C) Was receiving cash benefits under the State program but, while participating in the employment initiatives program, became ineligible because of earnings and continues to earn at least $350 a month from unsubsidized employment.
(5) Program Provisions. (i) Cash benefits provided in an employment initiatives program will be considered an allotment, as defined at § 271.2 of this chapter.
(ii) An eligible household receiving cash benefits in an employment initiatives program will not receive any other food stamp benefit during the period for which cash assistance is provided.
(iii) A qualified State agency operating an employment initiatives program must increase the cash benefit to participating households to compensate for any State or local sales tax on food purchases, unless FNS determines that an increase is unnecessary because of the limited nature of items subject to the State or local sales tax.
(iv) Any increase in cash assistance to account for a State or local sales tax on food purchases must be paid by the State agency.
(6) Evaluation. After two years of operating an employment initiatives program, a State agency must evaluate the impact of providing cash assistance in lieu of a food stamp coupon allotment to participating households. The State agency must provide FNS with a written report of its evaluation findings. The State agency, with the concurrence of FNS, will determine the content of the evaluation.
(l) Work supplementation program. In accordance with section 16(b) of the Food Stamp Act, States may operate work supplementation (or support) programs that allow the cash value of food stamp benefits and public assistance, such as cash assistance authorized under title IV-A of the Social Security Act or cash assistance under a program established by a State, to be provided to employers as a wage subsidy to be used for hiring and employing public assistance recipients. The goal of these programs is to promote self-sufficiency by providing public assistance recipients with work experience to help them move into unsubsidized jobs. In accordance with § 272.2(d)(1)(xiv) of this chapter, State agencies that wish to exercise their option to implement work supplementation programs must submit to FNS for approval a plan that complies with the provisions of this paragraph (l). Work supplementation programs may not be implemented without prior approval from FNS.
(1) Plan—(i) Assurances. The plan must contain the following assurances:
(A) The individual participating in a work supplementation program must not be employed by the employer at the time the individual enters the program;
(B) The wage subsidy received under the work supplementation program must be excluded from household income and resources during the term the individual is participating in work supplementation;
(C) The household must not receive a separate food stamp allotment while participating in the work supplementation program;
(D) An individual participating in a work supplementation program is excused from meeting any other work requirements;
(E) The work supplementation program must not displace any persons currently employed who are not supplemented or supported;
(F) The wage subsidy must not be considered income or resources under any Federal, State or local laws, including but not limited to, laws relating to taxation, welfare, or public assistance programs, and the household's food stamp allotment must not be decreased due to taxation or any other reason because of its use as a wage subsidy;
(G) The earned income deduction does not apply to the subsidized portion of wages received in a work supplementation program; and
(H) All work supplemented or supported employees must receive the same benefits (sick and personal leave, health coverage, workmen's compensation, etc.) as similarly situated coworkers who are not participating in work supplementation and wages paid under a wage supplementation or support program must meet the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act and other applicable employment laws.
(ii) Description. The plan must also describe:
(A) The procedures the State agency will use to ensure that the cash value of food stamp benefits for participating households are not subject to State or local sales taxes on food purchases. The costs of increasing household food stamp allotments to compensate for such sales taxes must be paid from State funds;
(B) State agency, employer and recipient obligations and responsibilities;
(C) The procedures the State agency will use to provide wage subsidies to employers and to ensure accountability;
(D) How public assistance recipients in the proposed work supplementation program will, within a specified period of time, be moved from supplemented or supported employment to employment that is not supplemented or supported;
(E) Whether the food stamp allotment and public assistance grant will be frozen at the time a recipient begins a subsidized job; and
(F) The procedures the State agency will use to ensure that work supplementation program participants do not incur any Federal, State, or local tax liabilities on the cash value of their food stamp benefits.
(2) Budget. In addition to the plan described in paragraph (l)(1) of this section, an operating budget for the proposed work supplementation program must be submitted to FNS.
(3) Approval. FNS will review the initial plan and any subsequent amendments. Upon approval by FNS, the State agency must incorporate the approved work supplementation program plan or subsequent amendment into its State Plan of Operation and its operating budget must be included in the State agency budget. No plan or amendment may be implemented without approval from FNS.
(4) Reporting. State agencies operating work supplementation and support programs are required to comply with all FNS reporting requirements, including reporting the amount of benefits contributed to employers as a wage subsidy on the FNS-388, State Issuance and Participation Estimates; FNS-388A, Participation and Issuance by Project Area; FNS-46, Issuance Reconciliation Report; and SF-269, Addendum Financial Status Report. State agencies are also required to report administrative costs associated with work supplementation programs on the FNS-366A, Budget Projection and SF-269, Financial Status Report. Special codes for work supplementation programs will be assigned for reporting purposes.
(5) Funding. FNS will pay the cash value of a participating household's food stamp benefits to a State agency with an approved work supplementation program to pay to an employer as a wage subsidy, and will also reimburse the State agency for related administrative costs, in accordance with Section 16 of the Food Stamp Act.
(6) Quality control. Cases in which a household member is participating in a work supplementation program will be coded as not subject to review.
(m) Optional workfare program—(1) General. This paragraph (m) contains the rules to be followed in operating a food stamp workfare program. In workfare, nonexempt food stamp recipients may be required to perform work in a public service capacity as a condition of eligibility to receive the coupon allotment to which their household is normally entitled. The primary goal of workfare is to improve employability and enable individuals to move into regular employment.
(2) Program administration. (i) A food stamp workfare program may be operated as a component of a State agency's E&T program, or it may be operated independently. If the workfare program is part of an E&T program it must be included as a component in the State agency's E&T plan in accordance with the requirements of paragraph (c)(4) of this section. If it is operated independent of the E&T program, the State agency must submit a workfare plan to FNS for its approval. For the purpose of this paragraph (m), a political subdivision is any local government, including, but not limited to, any county, city, town or parish. A State agency may implement a workfare program statewide or in only some areas of the State. The areas of operation must be identified in the State agency's workfare or E&T plan.
(ii) Political subdivisions are encouraged, but not required, to submit their plans to FNS through their respective State agencies. At a minimum, however, plans must be submitted to the State agencies concurrent with their submission to FNS. Workfare plans and subsequent amendments must not be implemented prior to their approval by FNS.
(iii) When a State agency chooses to sponsor a workfare program by submitting a plan to FNS, it must incorporate the approved plan into its State Plan of Operations. When a political subdivision chooses to sponsor a workfare program by submitting a plan to FNS, the State agency is responsible as a facilitator in the administration of the program by disbursing Federal funding and meeting the requirements identified in paragraph (m)(4) of this section. When it is notified that FNS has approved a workfare plan submitted by a political subdivision in its State, the State agency must append that political subdivision's workfare plan to its own State Plan of Operations.
(iv) The operating agency is the administrative organization identified in the workfare plan as being responsible for establishing job sites, assigning eligible recipients to the job sites, and meeting the requirements of this paragraph (m). The operating agency may be any public or private, nonprofit organization. The State agency or political subdivision that submitted the workfare plan is responsible for monitoring the operating agency's compliance with the requirements of this paragraph (m) or of the workfare plan. The Department may suspend or terminate some or all workfare program funding, or withdraw approval of the workfare program from the State agency or political subdivision that submitted the workfare plan upon finding that that State agency or political subdivision, or their respective operating agencies, have failed to comply with the requirements of this paragraph (m) or of the workfare plan.
(v) State agencies or other political subdivisions must describe in detail in the plan how the political subdivision, working with the State agency and any other cooperating agencies that may be involved in the program, will fulfill the provisions of this paragraph (m). The plan will be a one-time submittal, with amendments submitted as needed to cover any changes in the workfare program as they occur.
(vi) State agencies or political subdivisions submitting a workfare plan must submit with the plan an operating budget covering the period from the initiation of the workfare program's implementation schedule to the close of the Federal fiscal year. In addition, an estimate of the cost for one full year of operation must be submitted together with the workfare plan. For subsequent fiscal years, the workfare program budget must be included in the State agency's budget.
(vii) If workfare plans are submitted by more than one political subdivision, each representing the same population (such as a city within a county), the Department will determine which political subdivision will have its plan approved. Under no circumstances will a food stamp recipient be subject to more than one food stamp workfare program. If a political subdivision chooses to operate a workfare program and represents a population which is already, at least in part, subject to a food stamp workfare program administered by another political subdivision, it must establish in its workfare plan how food stamp recipients will not be subject to more than one food stamp workfare program.
(3) Operating agency responsibilities. (i) General. The operating agency, as designated by the State agency or other political subdivision that submits a plan, is responsible for establishing and monitoring job sites, interviewing and assessing eligible recipients, assigning eligible recipients to appropriate job sites, monitoring participant compliance, making initial determinations of good cause for household noncompliance, and otherwise meeting the requirements of this paragraph (m).
(ii) Establishment of job sites. Workfare job slots may only be located in public or private nonprofit agencies. Contractual agreements must be established between the operating agency and organizations providing jobs that include, but are not limited to, designation of the slots available and designation of responsibility for provision of benefits, if any are required, to the workfare participant.
(iii) Notifying State agency of noncompliance. The operating agency must notify the State agency of noncompliance by an individual with a workfare obligation when it determines that the individual did not have good cause for the noncompliance. This notification must occur within five days of such a determination so that the State agency can make a final determination as provided in paragraph (m)(4)(iv) of this section.
(iv) Notifications. (A) State agencies must establish and use notices to notify the operating agency of workfare-eligible households. The notice must include the case name, case number, names of workfare-eligible household members, address of the household, certification period, and indication of any part-time work. If the State agency is calculating the hours of obligation, it must also include this in the notice. If the operating agency is computing the hours to be worked, include the monthly allotment amount.
(B) Operating agencies must establish and use notices to notify the workfare participant of where and when the participant is to report, to whom the participant is to report, a brief description of duties for the particular placement, and the number of hours to be worked.
(C) Operating agencies must establish and use notices to notify the State agency of failure by a household to meet its workfare obligation.
(v) Recordkeeping requirements. (A) Files that record activity by workfare participants must be maintained. At a minimum, these records must contain job sites, hours assigned, and hours completed.
(B) Program records must be maintained, for audit and review purposes, for a period of 3 years from the month of origin of each record. Fiscal records and accountable documents must be retained for 3 years from the date of fiscal or administrative closure of the workfare program. Fiscal closure, as used in this paragraph (m), means that workfare program obligations for or against the Federal government have been liquidated. Administrative closure, as used in this paragraph (m), means that the operating agency or Federal government has determined and documented that no further action to liquidate the workfare program obligation is appropriate. Fiscal records and accountable records must be kept in a manner that will permit verification of direct monthly reimbursements to recipients, in accordance with paragraph (m)(7)(iii) of this section.
(vi) Reporting requirements. The operating agency is responsible for providing information needed by the State agency to fulfill the reporting requirements contained in paragraph (m)(4)(v) of this section.
(vii) Disclosure. The provisions of § 272.1(c) of this chapter restricting the use and disclosure of information obtained from food stamp households is applicable to the administration of the workfare program.
(4) State agency responsibilities. (i) If a political subdivision chooses to operate a workfare program, the State agency must cooperate with the political subdivision in developing a plan.
(ii) The State agency must determine at certification or recertification which household members are eligible for the workfare program and inform the household representative of the nature of the program and of the penalties for noncompliance. If the State agency is not the operating agency, each member of a household who is subject to workfare under paragraph (m)(5)(i) of this section must be referred to the organization which is the operating agency. The information identified in paragraph (m)(3)(iv)(A) of this section must be forwarded to the operating agency within 5 days after the date of household certification. Computation of hours to be worked may be delegated to the operating agency.
(iii) The State agency must inform the household and the operating agency of the effect of any changes in a household's circumstances on the household's workfare obligation. This includes changes in benefit levels or workfare eligibility.
(iv) Upon notification by the operating agency that a participant has failed to comply with the workfare requirement without good cause, the State agency must make a final determination as to whether or not the failure occurred and whether there was good cause for the failure. If the State agency determines that the participant did not have good cause for noncompliance, a sanction must be processed as provided in paragraphs (f)(1)(i) and (f)(1)(ii) of this section. The State agency must immediately inform the operating agency of the months during which the sanction will apply.
(v) The State agency must submit quarterly reports to FNS within 45 days of the end of each quarter identifying for that quarter for that State:
(A) The number of households with workfare-eligible recipients referred to the operating agency. A household will be counted each time it is referred to the operating agency;
(B) The number of households assigned to jobs each month by the operating agency;
(C) The number of individuals assigned to jobs each month by the operating agency;
(D) The total number of hours worked by participants; and
(E) The number of individuals against which sanctions were applied. An individual being sanctioned over two quarters should only be reported as sanctioned for the earlier quarter.
(vi) The State agency may, at its option, assume responsibility for monitoring all workfare programs in its State to assure that there is compliance with this section and with the plan submitted and approved by FNS. Should the State agency assume this responsibility, it would act as agent for FNS, which is ultimately responsible for ensuring such compliance. Should the State agency determine that noncompliance exists, it may withhold funding until compliance is achieved or FNS directs otherwise.
(5) Household responsibilities. (i) Participation requirement. Participation in workfare, if assigned by the State agency, is a Food Stamp Program work requirement for all nonexempt household members, as provided in paragraph (a) of this section. In addition:
(A) Those recipients exempt from Food Stamp Program work requirements because they are subject to and complying with any work requirement under title IV of the Social Security Act are subject to workfare if they are currently involved less than 20 hours a week in title IV work activities. Those recipients involved 20 hours a week or more may be subject to workfare at the option of the political subdivision; and
(B) Those recipients exempt from Food Stamp Program work requirements because they have applied for or are receiving unemployment compensation are subject to workfare.
(ii) Household obligation. The maximum total number of hours of work required of a household each month is determined by dividing the household's coupon allotment by the Federal or State minimum wage, whichever is higher. Fractions of hours of obligation may be rounded down. The household's hours of obligation for any given month may not be carried over into another month.
(6) Other program requirements. (i) Conditions of employment. (A) A participant may be required to work a maximum of 30 hours per week. This maximum must take into account hours worked in any other compensated capacity (including hours of participation in a title IV work program) by the participant on a regular or predictable part-time basis. With the participant's consent, the hours to be worked may be scheduled in such a manner that more than 30 hours are worked in one week, as long as the total for that month does not exceed the weekly average of 30 hours.
(B) No participant will be required to work more than eight hours on any given day without his or her consent.
(C) No participant will be required to accept an offer of workfare employment if it fails to meet the criteria established in paragraphs (h)(1)(iii), (h)(1)(iv), (h)(2)(i), (h)(2)(ii), (h)(2)(iv), and (h)(2)(v) of this section.
(D) If the workfare participant is unable to report for job scheduling, to appear for scheduled workfare employment, or to complete the entire workfare obligation due to compliance with Unemployment Insurance requirements; other Food Stamp Program work requirements established in paragraph (a)(1) of this section; or the job search requirements established in paragraph (e)(1)(i) of this section, that inability must not be considered a refusal to accept workfare employment. If the workfare participant informs the operating agency of the time conflict, the operating agency must, if possible, reschedule the missed activity. If the rescheduling cannot be completed before the end of the month, that must not be considered as cause for disqualification.
(E) The operating agency must assure that all persons employed in workfare jobs receive job-related benefits at the same levels and to the same extent as similar non-workfare employees. These are benefits related to the actual work being performed, such as workers' compensation, and not to the employment by a particular agency, such as health benefits. Of those benefits required to be offered, any elective benefit that requires a cash contribution by the participant will be optional at the discretion of the participant.
(F) The operating agency must assure that all workfare participants experience the same working conditions that are provided to non-workfare employees similarly employed.
(G) The provisions of section 2(a)(3) of the Service Contract Act of 1965 (Public Law 89-286), relating to health and safety conditions, apply to the workfare program.
(H) Operating agencies must not place a workfare participant in a work position that has the effect of replacing or preventing the employment of an individual not participating in the workfare program. Vacancies due to hiring freezes, terminations, or lay-offs must not be filled by workfare participants unless it can be demonstrated that the vacancies are a result of insufficient funds to sustain former staff levels.
(I) Workfare jobs must not, in any way, infringe upon the promotional opportunities that would otherwise be available to regular employees.
(J) Workfare jobs must not be related in any way to political or partisan activities.
(K) The cost of workers' compensation or comparable protection provided to workfare participants by the State agency, political subdivision, or operating agency is a matchable cost under paragraph (m)(7) of this section. However, whether or not this coverage is provided, in no case is the Federal government the employer in these workfare programs (unless a Federal agency is the job site). The Department does not assume liability for any injury to or death of a workfare participant while on the job.
(L) The nondiscrimination requirement provided in § 272.6(a) of this chapter applies to all agencies involved in the workfare program.
(ii) Job search period. The operating agency may establish a job search period of up to 30 days following certification prior to making a workfare assignment during which the potential participant is expected to look for a job. This period may only be established at household certification, not at recertification. The potential participant would not be subject to any job search requirements beyond those required under this section during this time.
(iii) Participant reimbursement. The operating agency must reimburse participants for transportation and other costs that are reasonably necessary and directly related to participation in the program. These other costs may include the cost of child care, or the cost of personal safety items or equipment required for performance of work if these items are also purchased by regular employees. These other costs may not include the cost of meals away from home. No participant cost reimbursed under a workfare program operated under Title IV of the Social Security Act or any other workfare program may be reimbursed under the food stamp workfare program. Only reimbursement of participant costs up to but not in excess of $25 per month for any participant will be subject to Federal cost sharing as provided in paragraph (m)(7) of this section. Reimbursed child care costs may not be claimed as expenses and used in calculating the child care deduction for determining household benefits. In accordance with paragraph (m)(4)(i) of this section, a State agency may decide what its reimbursement policy shall be.
(iv) Failure to comply. When a workfare participant is determined by the State agency to have failed or refused without good cause to comply with the requirements of this paragraph (m), the provisions of paragraph (f) of this section will apply.
(v) Benefit overissuances. If a benefit overissuance is discovered for a month or months in which a participant has already performed a workfare or work component requirement, the State agency must apply the claim recovery procedures as follows:
(A) If the person who performed the work is still subject to a work obligation, the State must determine how may extra hours were worked because of the improper benefit. The participant should be credited those extra hours toward future work obligations; and
(B) If a workfare or work component requirement does not continue, the State agency must determine whether the overissuance was the result of an intentional program violation, an inadvertent household error, or a State agency error. For an intentional program violation a claim should be established for the entire amount of the overissuance. If the overissuance was caused by an inadvertent household error or State agency error, the State agency must determine whether the number of hours worked in workfare are more than the number which could have been assigned had the proper benefit level been used in calculating the number of hours to work. A claim must be established for the amount of the overissuance not “worked off,” if any. If the hours worked equal the amount of hours calculated by dividing the overissuance by the minimum wage, no claim will be established. No credit for future work requirements will be given.
(7) Federal financial participation—(i) Administrative costs. Fifty percent of all administrative costs incurred by State agencies or political subdivisions in operating a workfare program will be funded by the Federal government. Such costs include those related to recipient participation in workfare, up to $25 per month for any participant, as indicated in paragraph (m)(6)(iii) of this section. Such costs do not include the costs of equipment, capital expenditures, tools or materials used in connection with the work performed by workfare participants, the costs of supervising workfare participants, the costs of reimbursing participants for meals away from home, or reimbursed expenses in excess of $25 per month for any participant. State agencies must not use any portion of their annual 100 percent Federal E&T allocations to fund the administration of optional workfare programs under section 20 of the Food Stamp Act and this paragraph (m).
(ii) Funding mechanism. The State agencies have responsibility for disbursing Federal funds used for the workfare program through the State agencies' Letters of Credit. The State agency must also assure that records are being maintained which support the financial claims being made to FNS. This will be for all programs, regardless of who submits the plan. Mechanisms for funding local political subdivisions which have submitted plans must be established by the State agencies.
(iii) Fiscal recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Workfare-related costs must be identified by the State agency on the Financial Status Report (Form SF-269) as a separate column. All financial records, supporting documents, statistical records, negotiated contracts, and all other records pertinent to workfare program funds must be maintained in accordance with § 277.12 of this chapter.
(iv) Sharing workfare savings—(A) Entitlement. A political subdivision is entitled to share in the benefit reductions that occur when a workfare participant begins employment while participating in workfare for the first time, or within thirty days of ending the first participation in workfare.
(1) To begin employment means to appear at the place of employment and to begin working.
(2) First participation in workfare means performing work for the first time in a particular workfare program. The only break in participation that does not end the first participation will be due to the participant's taking a job which does not affect the household's allotment by an entire month's wages and which is followed by a return to workfare.
(B) Calculating the benefit reductions. The political subdivision will calculate benefit reductions from each workfare participant's employment as follows.
(1) Unless the political subdivision knows otherwise, it will presume that the benefit reduction equals the difference between the last allotment issued before the participant began the new employment and the first allotment that reflects a full month's wages, earned income deduction, and dependent care deduction attributable to the new job.
(2) If the political subdivision knows of other changes besides the new job that affect the household's allotment after the new job began, the political subdivision will obtain the first allotment affected by an entire month's wages from the new job. The political subdivision will then recalculate the allotment to account for the wages, earned income deduction, and dependent care deduction attributable to the new job. In recalculating the allotment the political subdivision will also replace any benefits from a State program funded under title IV-A of the Social Security Act received after the new job with benefits received in the last month before the new job began. The difference between the first allotment that accounts for the new job and the recalculated allotment will be the benefit reduction.
(3) The political subdivision's share of the benefit reduction is three times this difference, divided by two.
(4) If, during these procedures, an error is discovered in the last allotment issued before the new employment began, that allotment must be corrected before the savings are calculated.
(C) Accounting. The reimbursement from workfare will be reported and paid as follows:
(1) The political subdivision will report its enhanced reimbursement to the State agency in accordance with paragraph (m)(7)(iii) of this section.
(2) The Food and Nutrition Service will reimburse the political subdivision in accordance with paragraph (m)(7)(ii) of this section.
(3) The political subdivision will, upon request, make available for review sufficient documentation to justify the amount of the enhanced reimbursement.
(4) The Food and Nutrition Service will reimburse only the political subdivision's reimbursed administrative costs in the fiscal year in which the workfare participant began new employment and which are acceptable according to paragraph (m)(7)(i) of this section.
(8) Voluntary workfare program. State agencies and political subdivisions may operate workfare programs whereby participation by food stamp recipients is voluntary. In such a program, the penalties for failure to comply, as provided in paragraph (f) of this section, will not apply for noncompliance. The amount of hours to be worked will be negotiated between the household and the operating agency, though not to exceed the limits provided under paragraph (m)(5)(ii) of this section. In addition, all protections provided under paragraph (m)(6)(i) of this section shall continue to apply. Those State agencies and political subdivisions choosing to operate such a program shall indicate in their workfare plan how their staffing will adapt to anticipated and unanticipated levels of participation. The Department will not approve plans which do not show that the benefits of the workfare program, in terms of hours worked by participants and reduced food stamp allotments due to successful job attainment, are expected to exceed the costs of such a program. In addition, if the Department finds that an approved voluntary program does not meet this criterion, the Department reserves the right to withdraw approval.
(9) Comparable workfare programs. In accordance with section 6(o)(2)(C) of the Food Stamp Act, State agencies and political subdivisions may establish programs comparable to workfare under this paragraph (m) for the purpose of providing ABAWDs subject to the time limits specified at § 273.24 a means of fulfilling the work requirements in order to remain eligible for food stamps. While comparable to workfare in that they require the participant to work for his or her household's food stamp allotment, these programs may or may not conform to other workfare requirements. State agencies or political subdivisions desiring to operate a comparable workfare program must meet the following conditions:
(i) The maximum number of hours worked weekly in a comparable workfare activity, combined with any other hours worked during the week by a participant for compensation (in cash or in kind) in any other capacity, must not exceed 30;
(ii) Participants must not receive a fourth month of food stamp benefits (the first month for which they would not be eligible under the time limit) without having secured a workfare position or without having met their workfare obligation. Participation must be verified timely to prevent issuance of a month's benefits for which the required work obligation is not met;
(iii) The State agency or political subdivision must maintain records to support the issuance of benefits to comparable workfare participants beyond the third month of eligibility; and
(iv) The State agency or political subdivision must provide a description of its program, including a methodology for ensuring compliance with (m)(9)(ii) of this section. The description should be submitted to the appropriate Regional office, with copies forwarded to the Food Stamp Program National office.
[67 FR 41603, June 19, 2002, as amended at 71 FR 33382, June 9, 2006]

Title 7 published on 2014-01-01

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