7 CFR § 272.18 - National Accuracy Clearinghouse.

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§ 272.18 National Accuracy Clearinghouse.

(a) General.

(1) FNS shall establish an interstate data system, known as the National Accuracy Clearinghouse (NAC) to prevent individuals from receiving SNAP benefits in more than one State in a given month and shall institute processes and procedures for interacting with the system to prevent duplicate participation and assist households with disenrollment.

(2) Each State agency that administers SNAP shall participate in the NAC data matching system. State agencies shall take action on matches from the NAC to ensure participants are only receiving benefits in the State in which they reside and are otherwise eligible to receive them. State agencies are encouraged to integrate and automate NAC processes into SNAP eligibility systems and existing workflows to the fullest extent possible.

(3) Each participating State agency shall enter into a written computer matching agreement with FNS consistent with the requirements for matching programs in the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended by the Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act of 1988 and the Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Amendments of 1990 (5 U.S.C. 552a(o)), prior to participating in the NAC.

(b) States' reporting requirements.

(1) State agencies shall provide information for each active SNAP participant to the NAC according to procedures and formats established by FNS. For the purposes of the NAC, an active SNAP participant is defined as an individual who is approved to receive benefits for the benefit month in which the State agency is uploading the data. State agencies shall establish procedures to ensure the information provided is accurate and only includes active participants.

(2) Information provided to the NAC will be used for matching by other State agencies also matching with the NAC. Each State agency shall provide, once per working day in accordance with FNS procedures, the NAC data matching elements and other information as noted in paragraphs (b)(3) and (4) of this section for each active SNAP household member.

(3) For each individual, State agencies must report the following identifying information, referred to as NAC data matching elements, to the NAC: name, Social Security number, and date of birth. State agencies must transmit the NAC data matching elements to the system per the process specified by FNS. The NAC data matching elements are used by the NAC to determine the existence of positive matches.

(4) State agencies shall also report the following information: participant ID and, when applicable, a vulnerable individual flag. All information shall be reported in accordance with procedures provided by FNS. State agencies must comply with 7 CFR 273.6 in instances where a Social Security number is not available.

(i) A vulnerable individual flag is used to identify when precautions must be taken to protect the individual's information in the event of a match. A vulnerable individual can self-identify during the application or recertification process. State agencies also have the discretion to determine whether an individual meets the vulnerable individual definition in paragraph (a)(9) of this section if the individual does not self-identify.

(ii) A participant ID is the State agency's unique identifier for a participant or applicant.

(5) State agencies shall maintain the security, privacy, and accuracy of information submitted to the NAC, including ensuring that information provided to the NAC follows the standards and procedures provided by FNS and only includes active SNAP participants.

(c) Use of match data.

(1) NAC queries are conducted by the State agency by submitting the NAC data matching elements described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section for an individual, per the process specified by FNS. The system will compare the query against the daily upload of active SNAP participants provided to the NAC by the State agencies to determine if an individual is currently receiving SNAP benefits in another State. The NAC will indicate a positive match when the NAC data matching elements submitted for comparison are the same as those in one or more records in the NAC.

(2) Prior to conducting a NAC query at application, recertification, or the addition of a household member, the State agency shall follow verification procedures described in 7 CFR 273.2(f)(1)(v) for Social Security numbers, (f)(1)(vi) for residency, and (f)(1)(vii) for identity. After following these verification procedures, State agencies shall conduct a NAC query on the individual applying, recertifying, or being added to a household.

(3) When a State agency receives a positive match from a NAC query at application, recertification, or when adding a household member:

(i) The State agency shall have 10 days from the date the match is received to initiate action to resolve the match as described in paragraph (c)(3)(ii) of this section and notify the other State agency of the initiated action.

(ii) The State agency must resolve the match to determine the appropriate actions to take on the case. To resolve a match, State agencies may use information known to the State agency, must verify any questionable information in accordance with 7 CFR 273.2(f)(2), and must notify the individual of the match. States may not take any action to deny, terminate, suspend, or reduce SNAP benefits based on information received from the NAC until the information has been verified by the State agency and the individual has been provided notice of the match and an opportunity to respond to the notice, in accordance with § 272.12(c)(1).

(iii) Any communication or notice resulting from a NAC match must not include the location of the individual(s) identified in the match to protect vulnerable individuals.

(A) If the State agency needs more information to resolve the match or if the information it has could lead to a denial of benefits or other adverse action on the case, the State agency shall provide a written notice of match results that clearly explains what information is needed from the household and the consequences of failing to respond within the timeline provided in the notice. The notice must comply with this paragraph (c)(3)(iii) and § 272.4(b) bilingual requirements and must afford at least 10 days from the date the notice is mailed for a response.

(B) If the State agency is able to resolve the match and there is no potential for adverse action, a written notice of match results is not required. However, the State agency must provide a verbal notification of a match, which must be documented in the case file.

(iv) After the State agency has determined the appropriate disposition of the case, it shall promptly share the resolution information with the other State agency.

(v) The State agency must follow timeliness standards set forth in 7 CFR 273.2(g) and 273.14(d) for normal processing, and 7 CFR 273.2(i) for expedited service, as applicable. A lack of timely action or communication required by paragraph (c)(3)(i) of this section between the State agencies must not delay the determination of benefits for an individual.

(4) The NAC shall automatically conduct bulk matches on a monthly basis (“monthly bulk matches”) of the NAC data matching elements provided by all participating State agencies from the daily upload of active SNAP participants to discover existing duplicate participation and shall provide notifications to State agencies when matches are found for participants in their State.

(5) If a State agency receives information related to a NAC data match during the certification period for an individual currently participating in SNAP in the State, it must pursue clarification and verification by following the unclear information procedures provided in 7 CFR 273.12(c)(3)(iv) to provide notice and an opportunity to contest the information received before taking any adverse action. Information related to a NAC data match that may be received during the certification period includes:

(i) Notification of data matches directly from the NAC indicating that an active SNAP participant is receiving benefits in another State; and

(ii) Communication from another State agency based on a NAC data match indicating that an active SNAP participant is part of an applicant household or was added to an active household in another State.

(6) State agencies shall report and document instances in the household's case file where there is a match and the actions taken to resolve it per existing State operations.

(7) State agencies shall provide for the establishment and collection of claims as appropriate. The State agency that fails to meet the requirements in paragraph (c)(3) of this section or requirements at 7 CFR 273.12(c)(3)(iv) will be considered responsible for any duplicate participation that occurs. That State agency shall be responsible for the establishment and collection of the claim in accordance with regulations at 7 CFR 273.18.

(8) Information obtained from the NAC is subject to the disclosure provisions in § 272.1(c)(4). State agencies shall not use information obtained from the NAC for any purpose other than to prevent duplicate participation.

(9) State agencies shall establish a process to prevent the disclosure of any location information received from the NAC about any SNAP applicant or participant who is considered a vulnerable individual. A vulnerable individual, for the purpose of the NAC, includes but is not limited to, those who would be endangered by the dissemination of their information, regardless of their age or gender, such as a resident of a shelter for battered women and children as described in 7 CFR 271.2, a resident of a domestic violence shelter, or a person who self-identifies as fleeing domestic violence at any point during application, recertification, certification, or addition of a new household member. State agencies shall take steps to ensure that any information resulting from a NAC match, including identity and location, is protected during verification or resolution when a vulnerable individual is indicated in a positive match. The change in the household composition resulting from the move of the vulnerable individual must be communicated to the former household via a notice of adverse action per 7 CFR 273.11(g).

[87 FR 59650, Oct. 3, 2022]