1240-01-49-.04 - FAILURE TO COMPLY, CONCILIATION, GOOD CAUSE, AND SANCTIONS

1240-01-49-.04. FAILURE TO COMPLY, CONCILIATION, GOOD CAUSE, AND SANCTIONS

(1) The Department shall sanction a Families First/TANF recipient who is required to participate in a work and/or educational activities requirement and who fails without good cause, to participate in the required work and/or educational activities in his/her Personal Responsibility Plan.

(a) Failure to participate in required work and/or educational activities includes, but is not limited to, refusal to cooperate in the required activities, failure to make satisfactory progress in the required activities, failure to meet minimum attendance standards for the required activities, refusal to participate in the activities directed towards the recipient's employment goals, falsifying employment documentation, refusal to accept suitable employment, refusal to participate in Family Focused Solutions (FFS) if FFS hours are being used as job search/ job readiness hours, or voluntarily quitting employment without good cause.

1. Following non-compliance with required work and/or educational activities, a sanction shall make the entire assistance unit (AU) ineligible during the mandatory period of case closure when the Families First/TANF recipient to be sanctioned is the caretaker or either parent in a two (2) parent AU.

2. Following non-compliance with required work and/or educational activities, a sanction shall be applied to remove a Families First/TANF recipient from the AU when that individual is a minor parent who is also a dependent child in an AU.

(b) Failure to make satisfactory progress shall be determined by a Families First/TANF recipient's grades in educational activities, objective performance measurements of the recipient's employer, or other objective criteria for the measurement of a recipient's performance for each specific work and/or educational activity. The recipient is responsible for obtaining such written documentation as the Department determines may be necessary to verify satisfactory progress.

(c) Exempted Individuals Volunteering. If a Families First/TANF recipient chooses to volunteer to participate in the work and/or educational activities requirement, the recipient may retain exempt status if he/she choose not to comply, except those individuals who are caretakers, in a single-parent household, of a child at least sixteen (16) weeks of age.

(2) Attendance Standards and Good Cause.

(a) All Families First/TANF work and/or educational activities requirements are mandatory, unless otherwise provided in this Chapter. Recipients shall be sanctioned for any unexcused absences from Families First/TANF work and/or educational activities requirements. A recipient's first unexcused absence is considered non-compliance and is grounds for a sanction.

(b) Good cause may excuse a Families First/TANF recipient's failure to comply with their work and/or educational activities requirement. Good cause reasons include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Recipient is determined through medical evidence to be physically or mentally unable to perform the work and/or educational activities requirement assigned;

2. Recipient lacks child care;

3. Recipient has a serious household emergency;

4. Recipient meets a work and/or educational activities requirement exemption criterion;

5. Recipient's health or safety is at risk;

6. Recipient lacks transportation;

7. Recipient voluntarily quits employment with good cause as set forth in Rule 1240-01-49-.06;

8. Recipient is under threat of domestic violence; or

9. Any other factor which exists that is beyond the control of the Families First/TANF recipient.

(3) The Department shall impose sanctions on all Families First/TANF recipients who are determined non-compliant, without good cause, with the work and/or educational activities requirements included in his/her Personal Responsibility Plan as set forth below.

(a) Notification of non-compliant Families First/TANF recipients. The Department shall receive notification from the work and educational service providers for Families First/TANF recipients to determine whether the recipient is non-compliant with required work and/or educational activities.

(b) ADA Evaluation. Prior to issuing a notice of adverse action, the Department's eligibility counselor shall review the referred recipient's case to determine whether the recipient may have any disabilities, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, or barriers to employment that prevent the recipient from complying with required work and/or educational activities.

(c) Conciliation and Adverse Action.

1. Notice of Adverse Action. If the Department's eligibility counselor determines that a Families First/TANF recipient is non-compliant with assigned work and/ or educational activities, the eligibility counselor shall close the recipient's Families First/TANF case and issue the non-compliant recipient a notice of adverse action. The notice of adverse action shall contain:

(i) Notice to the Families First/TANF recipient that he/she must contact the Department's eligibility counselor within ten (10) calendar days of the date of the notice to provide verification of good cause for non-compliance with work and/or educational activities;

(ii) The effective date of closure; and

(iii) Notice of the Department's appeal procedures.

2. Conciliation/Adverse Action Period. The Families First/TANF recipient must contact the Department during the ten (10) calendar day conciliation/adverse action period to provide verification of good cause. If the recipient contacts the Department during the ten (10) calendar day conciliation/adverse action period and provides adequate verification of good cause the Department shall reverse the closure of the recipient's Families First/TANF case.

3. Sanction Period. If the non-compliant recipient fails to provide the Department adequate verification of good cause during the ten (10) calendar day conciliation/adverse action period, the recipient's case closure shall be effective on the date set forth in the notice of adverse action and a sanction shall be applied to the recipient's Families First/TANF case pursuant to paragraph (4) below.

(4) Length of Sanction. The mandatory sanction shall be imposed for the following time periods:

(a) First violation. The first violation shall result in the imposition of a one (1) month case closure period of ineligibility for cash assistance.

(b) Second violation. The second violation shall result in the imposition of a three (3) month case closure period of ineligibility for cash assistance.

(c) Third violation. The third violation shall result in the imposition of a six (6) month case closure period of ineligibility for cash assistance.

(d) Fourth or Subsequent Violation. The fourth or subsequent violation shall result in a twelve (12) month case closure period of ineligibility for cash assistance.

(e) The sanction shall begin with the next recurring month following the expiration of the adverse action period, unless the participant timely appeals within ten (10) days of the date of the conciliation/adverse action notice.

(5) Child Care. The Department shall provide at least three (3) months of transitional child care to any Families First/TANF recipient whose case is closed due to noncompliance with the work and/or educational activities requirements.

(6) Early Re-entry during Case Closure. A Families First/TANF recipient whose case was closed due to noncompliance with the work and/or educational activities requirement may apply for early re-entry if he/she meets the following criteria:

(a) The early re-entry criteria during the mandatory sanction periods are:

1. The receipt of cash assistance would prevent removal of a child from the home by the Department of Children's Services;

2. The recipient has become disabled or incapacitated according to the Families First/TANF work activities exemption policy;

3. The recipient is under a threat of domestic violence;

4. The receipt of cash assistance would prevent the recipient's family or AU from becoming homeless; or

5. The recipient has assumed the responsibility of caring for an in-home disabled relative.

(b) Fourth or Subsequent Sanction Period. If a non-compliant recipient has been continuously employed for a period of three (3) months for at least thirty (30) hours per week, is still employed, and is able to verify the employment, then that recipient is eligible for early re-entry during a fourth or subsequent sanction period.

(7) Families First/TANF Eligibility after Sanction.

(a) Applications filed prior to the expiration of the mandatory sanction period shall be denied due to ineligibility for benefits during the sanction period unless the applicant is able to show early re-entry criteria, as set forth in paragraph (6) above.

(b) Participation in Families First/TANF after a sanction due to non-compliance with the work and/or educational activities requirement may resume when:

1. The mandatory sanction period has expired;

2. The former recipient timely files a new Families First/TANF application as required by subparagraph (a) of this paragraph (7) and meets all other eligibility criteria; and

3. The former Families First/TANF recipient complies with required work and/or educational activities for ten (10) consecutive business days after re-application.

(c) The Department shall consider a former recipient's Families First/TANF application pending during the mandatory ten (10) consecutive business day compliance period and the recipient shall receive childcare, as needed.

(8) Appeals. Any individual who receives notification of a case closure as a result of non-compliance with the work and/or educational activities requirement may timely appeal according to the appeal procedures outlined in Chapter 1240-05 and Title 4, Chapter 5, Part 3 of the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act.

(a) To continue receiving benefits, without the imposition of a sanction, the Families First/TANF recipient must request a hearing during the ten (10) day period following the notice of adverse action. If the recipient appeals during the adverse action period, no sanctions shall be imposed until a final decision is entered.

(b) Overpayments. If a final decision upholding the sanction decision is entered, the cash assistance received during the sanction period pending the fair hearing will be considered an overpayment and DHS may collect the overpayment in accordance with the procedures set forth in Chapter 1240-01-52.

(Original rule filed December 2, 1996; effective February 15, 1997. Amendment filed December 13, 2002; effective February 26, 2003. Amendment filed December 19, 2003; effective March 3, 2004. Public necessity rule filed July 2, 2007; expired December 14, 2007. Amendment filed October 1, 2007; effective December 15, 2007. Repeal and new rule filed April 2, 2014; effective July 1, 2014. Emergency rules filed September 30, 2016; effective through March 29, 2017. Amendments filed December 8, 2016; effective March 8, 2017.)

Authority: T.C.A. §§ 4-5-201 et seq., 4-5-202, 4-5-209, 71-1-105, 71-1-105(12), 71-3-101 through 71-3-115, 71-3-104(a), (d)(1)(B) and (C), (g) and (h), 71-3-107(c)(1) and (f), and 71-3-108(d)(2)(D); 42 U.S.C. §§ 601 et seq., 42 U.S.C. § 602, 42 U.S.C. § 607(c)(2)(C), 42 U .S.C. § 607(c), (d)(1) through (12) and (e), 42 U.S.C. § 608, 42 U.S.C. § 608(a)(4) and 42 U.S.C. § 609; 42 U.S.C.A. § 1315; Federal Waiver of July 26, 1996; Acts of 1996, Chapter 950, and 45 C.F.R. §§ 250.34 through 250.36, § 1115 of the Social Security Act, 45 C.F.R. § 260.30, 45 C.F.R. § 260.31, 45 C .F.R. § 261.2(b) through (m), 45 C.F.R. § 261.2(n), 45 C.F.R. § 261.10, 45 C .F.R. § 261.30, 45 C.F.R. § 261.31 and 45 C.F.R. § 261.32; Deficit Reduction Act 2005 ( Pub. L. 109-171 §§ 7101 and 7102, February 8, 2006); 71 Federal Register 37454 (June 29, 2006), Public Acts of 2007, Chapter 31, and 42 U.S.C. § 9858c(c)(2)(N) (i-iii).

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