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Definition of "Assistance Paid to the Family" for Child Support Enforcement Collection Purposes

AT-99-10

Published: September 15, 1999
Information About:
Other Public Partners, TANF (IV-A), State/Local Child Support Agencies
Topics:
Case Management, Collections/Distribution/State Disbursement Unit (SDU)
Types:
Policy, Action Transmittals (AT)
Tags:
Pass-through/Family Distribution

ACTION TRANSMITTAL

OCSE-AT-99-10

September 15, 1999

 

TO: STATE AGENCIES ADMINISTERING A CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM APPROVED UNDER TITLE IV-D OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT AND OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES

SUBJECT: Definition of "Assistance Paid to the Family" for Child Support Enforcement Collection Purposes

BACKGROUND:

On August 19, 1998, the Office of Child Support Enforcement issued OCSE–AT-98-24 that included definitions of "Assistance from the State" under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and "Assistance paid to the family" for child support enforcement collection purposes. The definition of "assistance from the State" for TANF purposes referenced TANF-ACF-PA-97-1, dated January 31, 1997. "Assistance paid to the family" for child support purposes was defined as money payments in cash, checks, or warrants immediately redeemable at par to eligible families under a State plan approved under title IV-A. Subsequently, on April 12, 1999, final rules for the TANF program were published (see 64 FR 17720). These rules are effective October 1, 1999. The definition of "assistance" for TANF purposes is found at 45 CFR 260.31 and includes supportive services, such as transportation and child care, provided to families who are not employed, but excludes these services from the definition when provided to families who are employed. Paragraph (b) at 45 CFR 260.31 lists all the exclusions of supportive services and benefits from the definition of "assistance" under the TANF program. Section 260.31 reads as follows:

"260.31 What does the term "assistance" mean?

(a)(1) The term "assistance" includes cash, payments, vouchers, and other forms of benefits designed to meet a family’s ongoing basic needs (i.e., for food, clothing, shelter, utilities, household goods, personal care items, and general incidental expenses).

(2) It includes such benefits even when they are:

(i) Provided in the form of payments by a TANF agency, or other agency on its behalf, to individual recipients; and

(ii) Conditioned on participation in work experience or community service (or any other work activity under section 261.30 of this chapter).

(3) Except where excluded under paragraph (b) of this section, it also includes supportive services such as transportation and child care provided to families who are not employed.

(b) It excludes:

  1. Nonrecurrent, short-term benefits that:
 

(i) Are designed to deal with a specific crisis situation or episode of need;

(ii) Are not intended to meet recurrent or ongoing needs; and

(iii) Will not extend beyond four months.

(2) Work subsidies (i.e., payments to employers or third parties to help cover the costs of employee wages, benefits, supervision, and training);

(3) Supportive services such as child care and transportation provided to families who are employed;

(4) Refundable earned income tax credits;

(5) Contributions to, and distributions from, Individual Development Accounts;

(6) Services such as counseling, case management, peer support, child care information and referral, transitional services, job retention, job advancement, and other employment-related services that do not provide basic income support; and

(7) Transportation benefits provided under a Job Access or Reverse Commute project, pursuant to section 404(k) of the Act, to an individual who is not otherwise receiving assistance.

(c) The definition of the term assistance specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section:

(1) Does not apply to the use of the term assistance under part 263, subpart A, or at part 264, subpart B, of this chapter; and

(2) Does not preclude a State from providing other types of benefits and services in support of the TANF goal at section 260.20(a)."

For consistency with the definition of "assistance" for TANF purposes under 45 CFR 260.31, OCSE is revising the definitions of "assistance from the State" for TANF purposes and "assistance paid to the family" for child support enforcement purposes.

"Assistance paid to the family" for child support distribution purposes must meet the following two tests:

  1. Is it considered "assistance from the State" under the TANF program? "Assistance paid to the family" includes only payments for benefits and services that are included in the TANF definition of assistance at 45 CFR 260.31. For example, the TANF definition of "assistance" includes supportive services, such as transportation and child care provided to families who are not employed, but excludes these same services from the definition of assistance, under section 260.31(b), when provided to families who are employed.
  2. Is it assistance "paid to the family"? "Assistance paid to the family" includes only assistance as defined in 45 CFR 260.31 which is in the form of money payments in cash, checks, or warrants immediately redeemable at par to eligible families under a State plan approved under title IV-A.

The amount of "assistance paid to the family" which has not been reimbursed by assigned support collections is used to calculate the total amount of "unreimbursed assistance" or "URA" defined in OCSE-AT-98-24 as:

"UNREIMBURSED ASSISTANCE or URA. – The term ‘unreimbursed assistance’ means the cumulative amount of assistance paid to the family for all months which has not been repaid by assigned support collections. The total amount of unreimbursed assistance paid to the family which a State may recover through the IV-D program is limited by the total amount of the assigned support obligation.

CONTENT: The following new definitions of "assistance from the State" for TANF purposes and "assistance paid to the family" for child support enforcement purposes replace the current definition found in OCSE-AT-98-24, II (a) and (b), under the heading of "Definitions used in this Action Transmittal":

ASSISTANCE PAID TO THE FAMILY -- The term "assistance paid to the family" for child support enforcement collection purposes, means assistance under the TANF program as defined in 45 CFR 260.31, which is in the form of money payments in cash, checks, or warrants immediately redeemable at par.

ASSISTANCE FROM THE STATE -- The term "assistance from the State" means assistance under the State program funded under title IV-A of the Act as defined in 45 CFR 260.31.

These definitions are effective October 1, 1999.

RELATED REFERENCES:9OCSE-AT-98-24, dated August 19, 1998, and OCSE-AT-97-17, dated October 21, 1997.

 

INQUIRIES TO: Regional Administrators, ACF/OCSE

David Gray Ross

Commissioner

Office of Child Support Enforcement