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Requirements for Immediate Wage Withholding in All Orders Not Being Enforced Under Title IV-D

AT-93-06

Published: April 5, 1993
Information About:
State/Local Child Support Agencies
Topics:
Employer Responsibilities, Income/Wage Withholding, Federal Reporting, State Plan
Types:
Policy, Action Transmittals (AT)

ACTION TRANSMITTAL

OCSE-AT-93-06

April 5, 1993

TO:STATE AGENCIES ADMINISTERING CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT PLANS UNDER TITLE IV-D OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT AND OTHER INTERESTED INDIVIDUALS

SUBJECT:Statutory Requirements for Immediate Wage Withholding in All Child Support Orders Initially Issued In the State Not Being Enforced Under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act

STATUTORY REFERENCE:42 U.S.C. 666(a)(8)(B)

EFFECTIVE DATE:January 1, 1994

BACKGROUND:Section 101 of the Family Support Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-485) amended section 466 of the Social Security Act (the Act) to require that States enact laws and implement procedures for immediate wage withholding in certain cases. For those cases being enforced under title IV-D of the Act, section 466(b)(3)(A) requires States to provide for immediate withholding, in all new or modified orders established on and after November 1, 1990, regardless of whether child support payments are in arrears, on the effective date of the order. Two exceptions to imposing immediate withholding are permitted: (1) if one of the parties demonstrates, and the court or administrative process finds good cause not to require withholding; (2) or a written agreement is reached between both parties for an alternative arrangement. Final regulations at 45 CFR 303.100 implementing this statutory mandate were published on July 10, 1992 [OCSE-AT-92-02).

Section 101 of the Family Support Act also requires that, effective January 1, 1994, States implement immediate withholding in all support orders initially issued in the State which are not being enforced under title IV-D. This program instruction provides guidance for States in enacting laws anddeveloping procedures, in accordance with amended section 466(a)(8)(B) of the Act, under which all child support orders which are initially issued in the State on or after January 1, 1994, and are not being enforced under title IV-D of the Act are subject to immediate withholding.

ATTACHMENT: State Plan Preprint Page 2-12-8B

INQUIRIES: ACF Regional Administrators

Robert Harris

Acting Deputy Director

Office of Child Support Enforcement

I.Introduction

This Action Transmittal sets forth the statutory requirements which States must meet in implementing section 466(a)(8)(B) of the Act. States may choose to extend these immediate wage withholding requirements to apply to orders in non-IV-D cases which are modified after January 1, 1994, in addition to orders initially issued after that date. The instructions also address issues raised with respect to implementing immediate withholding in non-IV-D cases.

II.State Plan Requirements

As a condition of Federal funding, a State must comply with the statutory requirements of Section 454 of the Act. Section 454(20) requires that the State IV-D plan provide that the State shall have in effect all of the laws required under the mandatory procedures established in section 466 of the Act. Since the requirements for non-IV-D withholding are part of the mandatory procedures set forth in section 466, States must demonstrate conformity with these requirements as a condition for having an approved State IV-D plan. Section 466(a)(8)(B) of the Act specifies that each State must have laws requiring the use of procedures under which all child support orders initially issued in the State on and after January 1, 1994 and which are not being enforced under Title IV-D will include provisions for:

  • Immediate withholding, with exceptions for good cause and alternative arrangements;
  • Withholding for overdue support in addition to current support;
  • Limitations on amounts withheld based on the Federal Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA);
  • Withholding without the need to apply for IV-D services or amendment to the order or further action by court/administrative authority;
  • Administration of withholding by a public agency or a publicly-accountable alternative;
  • Prompt distribution of amounts withheld;
  • Employer requirements;
  • Priority over other legal process against the same wages under State law;
  • Optional extension to other forms of income;
  • Extension to enforcement of orders of other States;
  • Provisions for terminating withholding.

These requirements will be described and discussed in the following section.

Attached, is a new State plan preprint page at page 2-12-8B, which must be submitted to the ACF Regional Office by March 31, 1994 (i.e., the end of the first quarter in which the requirement is effective). States failing to demonstrate conformity with the statutory requirements will be subject to State plan disapproval procedures outlined in OCSE-AT-86-21. Non-conformity could result in the suspension of all IV-D funding as well as a portion of title IV-A funding to the State.

III.Explanation of Non-IV-D Withholding Requirements

Section 466(a)(8)(B) of the Act requires immediate withholding for all non-IV-D child support orders initially issued in the State on or after January 1, 1994. In addition, by cross-reference, it extends the same statutory requirements applicable to title IV-D at paragraph (1) and, where applicable, paragraphs (2), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), (9) and (10) of section 466(b). The specific requirements applicable in non-IV-D cases effective January 1, 1994, are:

A. When Immediate Withholding Is Required; Exceptions

The wages of an non-custodial parent must be subject to withholding, regardless of whether support payments by such parent are in arrears, on the effective date of the order. As in the case of orders being enforced in IV-D cases, two exceptions to immediate withholding are permitted. Wages shall not be subject to withholding in any case where: (1) one of the parties demonstrates, and the court (or administrative process) finds, that there is good cause not to require immediate withholding; or (2) a written agreement is reached between both parties which provides for an alternative arrangement.

B. Limitations on Amounts Withheld

(1) So much of the non-custodial parent's wages must be withheld as is necessary to comply with the order and provide for any fee to the employer which may be required, up to the maximum amount permitted under section 303(b) of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (15 U.S.C. 1673(b)) [CCPA].

(2) If there are arrearages to be collected, amounts withheld to pay such arrearages, when added to the amounts withheld to pay current support and provide for the fee, may not exceed the limit permitted under such section 303(b), but the State need not withhold up to the maximum amount permitted under such section in order to satisfy arrearages.

C. No Further Action By Court

Withholding must occur without the need for further action (other than those actions required under these procedures) by the court or other entity which issued such order.

D. Administration of Withholding by Public Agency

Withholding must be administered by a public agency designated by the State, and the amounts withheld must be expeditiously distributed by the State or such agency under procedures (specified by the State) adequate to document payments of support and to track and monitor such payments.

The law also allows a State to establish or permit the establishment of alternative procedures for the collection and distribution of such amounts (under the supervision of a public agency) otherwise than through a public agency so long as:

(a) The entity making the collection and distribution is publicly accountable for its actions taken in carrying out such procedures; and,

(b) The procedures assure prompt distribution, provide for the keeping of adequate records to document payments of support, and permit the tracking and monitoring of such payments.

E. Employer Responsibilities

1) The employer of any parent who is subject to immediate withholding in a non-IV-D case, upon being given notice of such action, must be required by the State to withhold from the non-custodial parent's wages the amount specified by the notice (which may include a fee, established by the State, to be paid to the employer unless waived by the employer).

(2) The employer must pay such amount (after deducting any fee) to the appropriate agency (or other entity authorized to collect such amounts withheld under the alternative procedure established by the State) for distribution.

(3) The notice given to the employer shall contain only such information as may be necessary for the employer to comply with the withholding order.

(4) Methods must be established by the State to simplify the withholding process for employers to the greatest extent possible, including permitting any employer to combine all withheld amounts into a single payment to each appropriateagency or entity (with the portion which is attributable to each individual employee being separately designated).

(5) The employer must be held liable to the State for any amount which the employer fails to withhold from wages due an employee following receipt by the employer of notice, but the employer shall not be required to vary the normal pay and disbursement cycles in order to comply with this paragraph.

(6) Provision must be made for the imposition of a fine against any employer who discharges from employment, refuses to employ, or takes disciplinary action against a non-custodial parent subject to wage withholding because of the existence of the withholding or additional obligations which it imposes upon the employer.

F. Priority Over Other Legal Process

The State must provide that withholding of child support obligations be given priority over any other legal process

under State law against the same wages.

G. Other Forms of Income

The State may take such actions as may be necessary to extend its system of withholding so that the system will include withholding from forms of income other than wages, in order to assure that child support owed by non-custodial parents in the State will be collected without regard to the types of such parents' income or the nature of their income-producing activities.

H. Interstate Requirements

The State must extend its withholding system so that such system will include withholding from income derived within the State in cases where the applicable support orders were issued in other States, in order to assure that child support owed by non-custodial parents in the State or any other State will be collected without regard to the residence of the child for whom the support is payable or of the child's custodial parent.

I. Termination

Provision must be made for terminating withholding.

J. Due Process Requirements

Withholding from income of amounts payable as support must be carried out in full compliance with all procedural due process requirements of the State.

IV. Availability of Federal Financial Participation (FFP)

Although States are required to enact laws and procedures for non-IV-D withholding as a condition of having an approved State IV-D plan, the activities mandated at section 466(a)(8)(B) of the Act are for cases not being enforced under a IV-D State plan. FFP is only available for services provided in cases receiving services under title IV-D of the Act. However, in cases where a State has chosen to use its IV-D agency to implement non-IV-D withholding, FFP would only be available for the IV-D costs incurred in implementing a cost allocation system to identify expenditures in IV-D and non-IV-D cases.

V. Exemptions

The provisions at section 466(d) of the Act with respect to exemptions apply to the non-IV-D withholding requirements. States may request, and OCSE may approve, an exemption from one or more of the requirements for the enactment of any law or the use of any procedure or procedures for non-IV-D withholding if the State can demonstrate that the adoption of such laws or procedures would not improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the State child support program. Requests should be sent the appropriate ACF Regional Office in accordance with regulations at 45 CFR 302.70(d) and program instructions set forth in OCSE-AT-88-19.

VI.Questions & Answers Regarding Statutory Requirements

1. Question: Must a public agency administer non-IV-D withholding? What are possible options a State may consider in meeting the administrative requirements?

Answer: The State must specify which public entity is responsible for immediate wage withholding in non-IV-D cases. As the Federal statute provides, States may establish, or permit the establishment of, alternative procedures to carry out non-IV-D withholding as long as the entity it designates is under the supervision of a public agency. The entity must follow procedures which will assure prompt distribution of amounts withheld, provide for the keeping of adequate records to document payments of support, and permit the tracking and monitoring of such payments.

A State could designate the IV-D agency, or the entity which administers withholding in IV-D cases, to be responsible for the administration of non-IV-D withholding. If so, there must be a system for allocating costs between IV-D and non-IV-D operations, since FFP is not available for providing services to non-IV-D cases.

Since October 1, 1985, States have had the option set forth in õ302.57 of establishing procedures under which support payments are made through the IV-D agency or the entity designated by the State to administer the State's withholding system upon the request of either the non-custodial parent or custodial parent, regardless of whether or not arrearages exist or withholding procedures have been instituted. States may charge a fee for these services, not to exceed $25 annually and not to exceed State costs. A State may adapt this option to meet the 1994 non-IV-D withholding requirements.

A State could also opt to designate clerks of court or other appropriate judicial entities to administer non-IV-D withholding, since immediate withholding is applied at the time the support order is initially entered.

Alternatively, the State could choose a private entity, such as a bank, to administer this activity in non-IV-D cases as long as the entity was publicly accountable for the collection and distribution of support withheld.

2. Question: Must the State designate only one entity in each jurisdiction to administer withholding?

Answer: No. Although IV-D regulations at 45 CFR 303.100(g)(2)(ii) require that States may designate only one entity to administer withholding in each jurisdiction, such a restriction does not apply to withholding in non-IV-D cases.

3. Question: If there is no FFP for non-IV-D withholding activities, may the State pass costs on to the user through fees or other cost recovery systems?

Answer: Yes. States may finance their withholding responsibilities in non-IV-D cases by charging fees and recovering costs. However, in cases where the State has elected to use the option set forth at 45 CFR 302.57, and all withholding payments are made through the IV-D agency or entity designated by the State to administer the State's IV-D withholding system, the fee must not exceed $25 per year or actual costs (whichever is less). If the State designates a bank or other public entity (other than the agency designated to administer IV-D withholding), then these limitations do not apply.

4. Question: Is non-IV-D withholding subject to specific regulatory requirements at 45 CFR 303.100, for timeframes for distribution of amounts withheld?

Answer: No. Federal regulatory requirements applicable to IV-D cases do not apply to immediate wage withholding in non-IV-D cases.

5. Question: Must States meet the criteria in Federal regulations for a finding of good cause or for an alternative arrangement in IV-D cases in extending immediate withholding to non-IV-D cases?

Answer: No. Federal regulations at 45 CFR 303.100(b)(2) and (3), which set certain minimum criteria for good cause findings and alternative arrangements in IV-D cases, do not apply to non-IV-D cases. Consequently, States may develop their own criteria for non-IV-D cases which differ from or are consistent with those required under IV-D regulations.

6. Question: Is the State responsible for sending the notice of withholding to the employer in non-IV-D cases effective January 1, 1994?

Answer: No. Federal statutory requirements for withholding in non-IV-D cases do not require States to send the withholding notice to the employer. States may choose to do so or may direct the obligor, obligee, or their attorneys, to send the withholding notice to the employer as soon as the initial child support order is issued.

Many States have already developed standardized wage withholding notices which incorporate the information which must be given to employers. States may adapt these documents for use in non-IV-D situations.

7. Question: Is the State required to take enforcement actions in non-IV-D cases when there have been good cause findings, or alternative arrangements and the non-custodial parent subsequently becomes delinquent in an amount which would trigger an initiated withholding under IV-D requirements? Or when the non-custodial parent leaves employment and becomes delinquent?

Answer: No. The statute does not require the State to take enforcement actions, initiate, or to re-initiate withholding in non-IV-D cases beyond subjecting the non-custodial parent to immediate withholding when a child support order is initially issued in the State. Enforcement of withholding orders may be done by States or left to obligees or their attorneys to take such action. Any individual who wants child support enforcement services may also apply for IV-D services.

8. Question: What are the State's responsibilities with respect to allocation of withheld amounts when there are multiple withholding notices involving both non-IV-D and IV-D cases for a single non-custodial parent?

Answer: If multiple withholdings from a single non-custodialparent's earnings involve both a IV-D and a non-IV-D case, Federal requirements must be applied to all withholdings with respect to that non-custodial parent. Federal regulations at 45 CFR 303.100(a)(5), governing IV-D cases, require States, in cases where there are more than one withholding against a single non-custodial parent, to allocate withholding, but in no case should the allocation result in one family getting nothing. For consistency, States may choose to adopt allocation methods mandated in Federal regulations for IV-D cases for all withholdings, whether IV-D or non-IV-D. Since receipt of current support is essential to many families, the State should attempt to ensure that current support is paid first to any family due current support.

9. Question: Do the specific criteria for termination of withholding in IV-D cases apply to non-IV-D withholding?

Answer: No. Federal regulations at 45 CFR 303.100(a)(7) which set certain minimum criteria for termination of withholding in IV-D cases do not apply to non-IV-D cases.

Citation State_________

454(20)and 466 2.12 Procedures to Improve Program

of the Act Effectiveness

8.BImmediate Wage Withholding in All Child Support Orders Initially Issued in the State on or After January 1, 1994.

[ ]The State has procedures under which all child support orders initially issued in the State and are not being enforced under title IV-D will provide for immediate wage withholding in accordance with section 466(a)(8)(B) of the Act.

[ ]The Secretary has granted an exemption from inclusion of immediate wage withholding in all child support orders initially issued in the State. The exemption period is from_______to______.

TN#_______ Approval Date____________ Effective Date____________

2.12-8B