Q & A: State Plans
TANF Program Policy Questions and Answers
Q1: Must those States that are due to submit their new plans by December 31 also submit plan amendments to address final rule requirements that they implement by October 1?
A1: We issued guidance on the submittal of new State TANF plans on May 15, 1998 (see TANF-ACF-PA-98-3). Under this guidance, most States and Territories must submit new plans by December 31, 1999. However, we recommend that States submit their plans prior to this due date because that would ensure that we have adequate time to review for completeness and would prevent any delays in determining that States are eligible for continued funding.
With regard to plan changes required to be implemented by October 1, 1999, the effective date of the final TANF rules, States may include the changes required by the final TANF rules in their new plans, together with an explanation that these changes were effective October 1, 1999.
Q2: When must States that have already submitted new complete plans (i.e., Michigan, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Vermont) submit plan amendments?
A2: States that submitted complete plans last year must submit plan amendments to incorporate changes required by the final regulations. New plans for these States are not due until the first quarter of fiscal year 2002.
Q3: Generally, when must States submit plan amendments?
A3: Section 402(b) of the Social Security Act specifies the deadline for submittal of plan amendments. It provides that: "Within 30 days after a State amends a plan submitted pursuant to subsection (a), the State shall notify the Secretary of the amendment." Thus, the deadline for submitting amendments depends upon the date of the State’s plan amendment.
The statute does not directly address when States must amend their plans, and we have not regulated in this area. However, it is important that States amend their plans on a timely basis – in part to ensure that they may claim all their MOE expenditures. (To be qualified expenditures, such expenditures must be made on behalf of families who are financially eligible under criteria in the plan.)
Q4: What additional information must a State include in its State plan under the final regulations?
A4: Section 402 of the Act specifies the basic requirements for what a State must include as part of a complete plan. Among other things, this section requires a State to:
Outline how it intends to assist needy families;
Provide objective criteria for the delivery of benefits and the determination of eligibility and for fair and equitable treatment;
Certify that it will operate child support enforcement, foster care, and adoption assistance programs; and
Certify that it has appropriately consulted with local governments and private sector organizations and provided at least 45 days for submittal of comments.
The only additional information that a State must include in its TANF plan under the final rule consists of certain MOE information. We require the following basic MOE information in order to deem a plan complete: the name of the program benefit or service and the financial eligibility criteria that eligible families must meet in order to be provided with that benefit or service.
The plan must include this information for all MOE-funded services -- i.e., under the TANF program or a separate State program. If the benefit or service is provided under the TANF program (using commingled or segregated MOE funds), then States must also briefly describe the program benefit provided to eligible families. If the State provides the benefit or service under a separate State program, then we recommend, but do not require, a brief description of the program benefit provided to eligible families.
We also recommend that States examine the various items that must be reported annually under §265.9. If a State includes some of the information specified in §265.9 in its plan, it may reference the relevant plan section where indicated on the annual report, in lieu of resubmission.
Q5: Do the statutory TANF plan provisions under section 402 of the Social Security Act continue to apply if the TANF plan is submitted as part of a WIA unified plan?
A5: Yes, the provisions of section 402 of the Social Security Act continue to apply even if the TANF plan is submitted as part of a WIA unified plan. The WIA unified plan provisions do not allow specific program statutory requirements to be superseded. For example, the TANF two-year plan requirement is not changed to a five-year plan because TANF is included in the unified plan. More generally, submission of a WIA unified plan does not affect the required content of a TANF plan or the deadline for submitting it.