POLICY INTERPRETATION QUESTIONS
DATE: December 22, 2005
TO: State IV-D Directors
FROM: Margot Bean Commissioner Office of Child Support Enforcement
SUBJECT: Non-recurring, short term cash benefit TANF cases and closing such cases that were erroneously opened.
The Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) has received inquiries from State IV-D agencies asking for guidance on non-recurring, short term cash benefit Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cases. IV-D agencies have also asked what to do if the TANF agency refers such cases to the IV-D agency in error.
QUESTION 1: What is a non-recurring, short term cash benefit TANF case?
RESPONSE: State TANF agencies have the option of providing non-recurring, short term cash benefits (which differ from regular TANF “assistance” benefits) that are designed to deal with a specific crisis situation or episode of need, are not intended to meet recurring or ongoing needs, and will not extend beyond four months. See 45 C.F.R. 260.31. Because such benefits are not “assistance,” they are not subject to a variety of TANF requirements such as work participation, time limits, child support assignment, and detailed data reporting. For more information see the Office of Family Assistance website.
QUESTION 2: Are TANF agencies required to refer non-recurring, short term cash benefit TANF cases to the IV-D agencies in the same way that regular TANF cases are referred?
RESPONSE: No. Since non-recurring, short-term cash benefits under TANF are not “assistance”, normal TANF referral requirements do not apply.
QUESTION 3: If a person is applying for or receiving only non-recurring, short term cash benefits through the TANF program but wants IV-D agency child support services, should that person be referred to the IV-D agency to apply for services?
RESPONSE: Yes. TANF agencies should discuss the availability of IV-D services with persons applying for or receiving only non-recurring, short term cash TANF benefits. If such persons would like to apply for and receive child support enforcement services, TANF agencies should refer the custodial parent to the child support agency. Once the applicant applies for IV-D services, the IV-D agency should work the case as if it is a non-TANF case.
QUESTION 4: What should the IV-D agency do if the child support system receives, or the IV-D agency suspects that it has received a non-recurring, short term cash TANF benefits case referral in error?
RESPONSE: If the IV-D agency caseworker suspects that a referral has been made in error, the IV-D caseworker should contact the TANF caseworker to determine if the referral was appropriate.
If the TANF agency advises that the case is only a non-recurring, short term cash benefits TANF case (i.e., the family has not been paid “assistance” under Title IV-A), and that it was unnecessarily referred to the IV-D program, then this referral would have been made in error and the TANF agency should withdraw the referral.
QUESTION 5: If a non-recurring, short term cash benefit TANF case is erroneously referred to the IV-D agency, do IV-D agency case closure and reporting requirements apply?
RESPONSE: No. When the case is referred in error, neither reporting nor case closure rules apply.
However, if the TANF agency actually paid ongoing assistance to the family, then the IV-D agency must meet case closure requirements in order to close the case. The previous statement applies even if the TANF agency should have paid the family a non-recurring short-term benefit instead of the assistance.