TANF-ACF-IM-2010-02 (Reducing TANF Improper Payments)

Publication Date: August 31, 2010


State Agencies Administering the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program and Other Interested Parties


Reducing TANF Improper Payments


The Improper Payment Information Act of 2002 (Pub. L. 107-300), as amended by the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111-204);

Executive Order No. 13520, 74 Fed. Reg. 62201 (Nov. 25, 2009).


To provide guidance to States on best practices for reduction of improper payments.


The Improper Payments Information Act of 2002, as amended by the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010, requires Federal agencies to estimate and report to Congress on the annual amount of improper payments in their programs, the causes of improper payments, and the corrective actions taken to reduce improper payments.  The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program was designated as high risk for improper payments and, as such, is required to estimate and report on the amount of improper payments annually.

President Obama’s Executive Order No. 13520, 74 Fed. Reg. 62201 (Nov. 25, 2009) requires that improper payments be reduced by intensifying efforts to eliminate payment errors, waste, fraud, and abuse in the major programs administered by the Federal Government, while continuing to ensure that Federal programs serve and provide access to their intended beneficiaries.


We encourage States to stress the importance of payment accuracy for TANF cases and seriously consider measures that will reduce the incidence of erroneous payments in their States.  Actions that may prove beneficial in this area (these are not intended to be all inclusive) include the following:

  • Conduct local office quality control reviews at both the initial intake and redetermination stages of case development for basic assistance eligibility and payment processes;
  • Consider payment accuracy as proper case documentation measures or elements of staff performance;
  • Develop and maintain a reminder system for critical follow-up actions on cases such as responding to reports of non-cooperation with child support, IEVS “hits”, redeterminations of eligibility, or failure to fulfill work requirements;
  • Establish a process for the collection of TANF overpayments from the applicable recipients;
  • Periodically remind TANF recipients of their responsibility to accurately report income, resources, and other family circumstances to the local TANF agency on a timely basis;
  • Conduct training on investigative interviewing techniques for intake workers and case managers;
  • Perform periodic “checks” of case records paying particular attention to documentation that includes a current application and facts supporting income, household composition, participation in work activities, and cooperation with child support enforcement;
  • Establish and monitor internal procedures to ensure that TANF payments are adjusted on a timely basis when family circumstances change and affect case eligibility or the amount of payment.

States may also improve the integrity of their programs by participating in the Public Assistance Reporting Information System (PARIS) and/or by using information available through the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH).  PARIS is a Federal-State partnership which provides all fifty States, D.C., and Puerto Rico detailed information and data to assist them in maintaining program integrity and detecting duplicate or other improper payments by public assistance programs such as TANF, Medicaid, SNAP, and Child Care.

State TANF agencies can use NDNH information to verify the eligibility of adult TANF recipients residing in the State and, once the information is verified, it can be used to modify benefits or close the case if the individual is not eligible for assistance.  States using NDNH information have reported that it has been a valuable tool in improving payment accuracy.  By using NDNH information, States have uncovered previously unknown employment, improved TANF program integrity by evaluating benefit accuracy, and even uncovered identity theft.



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Please direct any inquiries to the TANF Program Manager in your Region.


Earl S. Johnson
Office of Family Assistance

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