When a client fails to comply with a child support requirement without a valid reason, the case containing the client may be sanctioned. See PM 24-02-05 for valid reason. Only impose a sanction when the client fails to comply with the requirements included in PM 24-02-01. Before deciding to impose a sanction, staff must have unsuccessfully attempted reconciliation with the client (see PM 24-04-03).
Sanctions are imposed at 3 levels. Determine the level of a new sanction by reviewing the levels of previous TANF sanction codes present on the case. This includes activity requirement, Child Support, and School Attendance Initiative sanctions. Determine the highest previous level and impose the new sanction at the next level. If there are no previous TANF sanction codes present, start at the first level.
The amount and length of the cash benefit reduction is based on the sanction level. The reduction at each level is:
- Level 1 - The cash benefit is reduced by 50% of the family's Payment Level. Benefits are restored as soon as the requirement is met. If the requirement is not met within 3 months, despite continued case management, the entire cash benefit stops for the 4th month.
- Level 2 - The cash benefit is reduced by 50% of the family's Payment Level for 3 full months. If the client cooperates within 3 months, benefits are restored for the 4th month. If the client does not cooperate within 3 months, despite continued case management, the entire cash benefit stops for the 4th month.
- Level 3 - The entire cash benefit is stopped for at least 3 months. If the client cooperates within 3 months, cash benefits are restored for the 4th month. If the client does not cooperate within 3 months, the sanction continues. SWAP the case to Medical after the sanction has continued for 3 months and the client still has not cooperated.
In addition, the noncooperating client is ineligible for medical benefits until they cooperate, unless they are pregnant or within 60 days postpartum. When the entire cash benefit stops due to the sanction, medical assistance continues for the rest of the family. SNAP benefits are not affected by the sanction, except that they cannot increase due to the reduction in the cash benefit.
Sanctions imposed prior to 07/01/97 do not count when deciding whether a sanction is level 1, 2, or 3. Prior to 08/03/98, sanctions for the activity requirement and the School Attendance Initiative did not count either. Starting 08/03/98, when imposing a new sanction, review all previous TANF sanctions (activity requirement, Child Support, and School Attendance Initiative) and determine which one had the highest level. Impose the new sanction at the next level.
A previous cash penalty for refusal to comply with Child Support or the activity requirement does not count as a sanction.
Sanctions accumulate by family (case), not by person, during any period of continuous assistance. If someone in the case previously incurred a sanction, the next time anyone in the case incurs a sanction (activity requirement, Child Support, or School Attendance Initiative), the next higher sanction level applies.
Start over at sanction level one when all previous 3-month sanction periods have ended and the family has been off cash and medical assistance for at least one full payment month before reapplication. The loss of all cash assistance due to sanction is not a break in assistance if the family continues to receive medical assistance.