MR #13.13: TANF Family Violence/Crisis Assistance Clarifications

Helping Families. Supporting Communities. Empowering Individuals.

05/14/13

Summary:

  • Several policy clarifications are added as a follow-up to MR 10.20 "TANF - Family Violence Exclusion and Crisis Assistance", dated 6/25/10.
  • Crisis Assistance policy is clarified that both the situation which caused the crisis, and the actual need for the requested item must be verified.
  • Crisis Assistance may be approved due to loss of income from an abuser who did not live with the family.
  • Historical monthly AFDC monthly allowances and TANF payment levels are added to the manual.

  1. Introduction:
  2. Waiving the FCRC Face-to-Face Eligibility Interview
  3. Verification of Domestic or Sexual Violence
  4. Third Party Verification Needed
  5. Good Cause Reasons
  6. Inaccessible Jointly Held Assets
  7. Exception to the 60-month Limit
  8. Teen Parent Eligible for Family Violence Exclusion
  9. Crisis Assistance
    1. Verification of both circumstance causing crisis, and need for requested item:
    2. Crisis assistance requested due to sexual or domestic violence, or stalking:
  10. Historical TANF Monthly Allowances and Payment Levels
  11. Manual Revisions:
  12. Form Revisions:

Introduction:

Clarifications are added as a follow-up to MR 10.20 "TANF - Family Violence Exclusion and Crisis Assistance", dated 6/25/10. Due to state law, the concept of domestic violence was expanded to include sexual violence and stalking perpetrated by a person who does not live with the victim's family, or may not even be personally known to the family. The Domestic Violence Exclusion was re-named the Family Violence Exclusion. In addition, Crisis Assistance was expanded to include needs brought about by loss of income due to forcing a domestic abuser from the home. Crisis Assistance is further expanded to include needs brought about by sexual violence or stalking perpetrated by a person who does not live with the victim. A general clarification is made that both the situation which caused a crisis, and the need for the item requested must exist before approving a crisis assistance payment.

Waiving the FCRC Face-to-Face Eligibility Interview

An applicant may claim that it's a hardship to come to the FCRC for an interview if traveling to the office puts them at risk due to fear of danger arising from past or ongoing domestic or sexual violence, or the risk of future danger, to any member of the household. 

Verification of Domestic or Sexual Violence

Acceptable proof of the claim of domestic or sexual violence may include credible evidence that supports the claim, including the statement of the claimant.

Third Party Verification Needed

If a TANF applicant claims to have experienced, be experiencing or fear experiencing domestic or sexual violence, obtain the applicant's written consent before contacting a third party. Ask the applicant to sign Consent to Release Information (Form 34) to give permission to contact a third party.

Do not contact a person named as the abuser or perpetrator, the abuser or perpetrator's family or employer, or any other person who the client names as unsafe without the client's written permission. Work with the applicant to identify safe verification sources. If no safe verification sources can be identified, or missing financial information is unattainable due to domestic or sexual violence, contact the Bureau of Policy Development for guidance. Authorize TANF benefits as presumed eligible (PE) if the applicant is unable to provide non-financial verifications due to current or past domestic or sexual violence, or a risk of future violence.

Good Cause Reasons

A TANF recipient may claim good cause for failing or refusing to meet an activity requirement, including appearing for an appointment to develop the RSP. 

A person may claim good cause for not meeting a participation requirement, because, due to domestic or sexual violence, they were:

  • Seeking or receiving services from a victim services organization for themselves or a member of their household; or
  • Seeking or receiving psychological or other counseling for themselves or a member of their household; or
  • Relocating, planning for relocation or unable to participate due other causes related to relocation, such as difficulty with transportation, making purchases, enrolling children in new school; or
  • Seeking or participating in safety planning, or taking steps to increase the family's safety; or
  • Recovering from physical or psychological injuries; or
  • Unsafe because of the location of the activity or office or transportation to the activity or office.

A person may claim good cause for not cooperating with Child Support Services if there has been domestic or sexual violence, or there is a fear or risk of it.

Inaccessible Jointly Held Assets

Consider a client's prorated share of a jointly held asset as inaccessible if it is unsafe to contact the joint owner due to risk of domestic or sexual violence. 

Example: Mrs. R and her children left their home because of domestic violence inflicted by Mr. R. Both their cars, and their bank account are held jointly in Mr. and Mrs. R's names. If Mrs. R cannot withdraw money without Mr. R's consent, or if doing so would be unsafe due to risk of harm, funds in the bank account are inaccessible. Do not require a written statement from Mr. R that he will not sell the car. Do not contact Mr. R or anyone Mrs. R says is unsafe to contact.

Exception to the 60-month Limit

A client may be considered for an exception to the 60-month limit on receipt of TANF due to sexual or domestic violence when they claim they are unable to work because they or a member of their family are:

  • recovering from physical or psychological injuries; or
  • seeking or receiving medical attention, including counseling; or 
  • seeking or receiving services from a victim services organization; or
  • participating in safety planning or implementing a safety plan, including relocation; or
  • seeking or receiving legal assistance or remedies.

Note: Part-time work (under 30 hours per week) does not disqualify a person from this exception reason.

Teen Parent Eligible for Family Violence Exclusion

A teen parent may be considered for a Family Violence Exclusion if they are unable to attend school due to sexual or domestic violence, or stalking.

Crisis Assistance 

Only persons who are receiving TANF, or who are determined financially and nonfinancially eligible to receive TANF, are entitled to crisis assistance payments.

Verification of both circumstance causing crisis, and need for requested item: 

When a crisis assistance payment is requested, both the circumstance which caused the crisis, and the need for the requested item must be verified. Just because the circumstance is verified, it does not mean the need for the requested item exists. 

When rent is requested, a rental agreement or motel bill verifies that the client is responsible for paying rent.  

Example: Mr. and Mrs. B lost their home due to fire. They requested assistance with rent, but it is not approved because they are staying with friends and are not responsible for paying rent. Payment for rent could be approved if they provided a rental agreement with a landlord, or a motel bill. 

PM 06-03-01 is revised with the following chart

Item Needed Circumstance Causing Crisis
Rent
  • Fire, flood or other natural disaster; or
  • Eviction or court order to leave home; or
  • Domestic or sexual violence.
Furniture
  • Fire, flood or other natural disaster; or
  • Domestic or sexual violence.
Household Supplies
  • Fire, flood or other natural disaster; or
  • Domestic or sexual violence.
Clothing
  • Fire, flood or other natural disaster; or
  • Domestic or sexual violence; or
  • Lost or stolen cash.
Food
  • Fire, flood or other natural disaster; or
  • Domestic or sexual violence; or
  • Lost or stolen cash; or
  • Overnight lodging or travel during the day required to obtain medical care. 
Lodging Overnight lodging required to obtain medical care. 
Transportation Travel required to obtain medical care. (See PM 20-22-00 for transportation that can be paid by HFS.)

Crisis assistance requested due to sexual or domestic violence, or stalking:  

Acceptable verification that sexual or domestic violence or stalking is the cause of a crisis may include:

  • a written statement from anyone other than the applicant or client, who has knowledge of the circumstances that supports the statement;
  • a police report, government agency record, or court record;
  • a statement, or other documentation, from a domestic or sexual violence program or rape crisis organization from whom the person sought services or advice;
  • documentation from a lawyer, clergy person, medical professional, or other professional from whom the person sought domestic or sexual violence services or advice;
  • other evidence, such as physical evidence of violence; or
  • any other credible evidence that supports the claim. (source: PM 21-01-05-b).

Accept the client's statement if proof cannot be obtained within the time limit for processing the crisis assistance request. DO NOT contact the abuser or perpetrator, or that person's family or employer to verify the need for assistance.

When the client claims crisis needs due to loss of income due to domestic or sexual violence, document that the abuser or perpetrator was the family's principal source of income by viewing pay-stubs, a recent tax return, or proof that the abuser or perpetrator was responsible for paying bills (ex: rent receipts, credit card bills, phone or utility bills in the abuser's name). The client may or may not have left their home due to the violence, and the abuser may or may not have been living with the family.

Example 1: Ms. E and her family were evicted from their apartment due to non-payment of rent. They went to a homeless shelter and requested crisis assistance. Ms. E provided an eviction notice, but assistance was denied because rent is the only need related to eviction, and they were receiving shelter free of charge. Shelter staff subsequently helped Ms. E find employment and affordable housing, and she once again requests assistance because her first paycheck will not be received until after the first month's rent is due. She provides a rental agreement. Crisis assistance may be approved for rent.

Example 2: Ms. T and her children left their home in another state because she was being stalked and threatened with violence by the family of a man who was convicted of raping her daughter. The family is able to stay with Ms. T's grandmother until she can get on her feet, so rent is not a need, nor is clothing because they were able to bring their clothing with them. Household supplies are shared by her grandmother. The family's food need is covered by their SNAP benefits. Two of the children are sleeping on the floor because there are not enough beds. Since a bed is an essential item of furniture, a crisis assistance payment may be approved for furniture.

Example 3: Ms. R requests crisis assistance for rent and clothing because the father of 2 of her children had been providing financial support which stopped when she made the decision to end the relationship due to his violent behavior. She provided an order of protection from the abuser, police reports detailing physical abuse, a notice of eviction, and a rent receipt showing he had paid rent the last time it was paid. Payment for rent may be approved. The children are in need of winter coats because they have outgrown coats the abuser provided the previous winter. Payment for clothing may be approved.

Historical TANF Monthly Allowances and Payment Levels

As an aid to research and determinations of cash recoupment, WAG 25-06-02 now includes historical AFDC monthly allowances and TANF payment levels from 10/1/1973 through 6/30/08.

Manual Revisions:

Form Revisions:

Form 2151B

Form 2689

[signed copy on file]

Michelle R.B. Saddler

Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services