Changes to Application Processing for Cash Assistance due to COVID-19 Pandemic

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Policy Memo


  • Guidance provided by the Office of Family Assistance within ACF and Illinois Executive Order 2020-20 related to COVID-19, procedures on applying for cash assistance are temporarily changed.
  • The face-to-face interview for cash applications is temporarily suspended.
  • Interviews for cash applications can be completed over the telephone.
  • Verbal attestation properly documented by the State can be accepted during Telephonic Interviews.
  • Unsigned applications for cash assistance received by mail can be signed by the applicant by a simple verbal attestation when properly documented by the State.
  • All TANF Work and Training Activity requirements are temporarily suspended.
  • TANF Responsibility and Services Plan (RSP) development can be temporarily postponed.
  • Verifications needed can be postponed in order to approve cash assistance.


  • The face-to-face interview requirement is temporarily suspended. When possible conduct cash application interviews over the telephone.
  • Written signatures for cash applications are temporarily postponed. After conducting a cash application interview over the telephone, have the customer verbally attest that the information taken is true and accurate and make a "Case Comment" in IES that the customer is unable to sign the application due to the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Workers should make every effort to complete the Family Assessment and explain the Responsibility and Service Plan (RSP) process to the TANF customer. Inform the TANF customer that the development of the RSP will be postponed to a later date. Answer "Yes" to the RSP signature question in IES and make a case comment that the RSP process was explained to the customer and signature of the RSP will be obtained at a later date due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • All Work, TANF Training and Education Activities are suspended, and workers should not enroll customers into participation.

Valid Telephonic Signature

Federal and State regulations require that to constitute a valid telephonic signature, the telephonic signature system must make an audio recording of the household's verbal assent and a summary of the information to which the household assents. The telephonic signature system must provide for linkage from the audio file of the recorded verbal assent to the application so that staff have ready access to the household's entire case file.

Adjustment to Telephonic Signature

Illinois's Executive Order 2020-20 expands on the telephonic signature system process for all programs and provides that during the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation related to COVID-19, the audio recording is suspended, and verbal attestation is acceptable.

COVID-19 Telephone Signature Process

  • The adjustment to the telephonic signature is limited to initial applications for cash assistance.
  • This adjustment allows customers to call the Family Community Resource Center (FCRC) in the event that there are system issues with the ABE Call Center and a telephonic signature cannot be obtained.
  • In addition, community providers can take applications over the phone from applicants and then submit to the FCRC without having to first send to the applicant for signature.


Effective immediately, workers should make every attempt to get needed verifications. Use all electronic clearances that are available to verify as much information as possible. If the customer has made a "Good Faith" effort to obtain needed verifications but is unable to do so, accept the customer's statement as proof of verification. Use "Other Acceptable" in IES when possible to prevent pending the application approval. Accept the customer's statement for the "proof of living with" requirement. For school age children, accept the customer's statement in lieu of the form 541 verification of "living with" requirement. If the only child for a TANF application is 18 years and graduating before their 19th birthday, indicate a graduation date in IES prior to their 19th birthday to prevent denial of the application.

These verification procedures are temporary, and all necessary verifications not obtained for cash applications can be required at a later date. Workers should make a "Case Comment" in IES that "Verifications have been delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis."

FCRC Required Action

If an initial application is received over the phone or a paper application is submitted without a signature:

  1. The HSC must contact the applicant to conduct a telephone interview. If the HSC is able to reach the client by phone, note on the application that verbal attestation was received due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  2. If the applicant cannot be reached by phone, send the Appointment Notice (Form 267T) to schedule the appointment and request any needed verifications. Make every attempt to verify household circumstances through data matching.
  3. In order to identify the cases in IES where verbal attestation was accepted on the application, workers should also select "PRS" as the Type of Contact on the Case Summary - Details screen.
  4. Workers should explain the Responsibility and Service Plan (RSP) process to the TANF customer. Inform the TANF customer that the development of the RSP will be postponed to a later date. If the customer agrees to the development of the RSP, answer "Yes" to the RSP signature question in IES to allow approval and generate the task to WVS. Workers will complete the WVS task and RSP development once the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Make a case comment that the RSP process was explained to the customer and the development of the RSP with the customers signature will be obtained at a later date due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  5. At the end of the interview, explain to the client the reason for the verbal attestation. Explain the client's rights and responsibilities. Summarize the information to which the client assents and allow a verbal signature from the client.
  6. Document the summary in IES Case Comments to demonstrate that the client has signed the application. This establishes the date of application. Include:
    • the client's name, date and time of application; and
    • a summary of the information to which the client verbally assents; and
    • the client's responses indicating agreement or disagreement; and
    • any relevant complaints from the client or advocates.

[Signed copy on file]

Grace B. Hou

Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services