PM 03-13-04-c: Activity Sanctions

WAG 03-13-04-c

new textSee PM 03-13-04 if the case includes a person assigned to Work-First. 

When a client fails to cooperate with TANF activity compliance requirements (PM 03-13-00) without good cause, and reconcilation is not successful, the case containing the client may be sanctioned. 

  • Do not sanction an Exempt client due to lack of follow-through with a voluntary Countable activity.
  • Before deciding to impose a sanction, staff must attempt reconciliation with the client (see PM 03-13-04-b).

The sanction applies to the case in which the noncooperating person currently receives cash benefits. Do not apply the sanction if the noncooperating person is no longer in the cash case. If the person is not required to be in the TANF case (see PM 04-01-02), they may request to be removed. If the noncooperating person is added to a cash case before the sanction has ended, apply the rest of the sanction penalty to that case. The sanction applies statewide, so a person cannot avoid sanction by moving to another Family Community Resource Center area.

Sanction Levels

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 client cooperates. If the client does not cooperate 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 months. Benefits are restored for the 4th month if the client cooperates before then. 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, the sanction continues.

When the entire cash benefit stops due to the sanction, medical assistance continues.

A SNAP sanction is imposed when a TANF case is sanctioned due to a noncompliance with a work and training requirement. The noncooperating person who caused the sanction is disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for the appropriate number of months (see PM 03-15-07), unless they are responsible for the care of a child under age 6. The person is sanctioned for SNAP the entire period, even if the TANF sanction is lifted or the case is SWAPped to medical. The SNAP sanction code information is centrally entered when the TANF sanction is imposed see ( WAG 03-13-05-a , WAG 03-15-08-b and WAG 03-15-09-b).

SNAP benefits 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 a first, 2nd, or 3rd level sanction. Prior to 08/03/98, sanctions for Child Support and the School Attendance Initiative did not count either. Starting 08/03/98, 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 (denial or swap) for refusal to comply with 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 (case) has been off TANF 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.

More Than One Sanction at the Same Time

A case may have more than one sanction because one person failed to meet different requirements, such as a sanction for the activity requirement and a sanction for the child support requirement. A case may also have more than one sanction because 2 (or more) persons failed to meet either the same or different requirements. A person who has an active sanction cannot have another sanction for the same requirement.

When there are 2 (or more) sanctions at the same time, the sanction penalties can be the same (both 50 or 100%) or different (one 50% and the other 100%). If the penalties are the same, cash benefits are reduced as though there were only one sanction. If the penalties are different, cash benefits are reduced by the more severe penalty, as though only that sanction were in effect. The severity of the penalty depends on both the level and length of the sanction. A first level sanction in the 4th month has a penalty of 100%, which is more severe than the 50% penalty for a 2nd level sanction in the first 3 months.

Both (all) sanctions must end to restore full benefits. If a 100% penalty ends before a 50% penalty, benefits are restored at 50%.

For 2nd and 3rd level sanctions, when the minimum 3-month periods overlap, the overlap months count for both sanctions.

Sanctions in Effect More Than 3 Months

At schedule cut-off, a central notice goes to active cases that are in the 2nd or 3rd month of a 50% sanction if they are receiving a cash benefit and have not cooperated. The notice reminds the client of the sanction and warns them that they will receive no cash benefits for the 4th month if the noncooperating person does not meet requirements before then.

When the person has not cooperated within 3 months, the family receives no cash benefits for the 4th month. The system places the case (or leaves it, if the benefit is already zero) in zero grant status for the 4th month. Staff must SWAP these cases to All Kids Assist/Moms and Babies.

The person must meet the requirement before the family can qualify for a SWAP to cash again. new textIf the client cooperates after the SWAP to Medical, SWAP the case back to cash 30 days following the date of the agreement to cooperate. If the All Kids Assist/Moms and Babies case is canceled and the family receives no cash or medical assistance for at least a month, they may reapply. They have to meet regular cooperation requirements at Intake before the reapplication can be approved.

Repealing a Sanction

Repeal a sanction when a client provides evidence of good cause for failure to comply. The client may prove good cause and have the sanction repealed at any time after the decision is made to impose the sanction. This includes during any part of the appeal process or the sanction period or even after the sanction is over. When a sanction is repealed, restore all benefits the client lost due to the sanction.

Ending a Sanction

To end a sanction, the person who failed to cooperate must comply with the activity requirement. In most cases, this means doing the thing the person failed to do which caused the sanction. If this is not possible, the person can do something else to show they are cooperating.

The first sanction ends whenever the person cooperates. The 2nd and 3rd sanctions end when the person has cooperated and the sanction has lasted 3 months. For 2nd and 3rd sanctions, any month the family receives no cash benefits after the sanction is imposed counts as a sanction month, regardless of the reason for no benefits.

The sanction also ends when:

  • the person becomes exempt or unable to meet the requirement due to a recognized barrier that did not exist when they failed to cooperate; or
  • the family has been off cash and medical assistance for 3 payment months.

When the noncooperating person leaves the home before ending the sanction, benefits are restored for the month the person is removed from the case. If the person is added back to the case within 3 months after the sanction began, the rest of the sanction must be served.

Appealing a Sanction

When a client appeals a sanction, follow normal appeal policy (see PM 01-07-00). At the request of the Family Community Resource Center, other staff involved in the sanction decision will attend pre-hearing meetings and/or appeal hearings to support their decision to sanction.

For clients who lose their appeal and had benefits continued during the appeal, impose the sanction for the next possible month. Do not send a new notice when the client loses an appeal. The notice of the hearing decision is enough. There is no overpayment since the client will still serve the sanction.