3.6 Non-compliance Sanction Policy
The Non-Compliance Sanction Policy section is divided in three separate sub-sections:
- Section 3.6.1 - Entering Sanction describes how to make the sanction decision.
- Section 3.6.2 -Ending Sanction describes what happens after a person is sanctioned and if they decide to stay in sanction for four months. This section includes:
- 18.104.22.168 What happens after a case is placed in sanction?
- 22.214.171.124 What are the CE & IRP requirements for sanctioned persons?
- 126.96.36.199 How does a person cure a sanction?
- 188.8.131.52 How might changes in circumstances change a person’s grant, IRP or cure requirements
- 184.108.40.206 What is the process for referring cases for NCS case closure?
- 220.127.116.11 When do I withdraw cases referred for NCS case closure?
- 18.104.22.168 When do I refer cases due to close for other reasons for NCS case closure?
- 22.214.171.124 How do I monitor cases referred for NCS case closure in eJAS?
- 126.96.36.199What happens if a supervisor approves case closure?
- 188.8.131.52 What if the sanction lasts longer than four months?
- 184.108.40.206 What if a supervisor disagrees with the recommendation for case closure?
- 220.127.116.11 How do I lift & re-impose a sanction?
- 18.104.22.168 What happens when a person is closed for NCS for the third time?
- 22.214.171.124 Ending Sanction - Step-by-Step Guide
- Section 3.6.3- NCS Reapplications describes how to process reapplications from non-compliance sanction case closures..
- Section 3.6.4 – Permanent TANF Disqualification describes why and how a person can be permanently disqualified from receiving TANF/SFA.
3.6.2 Ending Sanction
126.96.36.199 What happens after a case is placed in sanction?
The non-compliance sanction policy is designed to provide numerous opportunities for the parent(s) to re-engage in appropriate WorkFirst activities and address any barriers to participation. For best results, staff should intervene early and take any opportunity to contact the people who are in non-compliance with their WorkFirst requirements. Once the sanction decision is approved, continue to attempt to work with the person to cure their sanction.
Once a person enters month two of sanction, send their case to a supervisor to review to ensure the adverse action letter was correct and that we have attempted to re-engage the person . The supervisor (or designee) will decide whether the case is approved for termination. Continue to attempt reengagement each month until the sanction is lifted, cured or the case closes.
The information in this section should only be followed after a case has been placed in sanction status following the procedures in section 3.6.1-Entering Sanction. If the supervisor or designee approves case closure, we will close the case after the person has been in sanction for 4 months in a row.
188.8.131.52 What are the CE & IRP requirements for sanctioned persons?
Every sanctioned person must complete a CE after entering sanction status. The CE ensures the sanctioned person and their families are in the most appropriate activities to meet their needs and to help them move out of sanction.
- Schedule (via an appointment letter) a CE for the sanctioned person.
- Complete the CE,
- Develop an Individual Responsibility Plan.
The person does not require a special "sanction IRP" just because they have entered sanction. Everyone participating in the WorkFirst program is required to have a current IRP based upon his or her activities. If someone enters sanction status, the IRP should reflect the activities not done without good cause. The person must complete a CE and comply with their existing IRP requirements to cure the sanction.
When the person agrees to cure the sanction, update the IRP with current dates and any new activities needed to meet any new circumstances, including any activities recommended by the CE.
184.108.40.206 How does a person cure a sanction?
Once the sanction decision has been approved, a person must start and continue to do the required WorkFirst activities to cure the sanction. This holds true even if the person was originally sanctioned for failure to provide information or for refusing to accept a job. An individual must do what is in her or his IRP when the sanction decision was made, unless circumstances change and the IRP is modified (including any changes made as a result of the comprehensive evaluation).
The length of time required to end a sanction is referred to as the "cure period". The cure period starts on the day the person completes their CE and agrees to their IRP activities. To cure the sanction, the sanctioned individual must participate for 4 weeks (28 days) in a row. After four weeks of satisfactory participation, the sanction is removed effective the first of the following month. This same process is used for each subsequent sanction.
220.127.116.11 How might changes in circumstances change a person’s grant, IRP or cure requirements?
If circumstances change, a person's grant, IRP and/or cure requirements may change.
- If a sanctioned case is found where the required steps to impose a sanction were not taken, done incorrectly or, the department knew about a barrier to participation and did not respond, then the sanction on the case must be removed back to the original date it was imposed. A supplement must be issued following the established procedures in the EAZ manual under "Benefit Errors -F . Cash and Food Assistance Underpayments ". Follow the instructions in 18.104.22.168 to resolve the procedural error and re-apply the sanction penalty.
- If a person reports a change of circumstance which prevents the person from participating and had not been previously reported, then, once verified, the sanction on the case must be removed the first of the following month after the change of circumstances was reported.
Create a new IRP if:
- We did not respond to a barrier we knew about,
- The person discloses a barrier after the fact,
- The person agrees to new activities based on her or his CE, or
- The person's situation changes so he or she can no longer meet prior IRP requirements.
- 4-week cure requirement:
- Anyone able to participate (with a new IRP and participation requirements appropriate to their new circumstances) must comply for 4 weeks before they get a full grant.
- Lift a person's 4-week cure requirement when they enter the third trimester of pregnancy if they have completed a Pregnancy to Employment assessment and are not required to participate in mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment or if their situation is now severe enough that they are exempt and/or cannot (or would not be able to) participate. Remove the sanction penalty the first of the following month.
- Once the cure requirement and sanction are lifted, the person starts over with a clean slate (zero months in sanction).
Examples: A woman is sanctioned for refusing to do job search. Below are three different circumstances with the appropriate response for each.
- #1: She now discloses family violence issues but she is able to move about freely without risk of harm to herself or her children. She must participate in activities for 4 weeks to get a full cash grant (in her case, go through a CE, followed by a mix of training, job search and family violence counseling).
- #2: The family violence is severe and she is not able to leave her emergency shelter. This woman will be working with a social service specialist (who verifies her circumstances) after the CE is completed and we lift her 4-week cure requirement and remove the sanction penalty the first of the following month.
- #3: No family violence, but the woman is entering her 3rd trimester of pregnancy. We do not require participation during the 3rd trimester, so lift the 4-week cure requirement and remove the sanction penalty the first of the following month.
22.214.171.124 What is the process for referring cases for NCS termination?
Once the parent enters month two of sanction:
- Review the case and complete question 18 in the NCS eJAS tool,
- Send the case for supervisor/designee review.
126.96.36.199 When do I withdraw cases referred for NCS case closure?
You can withdraw a case that has already been referred to the supervisor/designee for NCS case closure only on a limited exception basis. The table below outlines what constitutes an appropriate reason for withdrawal:
What if circumstances change after I refer a case for NCS case closure?
Cases that may be removed
Cases that cannot be removed
Parent cured the sanction
188.8.131.52 When do I refer cases for NCS case closure that are due to close for other reasons?
A sanctioned parent may request termination or the case may be closed for other reasons at any time during the non-compliance sanction process. Staff may need to follow through with a referral for NCS termination even when a sanctioned parent's case is closed.
Refer all cases for NCS case closure in Month 2 or more of sanction, even if the case is due to close for another reason. The resulting decision will not be applied unless and until the parent reapplies and is found eligible for TANF/SFA benefits.
If the NCS process is ended due to case closure, and the sanctioned person reapplies for WorkFirst cash assistance, the case will be reopened in sanction status with the appropriate month count. When you reopen the case, add information to the award letter to let the parent know when the case is scheduled to terminate if the parent does not participate as required for four weeks in a row. The CSO will need to continue to attempt to re-engage the person.
October is month 2 of sanction, the parent has completed a non-compliance sanction case staffing, and the case closes for another reason effective 11/1. The case is sent to the supervisor and the recommendation to terminate the case is upheld.
The person reapplies and is approved effective December 1. The case is reopened in Month 3 of sanction. Add to the award letter that the case is scheduled to terminate effective 1/31 unless the person participates as required for 4 weeks in a row.
184.108.40.206 How do I monitor cases referred for NCS termination in eJAS?
Staff will be able to monitor cases for completion of the tool via the “Clients in Sanction” report.
CSO staff is responsible for monitoring the Clients in Sanction report which is accessed from the Caseload Management Report. The report will be updated with the termination approval when the supervisor or designee approves termination. When the decision is first made, it is bolded until the worker reviews the decision from the Clients in Sanction report.
220.127.116.11 What if a supervisor approves a case for closure?
The supervisor or designee enters their decision in the NCS eJAS tool by selecting “Yes” under question 19 and "Submit NCS Decision". The WFPS or WFSSS will view the decision in the ‘Clients in Sanction’ report.
The WFPS or Financial Services Specialist closes the WorkFirst cash assistance by:
- Entering a "Y" in the "Close AU Due to NCS" field on the WORK screen in ACES. The case will close for reason code 252.
- Sends a separate adverse action notice following the adverse action rules in the EAZ Manual and adds the following information:
- What the person failed to do to justify the sanction status.
- How to reapply for benefits and informs the person of the 4-week participation period to receive cash.
Staff must also make sure that the family receives other types of public assistance benefits they may qualify for, like Basic Food or Washington Apple Health. Encourage persons who file a fair hearing and requests continued benefits to re-apply and meet participation requirements in case they lose the hearing.
18.104.22.168 What if a sanction lasts longer than four months?
If a sanction goes beyond 4 months, input the appropriate "delay reason" code on the ACES WORK screen. For example:
- FH is used when a case closure is delayed by a fair hearing request.
- RF is used when a final decision is pending until the CSO completes a step in the NCS process that was overlooked.
22.214.171.124 What if a supervisor disagrees with the recommendation for case closure?
If the supervisor disagrees with the recommendation case closure, they may select “NO” under question 19 of the NCS eJAS tool and then “Save/Refer to Case Manager”. This will send the case back to the case manager to review and correct. The case manager can make necessary corrections and send the case back for a decision. If the sanction is invalid or the good cause/NCS case staffing was not followed correctly, the supervisor can select “NO” and “Submit NCS Decision” to deny case closure and close out the tool.
CSO Staff Actions
- If the sanction was invalid or good cause/NCS case staffing was invalid (per examples below) , take action within10 days as required under WAC 388-418-0020 (8) to remove the sanction and restore benefits per WAC 388-410-0040. Follow the procedures in section 126.96.36.199: How do I resolve procedural errors and re-apply sanction penalties? If the sanction is still valid, but we cannot close the case due to an inadequate adverse action notice (per examples below):
- Keep the case open and in sanction and;
- Take corrective action as required under WAC 388-418-0020 (3); and
- Correct the notice.
Required Case Action
Invalid good cause/NCS case staffing
Inadequate adverse action notice
188.8.131.52 How do I resolve procedural issues & reapply sanction penalties?
This process is used when a case was sanctioned in error.
- End the sanction: For invalid sanction/case staffing, send a change letter to end the sanction. If only the good cause/NCS case staffing is invalid, explain that we are reinstating full benefits until we resolve a procedural error.
- Restore lost benefits: Remove the sanction on the case back to the original date it was imposed. Issue a supplement following the established procedures in the EAZ manual under "Benefit Errors -F. Cash and Food Assistance Underpayments ".
- Reinstate sanction: If you must reinstate the sanction because the good cause/NCS case staffing was invalid send out a new good cause appointment letter, describing what the parent did not originally do. Follow the regular sanction process from this point forward to do a good cause/NCS case staffing, complete the sanction review checklist and make the sanction decision. If the sanction is found appropriate, send a new adverse action notice (describing what the parent did not originally do) and impose a new sanction. The parent will start over in month 1 of the new sanction.
- Insufficient information in the adverse action notice: If we did not state who did not comply and/or adequately describe what was not done, you will not need to make a new sanction decision. Lift the sanction and restore lost benefits. Send out a new adverse action letter naming who and/or describing what the parent originally did not do and impose a new sanction with advance and adequate notice. The parent will start over in month 1 of the new sanction.
- Curing requirements: Allow parents who have already begun to cure their sanction to continue their cure by doing their required activities. If the parent has not started to cure and wishes to re-engage, do a new CE and IRP based on current circumstances. Lift the new sanction after the parent participates for 4 consecutive weeks. See section 184.108.40.206 for a description of when you can lift a person's 4-week cure requirement
220.127.116.11 What happens when a person is closed for NCS for the third time?
When a personís case closes that has been terminated for NCS three times, that person is permanently disqualified from receiving TANF/SFA benefits. In addition, the disqualified personís household is ineligible to receive TANF/SFA benefits while the person lives in the home. For more information about permanent TANF disqualification, please refer to section 3.6.4 Ė Permanent TANF Disqualification.
18.104.22.168 Ending Sanction - Step-by-Step Guide
Note: The NCS process and automated supports track each specific incidence of non-participation. If you consider sanction again based on another incidence of non-participation, you must conduct new appointments and create a separate NCS eJAS tool.
- Curing Sanction
When a sanctioned person agrees to participate to cure the sanction:
- Open the appropriate components(s) in eJAS (but keep the SA or SN code in place).
- Authorize any needed support services or child care and update the IRP.
- After 4 weeks of satisfactory participation is verified:
- Remove the sanction coding RE or SN on the WORK screen in ACES and enter an MP. Enter the sanction cure date in the ‘CA Re-qualifying Date’ field.
- For parents who have been on WorkFirst for 60 months or more, change the ACES TWEP Screen from category 3 to category 1 or 2.
- Remove the SA or SN code from eJAS by entering the CS closing code.
- Termination Referrals
- Once a case reaches month 2 or 3 of sanction, the WFPS/SW will:
- Review the NCS eJAS tool for accuracy and completeness.
- Complete NCS eJAS tool question 18 and:
- If yes, enter the appropriate months and year benefits have been reduced by WorkFirst sanction (maximum entry is 4 months).
- If no, enter the date sanction was cured or lifted.
- Summarize recent case history since sanction was imposed and provide additional comments of attempts to re-engage.
- Enter ‘Save/Complete’ to place the case on the eJAS Clients Awaiting Sanction/Term/Recon Approval report, which forwards the NCS case closure recommendation to the supervisor/designee.
- Monitor the eJAS Clients in Sanction report for the supervisor/designee decision.
- Continue monthly re-engagement contact with person.
- The CSO supervisor/designee routinely monitors the eJAS Clients Awaiting Sanction/Term/Recon Approval report for new NCS case closure recommendations. Once a referral is received, the supervisor/designee will:
- Review the NCS eJAS tool questions 17 and 18 to ensure:
- The adverse action letter was sent correctly.
- Entries are accurate and documentation is thorough.
- There is no issue with returned mail (IRP, eJAS appointment letters, AOL 85-01, or AOL 08-01).
- Complete question 19 of the NCS eJAS tool with decision.
- A denial will:
- Return the case to the WFPS/SW to allow for corrections, if necessary, and resubmitted with appropriate signatures, or
- Close the NCS eJAS tool. When this happens, the WFPS/SW will lift sanction and restore benefits for invalid sanctions.
- An approval will terminate TANF after month 4 of sanction.
- Entry of additional comments is optional and should be brief.
- The WFPS/SW monitors the eJAS Clients in Sanction report for supervisor/designee decision.
- Upon notification that the supervisor/designee has approved the NCS case closure decision in the NCS eJAS tool, the WFPS/SW will:
- Continue monthly re-engagement contact with the individual.
- After the individual has received 4 consecutive months of sanction, close the WorkFirst cash assistance by:
- Entering a “Y” in the “Close AU Due to NCS” field on the WORK screen in ACES. The case will close for reason code 252.
- Sending a separate adverse action notice following the adverse action rules in the EAZ Manual and adding the following information:
- What the person failed to do to justify the sanction status.
- How to reapply for benefits and informs the person of the 4-week participation period to receive cash.
- Ensuring the family receives information about other types of public assistance benefits they qualify for, like Basic Food or Washington Apple Health.
- Encouraging persons who file a fair hearing and request continued benefits to re-apply and meet participation requirements in case they lose the hearing.
If the supervisor or designee does not agree with the recommendation for case closure and denies case closure:
- The WFPS/SW may request a reconsideration of the decision by:
- completing the “Request for NCS Reconsideration” section of the tool;
- Entering text stating the reason for the reconsideration request;
- Selecting “Save/Complete” to forward the request for reconsideration to the supervisor or designee.
- The supervisor or designee will be notified of the reconsideration request under the “Clients Awaiting Sanction/Termination/Recon Approval” report. When the supervisor receives a reconsideration request, he or she will:
- Contact the Regional WorkFirst Coordinator if there are any questions regarding the reconsideration;
- Enter the reconsideration decision under the “Reconsideration Decision” section of the NCS eJAS tool.
- Entering “No” denies the cash termination and permanently completes the NCS eJAS tool.
- Entering “Yes” approves cash termination.
- If denying the reconsideration, select up to 3 denial reason codes and enter text describing the reason he or she disagrees with the recommendation to terminate the case, including what non-compliance sanction criteria was not met.
- Enter “Submit NCS Decision” once the review is complete.
Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections
Forms & Other Resources
- EA-Z Manual - Food Stamp E & T Chapter
- WorkFirst Opportunities Brochure (DSHS 22-1125)
- WorkFirst Non-Participation Appointment letter (085-01)
- Notice of Change in Cash/Food Assistance (008-01)
- NCS Case Staffing and Review Criteria Reference Guide
- July 2010 Sanction eJAS Appointment Letter Template