3.6.2 Ending Sanction

Non-Compliance Sanction Policy

Legal References:

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 two months. This section includes:
    • 3.6.2.1 What happens after a case is placed in sanction?
    • 3.6.2.2 What are the CE & IRP requirements for sanctioned persons?
    • 3.6.2.3 How does a person cure a sanction?
    • 3.6.2.4 How might changes in circumstances change a person's grant, IRP or cure requirements
    • 3.6.2.5 When do I withdraw cases referred for NCS case closure?
    • 3.6.2.6 What if a supervisor approves a case for sanction/sanction penalty and it is time to close the case?
    • 3.6.2.7 What if the sanction lasts longer than two months?
    • 3.6.2.8 How do I resolve procedural issues & reapply sanction penalties?
    • 3.6.2.9 What happens when a person is closed for NCS for the third time?
    • 3.6.2.10 Ending Sanction - Step-by-Step Guide
  • Section 3.6.3NCS 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

3.6.2.1 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/sanction penalty decision is approved, continue to attempt to work with the person to cure their sanction.

Continue to attempt reengagement each month until the sanction is waived, cured or the case closes.

The NCS Review Pathway (2-Month) report on the Caseload Management Report will display the date in the Reengage Contact column whenever a “Reengagement” note type is entered into eJAS.  This note type is entered when;

  • an NCS Reengagement Contact Letter is printed from eJAS, or when;
  • the WFPS/WFSSS makes other reengagement contact and selects the “Reengagement” note type to post a note.

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 sanction/sanction penalty, we will close the case after:

  • the person has been in sanction for  2 months in a row; or
  • We give the individual10-day notice to close the case because they did not attend either their non-compliance case staffing or their home visit/alternative meeting.

3.6.2.2 What are the CE & IRP requirements for sanctioned persons?

Every sanctioned person must complete the Sanction Re-engagement portion of the CE to start a sanction cure after entering sanction status. The Sanction Re-engagement portion of 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.

The Sanction Re-engagement CE is a series of six questions to discuss how the person will successfully cure their sanction.  It also screens for changes that may affect the person’s ability to participate.

CE process:

  • Schedule (via an appointment letter) a Sanction Re-Engagement CE for the sanctioned person.
  • Complete the Sanction Re-engagement CE interview,
  • 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 agrees to a sanction cure plan, 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 Sanction Re-engagement CE interview.

3.6.2.3 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 Sanction Re-engagement CE interview).

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 Sanction Re-engagement CE interview 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.

3.6.2.4 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.

  • Grant:
    • 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 3.6.1.14 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.
  • IRP: 
    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 Sanction Re-engagement CE interview, or
    • The person's situation changes so he or she can no longer meet prior IRP requirements.
  • Four-week cure requirement:
Anyone able to participate (with a new IRP and participation requirements appropriate to their new circumstances) must comply for four weeks before they get a full grant.  However, if they are only able to participate in family violence related activities, the cure requirement should be waived.  Once they comply or the cure requirement is waived:
  • Remove the sanction penalty the first of the following month.
  • The person starts over with a clean slate (zero months in sanction).

Waive a person's four-week cure requirement only 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.
  • Family, personal, or health issue is now severe enough that they cannot participate.
  • Family violence is directly or significantly contributing to their inability to participate – see examples of family violence situations in 6.5.18.

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 chemical dependency issues but her chemical dependency treatment provider indicates she is able to participate in other WorkFirst activities. She must participate in activities for four weeks to get a full cash grant (in her case, go through a Sanction Re-engagement CE interview, followed by a mix of training, job search and chemical dependency treatment).
  • #2: After she entered sanction, she was in a car accident and hospitalized. This woman will be working with a social service specialist (who verifies her circumstances) after the Sanction Re-engagement CE interview is completed and we waive her four-week cure requirement and remove the sanction penalty the first of the following month.
  • #3: The woman is now entering her 3rd trimester of pregnancy. We do not require participation during the 3rd trimester, as long as the Pregnancy to Employment assessment has been completed and there are no mandatory requirements.  Waive the four-week cure requirement and remove the sanction penalty the first of the following month.

3.6.2.5 When do I withdraw cases referred for NCS sanction/sanction penalties?

You can withdraw a case that has already been referred to the supervisor/designee for sanction/sanction penalties 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 sanction and sanction penalties?

Cases that may be removed

Cases that cannot be removed

Parent cured the sanction 
Sanction lifted (e.g., unaddressed barriers discovered; parent now exempt from WorkFirst activities) 

Closed cases

3.6.2.6 What if a supervisor approves a case for sanction/sanction penalty and it is time to close the case?

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 or checking the “Closed while in Non-Compliance Sanction” box on the Work Registration/Participation – Cash screen in 3G. . The case will close for reason code 252.
  • Sending an adverse action notice following the adverse action rules in the EAZ Manual and adding the following information:
    • Who is receiving a Non Compliance Sanction termination (specific person)
    • What the person failed to do to justify the sanction status.

In addition, this text should be added to the 06-02 Termination of TANF/SFA letter:

  • If your case is closed, you will need to reapply and may need to follow your IRP for 4 weeks in a row before you can receive a grant.
  • If your case is closed 3 or more times, you may be permanently disqualified from receiving TANF/SFA.

For case closure sanction penalties only, also add the following text including appropriate dates:

  • The penalty for this sanction is case closure because you did not attend your staffing appointment scheduled on _________ and you were not available for your home visit or alternative meeting scheduled on ___________.

When this is done, staff should complete the question, “Was an adverse action letter sent to the parent 10 days prior to the NCS termination effective date?” on the eJAS NCS tool.

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 an administrative hearing and request continued benefits to re-apply and meet participation requirements in case they lose the hearing.

3.6.2.7 What if a sanction lasts longer than two months?

If a sanction goes beyond  2 months, input the appropriate "delay reason" code on the ACES WORK screen.

  • FH is used when a case closure is delayed by an administrative hearing request.

3.6.2.8 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 four consecutive weeks. See section 3.6.2.4 for a description of when you can waive a person's four-week cure requirement

3.6.2.9 What happens when a person is closed for NCS for the third time?

When a person’s case closes that has been terminated for NCS three times, that person is permanently disqualified from receiving TANF/SFA benefits. In addition, the disqualified person’s 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 – Permanent TANF Disqualification.

See section 3.6.3.2 for instructions on removing the permanent disqualification when you reinstate a sanction case closure penalty case.

3.6.2.10 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:

  1. Complete the Sanction Re-engagement CE interview.
  2. Open the appropriate components(s) in eJAS (but keep the SA or SN code in place).
  3. Authorize any needed support services and update the IRP.
  4. After 4 weeks of satisfactory participation is verified:
    1. Change the Participation Status from Refused – Mandatory Participant (RE) to Mandatory Participant (MP) on the Work Registration screen and enter the sanction cure date in the ‘ Re-qualifying Date’ field.
    2. Remove the SA or SN code from eJAS by entering the CS closing code.

    Resources

    Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

    Forms & Other Resources