FACT 68 (Interview Procedures during COVID-19 Pandemic)
Food Assistance Change Transmittal No. 68
March 31, 2020
TO: All Food Assistance Manual Holders
FROM: Kimberly Hall, Director Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
SUBJECT: Interview Procedures during COVID-19 Pandemic

Background: On March 9, 2020 Governor Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Ohio (Executive Order 2020-01D) to protect the well-being of the citizens of Ohio from COVID-19.  In order to protect the lives, safety and health of Ohio’s citizens, various orders have been issued from the Governor and the Ohio Department of Health to limit social interaction. These orders include: prohibiting mass gatherings (100 or more people in a single room); closing schools; prohibiting visitors in hospitals and jails; closing restaurants and bars; encouraging businesses to allow employees to work from home as well as asking parents to keep children out of day care settings.

On March 26, 2020 the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) issued guidance allowing states to accept a blanket adjustment for interview requirements due to COVID-19. Ohio has accepted terms of the blanket adjustment.

New Procedures: Effective immediately through May 31, 2020, a county agency is not required to conduct an interview at application prior to approving SNAP benefits, provided the following are met:

  • The applicant’s identity has been verified; and
  • All other mandatory verifications in paragraphs (D) and (E) of rule 5101:4-2-09 of the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) have been completed.
    • Verification shall be attempted through data matches, documents currently in the case record or provided with the application, and if unavailable, through client statement.
  • A county agency is required to contact the applicant if any information on the application is questionable or cannot be verified.
  • When a county agency is unable to contact the applicant, it shall schedule a telephone interview and send notice of the appointment to the applicant. The scheduled interview establishes a means of contact with the applicant to gather missing information not included in the application and to obtain client statement where electronic documentation is unavailable. If there is no contact with the applicant at the scheduled appointment time, the county agency must send a notice of missed interview (NOMI). If the applicant does not request to reschedule, the application shall be denied.

Applications processed under expedited procedures, which only require identity and social security number to be verified, still require a telephone interview to be completed in order to authorize benefits for a one or two-month certification period.

Additionally, if a county agency does have to complete an interview (i.e. unable to contact client or processes the application under expedited procedures) it is not required to offer a face-to-face interview, even if an applicant requests this interview method.  If a face-to-face interview is requested, the county agency can schedule an interview to be conducted by telephone.