FACT 69 (Approved Waivers in Response to COVID-19: Providing a Social Security Number Good Cause Timeline Extension; Claims Processing; and Extending Certification Periods and Interim Report Requirements)
Food Assistance Change Transmittal No. 69
April 28, 2020
TO: All Food Assistance Manual Holders
FROM: Kimberly Hall, Director Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
SUBJECT: Approved Waivers in Response to COVID-19: Providing a Social Security Number Good Cause Timeline Extension; Claims Processing; and Extending Certification Periods and Interim Report Requirements

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. In addition to the state-declared state of emergency, on March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a national state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Public Law 116-127) became law on March 18, 2020 and provided states the ability to seek waivers to expand flexibility of programs to ease administrative burden of issuing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits while under a state of emergency.

As part of this effort, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) received a waiver approval from the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) to extend the time frame for good cause if an individual is not able to provide a social security number (SSN) due to closure of the local Social Security offices.

Additionally, Ohio has accepted part of a blanket waiver from FNS that allows a delay in collecting on newly established overpayments. Furthermore, FNS has authorized Ohio to extend the waiver for recertification extensions and interim reports. Specifically, certification periods scheduled to expire in June 2020 can be extended six months to December 2020, and interim reports due in June 2020 are no longer required.

New Procedure:Effective immediately, the following changes apply:

SSN Good Cause

All local Social Security offices were closed to the public for in-person services starting March 17, 2020. Closure of the offices creates a hardship for individuals needing to apply for a social security number (SSN) or request a copy of a social security card for themselves or a family member. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) regulations require that households participating or applying for SNAP benefits provide the SSN for each household member or apply for one before certification.

When a SNAP applicant or recipient fails or refuses to provide an SSN, Ohio Administrative Code rule 5101:4-3-22 (C) states, in part, that the county agency shall explain to the individual that failure or refusal without good cause will result in a disqualification for the individual. Paragraph (C)(2) goes on to state, in part, “…. when the applicant can show good cause for why a SSN has not been completed in a timely manner, that person shall be eligible to receive SNAP for one month in addition to the month of application.”

As a result of the waiver approval, the good cause timeframe for failure to provide SSN will be extended for three additional months, for a total of 5 months starting with the month of application. The additional three months can be added to assistance groups who are already in receipt with good cause and to new applicants through May 31, 2020.

The change in good cause timeframes will need to be tracked outside of the system and the change must be documented in journal notes as to that a good cause extension was granted under a COVID-19 waiver.

Claims Processing

Rule 5101:4-8-15 (L)(2) of the Ohio Administrative Code states that“when a potential claim exists, within five months of the ‘discovery or referral date’, the county agency shall investigate, obtain verification, calculate the claim and mail the initial demand notice which is the ‘established date’ unless a potential intentional program violation exists.” As a result of the waiver, any claim established after the date this FACT is published shall not have an initial demand notice mailed to the individual until after May 31, 2020.

ODJFS must report to FNS the number of cases for which we delay sending the initial demand notice. County agencies shall track the number of cases and then send an email to their Fraud Control Specialist or the BPI_FCS mailbox (BPI_FCS@jfs.ohio.gov) during the first week of June 2020, but no later than Friday June 5, 2020.

Extending Certification Periods:

All assistance groups whose certification periods are scheduled to expire in June 2020 will be extended through December 2020. Assistance groups will be notified that their certification date will be extended, and they do not have to reapply and participate in the interview until December 2020.

Interim Reports

Assistance groups with interim reports due in June 2020 are not required. As a result, interim reports will not be sent to assistance groups in June. Assistance groups remain subject to all other reporting requirements until their recertification.