Temporary COVID-19 Verification Procedures

Permanent Procedures

Self-Declarations

With the release of OLGT 2021-39: Cross Programs: Telephonic Signature, new procedures were issued regarding how to verify self-declarations (see Self-Declaration.)

 

Certain Temporary COVID-19 Procedures Have Been Rolled Back to Pre-COVID Procedures

The following procedures no longer fall under Temporary COVID-19 procedures. For these topics, you must follow the procedures outlined in the Regular Online Guide:

 

Temporary COVID-19 Procedures

SVES

Cross Programs

Application

BEACON will automatically submit a SVES request for all household members for a new application when the number held in the SSN field does not begin with 99. A SVES request is not required at application unless Identity can only be verified by SVES overnight for the grantee, or verification of reported RSDI and/or SSI income is needed.

Recertification/Reevaluation

Case managers must conduct a SVES request at recertification/reevaluation for new household members. A SVES should only be run on existing household members who are receiving or presumed to be receiving RSDI and/or SSI when the RSDI and/or SSI income has not been updated within the last year. A SVES request is not to be submitted for Bay State CAP clients because SSA updates a Bay State client’s case as new information is reported to SSA. In addition, DTA cannot make income changes to Bay State CAP cases.

Case managers will be able to determine if the income has been updated within the last year by clicking on the External Agency – Other Income button in the selected client’s Other Income Status page. The Current Effective date will have the most recent date the income was updated. Use the income listed in the External Agency – Other Income screen if it has been updated within the last year. BENDEX and/or SDX will batch in new data as it becomes available.

Case Maintenance

SVES requests are not required at case maintenance.

Reminder

When a SVES request is completed, BEACON automatically creates a Process SVES Query Action, so that the person making the request, can review the returned SVES data. EAEDC and TAFDC case managers must review the Returned SVES Inquiries view to review the data received.

 

 

Disability

SNAP-Only

SNAP-only clients must be certified as federally disabled through the Social Security Administration, through MassHealth, through the Veterans Administration at 100% disability or by one of the other sources outlined in the SNAP Disability Requirements and Verifications Online Guide page.

Important

If the client does not provide verification of their disability, and there is no data on SVES or MassHealth, you must process the case without coding the client as disabled.

 

EAEDC Clients

For guidance regarding verification of Disability for EAEDC please see EAEDC COVID Procedures for Disability Verification Process

 

EAEDC Noncitizens Who Meet SNAP Disability Standards

For guidance regarding EAEDC noncitizens in a qualified noncitizen status that are not yet residing in the US for more than five years, see EAEDC COVID Procedures for Disability Verification Process.

 

A Disability Claim for the Purpose of Obtaining an Accommodation

Cross Programs

A client can verbally self-declare disability for the purpose of obtaining an accommodation. This is applicable to all DTA programs. However, a client who self-declares for the purpose of obtaining an accommodation must not be coded as Yes on the Disability page in BEACON, unless the client verifies disability in accordance with the procedures outlined above for each program.

Self-Declaration

TAFDC

Under temporary COVID procedures a verbal self-declaration must be accepted for Immunization.

Terminated Income

Cross Programs

If a client reports that an income source has been terminated, it must be ended in BEACON. If a client reports that they are not terminated, but currently have no hours/pay the income source must be zeroed out. If it is unclear whether they are still employed, three cold call attempts must be made to try and clarify. If cold call attempts to the client are unsuccessful, the source must be ended in BEACON.

A verbal self-declaration that a client is no longer working must be accepted for all programs. Similarly, if a client submits a written note indicating they are not working, or if they include this information on a Recertification form, it is acceptable verification of proof of termination. No additional verification is needed as terminated income is not being counted at this time.

Exception: If there is a Work Number Match that is active and displaying wages within 30 days of the case manager reviewing the case, and the client reports that they are unemployed, they must provide documentary evidence for proof of termination from the employer. If the client reports having trouble obtaining this verification, the case manager must institute collateral contact to assist. Each attempt at collateral contact must be recorded in the narrative. As a last resort, a written self-declaration that the client is no longer employed may be accepted. Terminated income, if any, is still not countable.

SNAP

If unemployment compensation has ended for a client, the terminated unemployment income that falls within the client’s initial cyclical month of application period must be counted. Since DUA is a verified upon receipt source, this is the only terminated income that must be counted. Case managers must also remove this income after it is used in the initial month of application.  For more information regarding unemployment income ending, please see Processing Cases with Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.

TAFDC/EAEDC

Terminated Income received prior to the application date is never considered.

When an individual who is applying for TAFDC or EAEDC has an outstanding paystub, the option of either counting a client’s last check for the application month or adjusting the eligibility date to the day after a client’s last check is received should still be explored.

Applying for Other Benefits

TAFDC/EAEDC

As a condition of eligibility, clients must apply for other benefits for which they may be eligible including but not limited to veteran’s benefits and workman’s compensation, as appropriate. You must follow the temporary procedures outlined below for applying for unemployment benefits at application. The only exception is the application for SSI benefits for EAEDC. At this time, no adverse action must be taken for failure to apply for SSI benefits.

Clients applying for TAFDC who recently lost their job or who had their hours reduced must apply for unemployment benefits, if they have not done so already. Staff should explain to clients that the unemployment benefit will likely be greater than the cash assistance amount. If the client fails to apply for unemployment compensation, the case must be closed for Failure to Apply for Other Benefits, under noncooperation.

The only time a client can be approved for TAFDC prior to applying for unemployment benefits is if the client recently lost their unemployment benefits, and have subsequent employment income, but are no longer employed. If otherwise eligible, these cases should be approved immediately, even if there is pending claim in the DUA system. Staff must explain to clients that they must report when they start receiving unemployment benefits. The day after the case is approved, staff must check UI Online and if there is no claim pending or active, the worker must create a VC-1 for proof of application for unemployment. Click User Entered on the Verifications tab and click New, then choose Application for Other Benefits under Element. Select Unemployment Compensation under Value, and click the Mandatory radio button for TAFDC, and Save. The VC-1 must be centrally printed and narrative detailing the action taken. If the client fails to apply for unemployment compensation by the VC-1 due date, the case must be closed for Fail to apply for other benefit(s), under the Reason category Noncooperation.

When an ongoing TAFDC client reports they have stopped working, they must apply for unemployment benefits. A VC-1 for unemployment compensation must be sent to the client. If the client fails to apply for unemployment compensation by the time the VC-1 expires, the case must be closed for Failure to Apply for Other Benefits under Noncooperation.

 

Reminder

EAEDC clients approved for unemployment benefits are ineligible for EAEDC even if the weekly payment amount is zero.

EAEDC clients who state they are not able to work due to a disability should not be advised to apply for unemployment benefits.

 

Work Requirement

SNAP

ABAWD work rules remain suspended. Clients normally subject to the ABAWD work rules who appear ineligible due to strikes, must not have the strike(s) removed unless the client was legitimately meeting, exempt or had good cause for that strike month. If the client has regained eligibility because of the suspension of ABAWD work rules, apply the appropriate exemption to the Work Requirements - FS page and enter a regained reason of Exempt on the ABAWD Clock page for the month for which benefits are being issued. If the client does not meet any previously existing exemptions, use ABAWD Rules Suspended (COVID-19) as an exemption in the Work Requirements – FS page.

 

The Work Number

SNAP

Application

In most circumstances, interviews are waived for SNAP applications. If a client reports earned income and the wages are available on Work Number, those wages must be used. If all verifications are received, the case must be processed without an interview.

However, if there is an active Work Number match showing wages within 30 days of the case manager reviewing the case and the client reports:

 

The case manager must attempt three cold calls to clarify Work Number information.

If the client answers, staff must confirm with the client if the employer and wage information listed is correct. If the client confirms that Work Number information is correct, the Earned Income page must be updated with Work Number information. The case must be coded as Interview Held Yes on BEACON.

If the client indicates they are no longer employed or the wages in Work Number are not accurate, a mandatory VC-1 must be sent for the applicable item, i.e., wages or proof of termination.

If the client is stating they are having a hard time obtaining information, staff must attempt collateral contact. Remember to document all attempts of collateral contact in the narrative. If collateral contact is unsuccessful, a written self-declaration will be accepted as a last resort.

If the client does not answer, staff must send an appointment letter.

If a case manager is reviewing a case and Work Number has an employer that is active with no wages displayed within 30 days of the date the case manager reviewing the case, and the client has indicated no earned income on the application form, disposition the match as a terminated source in BEACON. The client does not need to be contacted or need to provide any verification to DTA.

If the client has indicated no earned income and Work Number data is displayed as inactive in BEACON, even if there are wages listed within the last 30 days, disposition the employer as a terminated source. No further action needs to be taken.

Example: A client applies and indicates on the SNAP application form that they are not working. An active Work Number match indicates that there have been wages received within the last 30 days of the case manager reviewing the case. The case manager performs three cold calls, but the client does not answer. The case manager must send an appointment letter to clarify the wage information.

 

Recertification

If the client is at Recertification and an outstanding PI Checklist item appears for Work Number, the match must be acted on.

If the Work Number match is listed as active, there are recent wages within 30 days of the date the recertification is being reviewed by the case manager, and the employer is not known to BEACON or the client reports no earned income, staff must perform three cold calls.

If the client answers, and states Work Number information is correct, update the case using Work Number information. If the client indicates they are no longer employed or the wages in Work Number are not accurate, a mandatory VC-1 for either wages or proof of termination must be sent.

If the client states they are having a hard time obtaining information, staff must attempt collateral contact. Remember to document all attempts of collateral contact in the narrative. If collateral contact is unsuccessful, a written self-declaration will be accepted as a last resort.

If the client does not answer, a mandatory, user-entered VC-1 for Additional Verification entering in the Details field: Earned Income. In the Document(s) of evidence field enter:

“You indicated that (household member name) had no earned income. Our data sources show earnings from (employer name) within the last 30 days. Please provide proof of your last 4 weeks earnings or proof of termination.”

If a Work Number match that appears on the PI Checklist is listed as active and there are no wages within 30 days of the recertification being reviewed by the case manager, and the client reported no earned income or no changes to their existing earned income, disposition the match as a terminated source and do not use Work Number information.

If the wages displayed on Work Number is for an existing job known to BEACON and the match is active, you must update the wages based on the match. If Work Number appears as an outstanding PI Checklist item, it must be addressed.

Example 1: A client states on their recertification form that they are working and receive wages of $400 per week at Stop and Shop (these wages are not listed on the Work Number). A different employer, Target, is listed on Work Number and shows current wages of $625 per week. The case manager performs a cold call and the client answers.  The client confirms the information for Target listed on Work Number is correct and that they are no longer are working at Stop and Shop. The case manager must update the case using the Work Number information and end the Stop and Shop income in BEACON. No additional verification is needed.

Example 2: A client calls in and completes a telephonic recertification including a telephonic signature. There is a PI Checklist match for an active Work Number and has wages within 30 days of the case manager reviewing the case. The client states they just ended the job last week and that they are no longer receiving wages. You must send a mandatory VC-1 for proof of termination.

 

TAFDC and EAEDC

Interviews are required for applications and reevaluations for TAFDC and EAEDC households.

Staff must confirm with the client if the employer and wage information listed is correct. If the client confirms that Work Number information is correct, the Earned Income page must be updated with Work Number information.

If the client states they are no longer employed and there is an active Work Number Match, and there are wages within the past 30 days the client must provide documentary evidence for proof of termination from the employer. If the client reports having trouble obtaining this verification, the case manager must institute collateral contact to assist. Each attempt at collateral contact must be recorded in the narrative. As a last resort, a telephonic self-declaration that the client is no longer employed may be accepted. Terminated income, if any, is not countable.

If the client has stated they have no earned income and Work Number data is displayed as inactive in BEACON even if there are wages listed within the last 30 days, disposition the employer as a terminated source. No further action needs to be taken.

If a case manager is reviewing a case and the Work Number has an employer that is active with no wages displayed within 30 days of the date the case manager is reviewing the case, and the client has indicated no earned income on the application form, disposition the match as a terminated source in BEACON. The client does not need to be contacted or need to provide any verification to DTA.

 

SLAM

Cross Programs

At application, recertification or reevaluation, staff must not address new or continued SLAM circumstances.

However, increased SLAM circumstances at recertification or reevaluation must be addressed using existing procedures under Increased SLAM Circumstances at Interim Report outlined in the Online Guide here.

Example: At application, a client had self-declared that their rent was $1,200 per month and that they were responsible for heating and cooling. The client’s only income is unemployment compensation of $150 per week. Since this is at application, SLAM is not to be addressed.

At recertification, the same client reports that they have moved, and the rent is now $1,600 plus responsibility for full utilities. The client reports no changes to their income. In this situation, SLAM must be addressed using the established procedures in the Online Guide.

 

Voter Registration

If a client submits a voter registration form and it populates as an Action to Process Scanned Document or is available in the Scanned Document History page in the ECF or Available/Reviewed Scanned Documents view, disposition the document as Reviewed Not Relevant. These must not be printed and mailed on behalf of the client. Staff must conduct a courtesy call and inform the client that they can register to vote online at: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/OVR/. However, if the client does not have access to the internet and would like a new mail-in voter registration sent to them, the case manager must contact their manager for a new mail-in form to be sent from the local office when a manager is next in the local office.

 

  Last Update: April 22, 2022