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RULE §357.566Collection Action on Food Stamp and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Intentional Program Violation Claims

(a) The investigator must send the person determined to have committed an intentional program violation a repayment agreement. The investigator must send a repayment agreement even if the household already received a nonintentional program violation demand letter.

(b) The Texas Department of Human Services (DHS) must begin collection action on intentional program violation claims, unless:

  (1) the household has already repaid the overissuance because of a nonintentional program violation claim; or

  (2) the investigator documents that the household cannot be located.

(c) The person who committed the intentional program violation, or the remaining household members, may begin making cash repayments before the disqualification period is imposed upon the guilty person. Benefits the household lost because of disqualification do not constitute repayment. DHS suspends collection action only on documented determination that the household cannot be located. Claims against a nonparticipating household may be suspended after the appropriate number of demand letters and it is determined the cost of further collection action is likely to exceed the amount that can be recovered. A claim may be determined uncollectible after three years. DHS must use suspended fraud claims to offset restored benefits.

(d) If the investigator interviews the person suspected of committing an intentional program violation and the person expresses that he does not want to attend an administrative disqualification hearing and is willing to repay the overissuance, the investigator obtains his signature on a repayment agreement form and on an acknowledgment of administrative disqualification hearing form.

  (1) The hearing officer will not send a notice of the hearing to the person since the hearing is already scheduled on the acknowledgment of hearing form.

  (2) The hearing officer will conduct the hearing without the person being present. The hearing officer will notify the person of the determination. The 10-day waiting period usually allowed to give the person an opportunity to explain his failure to appear at the hearing does not apply if the waiver of attendance has been signed.

(e) If the household against which collection action has been initiated for repayment of an intentional program violation claim is currently participating in the program and does not respond to the written demand letter within 10 days of the date the notice is mailed, DHS will reduce the household's food stamp allotment and/or TANF grant. If a nonparticipating household against which collection action has been initiated fails to respond to the first demand letter, DHS sends additional demand letters at reasonable intervals, until:

  (1) the household responds by paying or agreeing to pay the claim;

  (2) the criteria for suspending collection action have been met; or

  (3) DHS initiates other collection action.

(f) The investigator must establish a claim against the household the guilty person lives with.

(g) Intentional program violation claims are collected in one of the following ways.

  (1) Cash repayment--The investigator must attempt to collect the amount due in one lump-sum payment.

  (2) Installment payments--If the household is unable to pay the claim in one payment, the investigator may establish a schedule of regular monthly payments. Payments should be set at a level which will result in repayment as soon as possible but not to exceed three years. The household must repay an amount equal to at least the allowable recoupment amount.

  (3) Reduction of food stamp allotment--Before recoupment, the investigator must discuss with the household the amount of food stamps to be recouped. The recoupment amount is 20% of the household's monthly entitlement or $10 per month, whichever is greater.

(h) If the guilty person fails to make an agreed cash payment, DHS may recoup the amount owed, suspend collection action, or refer the case to a collection agency.

(i) If the investigator interviews the person suspected of committing an intentional program violation and the person expresses that he does not want to have an administrative disqualification hearing and is willing to repay the overissuance, the following policies and procedures apply.

  (1) The investigator obtains the individual's signature on a repayment agreement form and on an administrative disqualification hearing waiver form.

  (2) By signing the waiver of hearing and repayment agreement forms, the recipient agrees that he does not want a hearing, that he will repay the overissuance, and that he understands that he will be disqualified from receiving food stamps and/or TANF/Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) for a period of time determined by whether it is the first, second, or third offense. In some cases, the client may be given an opportunity to waive his right to a hearing through direct mail contact.

  (3) The investigator will not send the case to the hearing officer, but will initiate repayment and disqualification actions.

  (4) During the interview with the client, the investigator gives the client an opportunity to retract the waiver within seven workdays of signing the waiver form. If DHS receives a written retraction of waiver by the seventh day from the date the recipient signed the waiver, an administrative hearing will be scheduled and conducted. If DHS does not receive a written retraction of the waiver by the end of the seventh day, the waiver and repayment agreement remain valid, and no further appeals will be authorized.

Source Note: The provisions of this §357.566 adopted to be effective June 15, 1987, 12 TexReg 1394; amended to be effective March 1, 1992, 17 TexReg 694; amended to be effective July 1, 1992, 17 TexReg 3477; amended to be effective September 14, 1998, 23 TexReg 9410; transferred effective September 1, 2004, as published in the Texas Register September 17, 2004, 29 TexReg 9013

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