Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Texas Works Handbook
Effective: April 1, 2016
Part A — Section 1900
Federal Time Limits (FTLs)
A—1910 General Policy
TANF and SNAP
Federal legislation requires that certain individuals receive benefits for a limited number of months. Encourage individual independence!
A household with a caretaker or second parent is limited to receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for 60 months. Each caretaker and second parent has his own separate federal time limit clock. When the caretaker or second parent reaches the 60th month of the federal time limit (regardless of who reaches it first), the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) denies the entire household at the end of the 60th month. Benefits received as an eligible child do not count toward the time limit if the child is later certified as a caretaker or second parent. A child who was certified on a TANF EDG that reaches the federal time limit may continue to receive TANF if certified with another caretaker or payee who did not reach federal time limits while certified with that child. Note: Do not count TANF-SP benefits toward a caretaker's or second parent's 60-month federal time limit.
Unless exempt, an able-bodied adult without dependents (ABAWD) is any individual, age 18 up to age 50, who is not meeting the work requirement, as defined in A-1831.1.2, ABAWD Referral Process. These individuals are initially limited to three months of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility in a 36-month period. After the initial 36-month period ends, another 36-month period begins the first month the individual fails to meet the work requirement.
General Policy (Resources), A-1210
SNAP — Budgeting for Members Disqualified for Citizenship, SNAP ABAWD Work Requirement, or Noncompliance with SSN Requirements, A-1362.3
ABAWD Referral Processes, A-1831.1.2
A—1920 Determining the Number of FTL Months Used
Effective with October 1999 benefits, each month a caretaker or second parent receives a TANF benefit counts toward the FTL, even if the month does not count toward the state time limit. This includes TANF benefits received in another state. Additionally, any month these members received benefits in Texas from November 1996 through September 1999 that counted toward the state time limit, also counts toward the FTL. Note: Individuals in control group cases were subject to FTLs beginning with October 1999 benefits.
Do not count a month toward the FTL if
- a caretaker or second parent is disqualified.
- the household's grant is:
- cancelled and not reissued,
- cancelled and reissued without including the caretaker or second parent's needs,
- totally claimed as an overpayment.
A—1921 Tracking FTL Months
Effective Oct. 1, 1999, an FTL month counts when a TANF benefit is issued to an adult caretaker or second parent.
To count a month an individual received benefits in another state, enter information in TIERS Data Collection – Out-of-State Benefits.FTL months only count if the individual received cash assistance. TIERS programming correctly determines FTL months for each individual. FTL information transferred from SAVERR during TIERS conversion. Advisors must submit Form H1075, Welfare Reform Force Change Request, to State Office Data Integrity only if FTL months need to be corrected in TIERS.
FTL months and years counted towards an individual’s FTL can be found in TIERS on the TANF Time Limit page.
TIERS inquiry displays FTL data on the Individual – TANF Time Limits & PRA screen in the hover menu. It includes the:
- maximum months,
- FTL months used, and
- remaining months available.
A—1930 Extended TANF and Hardship Exemptions
A—1931 General Policy
TANF and TANF-SP
Federal law allows exemption from the 60-month lifetime limit due to hardship. Extended TANF is the TANF and TANF-SP cash assistance program beyond the 60-month lifetime limit. A caretaker or second parent can apply for extended TANF and a hardship exemption at any time during or after their 60th month of assistance.
A—1932 Eligibility Requirements
TANF and TANF-SP
A caretaker or second parent may submit an application for extended TANF during their 60th month of lifetime TANF benefits, or after. They must:
- have fewer than 12 months of open Choices or child support penalties during a benefit month since Nov. 1, 1996;
- have a qualifying hardship exemption (see A-1933, Hardship Exemptions); and
- meet regular TANF eligibility criteria.
Note: Choices or child support penalty months may not be counted twice, if both penalties are open during the same month.
Review the extended TANF hardship exemptions with the applicant to identify the hardship. If the family qualifies under more than one hardship, the advisor and applicant should decide which hardship exemption is best for the household. After determining that the family meets extended TANF criteria, follow regular TANF eligibility requirements and program policies to determine eligibility.
As a condition of eligibility, require the extended TANF applicant to sign a new Form H1073, Personal Responsibility Agreement, and attend a Workforce Orientation refresher course, even if there is no break in benefits. Extended TANF caretakers and second parents are subject to the same Choices work requirements and exemptions as a regular TANF recipient.
The household is permanently ineligible from receiving TANF benefits when an individual non-complies with Choices or child support requirements after certification for extended TANF.
A—1933 Hardship Exemptions
TANF and TANF-SP
The extended TANF applicant must have one of the following hardships:
- Personal Disability – A personal mental or physical disability expected to last more than 180 days.
- Caring for a Family Member with a Disability – Responsible for the care of a family member with a disability for more than 180 days.
- Family Violence – Victim of family violence.
- Residence in a Minimum Service Choices County
– Resided in a minimum l service Choices county
- during the 60th month of the initial 60-month period, or
- at any time during the 11 countable months immediately preceding the 60th month.
- Lack of Employment – The caretaker or second parent complied with Choices requirements with no more than one Choices penalty since November 1, 1996, but is unable to obtain sufficient employment during the last 12 consecutive months before the end of the 60-month time limit. The individual cannot qualify for this hardship if the lack of sufficient employment during the last 12-month period resulted from voluntarily quitting a job.
Note: Caretakers and second parents who qualify for extended TANF for reasons 4 (Residence in a Minimum Service Choices County) and 5 (Lack of Employment) are limited to a total of 24 cumulative months of benefits. Good cause and Choices exemption months count toward the 24-month limit.
A—1933.1 Advisor Action at Application
A—1933.1.1 Personal Disability
TANF and TANF-SP
The caretaker or second parent may qualify for the personal disability exemption if the individual:
- provides a completed Form H1836-A, Medical Release/Physician's Statement, dated no more than six months before the application month. Form H1836-A must establish that the disability is expected to last more than 180 days.
- is certified to receive HHSC Long-term Services and Supports.
- is certified for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
If the caretaker or second parent is not certified for SSI, inform the caretaker or second parent claiming the disability that the individual must apply for SSI before the next complete review. Follow policy in A-1311.1, Requirement to Pursue SSI/RSDI.
Exception: An SSI application is not required if the applicant has an SSI application pending or previously applied for SSI and was denied within the last 12 months. If the SSI denial was more than 12 months before the extended TANF application month, a new SSI application is required. Inform the individual that this exemption must be re-evaluated at the next periodic review.
A—1933.1.2 Caring for a Family Member With a Disability
TANF and TANF-SP
The caretaker or second parent may qualify for the caring for a family member with a disability exemption if the caretaker or second parent:
- provides a completed Form H1836-B, Medical Release/Physician's Statement, that is no more than six months old. Form H1836-B must establish that the family member's disability is expected to last more than 180 days and that the applicant is needed in the home to care for the family member with a disability.
- is listed as the primary caregiver in the care plan for the family member with a disability, for family members receiving HHSC Long-term Services and Supports.
- provides a completed Form H1836-B that is no more than six months old and indicates the applicant is needed in the home to care for the family member certified for SSI.
Refer to Step 2 of A-2543.2.2, Disabling Illness or Injury of Close Family Member, to determine the degree of relationship that applies. The degree of relationship that applies to state time limits applies to FTLs.
If the family member with a disability is not already approved for SSI, inform the person caring for the family member with a disability that the family member with a disability must apply for SSI before the next complete review. Follow policy in A-1311.1, Requirement to Pursue SSI/RSDI.
Exception: An SSI application is not required if the family member with a disability has an application pending or previously applied for SSI and was denied within the last 12 months. If the SSI denial was more than 12 months before the application month, a new SSI application is required. Inform the individual that this exemption must be re-evaluated at the next periodic review.
A—1933.1.3 Family Violence
TANF and TANF-SP
If the applicant indicates on Form H1713, Service Plan for Family Violence Option and Report of Good Cause, that the individual is a victim of family violence, make an assessment referral to the family violence program specialist following policy in A-1131.1, Good Cause for Family Violence Option. A list of Family Violence Shelters is located at www.hhsc.state.tx.us/Help/family-violence/centers.shtml. The family violence specialist makes a recommendation about the claim. If the family violence specialist establishes that the applicant is a victim of family violence, the applicant is eligible for the exemption.
A—1933.1.4 Residence in a Minimum or Mid-Level Service County
TANF and TANF-SP
Verify that the applicant resided in a county that offered only minimum or mid-level Choices services during at least one of the last 12 countable months of the individual's 60-month period by reviewing the applicant's residence history. Contact the Local Workforce Development Board (LWDB) to verify the county's service level status during those 12 countable months.
Example: The applicant reached her 60th month of TANF assistance in January. She is applying for extended TANF in July and currently resides in a full-service county but claims that no Choices services were available in her county when she was receiving regular TANF benefits. Verify the applicant's county of residence over the last 12 countable months of her 60-month period. Determine the county's Choices service level status during those months by contacting the local board.
The applicant meets this exemption criteria if the individual resided in a minimum service Choices county in any month during the entire last 12 countable months of her 60-month time limit.
A—1933.1.5 Lack of Employment
TANF and TANF-SP
The applicant must have
- no more than one Choices penalty during the individual's 60-month time limit; and
- been unable to obtain sufficient employment during the last 12 consecutive months before the end of his 60-month time limit. Count back 12 calendar months from the 60th month. The 60th month is month one of the 12 months.
Note: The individual cannot qualify for this hardship if the lack of sufficient employment during the last 12-month period resulted from voluntarily quitting a job.
A—1933.2 Advisor Action at Complete Review
TANF and TANF-SP
At each complete review after initial certification for extended TANF benefits, advisors must verify that the individual continues to meet
- the hardship criteria for extended TANF benefits due to a disability, caring for a member with a disability, or family violence; and
- all other TANF eligibility requirements.
Advisors are not required to re-verify hardship due to residence in a minimum/mid-level service county or lack of employment exemptions at complete review.
A—1933.2.1 Personal Disability or Caring for a Family Member With a Disability
TANF and TANF-SP
The advisor must:
- obtain a new Form H1836-A, Medical Release/Physician's Statement, or Form H1836-B, Medical Release/Physician's Statement, if the form in the EDG record is more than six months old to verify that the applicant:
- or family member still has a disability expected to last more than 180 days, or
- is needed in the home to provide care for a household member with a disability;
- verify that the caretaker or second parent with a disability is receiving HHSC Long-term Services and Supports or, in the case of a family member with a disability, that the recipient continues to be designated as the primary caregiver in the family member's care plan;
- verify that an application for SSI has been submitted since the previous TANF application, if applicable, or require a new application for SSI if it has now been 12 months since being denied for SSI; or
- verify that the caretaker/second parent or family member is certified for SSI.
Note: If the caretaker/second parent with a disability already receives SSI, then eligibility for the personal disability exemption is met. If the family member with a disability receives SSI, a current Form H1836-B is still required to verify that the caretaker/second parent is needed in the home to provide care.
|At complete review, if the member with a disability ...||and ...||then ...|
|applied for SSI benefits,||the application is pending,||accept a pending notice as verification of the application or perform State Online Query/Wire Third-Party Query (SOLQ/WTPY) inquiry to check the status of the SSI application.
Note: If the pending notice is more than 12 months old and the individual indicates this is the only notice received, check the status by performing SOLQ/WTPY inquiry.
|applied for SSI benefits,||the individual is eligible for SSI benefits,||follow procedures in A-2344.1, Form TF0001 Required (Adequate Notice); send Form TF0001, Notice of Case Action, to remove the SSI household member from the EDG; and adjust the SNAP EDG, if applicable.
Note: If an adult in a TANF-SP household is certified for SSI, transfer the remaining members to TANF, if eligible.
|applied for SSI benefits,||the individual is ineligible for SSI benefits and provides Form H1836-A indicating the individual meets disability criteria,||accept Form H1836-A as verification.|
|has not applied for SSI benefits,||deny the EDG. If the individual reapplies after denial, the individual must provide verification of SSI application before certification.|
A—1933.2.2 Family Violence
TANF and TANF-SP
At complete review, if the recipient continues to indicate a victim of family violence status, provide the extended TANF recipient with Form H1713, Service Plan for Family Violence Option and Report of Good Cause. Make an assessment referral to the family violence program specialist following policy in A-1131.1, Good Cause for Family Violence Option. A list of Family Violence Shelters is located at www.hhsc.state.tx.us/Help/family-violence/centers.shtml. If the family violence specialist establishes that family violence continues to exist, the household continues to be eligible for this exemption.
A—1940 SNAP ABAWD Work Requirements
The work requirement policy
- applies the month after an individual turns age 18, and
- does not apply in the month an individual turns age 50.
To meet the SNAP ABAWD work requirement, an individual must be working or participating in a specified work program (see A-1941.2, Meeting the Work Requirement Through a Work Program) an average of at least 20 hours per week in a month. An individual may use a combination of work and participation in a work program to meet this requirement.
A non-exempt individual's 36-month period begins with the first countable month the individual works less than an average of 20 hours per week and receives SNAP benefits in Texas or any other state. This is also the first of the three months of time-limited benefits. Exception: A month in which benefits are prorated is not a countable month.
The initial three months of time-limited benefits do not have to be consecutive.
A—1941 Definition of Work
Work may be regular employment, self-employment, or employment with a business, government entity, or non-profit organization that is volunteer labor or is paid in-kind.
- Consider employment paid by vendor payment as regular employment.
- Consider work performed under the National and Community Services Act or Domestic Volunteer Service Act, such as VISTA or Americorps USA, as work for the purpose of meeting the work requirement.
A—1941.1 Meeting the Work Requirement Through Self-Employment
To meet the work requirement via self-employment, an individual must anticipate working an average of at least an average of 20 hours per week over the certification period. If the gross self-employment earnings do not equal at least an average of 20 hours per week multiplied by the federal minimum wage, the individual must verify that they are working at least an average of 20 hours a week using the same verification procedures used for Employment and Training (E&T) exemptions.
A—1941.2 Meeting the Work Requirement Through a Work Program
An individual may participate in one of the following work programs an average of at least 20 hours per week to meet the work requirement:
- Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)
- Trade Adjustment Assistance Act Program
- SNAP E&T Program. Note: E&T Workfare also meets this work requirement even if it is less than an average of 20 hours per week.
Verification Requirements, A-1970
An individual is exempt from the SNAP ABAWD work requirement if:
- a member of a SNAP EDG where a household member on the SNAP EDG is under age 18,
- exempt from E&T registration,
- physically or mentally unfit to work at least an average of 20 hours per week,
- lives in a waiver area (see C-330, SNAP ABAWD Work Requirement Waiver Counties), or
- lives in a SNAP non-E&T county. (C-341, SNAP Non-Employment and Training Counties)
Note: For streamlined reporting households, each adult household member must be exempt from the SNAP ABAWD work requirement due to having a child or other household member under age 18; pregnancy; or physically or mentally unfit to work at least an average of 20 hours per week (code E in work registration). If the disability is not obvious, obtain Form H1836-A, Medical Release/Physician's Statement. Use the exemption code that is most likely to last throughout the certification period. For example, if a household member is working full time and has a child under age 18, exempt the household member due to child under age 18.
Streamlined Reporting Households, A-2350
A—1950 Counting Months Toward Time-Limited Eligibility
Count a benefit month as one of the three initial time-limited months if the individual:
- receives SNAP benefits in Texas or any other state that month,
- is not exempt from the work requirement that month, and
- fails to work an average of 20 hours per week that month.
Note: The advisor must verify any benefits the individual received in another state as an ABAWD if the individual indicates receiving benefits outside of Texas and the information is readily available.
Do not count SNAP benefit months toward the ABAWD time limit when:
- HHSC or the out-of-state agency:
- disqualifies the individual from SNAP for any reason;
- prorates benefits; or
- files an overpayment claim for the entire month's benefit;
- the benefits are issued as restored benefits;
- the individual received an exemption from ABAWD work requirements and time limits in error; or
- the individual correctly received an exemption from ABAWD work requirements and time limits, but the household situation changed and the ABAWD status was not updated.
- John Adams (an ABAWD) applied for SNAP benefits on March 1, 2011; the application was denied March 31, 2011, for missed appointment. Adams reapplies on April 4, 2011, and is approved SNAP benefits from April 4, 2011, ongoing, with May 2011 counting as the first month toward his three-month ABAWD time limit. On May 12, 2011, it was discovered that the denial on March 31, 2011, was in error and Adams is issued the full allotment for March 2011, and the portion that was prorated for April 2011 in restored SNAP benefits. Neither March nor April can be counted toward the ABAWD time limit.
- Susan Jones applied for SNAP benefits on Nov. 16, 2010. Jones received an E&T exemption because she had recently lost her job and had applied for unemployment benefits. As a result, she also was exempted from the ABAWD time limit requirements. Jones was approved for SNAP benefits Nov. 16, 2010, through April 30, 2011. At Jones's redetermination interview on April 11, 2011, it is discovered that unemployment benefits were denied and HHSC had exempted her from E&T in error. None of the months from the previous certification period can be counted toward the ABAWD time limit. Count only the months in the new certification period beginning May 2011.
- Becky and Bob Smith and their three children were approved SNAP benefits from Oct. 1, 2010, through March 31, 2011. The three children moved in with their grandmother on Nov. 2, 2010. The Smith household was certified as a streamlined reporting household and was not obligated to report that the children had left the home. The Smiths do not timely reapply and the SNAP certification period expires. On April 15, 2011, the Smiths reapply for SNAP benefits and are scheduled an interview the same day. At the interview the advisor discovers the children have been out of the home since November 2010. None of the months from the previous certification period can be counted toward the ABAWD time limit. ABAWD months are only counted in the new certification starting with April 2011. April will not count as an ABAWD month because benefits are prorated.
Redetermine eligibility effective the benefit month after the third countable time-limited benefit month. The advisor may set a:
- special review before cutoff in the third countable month, or
- three-month certification if the 36-month period starts at certification.
A—1951 After the Three Months of Time-Limited SNAP Eligibility
When the initial three months of time-limited eligibility expire, the advisor must:
- disqualify the individual; or
- deny the EDG if:
- it is a single-person household, or
- the disqualification makes the household ineligible.
Provide advance notice of adverse action, if required.
Note: Use the individual notice language specific to this disqualification in the comment section of Form TF0001, Notice of Case Action.
A—1960 Regaining Eligibility
An individual who lost eligibility due to the work requirement time limit in A-1951, After the Three Months of Time-Limited SNAP Eligibility, may regain eligibility if the individual:
- becomes exempt from the requirement, or
- begins working an average of 20 hours per week. Determine ongoing eligibility after verifying the individual started working or participating in a specified work program an average of 20 hours per week in a month.
A—1961 Second Time-Limited Three-Month SNAP Eligibility Period
An individual who already received the three months of time-limited benefits can qualify for one additional three-month period of eligibility in the 36-month period if the individual is not meeting the work requirement, but has worked for a specified period of time after receiving all three months of time-limited benefits. The individual must have:
- met the 20-hour per week work requirement after the first three-month eligibility period by working for at least 80 hours in a 30-day period, or
- participated in a recognized work program for at least 80 hours in a 30-day period after the first three-month eligibility period. A combination of work and participation in a specified work program also meets this requirement.
Note: The individual does not have to receive SNAP benefits during the month the individual worked or participated in a work program the minimum amount of hours to regain eligibility.
If HHSC prorates benefits, do not count the prorated month when determining the first month of the additional three-month period.
The individual can receive the additional eligibility period once in the 36-month period. Limit the additional eligibility period to three consecutive months, even if the individual returns to work or if HHSC denies SNAP for another reason during the three-month period. The additional consecutive three-month period may extend past the end of the original 36-month period if it began during the original 36-month period. Note: A new 36-month period can be established after the additional eligibility period.
For example: Brad Johnson's original 36-month period is September 2010 to August 2013. Brad used his initial three months in September 2010, October 2010 and April 2011. He reapplied for benefits on July 3, 2013, and met the criteria for an additional three-month period. Brad's second three-month period is August 2013, September 2013 and October 2013. Since July 2013 benefits are prorated, July is not a countable month. A new 36-month period can begin November 2013.
|If all certified members' additional three-month eligibility periods ...||then ...|
|expire in the same month,||set the certification period to end the last month of the three-month eligibility period.|
|do not expire in the same month,||set special reviews to deny each member effective the end of the third month of the additional eligibility period.|
Meeting the Work Requirement Through a Work Program, A-1941.2
A—1970 Verification Requirements
Advisors must verify:
- any out-of-state TANF benefits received on or after October 1999 (see A-720, New Texas Residents, for a link to out-of-state TANF agencies);
- any hardship exemption for TANF according to policy in A-1933, Hardship Exemptions; and
- at each complete review after certification for extended TANF due to disability, caring for a household member with a disability, or family violence. See A-1933.1, Advisor Action at Application.
When verifying earned income, advisors must also verify whether the employee works an average of 20 hours a week in a month.
When determining if an individual qualifies to regain eligibility for SNAP after the individual has used three countable months of benefits in a 36-month period, advisors must verify that the individual worked, or complied with a work program, for at least 80 hours in a 30-day period for the individual to be eligible for the second set of three-month time-limited SNAP benefits.Verify volunteer employment hours by contacting the employer. Verify the existence of a business or nonprofit organization, if questionable, by viewing federal income tax documents or nonprofit certification documents from the Internal Revenue Service or the Texas State Comptroller of Public Accounts.
Verify participation in the:
- Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) through the local WIOA program administrative office,
- Trade Adjustment Assistance Program through the LWDB, and
- SNAP E&T program through the local E&T office.
Use Form H1822, ABAWD E&T Work Requirement Verification, to verify participation in the above programs.
Verify an individual's exemption from the 18–50 work requirement for:
- pregnancy, and
- being physically or mentally unfit to work 20 hours a week.
Verify any countable months of benefits received in another state by any household member who meets the ABAWD requirement (see A-720, New Texas Residents, for a link to out-of-state SNAP agencies).
A—1980 Documentation Requirements
Advisors must document:
- the household was informed of FTLs at application, periodic review or when adding a new caretaker/second parent to the household;
- any out-of-state TANF benefits received on or after October 1999.
Advisors must document:
- the reason for an exemption for each individual age 18 up to age 50;
- any time the individual's 36-month time-limited period begins;
- the first and last month of the individual's 36-month period; and
- month(s) HHSC or any other state issues or requests a SNAP benefit that counts toward the individual's three months of time-limited benefits; and
- when the initial three months of time-limited eligibility expires.
The Texas Works Documentation Guide