Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation
Integrated Service Delivery - Candy Shively, Deputy Secretary (785)
During the 2002 Legislative session, the legislature authorized SRS to impose a 24 month lifetime limit for the General Assistance program. Included in this authorization was language directing the Secretary to consider the development of hardship criteria for individuals who have exceeded the 24 month lifetime limit. In January 2004, the first group of consumers reached their 24 month time limit and were subject to termination of their GA benefits. In response to this action, three individuals obtained a temporary restraining order against the Department to halt the implementation of the 24 month time limit. In response to the legal challenge, the Department has reviewed the subject of hardship. After considerable evaluation, the decision was made to establish six hardship criteria for the GA program effective July 1, 2004.
With the implementation of hardship criteria, the 24 month time
limit will be reinstated. The Implementation Memo dated November
7, 2003 "GA Case Closure due to 24 Month Time limit" is
attached and the instructions continue to be applicable. Staff
should proceed with closure of cases that have exceeded the 24
month time limit when appropriate and utilize the notices outlined
in the November 7, 2003 memo. As part of this process, we will
continue to provide you with printouts of consumers who are approaching
or have reached their 24th month to assist you in identifying
those individuals that should be contacted regarding possible
hardship eligibility and/or options available to them as they
reach their 24th month.
When evaluating a case for hardship, the consumer must meet the criteria for hardship in the 24th month to be eligible for hardship designation. Occurrences that meet the criteria but occur following the 24th month will not be considered. (During initial implementation, consumers may be certified for one or more of the categories if they met the criteria anytime from their 24th month through the time their case is evaluated.)
GA cases involving two persons must continue to have both individuals meet GA eligibility criteria to remain open. If both are beyond the 24 month time limit, both must qualify for hardship criteria. If one of the individuals has not reached the 24th month, they must still meet regular GA eligibility standards for the case to remain open even when the other individual meets the hardship criteria.
Consumers should be certified for all applicable hardship categories at the time they reach their 24th month. If the consumer appears to qualify for the domestic violence category or volunteers for VR services, the consumer may receive hardship status during the period that they are being assessed for eligibility.
If the consumer qualifies for hardship based upon age or former GARN participation, you do not need to certify for any other categories of hardship since these categories allow for continual eligibility until the individual qualifies for SSI/SSDI or fails to meet other GA eligibility or cooperation criteria.
The other four hardship criteria are temporary in that the consumer’s circumstances can change and result in the consumer no longer meeting the necessary criteria to retain hardship criteria. This will require periodic reviews of GA hardship cases to determine if the consumer still meets the hardship standards. The frequency of the review is dependent upon the circumstances of the case and the hardship.
For the VR component, non-cooperation with VR as well as successful completion of the VR plan and subsequent employment would terminate hardship eligibility. In the case of the Domestic Violence component, determination by OARS or comparable entity that the consumer has overcome the effects of the domestic violence/sexual assault or has failed to cooperate would trigger termination of GA eligibility.
The two components that involve the status of a consumer’s SSI/SSDI application would terminate when the consumer exhausted the applicable appeal options, the status of the SSI/SSDI application can not be documented or the consumer is no longer cooperating in the process.
An informational general notice will be sent from Central Office to all GA consumers that have exceeded the 24 month time limit or are expected to in the next 90 days advising them of the establishment of hardship criteria and the general nature of the criteria. A copy of this notice is attached. It is expected to be mailed on or about July 1, 2004. GA consumers will be instructed that their worker will be contacting them to review their case and determine their eligibility for hardship status. Reports will be generated by Central Office and distributed to the field identifying those cases that have reached or will reach their 24th month by September 2004.
Given that we have a significant number of cases that have exceeded the 24 month threshold since January 2004, it is intended that the review of those cases over 24 month cases occur during the period beginning July 1, 2004 through September 30, 2004. Strictly for implementation purposes, individuals who have reached the 24 month time limit or will do so by September 2004 should be deemed eligible for hardship if they meet the criteria at any time through the point at which their case is reviewed. For the VR and Domestic Violence criteria, hardship should be granted until the assessment by the appropriate entity is completed even if the assessment is not completed until after the consumer has surpassed their 24th month.
Once initial implementation has occurred, (cases that reach their 24th month October 2004 and beyond) consumers must meet the eligibility criteria for hardship at or before they reach their 24th month. Workers should certify the consumer for all hardship categories that are applicable unless the consumer meets the age or GARN criteria.
Consumers who are potential self referrers to VR for determination of their eligibility under this hardship criteria should be encouraged to request voluntary referral as early as their 21st month but they can do so at anytime through their 24th month.
Termination of Hardship
Although the over 60 and GARN criteria remain in effect until the consumer qualifies for regular Social Security benefits, the other four criteria are time limited and subject to termination.
The two criteria related to the status of the consumer’s SSI/SSDI application would terminate when they have either exhausted all appeal options related to their initial application or have been denied at the reconsideration level if it is a subsequent application. The consumer’s eligibility would also terminate if the consumer fails to continue to cooperate with KLS or other appropriate advocates in pursuing their disability determination.
Consumers who qualify for the VR hardship criteria would lose eligibility if:
Consumers with eligibility for Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault criteria would lose eligibility if:
In addition to the initial notice generated at Central Office, the following notices have been developed and should be used in conjunction with notices identified in the 24 month Implementation memo to advise consumers of their time limit and hardship status:
These notices are under development and will be available on the system by July 1, 2004. Field staff will be notified when these notices are available.
Impact on Staff
With the exception of the Age and GARN criteria, staff will be required to minimally review hardship cases at six month intervals to determine if the individual continues to meet eligibility criteria. It will be necessary to work closely and coordinate with VR, KLS and/or the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault provider as appropriate to determine the ongoing status of the case since the prevailing circumstances supporting their eligibility could change at any given time.
Please direct any questions to Lewis A. Kimsey at email@example.com or 785-296-0147.