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The Pennsylvania Code website reflects the Pennsylvania Code changes effective through 54 Pa.B. 488 (January 27, 2024).

55 Pa. Code § 125.24. Procedures.

§ 125.24. Procedures.

 (a)  Interviewing the client. The client interview will conform with the following:

   (1)  Planning of interviews. The planning of interviews will conform with the following:

     (i)   The CAO shall conduct personal interviews with the applicant, recipient, or the caretaker relatives of needy children. The number of interviews will depend on the individual situation. Interviews are scheduled with the least possible delay on the basis of joint planning by the client and staff. Only the worker and the client are present at interviews unless the client wants other persons included.

     (ii)   The setting that is chosen for an interview will be that which best serves the purpose of the interview and is most satisfactory for the applicant and the agency. When a choice of settings is possible, the following factors are weighed: privacy; freedom from distraction; physical condition of the applicant; child care and similar responsibilities; distance from the applicant’s home to the office; availability of transportation and, especially, cost of transportation; the type of information sought; and any other pertinent factors.

     (iii)   If the setting chosen for an interview is the home of the client, the worker will show the client his Departmental identification card.

     (iv)   The interview must be conducted in accordance with §  121.3 (relating to requirements).

     (v)   If the applicant formerly applied for or received assistance, the worker will familiarize himself with the content of the record before the interview, in order to plan for a helpful and appropriate interview.

   (2)  Content of interview. An interview is a joint undertaking of the client and worker. The exact content of the interview cannot be planned. The content will be determined by the needs of the client as well as the purpose of the interview. The content of an interview is directed to helping the client present his situation, and discussing with the client in a meaningful way the services and requirements of the agency. The worker will take responsibility for the direction of an interview.

 (b)  Screening interview. The worker will screen an applicant prior to an application interview. The purpose of the screening interview is as follows:

   (1)  To review the application form for the completeness of information required to establish eligibility and the amount of the monthly assistance payment. This application form shall include the following:

     (i)   Names of persons to receive aid.

     (ii)   Birthdates of persons to receive aid.

     (iii)   Social Security numbers of persons to receive aid, or proof of application for a Social Security number.

     (iv)   Place of residence of persons to receive cash assistance.

     (v)   The names of any legally responsible relatives living in the home.

     (vi)   Income or resources.

   (2)  To make certain the application form is complete and that the information provided accurately represents what the applicant wants to say about his circumstances. The worker will discuss each application form with the applicant, explain its significance, give the applicant the opportunity to raise questions about the form if he wishes and insure that the applicant understands his rights and duties.

   (3)  If the application form is not complete or substantiating evidence is required, prompt action will be taken to obtain the needed information.

   (4)  To determine whether the information provided needs substantiation and what, if any, additional information or substantiating evidence is needed to establish eligibility.

   (5)  To explain that as a condition of eligibility for cash assistance, applicants and recipients of assistance shall cooperate with the Department in providing and verifying information necessary for the Department to determine initial or continued eligibility.

   (6)  To inform the applicant of the conditions of eligibility which must be met and of the factual information necessary to establish that each condition will be met. The worker will discuss with the individual and be clear and specific about the information that is needed as set forth in Subpart D (relating to determination of need and amount of assistance), the method by which the individual may try to get the information, and the kinds of substantiating information, documentary or otherwise, he is to get.

   (7)  To obtain the agreement of the applicant to apply for potential resources.

   (8)  To provide the applicant with copies of appropriate leaflets.

   (9)  To schedule the application interview within 13-calendar days of the date of receipt of an application.

   Exception: If a determination can be made at this point that the client is clearly ineligible, the disposition of the application will be in accord with subsection (c)(7)(vii)(B) unless the client requests an application interview.

 (c)  The application interview. The application interview shall be held within 13-calendar days of the date the CAO receives the application. The interview will be conducted in accordance with the following principles:

   (1)  The facts necessary for a decision on eligibility are assembled at the application interview. The maximum lapse of time between the receipt of a completed, signed application and authorization of the first assistance payment or other disposition of the application will be 30-calendar days. In accordance with section 432.19 of the Public Welfare Code (62 P. S. §  432.19), an application will not be denied for lack of verification if the applicant has cooperated in seeking verification which is pending from a third party including certification of cooperation with the Domestic Relations Section.

   (2)  The client has a right and the responsibility to help establish whether he is eligible by providing verification of eligibility factors and he is responsible for providing the information needed.

   (3)  The client has a responsibility to give the agency true and complete information on everything that may have a bearing on eligibility, and report promptly to the agency changes in the information the client has given or circumstances that may affect eligibility or the amount of the monthly assistance payment. A change reported shall also be included on the Monthly Reporting Form for clients required to report monthly as set forth in §  142.23 (relating to requirements).

   (4)  The information obtained is safeguarded by the agency and used only for purposes directly related to the client’s eligibility for assistance or other services the Department gives. The agency is required by statute to tell an adult resident of this Commonwealth who asks about a person receiving assistance, the address and amount of assistance the person is currently receiving; in accordance with Chapter 105 (relating to safeguarding information), this information may not be used in a commercial or political way, under penalty of fine or imprisonment.

   (5)  The acceptance of public assistance shall operate as an assignment to the Department of the client’s rights to receive support on his own behalf and on behalf of a family member for whom he is applying.

   (6)  A client will receive an applicant notice which informs him of his eligibility or ineligibility for cash assistance and of his right to appeal to, and have a fair hearing before, the Department, if he is dissatisfied with agency action or failure to act in respect to assistance. The notice shall include the reason for the decision, including all the facts and citations on which the decision is based, and a statement of the information or verification needed to establish eligibility if assistance was denied for this reason.

   (7)  The application interview shall conform with the following:

     (i)   The worker shall provide assistance as needed to complete the application process and shall insure that applicants or recipients have or promptly obtain a Social Security number.

     (ii)   The worker will explain the requirements necessary to complete the application process. The client may have a copy of any form he wishes.

     (iii)   If verification of the client’s past management of his finances is necessary, the applicant shall give the name and most recently known address of the resource. The client will be asked to provide documentary or other evidence as to the extent of the present availability of the resource, including a letter from the resource. If, however, the applicant is fearful of physical danger, emotional distress or otherwise unwilling to contact the former resource, then verification of past management will be satisfied by the client providing the name and most recently known address of the resource. The worker may then proceed to contact the resource to determine if it is an actually available current resource. Past management, like the other factors, shall be discussed only to the extent necessary to increase understanding of the present situation of the person, and not to get a detailed and exhaustive accounting. If it appears that the person had a sizeable resource, it shall be necessary to find out how much, if any, of the resource still exists.

     (iv)   If the client does not understand or accept the requirements or methods of the agency, the worker carefully reviews with the client his reasons, in order to prevent him from deciding unnecessarily or unwisely to withdraw from the program when he is or may be eligible. If the applicant wants time to make up his mind, the worker discusses with him the length of time he wants and a time limit is set because an application may not be kept pending indefinitely. In the meantime, the worker takes no further steps to establish eligibility.

     (v)   A decision concerning the applicant’s eligibility shall be made without delay based on the verification factors and information provided by the applicant. A decision on eligibility shall be made within 30-calendar days of the receipt of an application. In accordance with section 432.19 of the Public Welfare Code (62 P. S. §  432.19), assistance may not be denied for lack of verification if the applicant has cooperated in seeking verification which is pending from a third party including certification of cooperation from the Domestic Relations Section.

     (vi)   The worker will explain to the applicant his rights and responsibilities and discuss public assistance services and requirements. If the applicant is eligible for a monthly assistance payment, the worker will explain the following practically and simply:

       (A)   The living needs for which the assistance programs provide money and for which the applicant may be eligible. He will be informed that assistance is paid to the client in money so that he can buy for himself and his dependent the things they need for living and that the client shall have the right and freedom to use the monthly assistance payments he receives in a way that, in his judgment, will best serve his interests.

       (B)   The medical, dental, nursing, pharmaceutical, nursing home care, hospital and burial services.

       (C)   The Food Stamp Program.

       (D)   The other social services available.

     (vii)   Disposition of applications will conform with the following:

       (A)   The common application system (CAS) is designed to capture data essential to an immediate decision on eligibility. When the application process is complete and substantiating evidence is secured, in accord with subparagraph (v), there will be an immediate decision on eligibility based on the information provided and authorization of the cash assistance for which the budget group is eligible.

       (B)   The application process ends when one of the following has taken place:

         (I)   The applicant does not go on with his application.

         (II)   The applicant is found to be ineligible.

         (III)   The applicant is found eligible and cash assistance is authorized.

 (d)  Responsibility for reporting changes. The responsibility of the applicant for reporting changes shall be as follows:

   (1)  An applicant for or recipient of assistance shall be responsible for reporting accurately, within 1 week, any changes affecting his situation.

   (2)  The worker will discuss with each applicant found eligible his responsibility for reporting changes and plan with him the way he is to report changes. The worker will read to the client the following statement which is included on all cash assistance checks:

   Caution—Know your endorser. Ink or indelible pencil should be used for endorsement. If endorsement is by mark (X), two witnesses and their addresses are required. By endorsing this check I certify that I have notified my county board of assistance of all changes in the facts as stated in my application for assistance and that neither I nor any member of my family has any earnings from employment or other resources which would affect the eligibility of myself or my family which I have not reported to said board. I know that I can be penalized by fine or imprisonment, or both, for any false statement. (Note: It is understood that eligibility for Blind Pension is not affected by the financial ability of relatives.)

   (3)  The client will be told that this endorsement appears on the back of cash assistance checks and that every time the client endorses his cash assistance check he will sign this certification.


   The provisions of this §  125.24 issued under sections 201(2) and 403(b) of the Public Welfare Code (62 P. S. § §  201(2) and 403(b)).


   The provisions of this §  125.24 amended July 16, 1982, effective July 17, 1982, 12 Pa.B. 2286; amended April 8, 1983, effective April 9, 1983, 13 Pa.B. 1259; amended October 4, 1991, effective October 5, 1991, apply retroactively to November 1, 1982, 21 Pa.B. 4643; amended July 28, 2000, effective retroactive to June 17, 1996, 30 Pa.B. 3779. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (266094), (252515) to (252518) and (267367).

Notes of Decisions

   Responsibility for Reporting Changes

   Overpayments paid to an illiterate recipient who was receiving Social Security payments in addition to AFDC benefits were not due solely to administrative error, since the recipient admitted that she knew that when she received the Social Security payments she would be ineligible for AFDC payments. Sease v. Department of Public Welfare, 399 A.2d 1175 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1979).

   Screening Interview

   Although public assistance applicant obtained required verifications and delivered them to County Assistance Office same day as prescreen interview, applicant was not entitled to assistance for period between pre-screen interview and application interview since authorization as of date of application interview complied with 15 day limit of 55 Pa. Code §  125.24(c)(7)(v) and the relevant Federal law and regulation. Vazquez v. Department of Public Welfare, 504 A.2d 405 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1986).

   Since the caseworker was aware of the recipient’s eligibility for the allowance for medical transportation expenses, the caseworker was required under 55 Pa. Code §  125.24(b)(2) to inform the recipient of the availability of such allowance, even though such information was available in the county office newsletter. Scott v. Department of Public Welfare, 400 A.2d 1350 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1979).

Cross References

   This section cited in 55 Pa. Code §  121.3 (relating to requirements); 55 Pa. Code §  133.24 (relating to procedures); 55 Pa. Code §  142.23 (relating to requirements); 55 Pa. Code §  168.71 (relating to monthly payment determination); and 55 Pa. Code §  255.4 (relating to procedures).

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