- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
States that include TANF in the Combined State Plan must outline how the State will meet the requirements of section 402 of the Social Security Act including how it will:
(OMB Control Number: 0970-0145)
g. Implement policies and procedures as necessary to prevent access to assistance provided under the State program funded under this part through any electronic fund transaction in an automated teller machine or point-of-sale device located in a place described in section 408(a)(12), including a plan to ensure that recipients of the assistance have adequate access to their cash assistance (section 402(a)(1)(A)(vii) of the Social Security Act)
Indiana Code Section 12-13-14-4.5 outlines the distribution of cash benefits through automated teller machines or point of sale terminals, as well as retailers eligible for participation in EBT, and the penalties for not following the prescribed requirements. In addition, Indiana Administrative Code 470 IAC 10.3-5-8 requires owners or operators of restricted establishments as being responsible for posting signs containing notice that ATM or POS terminals may not be used for distribution of TANF assistance or refugee assistance.
During the 2013 session, the Indiana State Legislature passed Senate Bill 559, now known as Public Law 197, which requires ATM and point of sale owners, vendors, or third party processors to disable access to TANF cash assistance at prohibited locations.
Federal Restrictions: On February 22, 2012, President Obama signed into law the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96), which among its provisions, requires states receiving TANF grants to implement policies and procedures restricting access to TANF benefits via EBT at liquor stores, gaming establishments, and adult entertainment establishments. On September 10, 2012, DFR mailed a one-time notice to all current TANF payees and authorized representatives informing them of the access restrictions. Also in September 2012, DFR modified the TANF approval notices to include language about these restrictions. In October 2012, the mailer attached to all EBT cards included language regarding the restrictions.
In January 2013, Indiana implemented an EBT restricted site database matching system. This system contains information via a match with the State Alcohol/Tobacco Commission. This tool provides DFR with a list of possible violations. A DFR staff member reviews each reported match and determines whether the site is a restricted location. With the exception of packaged liquor, small brewers, and Type II gaming permits, this system requires the staff member to Google the address to become informed of the type of business at this location. If the business is not restricted (e.g., Applebee’s or T.G.I. Friday’s), the DFR staffer will mark the transaction as permissible in the reporting tool. If the business is in a restricted location (e.g., Vickie’s Lounge or Old Point Tavern, etc.), DFR will send a letter to the TANF recipient informing him/her of the infraction with the date and location provided. In this letter, the TANF recipient is notified that any further infractions will be sent to the county prosecutor for enforcement. If the individual makes an inappropriate transaction in a subsequent month, a second letter will be sent to the individual informing him/her that DFR has referred the case to the prosecutor for appropriate action. Copies of the notices will be attached to the client’s eligibility case.
- Initial Letter: A client will initially receive a letter informing him/her that it is a crime to access their TANF benefits at ‘restricted’ locations. The EBT Brochure and website will be referred to for reference and further information.
- Subsequent Letters: After the initial warning, if the individual continues to use his or her benefits in a ‘restricted’ location, s/he will receive a second letter informing him or her that the EBT card has been used again to access benefits in a restricted location and that DFR has notified local law enforcement of the crime. DFR will refer these cases to the FSSA Office of Investigations and Compliance. From the second letter forward, the FSSA Office of Investigations and Compliance will investigate clients who have made transactions in restricted areas and will send its findings to local law enforcement and/or Prosecutor.