07.03.03.16

.16 Method of Payment.

A. Electronic Benefit Transfer. The Department of Human Services operates an electronic benefit transfer system in Maryland under agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and pursuant to U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations.

B. TCA Grant.

(1) A TCA grant is paid by check or by the electronic benefit transfer system (EBTS).

(2) The period of time covered by a TCA grant is the calendar month.

(3) The grant is not paid for a past period of time except as provided in COMAR 07.03.14.

(4) Outdated EBT Benefits. The customer shall access some benefits in the EBTS account within 180 days from the benefit issuance date or the benefits will be moved off-line for non-use of benefits.

(5) If the benefits are moved off-line, the customer may request the local department to reissue the benefits.

C. In accordance with federal law, TCA recipients may not access their TCA benefits through their EBT cards or use their EBT cards at an automated teller machine (ATM) or point of sale (POS) machine in any establishment whose primary purpose is:

(1) Gambling, including, but not limited to, a casino, a business containing slot machines, race tracks, or off-track betting businesses;

(2) Adult entertainment in which individuals disrobe for an audience, including, but not limited to, strip clubs, adult clubs, or online pornography; or

(3) The sale of liquor, wine, and beer, including, but not limited to, liquor stores, bars, or package good stores.

D. Applicants and recipients must sign a form developed by the Family Investment Administration indicating that they understand the prohibition in §C of this regulation and agree to abide by the conditions of this regulation, including the following:

(1) A recipient who violates the requirements of this regulation the first time shall receive a warning that the recipientís access to TCA benefits on the EBT card is in danger of being revoked;

(2) A recipient in violation a second time shall have the access to TCA benefits on the EBT card revoked for a minimum of 1 year;

(3) A recipient in violation a third time shall have the access to TCA benefits on the EBT card revoked permanently;

(4) Recipients whose access to TCA benefits on the EBT cards has been revoked shall be required to provide checking or savings account information to the Family Investment Administration or EBT staff for direct deposit of their assistance benefits;

(5) TCA recipients not able to provide checking or savings account information shall be issued a paper check;

(6) Cash benefits on direct deposit may not be replaced if lost or stolen;

(7) Paper checks mailed to customers may be replaced one time when the customer reports the check was not received or it was stolen, within 30 days of issuance; and

(8) A recipient who is requesting a replacement TCA paper check because of theft shall provide a police report of the theft.

E. The payee shall be one of the following:

(1) A relative caretaker described in Regulation .07D of this chapter;

(2) A protective payee approved by the local department when the caretaker is:

(a) Physically or mentally disabled;

(b) Unable to manage funds; or

(c) A pregnant or unmarried minor parent;

(3) A caretaker or a protective payee, along with the housing authority of the assistance unit's residence when arrangements for vendor payments have been made as described in §H or I of this regulation; or

(4) A third-party payee as described in §J of this regulation when:

(a) Transitional assistance is authorized as prescribed in Regulation .19A(6) of this chapter; or

(b) An adult is sanctioned for failure to comply with substance abuse requirements as described in Regulation .09C of this chapter.

F. The local department may issue protective payments because of a caretaker relative's disability or inability to manage funds when the following conditions are met:

(1) The caretaker relative is physically or mentally disabled and makes a written request for a protective payee;

(2) The Social Security Administration pays the caretaker relative's benefits to the protective payee; or

(3) The local department's social services worker confirms the need for a protective payee and verifies the caretaker relative's inability to manage funds.

G. Documentation of Caretaker Relative's Inability to Manage Funds. The TCA case manager shall record in the FIP case record:

(1) Documentation of the caretaker relative's inability to manage funds; and

(2) Confirmation of the need for the protective payee.

H. Protective Payments Issued by Local Departments. A local department issuing protective payments as described in §§C and D of this regulation shall:

(1) To the extent possible, obtain the participation and consent of the caretaker relative to appoint as a protective payee a responsible individual who may not be a:

(a) FIP staff member; or

(b) Provider of goods and services, such as a landlord or a grocer, who deals with the applicant or recipient for profit;

(2) Review the protective payee arrangement at least annually to ensure that the protective payee is responsibly disbursing the benefit for the FIP assistance unit;

(3) Require that a protective payee who is acting in place of a caretaker relative who is disabled or unable to manage funds reports changes in the assistance unit's circumstances and fulfill other eligibility requirements; and

(4) Terminate the protective payee arrangement when the:

(a) Disabled caretaker relative requests in writing to be the payee of the benefit; or

(b) Local department's social services worker verifies that the caretaker relative is no longer unable to manage funds and recommends that the caretaker relative becomes the payee for the FIP benefit.

I. The TCA case manager shall issue a notice of adverse action to the caretaker relative payee as described in Regulation .19C and D of this chapter before initiating protective payments.

J. Vendor Payments—Voluntary. The local department shall:

(1) Authorize a vendor payment to a local housing authority in an amount equal to the assistance unit's rent if the:

(a) Assistance unit resides in public housing;

(b) Payee of the TCA benefit requests in writing that the assistance unit's rent be paid directly to the local housing authority; and

(c) Local housing authority authorizes its local unit to become the payee of the recipient's rent;

(2) Pay the amount of the monthly rent to the housing authority and send the remainder of the assistance unit's benefit to the payee either by check or by EBTS; and

(3) Terminate the vendor payment arrangement promptly when the payee of the TCA benefit states in writing that the payee wishes to receive the full amount of the benefit.

K. Vendor Payments—Delinquent Rent. The local department shall:

(1) Authorize a vendor payment to the local housing authority in an amount equal to the assistance unit's rent if the:

(a) Assistance unit resides in public housing;

(b) Assistance unit's rent payment is 30 days or more delinquent; and

(c) Local housing authority requests payment by the local department;

(2) Pay the amount of the monthly rent to the housing authority and send the remainder of the assistance unit's benefit to the payee either by check or by EBTS;

(3) Pay the rent amount to a court rather than a local housing authority as described in §I(1) and (2) of this regulation if a court order is in effect establishing an escrow account, and the local housing authority notifies the local department of the court order; and

(4) Terminate payment of the rent when the:

(a) Local housing authority requests termination; or

(b) TCA benefits are paid directly to an employer to supplement wages.

L. Third-Party Payees.

(1) The third-party payee may be identified by the local department or the customer.

(2) Consideration for selection of a third party shall include the ability to:

(a) Track the family's funds and properly account for disbursement of the funds;

(b) Either personally or through trained staff or volunteers provide services relating to the TCA recipient's management of funds; and

(c) Provide services to assist the customer in meeting the requirement when the reason for the third-party payment is failure to comply with a program requirement.

(3) The third-party payee shall notify the local department if the third-party payee cannot meet the requirements in §J(2)(b) and (c) of this regulation.

(4) A third-party payment may not be authorized to:

(a) A FIP staff member;

(b) An individual with medically diagnosed alcoholism or drug addiction; or

(c) An entity who deals with the customer for a profit, which would create a conflict of interest.

(5) An individual is not required to accept assistance from a religious organization if acceptance violates the individual's bona fide religious beliefs and practices.

(6) A local department may pay an administrative fee to a third-party payee for administrative costs incurred.

(7) A religious organization that is a third-party payee may not:

(a) Impose the organization's religious instruction or worship practices on an individual; or

(b) Use administrative fees paid to the organization to further sectarian religious instruction or worship.