Department of Human Services
Families First Online Policy Manual
Treatment of Child Support Income
When the absent parent makes a child support payment for a child who is receiving Families First cash payments, either to the court or directly to the client, this money must be sent to the Department of Human Services.
· Enter the appropriate amount of child support paid in the Families First fields with an open End Date.
· If the absent parent owes arrears to the caretaker, enter the full amount of child support that the absent parent is paying on.
· If the absent parent does not owe arrears to the caretaker but does owe arrears to the state, enter only the amount of child support being paid up to the current court ordered amount on since any excess will be retained to reimburse the state.
· If the absent parent does not owe arrears to the state, enter the full amount of child support that the absent parent is paying on.
If the absent parent is paying fluctuation amounts of child support, determine the representative income in the same manner as other fluctuating income is determined. However, the amount used should meet the criteria describe above.
Determine if the absent parent owes the assistance unit any child support arrears by reviewing the CSFS (Case Financial Summary) screen on TCSES. If there is an Unassigned Arrears (arrears owed to the caretaker) amount on the screen, the caretaker will receive the current child support and the arrears payment until the Unassigned Arrears have been paid in full. If there are only Assigned Arrears (arrears owed to the state), then any payments that exceed the current court ordered amount will be retained by the state until the Assigned Arrears have been reimbursed.
Note: The one exception to the above distribution rule is child support arrears paid through Internal Revenue Service (IRS) interception. All IRS interception payments are applied first to Assigned Arrears (owed to the state). However, IRS interception payments are not entered in the eligibility and case management system since they are not ongoing child support payments.
· Ensure that the appropriate Budget Effective Date is entered to ensure that the income is budgeted properly.
- If the AU is approved before cut-off, the Budget Effective Date will be the first day of the month following the month of approval.
- If the AU is approved after cut-off, the Budget Effective Date will be the first day of the second month following the month of approval.
- If adding an absent parent to an open AU, use the same Budget Effective Date used for the other absent parents for that AU.
· Upon receipt, the Tennessee Child Support Enforcement System, TCSES, processes the child support payment for distribution. TCSES will determine if the AU is eligible for a child support pass-through payment based on the AU’s unmet need which has been transmitted to TCSES by the eligibility and case management system.
· If the AU is eligible, TCSES will issue the child support pass-through payment. This is reported to eligibility and case management system after the end of the month in which the child support pass-through payment was issued. Child support pass-through payments are posted on eligibility and case management system in two different ways depending on the month in which the payment was issued. Child support pass-through payments issued prior to July 1999 will appear on the FF payment screen with reason code 096. Child support pass-through payments issued July 1999 onward will appear on the unearned income screen.
· If the child support payment was collected for a month prior to February 1998, but was not issued as bonus/supplement, TCSES will issue a bonus payment up to the amount of the current court ordered amount or $50, whichever is less. If the child support payment was more than the bonus amount paid, TCSES will notify the State Office supplemental payment staff about the collection. The State Office supplemental payment staff will determine if the AU is eligible for a supplemental payment. If so, the staff will issue a manual supplemental check through the eligibility and case management system.
Note: These supplemental payments are not issued through EBT.) These payments appear on IQCH as bonus (code 106) and manual supplement (code 102) payments.
· The recipient may contact the county about a supplemental payment that has not been issued from child support payments for a month prior to February 1998. In those instances review the case to determine if the AU is eligible for a supplemental payment (has an unmet need for the month in question that is greater than “0”). If so, contact the State Office supplemental payment staff to determine why a check was not issued.
Note: If the grant is less than the maximum grant for the AU size, there is no unmet need and the AU is not due a supplemental payment.
· The recipient may also contact the county about a supplemental check that was issued from child support payments for a month prior to February 1998 that the recipient has not received. In those instances, request a replacement of that check in accordance with the procedures outlined in the Continuing Responsibilities Chapter of the Families First Handbook.
· The recipient may contact the county about a child support pass-through payment or bonus payment that was either not issued or that the recipient did not receive. In those instances, refer the recipient to the Child Support Customer Service unit. Note: If the child support is voluntary (there is no court order), it must still be sent in to the state. However, this money will not be issued until Child Support enters a “voluntary court order” on TCSES.
Note: All bonus payments and child support pass-through payments that appear on FF payment screen show a Warrant Date. This date reflects the TCSES/eligibility and case management system interface date, not the actual issuance date of the check. In addition, all bonus and child support pass-through payments on FF payment screen show an “RM” Disposition Status, regardless of the actual status of the check. TCSES shows the actual issuance date and status for these checks.