Department of Human Services
Food Stamp Online† Policy Manual
(1) Responsibilities for Providing Verification
Securing adequate verification is a joint responsibility between the household and the caseworker.† The household has the primary responsibility for providing documentary evidence to support its statements and to resolve any questionable information.† The household may supply documentary evidence in person, through the mail, or through an authorized representative.† The caseworker must accept any reasonable documentary evidence and must primarily be concerned with how adequately the verification proves the statements on the application.
(a) Responsibilities of the Household:
∑ timely provide documentary evidence;
∑ provide a collateral contact if needed;
∑ cooperate if a home visit is required;
∑ resolve discrepancies arising in verification.
(b) Responsibilities of the Caseworker:
∑ accept reasonable evidence from the household;
∑ assess the adequacy of the collateral contact;
∑ obtain the required verification for the applicant/recipient when it is obvious during the interview
∑ that the information can be gathered easier and quicker by the caseworker;
∑ assist in obtaining timely verification information, if difficulties arise;
∑ notify the household of verification to be provided and by when it is needed;
∑ protect the applicantís/recipientís privacy;
∑ give the household opportunity to resolve discrepancies in verification;
∑ evaluate all information provided by the A/R, or concerning the A/Rís eligibility, and to make a determination of eligibility for Food Stamps based on State Regulations for these.
(2) Sources of Verification
The caseworker must substantiate statements made by the household on the application regarding all eligibility factors that must be verified.† There are three sources of verification:† (1) documentary evidence, (2) collateral contacts, and (3) home visits.† Each source of verification is discussed below with details regarding when each source is to be used.††
(a)†††† Documentary Evidence
†††††††† Documentary evidence is written confirmation that is relied on as the basis, proof, or support of information provided by the household and may either be official or unofficial.
1.††††† Official documents are those that are prescribed or recognized as authorized and are most commonly provided by business, agencies, and organizations engaged in specific enterprises or service delivery.† Examples of official documentary evidence include Social Security cards, INS cards, check stubs, birth certificates, rent receipts, utility bills, benefit award letters, etc.
2.††††† Unofficial documentary evidence may include such items as a hand-written note from the employers of persons that work periodically such as baby-sitters, gardeners, domestic assistants, etc.
Both official and unofficial documents are acceptable sources of verification as long as they sufficiently reflect the information needed to substantiate the householdís statements or allow a conclusion to be drawn regarding the eligibility factor being verified.
Documentary evidence is the primary source of verification.† There will be some eligibility factors that need to be verified, but on which no documentary evidence is available (such as residency and household size).† There will be times when the available documentary evidence is not sufficient to determine eligibility and level of benefits (such as when official documents appear to have been altered or falsified, or when pay stubs are not recent enough or inclusive enough to establish current earnings).† ††††††††††
When documentary evidence is not readily available, or when it is not sufficient, a collateral contact, a home visit, or both will be used as alternate sources of verification.
(b)††† Collateral Contact
†††††††† In contrast to the written confirmation provided through documentary evidence, a collateral contact is a verbal confirmation of the householdís circumstances by someone outside of the household who is knowledgeable regarding the eligibility factor being verified and may be anyone who can be expected to provide accurate third-party verification of the householdís circumstances.† Collateral contact may either be made in person or over the telephone.
†††††††† The caseworker may select the collateral or may ask the household to assist by providing the name(s) and telephone number(s) of persons who know the facts and will be able to provide accurate and reliable information.† While the household may supply the name of a potential collateral contact, the caseworker is not required to accept the collateral if that person cannot be expected to provide accurate and reliable information.
†††††††† When contacting a collateral contact, the caseworker should take reasonable steps to ascertain the identity of the person and should ask enough questions to resolve any doubts as to that personís reliability or acceptability.
†††††††† Example:† How long have you known Mr. or Mrs. X?
What is your relationship to Mr. and Mrs. X (cousin, neighbor, employer, work together)?
Are you familiar enough with the Xís to answer specific questions about them (who lives there, how is he kin to them, where do they work)?
†††††††† If there is no acceptable collateral contact, a home visit may be substituted if the necessary information can be obtained by a home visit (e.g., determining household composition).
†††††††† The clientís written declaration of the facts can be accepted as verification when:
∑ the household has tried, without success, to obtain the needed verification; and
∑ the caseworker has exhausted all means of securing documentary evidence, without success; and
∑ the documents needed are other than those required by another agency, as in enumeration.
Running record must be documented showing the efforts that have been made and the results.
(c) Home Visits†
†††††††† A home visit may be scheduled to make required verifications when there is no available or acceptable documentary evidence and there is no appropriate collateral contact available.† A home visit must be scheduled in advance with the household.†