Skip to main content

Library: Policy

340:10-10-3. Unemployed parent

(a) Applicability.  Deprivation for the child(ren) may be established when both natural or adoptive parents reside with the child(ren) and the parent determined to be the principal wage earner (PWE), per (b) of this Section, meets the conditions to qualify as unemployed, per (c) of this Section. 

(b) PWE designation.  The PWE is defined as the parent who earned the most gross income during the 24-month period ending with the month prior to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) application.  The PWE designation is made regardless of when the parent's relationship began or when the parent(s) began residing with the child(ren).  The employment or receipt of unemployment insurance benefits (UIB) of the parent not designated as the PWE is not a factor in determining deprivation.  • 1

(1) Earnings documentation. The assistance unit is responsible for verifying the source and gross amount of each parent's earnings and dates received for the prior 24-month period to the best of its ability.  Acceptable documentation includes:

(A) previously verified earnings documented in Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) case records;

(B) employer verbal or written statements;

(C) pay stubs;

(D) Income Eligibility Verification System (IEVS), also referred to as data exchange information, Oklahoma Wage Link (OWL) or Oklahoma Wage (OWG);

(E) federal or state tax returns;

(F) employee W-2 forms; or

(G) when self-employed, gross and net earnings from tax returns or business records. 

(2) PWE designation when earnings are equal.  When both parents' earnings are equal in the 24-month period, the PWE is the parent who earned the most income in the last six months of the 24-month period.  When both parents' earnings are equal in the six-month period, the parents may choose which parent to designate as the PWE.   

(3) Permanent PWE designation.  Once the PWE is determined, the PWE designation is permanent and remains effective as long as deprivation is based on unemployment and the assistance unit remains eligible for and continues to receive TANF benefits.  When the TANF benefit closes and a new application is filed at a later date, the PWE designation must be redetermined, per (b) of this Section.

(c) Conditions the PWE must meet prior to certification.  The PWE must meet the conditions described in (1) - (6) of this subsection for deprivation to be established based on unemployment.

(1) Mandatory drug screening.  Both parents are required to be screened for illegal use of a controlled substance or substances, per OAC 340:10-4-1.  When one or both parents refuse to comply or fails to follow through with the screening, the worker denies the TANF application.

(2) TANF Work requirements.  Both parents are required to participate in TANF Work activities unless one of the parents is not eligible to be included in the TANF benefit because he or she is an ineligible alien.  When both parents are ineligible to be included in the TANF cash assistance unit, deprivation cannot be based on unemployment because the parents cannot meet the work requirement.  • 2

(A) One parent participates in TANF Work activities an average of 35 hours per week, and the other parent participates an average of 30 hours per week.  When one parent is not eligible to be included in the TANF benefit, the other parent must participate in TANF Work activities an average of 35 hours per week, per OAC 340:10-2-1(2)(A)(iii).  • 3

(B) Unless the PWE is not eligible to be included in the TANF benefit, he or she must participate in and comply with TANF Work activities.  When the worker determines the PWE is unavailable to participate or is not complying with TANF Work requirements, the worker denies the application.  • 3

(C) The parent who is not the PWE may be exempted from the TANF Work requirement when he or she provides care for a child with disabilities who does not attend school on a full-time basis and requires 24/7 care or another relative who lives in the home and requires 24/7 care.  The parent must provide a statement from a doctor or other health professional stating the person needs 24/7 care and the type of care needed before a good cause exemption is approved.

(3) Qualifies as unemployed.  To qualify as unemployed, the PWE must not be employed, or when employed, the countable net earnings plus any other countable income must be less than the payment standard for the family size, per OKDHS Appendix C-1, Maximum Income, Resources, and Payment Standards, Schedule IX.  The PWE's gross earnings are calculated and the applicable earned income exemptions are subtracted, per OAC 340:10-3-31 through 340:10-3-33.  The PWE must qualify as unemployed during the application process and prior to the certification date.

(A) To qualify, the PWE must be unemployed for at least 30-calendar days prior to the TANF certification date.  The assistance unit may be certified beginning the 31st day after employment ends when all other eligibility requirements are met.

(B) The PWE does not qualify as unemployed when he or she refuses a bona fide employment offer or quits a job, without good cause, within 30-calendar days of the date TANF benefits can be certified.

(i) A bona fide offer is an employment offer made directly by an employer or through a public or private employment agency to the PWE.  The employment offer must be substantiated by a written or verbal statement from the potential employer or public employment agency that specifies the date the offer was made, the job duties, and the specified wage.  

(ii) The worker must give the PWE the opportunity to explain why he or she did not accept a job or quit a job in order to determine if good cause exists.  Acceptable good cause reasons include when the:

(I) wages offered or received are less than the minimum wage requirement or less than customary for the community;

(II) employment is available because of a strike, lockout, or other labor dispute;

(III) PWE is unqualified or physically unable to perform the work;

(IV) work involves health or safety risks; or

(V) job lacks worker's compensation protection.

(4) Work history requirement.  The PWE must have a verified work history.  Undocumented employment cannot be used to establish quarters of work.  The PWE meets the work history requirement when he or she meets one of the conditions in (A) through (C) of this paragraph.  • 4

(A) The PWE was employed for six or more calendar-quarters within a 13 consecutive calendar-quarter period.  The 13 consecutive calendar-quarter period must end within 12 months prior to the TANF application date.

(i) Calendar‑quarter means a period of three consecutive calendar months ending on March 31, June 30, September 30, or December 31. 

(ii) To be considered employed, the PWE must have received gross earnings of at least $50 in each calendar-quarter.  When the PWE did not earn at least $50 in each calendar-quarter but earned enough in another quarter of the same year to qualify for more than one covered quarter as defined by the Social Security Administration (SSA), he or she may be considered employed for the quarter he or she did not earn $50.

(I) The SSA states a person qualifies for a quarter of coverage for any quarter the person earns the designated amount for that calendar year, per OKDHS Appendix C-1, Schedule XII.B.

(II) When the PWE has enough earnings in one quarter to equal or exceed a full year's coverage, he or she is credited with four quarters of coverage for the year.  Earnings received in the quarter the application is made are not considered.  • 5

(B) The PWE receives or received UIB within the 12-calendar months prior to the TANF application date.  When the PWE has a pending UIB application, the work history requirement is not met until the worker verifies the PWE meets the work history requirement, per (A) or (C) of this paragraph or the PWE is approved for UIB. 

(C) The PWE would have qualified for UIB for one week or more during the 12-calendar month period prior to the TANF application date had the PWE made a UIB application based on earned wages, both covered and uncovered.  Covered employment generally includes employment in construction, plants, stores, restaurants, offices, or other places of business that employ one or more persons.  Uncovered employment generally includes employment from farm labor, odd jobs, and non-profit organizations.

(i) A PWE who had sufficient earnings to meet the UIB earnings requirement is deemed eligible for UIB even though all or a portion of the PWE's earnings were from uncovered employment.  To be eligible or deemed eligible for UIB, the PWE must have earned at least the qualifying wages during the base period, per OKDHS Appendix C-1, Schedule XII.A.  • 6  The base period consists of the first four of the last five completed quarters immediately preceding the quarter of the UIB application quarter.

(ii) The PWE must have earnings in more than one quarter or earn an amount equal to the total taxable wage in one quarter.

(I) When more than one quarter of earnings is required; the quarter with the highest earnings is the high quarter.  The total gross earnings of the remaining three quarters must equal at least one-half of the high quarter earnings.  When the earnings do not meet this test, the PWE is ineligible for UIB.

(II) When the PWE earned an amount equal to the total taxable wage base in one quarter of the base period, the PWE is deemed eligible for UIB based on that quarter alone.

(5) UIB eligibility.  The PWE is required to apply for and accept UIB when the PWE is eligible or potentially eligible to receive the benefits unless he or she is an ineligible alien.  After certification, the worker gives the PWE 30-calendar days to provide proof of a UIB application.   

(6) Striker status.  The assistance unit is not eligible for TANF for any month in which the natural or adoptive parent is participating in a strike on the last day of the month.  • 7

(d) Changes after certification.  After initial eligibility is determined, the two-parent family must continue to meet the conditions listed in (1) through (3) of this subsection to remain eligible as unemployed. 

(1) Drug screening.  The parents must not engage in the illegal use of a controlled substance or substances.  When OKDHS has reasonable cause to believe either parent is engaged in the illegal use of a controlled substance or substances, the parent may be required to be screened, per OAC 340:10-4-1.  When this occurs and the parent refuses to comply or fails to follow through with the screening or screens positive for the illegal use of a controlled substance or substances, the worker closes the TANF benefit.

(2) TANF Work requirements.  Both parents must participate in TANF Work related activities, per (c)(2) of this Section.  When either parent, unless exempt, fails to participate without good cause for the required number of hours, the worker closes the TANF benefit.  • 3

(A) When the PWE becomes unavailable for TANF Work due to illness or injury, good cause may be granted if the condition is expected to last less than 30-calendar days.  • 8

(B) When the PWE's condition is expected to last more than 30-calendar days, deprivation based on incapacity must be pursued and established, per OAC 340:10-10-2.

(3) Income.  The assistance unit must continue to meet income standards, per OKDHS Appendix C-1.  When the assistance unit's countable earned income plus any other income exceeds the payment standard for the family size, the worker closes the TANF benefit.  Continued medical benefits are authorized for the assistance unit when all other factors of eligibility are met, per OAC 340:10-3-75.

Revised 9-15-21

1The worker must verify each parent's earnings during the 24-month period and image the verification to the case record.  The worker may use Form 08TA002E, Worksheet to Determine Principal Wage Earner, to document how the principal wage earner (PWE) was determined and/or record the documentation in the Family Assistance/Client Services (FACS) case notes. 

2(a) Before denying a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) application when the applicant or the spouse cannot participate in TANF Work activities due to health issues, the worker must first pursue an incapacity decision, per Oklahoma Administration Code (OAC) 340:10-10-2.

(b) The net income of an alien parent who is excluded from the benefit because the citizenship or alienage requirement is not met is considered the same as stepparent income, per OAC 340:10-3-57(e) and (f)(2).  The income of disqualified alien siblings is not considered when determining eligibility of an otherwise eligible child(ren).

3Refer to OAC 340:10-2-2 for information concerning the sanction process when parents refuse or fail to participate in assigned work activities.

4. (a) The worker may use Form 08TA003E, Worksheet for Determining Work History, to document the PWE's work history and/or record the documentation in FACS case notes.

(b) The PWE's Federal Income Tax Schedule C may be used to determine earnings for the work history requirement when accompanied by a record showing how much he or she earned each month.

5(a) For example, in 2020, the required minimum earnings per quarter were $1,410.  The PWE qualifies for four quarters when he or she earned $5,640 in the first quarter of 2020, since $1,410 multiplied by four equals $5,460.  When the PWE earned less than the amount for four quarters of coverage, divide the earnings by the Social Security minimum earnings for a quarter of coverage for the correct year, per Appendix C-1, Maximum Income, Resource, and Payment Standards, Schedule XII.B, to determine the number of quarters that can be credited. 

(b) Refer to the current Appendix C-1 for the correct required minimum earnings per quarter.

6Refer to Oklahoma Human Services Appendix C-1, Schedule XII A, TANF, Deprivation Based on Unemployed Parent.  The worker may use Form 08TA004E, Worksheet to Determine Deemed Unemployment Insurance Benefit (UIB) Eligibility, to determine deemed unemployment insurance benefit eligibility.

7Refer to OAC 340:10-3-57(j) for additional information concerning strikers.

8Refer to OAC 340:10-2-2(d) for rules regarding good cause.

Back to Top