COMMENT DUE DATE:
August 1, 2016
July 22, 2016
Laura Brown, Adult and Family Services Policy Liaison (405) 521-4396
Dena Thayer, Legal Services, Programs Administrator 405-521-4326
Nancy Kelly, Legal Services Policy Specialist 405-522-6703
APA WF 16-04
The proposed policy is Emergency . This proposal is subject to Administrative Procedures Act
It is important that you provide your comments regarding the draft copy of policy by the comment due date. Comments are directed to Legal Services - Policy, *STO.Legal Services.Policy.
Emergency revisions have a proposed effective date of October 1, 2016.
SUBJECT:CHAPTER 20. LOW INCOME HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (LIHEAP)
Subchapter 1. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
OAC 340:20-1-14 [AMENDED]
(Reference WF 16-04)
SUMMARY:The proposed revisions to Chapter 20, Subchapter 1 amend the rules to:(1) increase timely application processing time for Adult and Family Services (AFS) staff to 30-calendar days for winter heating and summer cooling and include timeliness information for the Energy Crisis Assistance Program (ECAP) portion of LIHEAP; (2) reorganize and clarify information for increased understanding; (3) add approval requirements, denial reasons, and associated policy cites; (4) update and remove information that is no longer appplicable regarding payment issuances and closures; (5) reference an appendix; and (6) update terminology.
LEGAL AUTHORITY:Director of Human Services; Section 162 of Title 56 of the Oklahoma Statutes; and Sections 8621 through 8624 of Title 42 of the United States Code.
Rule Impact Statement
Legal Services - Policy
Adult and Family Services
Date:June 6, 2016
Re:CHAPTER 20 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Subchapter 1. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
OAC 340:20-1-14 [AMENDED]
(Reference WF 16-04)
Contact:Laura Brown 405-521-4396
A.Brief description of the purpose of the proposed rule:
Purpose:The proposed revisions to Chapter 20, Subchapter 1 amend the rules to:(1) increase timely application processing time for Adult and Family Services (AFS) staff to 30-calendar days for winter heating and summer cooling and include timeliness information for the Energy Crisis Assistance Program (ECAP) portion of LIHEAP; (2) reorganize and clarify information for increased understanding; (3) add approval requirements, denial reasons, and associated policy cites; (4) update and remove information that is no longer appplicable regarding payment issuances and closures; (5) reference an appendix; and (6) update terminology.
Strategic Plan Impact.
The proposed amendments achieve Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS)goals by continuously improving systems and processes and improving communication with DHS clients and staff.
Subchapter 1. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:20-1-14 is amended to:(1) increase timely application processing time for AFS staff to 30-calendar days for winter heating and summer cooling and include timeliness information for the Energy Crisis Assistance Program (ECAP) portion of LIHEAP; (2) reorganize and clarify information for increased understanding; (3) adds approval requirements, denial reasons, and associated policy cites; (4) update and remove no longer applicable information regarding payment issuances and closures; (5) reference an appendix; and (6) update terminology.
The proposed amendment to increase timely application processing time for AFS staff to 30-calendar days is made because of the significant reduction in Adult and Family Services (AFS) staff due to budget reductions.AFS will not be hiring temporary staff to help process LIHEAP applications and LIHEAP application processing is being centralized and completed by fewer AFS staff.This change will promote improved eligibility determination and documentation.Emergency applications will be designated as priority so payment is delivered as soon as possible.
Other changes made to OAC 340:20-1-14 are made to provide clients and staff with clear, concise, and updated rules reflecting current processes to facilitate the accurate delivery of benefits and services to persons who are in need.
If the proposed amendment is not implemented to increase timely processing time for AFS staff, AFS will be out-of-compliance with timely processing rules as well as at risk for inaccurate eligibility determination and/or insufficient documentation.
If the proposed amendment to reorder and update information, remove outdated information, and add clarifying language is not implemented, it may result in AFS staff not processing benefits correctly.
Director of Human Services; Section 162 of Title 56 of the Oklahoma Statutes; and Sections 8621 through 8624 of Title 42 of the United States Code.
Emergency rulemaking approval is requested because of reduced appropriations to DHS. DHS has reduced AFS field staff significantly and cannot hire temporary employees to process LIHEAP applications due to budget reductions.As a result, DHS staff will not be able to meet the 10-calendar day processing requirement. The 30-calendar day processing time is allowable under federal law and achievable with the current staff level.
B.A description of the classes of persons who most likely will be affected by the proposed rule, including classes that will bear the costs of the proposed rule, and any information on cost impacts received by the Agency from any private or public entities:The classes of persons most likely to be affected by the proposed amendment are clients applying for LIHEAP benefits and AFS staff.The affected classes of persons will bear no costs associated with implementation of the rules.
C.A description of the classes of persons who will benefit from the proposed rule:The classes of persons who will benefit are AFS staff.Future applicants will benefit from accurate determination which will preserve limited LIHEAP funds for eligible families.
D.A description of the probable economic impact of the proposed rule upon the affected classes of persons or political subdivisions, including a listing of all fee changes and, whenever possible, a separate justification for each fee change:The revised amendments do not have an economic impact on the affected entities.There are no fee changes associated with the revised rules.
E.The probable costs and benefits to the Agency and to any other agency of the implementation and enforcement of the proposed rule, the source of revenue to be used for implementation and enforcement of the proposed rule and any anticipated effect on state revenues, including a projected net loss or gain in such revenues if it can be projected by the Agency:The probable cost to DHS includes the cost of printing and distributing the rules estimated to be less than $20.The revised rules will result in enhanced delivery of services for clients.
F.A determination whether implementation of the proposed rule will have an impact on any political subdivisions or require their cooperation in implementing or enforcing the rule:The proposed amendment does not have an economic impact on any political subdivision, nor will the cooperation of any political subdivisions be required in implementation or enforcement of the rules.
G.A determination whether implementation of the proposed rule will have an adverse economic effect on small business as provided by the Oklahoma Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Act:There are no anticipated adverse effects on small business as provided by the Oklahoma Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Act.
H.An explanation of the measures the Agency has taken to minimize compliance costs and a determination whether there are less costly or nonregulatory methods or less intrusive methods for achieving the purpose of the proposed rule:There are no less costly or non-regulatory methods or less intrusive methods.
I.A determination of the effect of the proposed rule on the public health, safety, and environment and, if the proposed rule is designed to reduce significant risks to the public health, safety, and environment, an explanation of the nature of the risk and to what extent the proposed rule will reduce the risk: Implementation of the proposed rule is not designed to reduce significant risks to the public health, safety, or environment.The proposed rule should not increase health and safety risks as staff can prioritize approving households in danger of a utility cut-off.
J.A determination of any detrimental effect on the public health, safety, and environment if the proposed rule is not implemented:If the proposed amendments are not implemented, no detrimental health or safety effects are anticipated.
K.The date the rule impact statement was prepared and, if modified, the date modified:Prepared June 6, 2016; modified July 22, 2016.
SUBCHAPTER 1. LOW INCOME HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
340:20-1-14. Actions, method of payment, and notifications
Contingent upon the receipt of federal funding,
one payment is made during the federal fiscal year to or on behalf of households included in paragraph (1) of this Section unless a situation arises that causes two payments to be made.Two or more payments may be made when there is a delay in federal funding or the release of contingency funds by the PresidentOklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) Adult and Family Services (AFS) staff approves or denies Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) submitted applications, issues payments, and notifies households of eligibility during winter heating, summer cooling, and Energy Crisis Assistance Program (ECAP) application periods.
(1) Households pre-authorized for LIHEAP.Selected households may be pre-authorized for winter heating or summer cooling and sent a pre-authorization notice prior to an open application period.
(A) Households are pre-approved for LIHEAP per criteria in Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:20-1-19 for winter heating and OAC 340:20-1-20 for summer cooling.
(B) The pre-authorization notice informs the household:
(i) of the utility supplier and the account number DHS intends to pay based on the prior year's certification; and
(ii) DHS does not pay a different utility supplier based on the pre-authorization.
(C) Households are not pre-authorized for ECAP.
(1)(2) Approvals. Maximum household benefit levels are determined by the primary energy source, household size, and household income.Generally, one direct payment is made to designated energy suppliers on behalf of approved households.Payments are made on a weekly basis.The amount of the payment is the original household benefit level as adjusted, if necessary, based upon the total encumbrance for assistance in relation to federal funds available for payments.Households may be approved for LIHEAP during each of the three-designated application periods per fiscal year.
(A) Certain households may be approved for ECAP outside of a designated application period when there is a life-threatening emergency per OAC 340:20-1-17(g).
(B) AFS staff approves LIHEAP for households when the household:
(i) submits a signed and completed application during the designated application period per OAC 340:20-1-12;
(ii) provides required verification per OAC 340:20-1-13; and
(iii) meets program factors per OAC 340:20-1-10.
(2) Direct payments.The same payment schedule in paragraph (1) of this Section applies to unsubsidized renters and roomers with utilities included in their rent, and for households whose energy source is wood, coal, heating oil, or kerosene, except when payments are made directly to approved households.
Closures. The worker authorizes closure of cases in which the household is no longer eligible.Closure is not authorized before the worker has contacted the designated energy supplier and determined that the household has no outstanding debt with the supplier.If there is an outstanding debt, the case is not closed.The case automatically closes after the household's program benefit level has been paid. (4) Denials. The workerAFS staff denies any applicationapplications:
(A) submitted outside of a designated application period;
isare incomplete.Reasons an application is considered incomplete include submitting an unsigned application or failing to verify program factors per OAC 340:20-1-10.Prior to application denial, the workerAFS staff must allow tengive or send the applicant Form 08AD092E, Client Contact and Information Request, indicating what verification must be provided and allow the applicant at least 10-calendar days to provide the needed verification .; or
(C) when the household does not meet program factors per OAC 340:20-1-10.
(5)(4) Timeliness.Applications are considered timely processed when approved or denied within ten calendar days of:
the date30-calendar days of the application when all verification is provided at the time of applicationdate for winter heating and summer cooling; or (B) giving or mailing Form 08AD092E, Client Contact and Information Request, to the applicant requesting needed verification 18 hours of the application date for an ECAP application involving a life-threatening medical situation; or
(C) 48 hours for other ECAP applications.
(6) Households pre-authorized for the Low Income Home Energy Program (LIHEAP). Selected households may be pre-authorized for winter heating or summer cooling when the household continues to meet pre-authorization requirements per OAC 340:20-1-19 and 340:20-1-20.Households are mailed a pre-authorization notice prior to the application period.The notice advises the household: (A) of the utility supplier and account number the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) plans to pay based on the prior year's certification; and (B) OKDHS will not pay a different utility supplier based on this pre-authorization.
(5) LIHEAP payments.LIHEAP payment amounts are estimated and reserved for each application period based on available funding and may be adjusted as needed.Refer to Appendix C-7-A, Estimated Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Benefit Level for all Households, for maximum payment amounts.
(A) Payment amounts are determined based on the household's size, income, and primary energy source.
(B) One payment is made per approved application directly to:
(i) designated energy suppliers on behalf of approved households responsible for their utilities; or
(ii) the household when the:
(I) utilities are included in the rent;
(II) energy source is firewood, coal, oil, or kerosene; or
(III) energy supplier is not designated to receive direct payments from DHS.
(C) Payments are made on a weekly basis as applications are approved.
(6) Closures.The LIHEAP authorization automatically closes after the LIHEAP payment issues.AFS staff closes the authorization when he or she discovers thatan ineligible household was certified in error before a LIHEAP payment is made.
(7) Computer-generated notices.Computer-generated notices are mailed to the applicant or recipient showing actions taken.
(A) LIHEAP-37-A, Notice of Eligibility/Authorization, is mailed to the applicant.
(B) LIHEAP-37-C, Notice of Eligibility, is mailed to the recipient. This notice is mailed for authorization of each roomer or renter when fuel is included as a part of the shelter payment, and for households whose fuel source is
woodfirewood, coal, kerosene, or oil, or kerosene.
(C) LIHEAP-37-D, Notice of Payment, is mailed to the recipient as notification
thatthe payment has beenwas made to the energy supplier on his or her behalf.
(D) LIHEAP-37-E, Notice of Denial, is mailed to the applicant when an application
has beenis denied.
(E) LIHEAP-37-F, Notice of Closure, is mailed to the recipient when
the workerAFS staff closes an authorization.
(F) PSNEN37K, Utility Account Verification and Pre-Approval Notice, is mailed to clients
who were pre-authorized for LIHEAP winter heating or summer cooling.
(G) LIHEAP-37-M, Energy Crisis Assistance Program Notice of Payment, is mailed to the recipient as notification
thatthe payment was made to the supplier on his or her behalf.
WorkerAFS staff-generated noticesnotice. The workerAFS staff mails or issues Form 08LH003E, Notice of Eligibility for Energy Assistance, to the energy providersupplier or to the recipient for delivery to the energy providersupplier unless the providersupplier is specifically exempted by the Family Support Services DivisionAFS. The notice is issued by the workerAFS staff issues Form 08LH003E wheneverwhen the household meets eligibility requirements for crisis assistance per OAC 340:20-1-17.