.04 Application Process.

A. Right to File.

(1) An individual is entitled to file an application, and may be assisted by an individual of choice in the various aspects of the application process and the determination of eligibility.

(2) A local department shall have available and distribute publications explaining program features and requirements, rights and responsibilities, and appeals procedures in understandable and simple language.

B. Application.

(1) The local department shall:

(a) Require an individual applying for FIP to file an application specified and approved by the Department;

(b) Advise the individual of the eligibility factors to be verified, and the types of proofs which may be accepted by the local department to determine eligibility;

(c) Notify applicants and recipients that the signed application constitutes their consent to permit the Department to request information from any entity to assist in determining eligibility;

(d) Limit access to information received from records of public or private entities in accordance with the confidentiality provisions in COMAR 07.01.07; and

(e) Provide all individuals receiving benefits under FIP with clear and timely notice of their rights under §104(e) of Public Law 104-193 (1996).

(2) The application shall be signed under penalty of perjury by:

(a) The applicant;

(b) An authorized representative; or

(c) Someone acting responsibly for the applicant if the applicant is incompetent or incapacitated.

C. Assessment.

(1) Local departments shall assess the applicant's needs.

(2) Except for an applicant or recipient who is a single child, as described in Regulation .07C of this chapter, the application for FIP shall include an assessment that considers the individual's:

(a) Reasons for applying for, or continued reliance on, assistance;

(b) Education level, job skills and readiness, and interests, to enable evaluation for appropriate program activities;

(c) Available personal and family resources to facilitate independence;

(d) History of domestic or family violence; and

(e) History of substance abuse, as described in Regulation .09 of this chapter.

(3) Based on the assessment of needs, the local department shall offer support services to an individual which may include, but are not limited to:

(a) Child support services;

(b) Job services;

(c) Food Supplement Program benefits;

(d) Medical Assistance;

(e) Social services;

(f) Family preservation services;

(g) Referral to Family Planning and Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) services;

(h) Child care;

(i) Transportation; and

(j) Referrals to other services, including, but not limited to:

(i) Housing;

(ii) Community resources;

(iii) Education programs;

(iv) Substance abuse treatment as described in Regulation .09 of this chapter; and

(v) Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

(4) During the assessment, the local department shall give, in writing and orally, appropriate information which includes a:

(a) Description of available services;

(b) Statement of the applicant's rights and responsibilities;

(c) Statement describing fraud and acknowledging the penalties for fraud; and

(d) Description of substance abuse requirements as described in Regulation .09 of this chapter.

(5) During the assessment, the applicant shall be offered an opportunity to register to vote in accordance with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

D. Agreement.

(1) An applicant and the local department shall develop and sign an agreement, called the Family Independence Plan, specifying the:

(a) Family's goals;

(b) Requirement to comply with requests for cooperation;

(c) Work activities in which the individual shall participate;

(d) Requirement to apply for all potential resources;

(e) Other actions which the individual is required to take; and

(f) Support services that the local department shall provide.

(2) The applicant's actions may include but are not limited to participating in:

(a) Child support activities;

(b) Job search activities;

(c) Employment activities;

(d) Community service; and

(e) Substance abuse treatment programs as described in Regulation .09 of this chapter, if appropriate.

E. Verification.

(1) The local department shall verify the following factors of FIP eligibility:

(a) Countable income;

(b) Social Security number for each household member or proof of application for a new or replacement card; and

(c) The immigration status of any noncitizen.

(2) The local department may require verification of any questionable information provided by the individual.

(3) Questionable information includes information that contradicts:

(a) Statements made by the customer in writing, verbally or on the application; or

(b) Information available to the Department from other sources.

(4) The primary source for obtaining verification is the applicant or recipient.

(5) The local department shall provide a list of required verifications and assist the applicant, recipient, or the representative in obtaining the necessary verifications.

F. Case Record. The local department shall establish and maintain a paper and an electronic TCA case record that contains:

(1) Narration;

(2) Verifications; and

(3) Other documentation related to the TCA assistance unit.