104.4 Application Interview

The CAO must conduct a personal interview either face-to-face or by telephone for each application. The person interviewed may be an applicant, a recipient, the payment name, or the caretaker or relative of a need child. The applicant may bring other persons to the interview.

55 Pa. Code § 125.24(a)(1)(i)

104.41 Interviewing the Client

Personal interviews may be conducted in the CAO or by phone.  

The setting chosen for conducting an interview will be that which best serves the purpose of the interview and is most satisfactory for the applicant and the agency. The CAO should give the greatest consideration to the phone interview first before choosing interviews in the CAO.  

The following factors are weighed in choosing the setting:

55 Pa. Code § 125.24(a)(1)(ii)

Rarely, if ever, should the setting be the home of the client. Management approval is required before any home visit is made to conduct a personal interview.


104.42 Responsibilities of the County Assistance Office

During the application interview, the CAO must:      

55 Pa. Code § 125.24(c)

NOTE:  Do not refer to the Social Security Office ineligible aliens who state that they do not qualify for an SSN due to their immigration status. See Chapter 122.

NOTE:  Medical Assistance may be authorized for any person who is waiting to receive an SSN or for an alien who is eligible for emergency medical services. See Medical Assistance Eligibility Handbook, Sections 322.32 and 378.31 and Supplemental Handbook, Section 950.1.

55 Pa. Code § 125.21

55 Pa. Code § 125.24(a)(1)(ii)

See Supplemental Handbook, Chapter 915.

NOTE: An informational flyer, Applying for Cash (PA 1909), has been developed to provide an applicant with information on the requirements they can expect when applying for cash assistance.

NOTE: In TANF cases, there is no deprivation of care due to absence if one parent is serving away from home in the uniformed service. TANF could be authorized if one of the parents is incapacitated.

55 Pa. Code § 125.24(c)(7)(vi)

Note: Every Cash Assistance budget group that meets a Semiannual Reporting (SAR) criterion must submit certain information semiannually, but does not change the client’s responsibility to report changes that affect continued eligibility by the 10th of the month that follows the month of the change.   

55 Pa. Code § 125.24(d)

7 CFR § 273.12(a)(2)

55 Pa. Code § 125.24

55 Pa. Code § 187.23(b)

NOTE:  Failure to cooperate with support enforcement requirements without good cause will result in a reduction of at least 25 percent of the monthly cash assistance benefit. See Chapter 131.       

55 Pa. Code § 141.21(e)

55 Pa. Code § 187.26(c)

Reminder: Review Medical Assistance eligibility for ineligible Cash Assistance applicants and recipients.

NOTE: If the applicant has limited English proficiency, use interpreting services to explain, in the applicant’s primary language, that the CAO can provide free interpreting assistance. Use interpreting assistance as needed to make sure the client completely understands the interview. Refer to the limited English proficiency (LEP) implementation and monitoring plan established by the CAO.

55 Pa. Code § 201.4(2)(ii)

NOTE: The PA 4 is used to obtain verification from a third party. If the third party does not or refuses to provide the verification, then the responsibility falls back on the applicant to provide verification. See Chapter 178.2

NOTE: When both parents are in the budget group and one parent is serving away from home in the uniformed service that parent will be requested to sign when they return home on leave or at the end of service.

55 Pa. Code § 125.1(d)

NOTE: Persons whom others have applied for who are 18 years of age or older or emancipated must also sign the affidavit on the application form during the application interview or within 30 calendar days from the authorization date.

NOTE: A person who is required to sign the application and fails to sign is ineligible for cash benefits.

55 Pa. Code § 125.1(b)

42 U.S.C.A. 1973 gg-5 (a)(2)(A)

55 Pa. Code § 175.23(e)

55 Pa. Code § 125.1(f)

NOTE:  If a person has good cause (such as serious illness or hospitalization) for not completing and signing the AMR, benefits may be authorized without a signed AMR. The person must complete and sign the AMR no later than the end of the good cause period.

55 Pa. Code § 257.21(a)

55 Pa. Code § 257.21(b)

55 Pa. Code § 101.1(b)

55 Pa. Code § 121.3 (a)(2)(iii)


104.43 Eligibility Criteria

To receive TANF, the applicant must meet the appropriate eligibility conditions. The CAO must determine eligibility based on the following:

NOTE:  Unless the person has good cause, eligibility is related to participation in or compliance with a drug treatment program if treatment is necessary, available, and appropriate.

104.44 Applicant Cooperation

The applicant is the primary source of information in establishing eligibility for cash assistance.      

55 Pa. Code § 125.21(a)

In addition to the specific requirements of the chapters listed under Section 104.43, the applicant must also do the following:

55 Pa. Code § 125.21(b)

55 Pa. Code § 141.21(k)

55 Pa. Code § 201.4(2)(ii)

NOTE:  The above applied to any person applying for assistance who is 18 years old or older or under age 18 and emancipated. See Chapter 178.

NOTE: The PA 4 is only verification of the applicant’s agreement to allow release of information.  The signed application meets the requirement of giving consent to allow the release. However, if a third-party source refuses to provide collateral verification without a signed PA 4, persons who do not sign a PA 4 will be responsible to provide the CAO with all required verifications.  The inability to provide all required verifications within 30 calendar days may cause benefit ineligibility for individuals or entire budget groups.

55 Pa. Code § 141.21(n)

55 Pa. Code § 183.13

Reminder: Eligibility for unemployment compensation (UC) must be explored. Cash Assistance may be authorized pending verification of the UC application. However, CAO follow up will be necessary to ensure the individual person has applied for possible benefits. If UC benefits are expected, complete the OIG 176-U. See Supplemental Handbook, Section 915.531.

55 Pa. Code § 183.13(c)(1)

55 Pa. Code § 183.13(c)(3)

NOTE:  If the person reapplies, states that they will cooperate in applying for potential state or federal benefits, and signs the required forms, then they are in compliance. If the person again does not follow through with the application and benefits are discontinued, this establishes a pattern of noncooperation. If the person reapplies, they must actually complete the application for state and federal benefits before they are  considered to be in compliance. TANF may not be authorized until that time.

55 Pa. Code § 141.21(c)

55 Pa. Code § 141.21(d)

NOTE:  The CAO must not deny assistance because an applicant has not repaid assistance received in the past.

55 Pa. Code § 141.21(n)(3)


104.45 Cooperation with Quality Control Review

Every recipient must cooperate with state and federal quality control (QC) reviews. Failure to do so will make the recipient ineligible for the program being reviewed. See Supplemental Handbook, Chapter 900.     

55 Pa. Code § 111.4(b)(5)


Quality Control will notify the CAO when a recipient refuses to participate. The CAO must then do the following:

104.46 Cooperation with a Treasury Department Investigation

Every recipient must cooperate with a Treasury Department investigation of a duplicate benefit issuance. If a budget closes due to noncooperation with the investigation, the CAO must not authorize cash benefits until the Treasury Department lifts the closure.

55 Pa. Code § 231.24(d)

104.47 Ineligibility following Conviction for Welfare Fraud

An applicant or recipient who has been convicted of welfare fraud is ineligible for Cash Assistance. See Supplemental Handbook, Section 910.7.

The CAO will get information about a welfare fraud conviction through eCIS. The OSIG will update this information as necessary.

55 Pa. Code § 141.21(s)

55 Pa. Code § 255.1


104.48 Criminal History Requirements

Otherwise eligible persons who have been sentenced for a felony or misdemeanor offense may receive TANF or GA Cash Assistance if they have satisfied the penalty imposed on them by law and they are complying with any terms of probation or parole. See Appendix B for a policy summary.

104.481 CAO responsibilities

The CAO must clearly explain the following criminal history eligibility requirements to all applicants and recipients.

62 P.S. 432(9)

NOTE:  A person who is under house arrest is not eligible for Cash Assistance, with the following exceptions:

62 P.S. 481.1

62 P.S. 481.1

55 Pa. Code § 141.21(s)

42 U.S.C. 608(a)(8)

55 Pa. Code § 141.21(u)

42 U.S.C. 608(a)(9)        

55 Pa. Code § 141.21(t)

21 U.S.C. 862a


When reviewing a person’s criminal history status and determining eligibility, the CAO must be aware of the following:


104.482 Completion of the Criminal History Inquiry form

The CAO must require completion of the Criminal History Inquiry form by an applicant or recipient who gives a “YES” response to the criminal history questions on the PA 600 or PA 600R. The CAO must proceed as follows:

NOTE:  There is no need to reverify information that has been previously verified, such as past convictions in which the person paid all fines, cost, and restitutions. If the person has ongoing fines and costs, the CAO must reverify compliance at each renewal or when the CAO receives information that the person is out of compliance.

62 P.S. 432(9)

NOTE:  The court or other authority that established the payment plan is responsible for determining if the person is in compliance with the plan. A person is ineligible for Cash Assistance if he or she owes fines, costs, or restitution and does not have an approved plan. The CAO should advise the person to contact the court or other authority to establish a payment plan.

62 P.S. 481.1

NOTE:  The issuing authority determines whether a person is in compliance with a summons or warrant.

55 Pa. Code § 141.21(t)

42 U.S.C. 608(a)(9)

62 P.S. 405.1

NOTE:  The CAO worker should always be careful when he or she receives information about a person who has not complied with a summons or a bench warrant to appear as a defendant at a criminal court proceeding. Consult the appropriate law enforcement agency on how to proceed.

NOTE:  The burden of proof is on the person, including, if applicable, providing documents that verify compliance with an approved payment plan.

104.483 Review of criminal history status

The CAO must review a person’s criminal history status at application and at each scheduled renewal. See Chapter 176. A person’s criminal history status must also be reviewed whenever the caseworker becomes aware of a change that may affect eligibility. Examples of such sources of information may include, but are not limited to, the following:

104.484 Procedures for overpayments related to criminal history

When determining whether an overpayment related to criminal history must be processed, the CAO must refer to the Criminal History Inquiry form (PA 600 or PA 1665) and follow these procedures:


Reissued January 12, 2023; replacing August 31, 2016