This section reviews the types of good cause waivers most requested and provides guidance on how to counsel individuals so they understand the potential risks they may face, as well as the protections and supports that the CAO can provide. Waivers will be reviewed with individuals and completed by CAO staff trained in DV.
As a condition of eligibility, each TANF applicant/recipient must cooperate in the determination of paternity and the establishment or enforcement of a support order, unless this requirement is waived for good cause. A good cause waiver may be granted based upon domestic violence. The PA/CS 173 WP (Support and Good Cause Notice), which must be provided to all applicants, provides information to assist individuals in evaluating whether they can pursue support safely or want to seek a waiver. 55 Pa. Code § 187.23(b) 55 Pa. Code § 187.23(d)
Examples of reasons why an individual might seek a waiver of the requirement include but are not limited to:
Cooperation may place a victim and/or the victim’s family or household at risk of violence by giving the batterer notice of the victim’s whereabouts,
Cooperation may place a victim and/or the victim’s family or household at risk of violence by provoking abuse; or
Cooperation may penalize a victim by requiring disclosure of sensitive information such as the disclosure to a child conceived as a result of rape of the identity of the parent.
Good cause may be granted if:
Court proceedings are ongoing for adoption of the child.
An agency is working to help the individual decide whether or not the child should be placed for adoption. 55 Pa. Code § 187.27(a)(3)
NOTE: The standards and procedures for processing claims of good cause based on these circumstances are covered separately in Cash Assistance Handbook Section 131.6.
Rape may serve as a basis for a good cause waiver under both the domestic violence and the rape, incest, and adoption policy/procedure. If documentation of rape is available, the individual may complete the PA/CS 173 GC (“Good Cause” Determination Based on Factors Other Than Domestic Violence for Child Support or Paternity). The PA/CS 173GC is available on DocuShare . If documentation of rape is not available to the client, the CAO should advise the individual to follow the domestic violence procedure, using the PA 1747. (See Section 108.81, Verification: Domestic Violence Verification Form (PA 1747).
Action to establish paternity or obtain child or spousal support would make it more difficult for the individual or family member to escape domestic violence. 55 Pa. Code § 108.8(b)(1)
As soon as the determination is made on a good cause waiver of child or spousal support requirements, the CAO will send a copy of the PA/CS 173 GC or PA 1747 establishing entitlement to the waiver to the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement (BCSE) Area Office. The PA 1747 and PA/CS 173 GC must be accurately completed and must include the county code with the case number.
The CAO must explain essential points about the support process for individuals to make an informed decision about whether they can safely pursue support. The essential points they need to know are:
The Support Process
The custodial parent (usually the applicant/recipient) will be asked to provide information to help locate the noncustodial parent, putative parent, or spouse. 55 Pa. Code § 187.23(b)
It may be necessary to establish that the individual named is the parent. This can be done by getting a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity or court-ordered genetic testing if the parents are not married. 55 Pa. Code § 187.23(b)(1)
It is necessary to go to court to determine whether that individual will be ordered to pay support and if so, how much.
All of these actions will require that:
Court papers, which include the individual’s name and address, be sent to the other parent (or putative parent) to notify them of the time and date of conferences or hearings, and
The individual attend conferences and hearings at which the other parent (or putative parent) may be present. 55 Pa. Code § 187.23(b)(5)
Addressing Safety Risks
Any of the actions discussed above could potentially place an individual who is experiencing domestic violence at risk or could place a client who has experienced domestic violence at risk of further violence. It is therefore important to thoroughly explain the support process.
Once the individual is given information to assess the risk of pursuing support, the options available to address safety risks need to be explained:
Individuals who believe that they cannot pursue support safely can request a good cause waiver of support requirements.
Occasionally, an individual already has a support order in place but has experienced or is experiencing domestic violence. In such a case, the CAO should ask the individual whether they believe continued receipt of support will place them at risk and inform them that the CAO can ask the DRS to close the support case. If the individual believes continued enforcement of the support order poses a risk, the CAO should contact the DRS to request the case be closed.
Individuals who want to pursue support but want their location to be confidential can have the FVI entered on their file to safeguard information about their address. The FVI will tell DRS and CAO staff that the address of the individual must not be given out or shown in any documents sent by the CAO/DRS.
Individuals who decide to pursue support may also take advantage of any accommodations the county court may offer to make it safer for them to pursue support.
Individuals who determine that it is unsafe to pursue support can seek a waiver at any time, even after a support order has been entered.
Remember also that if an individual requests good cause for not complying with support requirements:
The individual is not required to complete the absent parent portion of the application if good cause is requested.
The CAO is prohibited from making any contact with the abuser.
The CAO determines if “cooperation” has been met. The DRS does not.
In no circumstances will the CAO require the individual to obtain a Protection from Abuse Order (PFA).
These standards and procedures apply to support cooperation requirements for TANF.
The PA 643A, Certification of Cooperation, is completed for a support referral to the Domestic Relations Section when a support action is pursued. 55 Pa. Code § 187.23(d)
The PA/CS 173 WP is provided to individuals at each application and redetermination. The individual’s signature on the PA 173 WP is required at application and reapplication regardless if the individual requests a waiver.
The PA 1747 (Family Safety Notice and Domestic Violence Verification Form) is provided prior to imposition of a sanction for failure to cooperate with support requirements.
The CAO should use caution when choosing the support referral code for each absent relative if domestic violence is an issue in the case or if the individual claims good cause. There are different actions and outcomes depending upon which code is entered. The codes are as follows:
Code 02 – Good Cause Claim Initiated (Not Family Violence)
Code 03 – Good Cause Waiver (Not Family Violence)
Code 06 – Support Action Required (Not Family Violence)
Code 11 – Support Action Required (Family Violence)
Code 12 – Family Violence Good Cause Waiver
NOTE: Codes 02 and 03 are used only for cases of rape, incest and adoption. Codes 11 and 12 are used only for cases of family violence/domestic violence.
Good Cause Codes 02, 03 and 12 will not trigger a referral to PACSES. However, the CAO must also check PACSES to determine if the individual already has a court order. If the individual already has a court order and decides to claim good cause when applying for benefits, the court order will initially remain in effect because the good cause referral code is not transmitted to PACSES. To stop the support action and reduce the danger to the individual as well as to prevent the possibility of an overpayment, the CAO should immediately contact the DRS to inform them that the individual has requested that the order be stopped. Otherwise, the court order will continue to be enforced, potentially putting the individual in danger, and also potentially causing an overpayment if the individual receives assistance and support at the same time. The DRS will suspend support obligation(s) and support actions until the CAO makes a determination on the good cause claim. If good cause is approved, the DRS must terminate all support enforcement activity, all support obligation(s) and support payments. The CAO must make it very clear to the individual that a good cause determination means the support order will be stopped.
NOTE: To reinstate a support order that has been stopped, the CAO must update both the support referral code and referral date in eCIS. Use support referral code 11 if family violence is a factor or code 6 if family violence is not a factor. Also, update the referral date to match the system date to generate a new referral to PACSES.
Codes 06 and 11 will trigger a referral to PACSES. If the client has a current court order, the individual’s welfare status is changed in PACSES when the DRS processes the referral to note the individual is receiving assistance and support assigned to DHS. Use of code 11 will automatically update PACSES with the FVI code and create an alert to the DRS advising that the individual has reported family violence. Entry of the FVI code in PACSES will safeguard information in the support enforcement system about the individual’s address.
Anytime other than application:
Codes 02, 03 and 12 will not trigger a referral to PACSES. However, if the client has an existing court order assigned to the Department, an alert is sent to PACSES notifying the DRS that the CAO has changed the code on the absent relative screen because the individual has claimed good cause. The DRS will suspend the support obligation(s) and support actions pending the CAO’s determination on the good cause claim. If good cause is approved, the DRS will stop the existing court order and support will no longer be collected. The CAO must make it very clear to the individual that a good cause determination means the support order will be stopped.
Code 11 will trigger a referral to PACSES, but the FVI is entered automatically on the PACSES file to safeguard information about the victim’s address in the support enforcement system.
Occasionally, individuals who have requested good cause for not complying with support requirements file for child support directly at the DRS. DRS staff will be encouraged to check eCIS for an open cash assistance case whenever an individual initiates court action for support at the DRS. If an open case is found, the DRS will contact the CAO liaison. If an FVI is on the case, the DRS will discuss the circumstances with the individual and let the CAO know that the good cause code (12) should be replaced with another code (06 or 11). In the absence of a system link, this manual check of each system may help eliminate situations where an individual claims good cause at the CAO, then files for child support at a later date, resulting in simultaneous receipt of cash assistance and support.
NOTE: Neither the CAO nor the DRS shall access a DRS file unless access to the file is needed in the performance of their duties. 55 Pa. Code § 108.16(b)(2)
TANF Road to Economic Self-Sufficiency through Employment and Training (RESET) work requirements, include the 20-hour per week work requirement, and can be waived for good cause based upon domestic violence. 55 Pa. Code § 165.52(a)(8)
Examples of why an individual might seek a waiver of work requirements include but are not limited to:
The family may need to devote time to escaping the violence, find housing, protecting the family, and/or receiving counseling.
The abuser injures or has injured the victim so that the victim is physically or emotionally unable to work.
The long-term physical or emotional effects of abuse render the victim unable to work.
The abuser harasses or stalks the victim at school or work.
The abuser threatens to take the children away from the victim if the victim goes to work and leaves the children in day care.
The abuser interferes with the individual’s ability to comply with RESET requirements by stealing the car, car keys or transportation money, hiding/destroying clothes, depriving victim of sleep, refusing to provide promised child care, lying about children’s safety, inflicting physical injuries or other actions.
Prior to imposing a sanction for failure to comply with RESET work requirements, the CAO will provide the PA 1747 (Family Safety Notice and Domestic Violence Verification Form) and information concerning the availability of good cause for domestic violence and information on how to complete the PA 1747 Domestic Violence Verification form.
When an individual seeks a waiver of work requirements due to domestic violence, the worker should explore whether the individual needs a reduction of hours, a different activity or if participation in any employment or training activity poses a risk. When the worker determines, using the standards set forth under Section 108.62, Standard For Evaluating/Granting Waiver Requests, that the individual needs a reduction of hours or a different activity or that participation in any employment and training activity poses a risk, good cause must be granted.
Individuals who are mandatory RESET participants and who have been granted a RESET good cause waiver based on DV shall be informed that:
They may volunteer to participate in an education, training or in other RESET activities.
If participating in an employment and training program, they may request a special allowance to cover transportation or other supportive services.
They may request a special allowance for childcare while participating in the activity for the number of hours agreed to on the AMR.
NOTE: Verification of RESET activity participation must be provided in order to receive a special allowance to cover transportation, childcare or other supportive services.
The exempt volunteer policy applies to both pre- and post-60 months and exempt volunteers may not be sanctioned for failure to participate in an education or training activity. See Section 135.5, Volunteering to Participate in RESET.
DHS recognizes that victims of domestic violence may need more than 60 months of benefits in order to maintain the family’s physical, emotional, and financial stability. For this reason, individuals are eligible to receive both Time-Out and Extended TANF on the basis of domestic violence. 55 Pa. Code § 141.53
Individuals may be eligible for cash assistance under this section regardless of whether the alleged abuser is in the household. 55 Pa. Code § 108.9(c)
Individuals may receive up to 12 months of Time-Out based on domestic violence. The 12 months need not be sequential. An otherwise eligible domestic violence victim may qualify under the kinship caregiver criteria for as long as necessary. 55 Pa. Code § 108.9(a)
If the individual has a past or current waiver of work, support cooperation or other TANF program requirements based on domestic violence, eligibility for Time-Out is established and the individual should be enrolled in Time-Out without additional verification.
If the individual does not have a past or current waiver of work, support cooperation or other TANF program requirements based on domestic violence, Time-Out may be granted based upon past, present or further risk of domestic violence by completing the PA 1747.
Individuals may receive Extended TANF based on domestic violence for as long as necessary to overcome the effects of the domestic violence. These individuals are eligible for Extended TANF in the DV Track (Track 1). 55 Pa. Code § 141.53(c)
If the individual has a past or current waiver of work, support cooperation, other TANF program requirements, or a Time-Out based on domestic violence, the individual is already known to the CAO to be a victim of domestic violence. Therefore, no additional verification will be required. 55 Pa. Code § 141.53(a)(1)(i) – (iii)
If the individual does not have a past or current waiver of work, support cooperation, other TANF program requirements, or a Time-Out based on domestic violence, Extended TANF may be granted based upon past, present, or risk of further domestic violence by completing a PA 1747. 55 Pa. Code § 141.53(a)(2)(ii) 55 Pa. Code § 141.53(a)(3)
Individuals who qualify for Extended TANF based on domestic violence are subject to the weekly RESET work requirement. Individuals who are experiencing, have experienced or are at risk of further domestic violence may:
Request and receive a good cause waiver of RESET requirements, and
Volunteer to participate in an education, training or other RESET activity policy and receive childcare, transportation, and other supportive services, and
Volunteer to participate in the Maximizing Participation Project (MPP) should they wish to receive help in addressing any barriers to employment they may have.
Adults in the DV track, who have not obtained a good cause waiver of the RESET requirements are not subject to sanction for failure to meet these requirements. Should this situation occur, the CAO will explore whether the individual has good cause based on domestic violence or other factors. If good cause cannot be established, the individual becomes ineligible for Extended TANF until the individual complies with RESET work requirements. 55 Pa. Code § 141.53(e)
A TANF minor parent and dependent child are required to reside in the home of the minor parent’s parent, legal guardian, other adult relative or in an adult-supervised supportive living arrangement, unless exempt from this requirement. 55 Pa. Code § 141.21(p)
A minor parent may be exempt from this “live at home” requirement if there is a threat to the minor parent’s or child’s physical or emotional health or safety from another individual residing in or visiting the residence. Other bases for exemptions are discussed in Cash Assistance Handbook 110.6. 55 Pa. Code § 141.21(q)(4)
In cases where past, present, or risk of further domestic violence is the basis for exemption, the uniform standards for evaluating/granting good cause based upon domestic violence found in Section 108.62 are followed.
In all other cases, the procedures for exemption at Cash Assistance Handbook Sections 110.6 are followed.
In cases of domestic violence, the PA 1747 is completed by checking “other TANF or ELRC program requirement” in section 1 and specifying “living arrangement” as the requested good cause claim.
CAOs must inform minor parents of the option to be excused from meeting the living arrangement requirements if domestic violence is an issue, and provide notice about the availability of a good cause waiver and information on how to request or establish good cause prior to denying or terminating TANF benefits based upon the teen parent living arrangement requirements.
Generally, individuals must provide verification of certain eligibility requirements at application, redetermination, and the Semiannual Reporting review. However, there may be instances when a victim of domestic violence, due to safety considerations or the effects of past abuse, will not be able to provide verification when requested. Examples of verification requirements that a victim may request be waived include but are not limited to the following:
Providing required verification, such as identification or social security cards, because the victim fled the abuser and is unable to safely return to the abuser’s home or because the victim is experiencing stress, inability to focus, or other effects of past abuse that prevent him or her from being able to remember or carry out the steps necessary to obtain the various items of required verification;
Providing a letter from the victim’s employer because the victim is unable to safely return to or contact the victim’s former workplace.
Verification of closure of benefits in the place of a victim’s former residence before a case can be opened in Pennsylvania for victims of domestic violence who relocate from another state or county to escape violence and need immediate support.
Verification of voluntary child support paid to the victim. This situation should be carefully discussed with the victim to determine if it is possible to verify the income, such as by photocopying a check, without the involvement of the absent parent. If this is not possible, such as if the payment is made in cash, the victim’s statement is acceptable. The CAO must advise BCSE of the good cause claim or determination and voluntary support situation.
Updated May 9, 2021, replacing May 16, 2018