When an individual who is mandatory for RESET is not meeting the requirements that are specified on the AMR the individual is considered to be in non-compliance.
55 Pa. Code § 165.51(a)
Non-compliance has occurred when an individual who is required to participate in RESET:
Fails to accept a bona fide offer of employment in which the individual is able to engage.
Voluntarily quits or otherwise fails to maintain bona fide employment.
Fails or refuses to accept referral to, participate in or continue to participate in an activity as specified on the AMR.
Fails to accept referral to, work in, or retain employment in which the individual is able to engage as specified on the AMR.
Fails to seek and apply for employment.
Voluntarily reduces earnings.
The CAO will follow the compliance review process to see if the individual has good cause for not complying with participation requirements.
Sanction Desk Guide
A compliance review is held to determine whether the non-compliance was within the individual’s control (willful) or if an exemption or good cause exists (non-willful).
Willful non-compliance is defined as an instance where an individual had the opportunity and capacity to participate and did not.
An exemption from RESET participation may apply as defined in Section 135.3.
55 Pa. Code § 165.21
Good Cause is defined as a reason an individual was unable to comply that was not within the individual’s control. See Section 135.4 for detailed definitions and examples of good cause.
Scheduling the Interview
When the non-compliance becomes known to the CAO and the individual is participating in a CAO-directed activity the individual must be contacted within three (3) days to discuss the non-compliance. Attempts to reach the individual by telephone must be narrated in the case record
The CAO has three (3) work days from the date the contractor terminates the referral in CWDS for non-compliance to contact the individual and discuss the reason for the non-compliance.
If the CAO is able to reach the individual by telephone, the caseworker must conduct a compliance review to determine whether or not the non-compliance was willful and without good cause.
If the CAO cannot reach the individual by telephone, the caseworker will send the Compliance Review Appointment Notice (PA 1706). The compliance review appointment must be scheduled within ten (10) work days of the date the non-compliance becomes known to the CAO.
The Compliance Review Appointment Notice must include the following information:
Where the compliance review will take place.
The date and time of the appointment.
The option to complete the review by telephone.
The county assistance office's telephone number.
Before sending the Compliance Review Appointment Notice (PA 1706), the case file must be reviewed for domestic violence. When domestic violence has been disclosed and if an alternate address is being used, the CAO will send the Family Safety Notice (PA 1747), with the Compliance Review Appointment Notice.
If the individual responds to the Compliance Review Appointment Notice (PA 1706) by the 10th work day after the mailing date, the CAO will conduct an interview to discuss the reason for the non-compliance. The interview can be held in person or over the telephone.
Reviewing the Case
The case file information, including all previous narratives, is reviewed along with the Client Information System (CIS), Commonwealth Workforce Development System (CWDS) and MAPPER in preparation for the compliance review. If information is located regarding the non-compliance, ensure that assistance was offered for any of the following circumstances:
Mental health treatment.
Drug and Alcohol counseling.
Child Welfare Agency services.
Homeless, including facing eviction or utility shutoff.
Disabled or caring for household member with a disability.
Previous or current MPP involvement.
NOTE: If upon review of the record the caseworker discovers that the individual had one of the above circumstances and there is no narration that assistance was offered, the caseworker should discuss the circumstances with the individual at the compliance review to determine if the barrier is still an issue and offer assistance if needed. This discussion must be narrated.
When reviewing an individual’s situation to decide if there is good cause for non-compliance:
Look at the degree of failure, and review past practice for a pattern.
Review the case record and narrative to ensure that barriers were discussed and accommodations were offered to the individual. If barriers were not discussed and accommodations were not offered, then good cause may exist for non-compliance.
Allow an individual to offer evidence of good cause or exemption to avoid sanction, even if the sanction process has begun and the County Assistance Office has made a preliminary determination that there was no good cause for non-cooperation.
Results of the Compliance Review
1. If it is determined that good cause exists:
The CAO must notify the contractor in writing that a good cause determination has been made and that the client will be returning to the program. Written notification may include a secure e-mail message; a form developed by the CAO, or other written communication. The message MUST be received by the contractor prior to the client’s new report date.
Entry of a new ETP Project Enrollment referral will need to occur after the contractor has been notified in writing. This will be considered the same enrollment within the program year.
When the referral is made, update the AMR, send a copy to the contractor and narrate the steps taken.
NOTE: If the individual did not comply with RESET requirements due to a verified exemption, no sanction is imposed. A new AMR will be developed to address the exemption and any other obstacle to compliance. The ETP code will be updated as required on eCIS to reflect the exemption.
55 Pa. Code § 165.51(e)
2. If it is determined that no good cause exists and the non-compliance was willful, proceed with the next level sanction. A PA 162A with the appropriate A.1, A.2, or A.3 attachment to the Advance Notice will be sent.
The individual will not be eligible for referral to a contracted program until the next program year or after the sanction has ended.
It is critical that the CAO enters a clear narrative supporting the good cause review and determination.
If an individual does not attend or participate in the Compliance Review by telephone, the worker will complete the case review (Step 2). After reviewing the case, if it is determined that no good cause exists, proceed with the sanction process.
NOTE: If domestic violence has been disclosed and the individual fails to attend the compliance review, no sanction occurs.
Approving a Sanction
Proposed sanctions are reviewed by CAO management staff. Based on the circumstances documented by the caseworker, the sanction will either be approved or denied. If the proposed sanction is approved, a PA162A with the appropriate A.1, A.2, A.3 or A.4 attachment to the Advance Notice will be sent notifying the individual of the sanction.
CAOs must submit all proposed third level permanent sanctions to Headquarters through their Area Manager’s staff assistant for review. Headquarters will complete a review of the proposed sanction and a final decision will be sent to the Executive Director indicating how the CAO is to proceed.
When the proposed sanction is approved, a PA 162A with the appropriate A.1, A.2, A.3 or A.4 attachment to the Advance Notice will be sent notifying the individual of the sanction.
The caseworker will:
Narrate all actions and reasons for the actions.
Update eCIS to reflect the sanction.
Sanction continues until individual has demonstrated and maintained compliance for at least one week and thereafter or established good cause or exemption.
Keep sanction information in the case record and not purge any of the information.
NOTE: If the individual responds to the client notice prior to the effective date, then any new information provided must be considered before imposing the sanction unless:
The individual appeals.
The county was in error in sending the notice.
The individual establishes good cause or exemption.
Sanctions are appropriate when it has been determined that a mandatory participant is willfully non-compliant and good cause does not exist. A sanction is a change in eligibility status which results in a reduction of cash benefits received by the individual or family.
55 Pa. Code § 165.61
If the sanction occurs within the first 24 months (less than 732 Act 35 days) of receipt of cash assistance, whether consecutive or interrupted, the sanction applies only to the willfully non-compliant individual.
55 Pa. Code § 165.61 (c) (1)
If the sanction occurs after 24 (equal to or greater than 732 Act 35 days) months of receipt of cash assistance, whether consecutive or interrupted, the sanction applies to the entire family.
55 Pa. Code § 165.61 (c) (2)
ESA16542135 Sanctions and SPAL Overpayments (Linked February 25, 2013)
EPP-16563-135 Effect of Noncompliance for Fines and Costs on a Currently Sanctioned Client (Linked March 11, 2013)
The Sanction period duration shall be:
First Occurrence: A person is disqualified for a minimum of 30 days or until the individual states a willingness to participate in RESET or establishes an exemption or good cause, whichever is longer. See 135.74 Ending a Sanction and Regaining Eligibility.
55 Pa. Code § 165.61(b)(1)
62 P.S. 405.1
62 P.S. 432.3
Second Occurrence: A person is disqualified for a minimum of 60 days or until the individual states a willingness to participate in RESET or establishes an exemption or good cause, whichever is longer. See 135.74 Ending a Sanction and Regaining Eligibility.
55 Pa. Code § 165.61(b)(2)
Third Occurrence: A person or budget group is permanently disqualified.
55 Pa. Code § 165.61(b)(3)
All third level (pre and post 24 month) sanction requests must be submitted to Headquarters via their Area Manager’s staff assistant for review after local management review and approval recommendation. Do not create ServiceNow tickets. Staff assistants should submit third sanction packets to the Bureau of Employment Programs (BEP) via email: RA-PWBEP.TANF@pa.gov
NOTE: When determining whether the period of the sanction is for the first, second or third occurrence, the CAO will disregard any sanction that began prior to the implementation of TANF in March, 1997.
A sanction does not affect Medicaid or SNAP benefits for cash assistance recipients, or Medicaid for a pregnant woman, or a child under age 21 in a household with a GA-related NMP sanctioned individual.
Sanction negation or modification requests should also be submitted to Headquarters. Do not create ServiceNow tickets. Staff assistants should submit sanction packets to the Bureau of Employment Programs (BEP) via email:
When a sanction requires a system modification to delete a previously imposed sanction entered in error for any reason, the CAO will submit the case record information and explanation for the proposed sanction modification to the Executive Director. If, after reviewing the case, the Executive Director approves the modification, the information should be emailed to BEP for approval, with a cc: to the Area Manager.
BEP will complete a review of the case and forward any approved sanction modification to ServiceNow along with an explanation for the system modification or request to negate the sanction(s). The CAO is notified about the system update via email from BEP resource account.
Note: CAOs are able to negate a sanction that was entered in error prior to the actual start of the sanction, by entering the end date one day prior to the begin date to negate the sanction.
If an employed individual voluntarily and without good cause reduces earnings by not working an average of at least 20 hours, rather than sanctioning the individual or family, the cash grant is reduced by the dollar value of the income that would have been earned if the individual had fulfilled the requirement. This reduction will continue until:
The requirement is met.
The individual becomes exempt or demonstrates good cause.
The individual shows that he or she has made a good faith attempt to regain his or her former hours of employment.
If a sanction is approved, the CAO will advise the individual of a proposed sanction or grant reduction by sending a manual PA 162A with the appropriate attachments (A.1.1, A.2.1, A.3.1, A.1.2, A.2.2, and A.3.2. See table below).
55 Pa. Code § 165.71(a)
The manual PA 162A and attachments will identify:
The begin date of the sanction (the next payment date that can be reached with the advance notice).
The level of the sanction
The sanction appeal date.
The duration of the sanction.
The activity and how the individual was willfully noncompliant.
The date of non-compliance.
The date of the AMR in which the individual agreed to comply with this activity.
The amount to which the cash grant will be reduced.
Pre-24 Months (less than 732 Act 35 days)
1st Sanction – Individual
30 Days Minimum
2nd Sanction – Individual
60 Days Minimum
3rd Sanction – Individual
Post 24 Months (equal to or greater than 732 Act 35 days)
1st Sanction – Full Family
30 Days Minimum
2nd Sanction – Full Family
60 Days Minimum
3rd Sanction – Full Family
The CAO must send a PA 1712 to inform the client 15 calendar days prior to their minimum durational sanction period that they may come back to cash if they have a willingness to participate, are currently participating, or if they have a good cause or exemption.
55 Pa. Code § 165.71(b)
If the client contacts the CAO, the caseworker will determine if a sanction may be ended after the minimum durational sanction is served and the non-compliant individual either:
Establishes an exemption or good cause from RESET participation and completes and signs an Agreement of Mutual Responsibility (AMR); OR
Provides verification that he/she is working and completes and signs an Agreement of Mutual Responsibility (AMR); OR
Indicates a willingness to participate in work or work-related requirements including accepting a referral to a contracted program and completes and signs an Agreement of Mutual Responsibility (AMR).
The CAO must narrate why the sanction was lifted and scan all documentation into Imaging.
Once the individual has established
a willingness to comply after the minimum duration period, the CAO will
complete a job readiness assessment (See OPS190101),
complete and sign an Agreement of Mutual Responsibility (AMR) (See CAH 107) with the client and make a new
referral to the appropriate program based on the client’s goals and barriers
(See OPS190101). For every
barrier the client has, an appropriate plan to address the barrier should
be narrated and indicated on the AMR. A job readiness assessment and AMR
update must be completed via the telephone or in person, depending on
the needs of the client. An updated AMR can be sent to the client for
signature and initials via mail or to the contracted program.
A face to face appointment is not required to complete an AMR. The CAO may complete the job readiness assessment via the telephone, complete the AMR with the client, and send the updated AMR to the client for their initials and signature.
NOTE: If the client indicates a willingness to participate in work or work-related requirements and states they will come to the CAO to complete the AMR, the CAO must not close cash for a failure to come to an interview (047). The case and the sanction will remain open.
The sanction end date will be the date the CAO has a completed, signed AMR for the client with the client agreeing to accept a referral to a contracted program or verifying they have an exemption or being granted good cause. Ending the sanction will not affect the cash grant until the first regular payment date, therefore if the individual regains eligibility between payment dates, a one-time issuance (OTI) is completed to ensure the individual receives the correct benefit amounts.
NOTE: SPALs may be issued once the sanction is ended, the individual is referred to, or participating in an allowable activity or program, and need is verified. See Cash Assistance Handbook 135.6.
Individuals must fulfill the minimum durational sanction. Cash assistance must be reinstated immediately when one of the following happens:
The sanctioned individual states a willingness to participate in work or a work-related activity.
The CAO determines that a good cause or exemption exists.
Revised January 10, 2020, replacing November 26, 2019