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Operations Memorandum - Food Stamp


Telephone Interview Requirements at Renewal

TO: Executive Directors
FROM: Christine M. Bowser, Director, Bureau of Operations


To inform County Assistance Offices (CAOs) of revised policy that replaces the face-to-face interview at renewal with a telephone interview for all food stamp (FS) households. This policy is effective February 1, 2006 .


The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has approved a waiver for two years that allows the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) to utilize telephone interviews in lieu of face-to face interviews for renewals for all FS households. FNS approved this waiver request because Pennsylvania’s Quality Control (QC) error rate is well below the national average and because this waiver will result in a more effective and efficient administration of the program. Although the waiver will expire in two years, it may be renewed based on QC results.

DPW and FNS are interested in seeing how telephone renewals affect the QC error rate. Until the waiver expires, the CAO must use the telephone interview process for all households unless the household has questionable circumstances or the household requests a face-to-face interview.


  • The CAO conducts a telephone interview for FS households in which all members are elderly and disabled and the household has no earned income.
    • Exceptions:
      • If the household requests a face-to-face interview; or
      • If the CAO determines the household has questionable circumstances.
  • The CAO conducts a face-to-face interview at least once every 12 months. However, the face-to-face interview can be waived in favor of a telephone interview because of household hardship.


  • All FS household’s renewals are to be conducted via telephone.
  • Exceptions:
    • If the household makes a request to come into the CAO.
    • If information is questionable, the CAO may require the household to come into the CAO for a face-to-face interview.
    • If the client must come into the CAO for a cash renewal.


The CAO worker must continue to use the PA 10 SP to notify the household of the end of the current renewal period. In scheduling a telephone interview, the CAO must use:

  • PA 10 SP ADD (SeeFSH Section 576.22) for all households that contain only elderly and disabled individuals; or
  • PA 1595 for all other households.

NOTE: All forms should be retained in the case record for three years.

In addition to the forms mentioned above, the CAO worker must:

  • Continue to obtain the same information that is obtained during a face-to-face interview.
  • Narrate whether the renewal interview was completed by telephone or face-to-face, and if a face-to-face interview was done, why.

DPW believes the telephone interview will simplify the recertification process for FS recipients and the CAO. Households, especially working families, will save time and child care and transportation expenses. In addition, the change permits more efficient use of the CAO worker time.

Next Steps

  1. Share this information with all appropriate staff.

  2. Implement this Operations Memorandum effective February 1, 2006.

  3. Maintain this Operations Memorandum until the appropriate Handbook pages have been received.