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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Employment and Training Administration
Washington, D. C. 20213

CLASSIFICATION

UI

CORRESPONDENCE SYMBOL

TURL

ISSUE DATE

October 17, 1980

RESCISSIONS

 

EXPIRATION DATE

September 30, 1981

DIRECTIVE

:

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM LETTER NO. 52-80

 

TO

:

ALL STATE EMPLOYMENT SECURITY AGENCIES

 

FROM

:

ROBERT T. JONES
Administrator
Office of Management Assistance

 

SUBJECT

:

Disclosure of Information to Child Support Enforcement Agencies Required by Public Law 96-265 and to Food Stamp Agencies Required by Public Law 96-249

  1. Purpose. To inform State agencies of the amendments made by Public Laws 96-265 and 96-249 which impose new Federal requirements under Section 303 of the Social Security Act for disclosure of information to child support and food stamp agencies.

  2. Reference. Sections 408 (b) of P.L. 96-265, 127 (b) of P.L. 96-249; Section 3(a), Wagner-Peyser Act; Section 3304(a)(16), FUTA: and UIPL 21-78.

  3. Background. Under provisions of the Federal law prior to approval of P.L. 96-265 and P.L. 96-249 the only provisions applicable to SESAs specifically requiring disclosure of UI information to other public agencies were those contained in Section 3304(a)(16), FUTA, and that specified by Section'3(a), Wagner-Peyser Act (applicable to State employment offices), which require disclosure of wage and described information to certain agencies. With the enactment of P.L. 96-265 and P.L. 96-249 a State will also be required to provide such information as described to State or local child support enforcement agencies and the Department of Agriculture and State food stamp agencies.

    The consequences for failing to adhere to the Section 3304(a)(16) disclosure requirements are different from those which are provided for in P.L. 96-265 and P.L. 96-249. Implementation of Section 3304 (a) (16) is a condition for certification of the State law for tax offset credit under the FUTA. In the case of P.L. 96-265 and P.L. 96-249, implementation is a condition for receipt of granted funds pursuant to Section 302(a), Social Security Act, and Section 5 (b), Wagner-Peyser Act.

  4. Provisions of Federal Law Applicable to Disclosure of Information to Child Support Agencies.

    Public Law 96-265, the Social Security Disability Amendments of 1980, was approved June 9, 1980. In pertinent part, Section 408 (b) added a new subsection (d) following Section 303 (c) of the Social Security Act:

    "The State agency charged with the administration of the State law --

      "(A)  shall disclose, upon request and on a reimbursable basis, directly to officers or employees of any State or local child support enforcement agency any wage information contained in the records of such State agency, and

      "(B)  shall establish such safeguards as are necessary (as determined by the Secretary of Labor in regulations) to insure that information disclosed under subparagraph (A) is used only for purposes of establishing and collecting child support obligations from, and locating, individuals owing such obligations.

    "For purposes of the preceding sentence, the term 'chid support obligations' only includes obligations which are being enforced pursuant to a plan described in section 454 of this Act which has been approved by the Secretary of Health and Human Services under part D of title IV of this Act.

    "(2)  Whenever the Secretary of Labor, after reasonable notice and opportunity for hearing to the State agency charged with the administration of the State law, finds that there is a failure to comply substantially with the requirements of paragraph (1), the Secretary of Labor shall notify such State agency that further payments will not be made to the State until he is satisfied that there is no longer any such failure. Until the Secretary of Labor is so satisfied, he shall make no further certification to the Secretary of the Treasury with respect to such State.

    "(3)  For purposes of this subsection, the term 'State or local child support enforcement agency means any agency of a State or political subdivision thereof operating pursuant to a plan described in. the last sentence of paragraph (1)."

    These provisions are effective July 1, 1980.

  5. Provisions of Federal Law Applicable to Disclosure of Information to Food Stamp Agencies.

    P.L. 96-249, the Food Stamp Act Amendments of 1980, was approved May 26, 1980. Section 127 (b) amended the Social Security Act by adding another new subsection (d) following Section 303(c) of the Social Security Act:

    "The State agency charged with the administration of the State law--

    Section 304 of the Social Security Act also was amended so as to make the Secretary's findings under both amendments subject to Judicial review.

    These provisions are effective January 1, 1983.

  6. Administration of These Requirements 

    The amendments made by P.L. 96-249 and P.L. 96-265 make the disclosure of such information a condition of payment to the State of granted funds pursuant to Section 302(a) of the Social Security Act and Section 5(b) of the Wagner-Peyser Act.

    Most State laws now permit information in the records to be disclosed to public officials in the performance of their public duties; consistent with Federal disclosure requirements. This should be sufficient authority for disclosing information to child support agencies effective July 1, 1980 and to food stamp agencies beginning with January 1, 1983, or at any time prior to the effective dates.

    States whose laws prohibit release of the required information to child support agencies rust obtain the needed changes at the next regular session of the legislature in 1981 and not later than September 1, 1931. In the case of a State whose legislature does not meet in regular session in 190l, the needed changes must be obtained not later than September 1, 1982.

    Since release of information to food stamp agencies is not required until January 1, 1983, all States would have sufficient time before that time to secure appropriate changes, if the law does not now permit the disclosure of the required information.

    Both amendments provide that the information is to be released under safeguards ",(as determined by the Secretary of Labor in regulations)" to ensure that it is used only for the purpose for which disclosed. Regulations setting forth the type of safeguards that will be necessary to assure that information released to child support and food stamp agencies is used only for the purposes designated by the new subsections of Section 303 will be issued at a later date. In the interim SESAs must take appropriate measures as provided under current State law to protect the confidentiality of the information released against inappropriate or illegal access or disclosure by child support and food stamp agencies. Assurances must be obtained from such agencies that they will observe all of the measures so specified by SESAs.

    The amendments provide for the release of information "on a reimbursable basis." Thus any wage or other information requested may be released only if satisfactory arrangements for reimbursement are made. SESAs will have the responsibility of-determining what arrangements are appropriate for obtaining reimbursement of costs incurred in this activity.

    The information to be released is that "contained in the records of such State agency." There is no requirement that the State agency is to secure information finally for the use of the recipient agency if the information requested is not in the SESAs records. If the information normally secured in the administration of the State employment security program is in the records it is subject to disclosure.

    Both amendments provide that information shall be disclosed "upon request." The phrase "upon request" requires that the specified agencies make a written request for information on specific individuals, as opposed to a general request for information, for example, on all persons receiving benefits during a particular period. A request to a SESA for wage or other specified information should also contain proper identification of the requesting party as an officer or employee of a food stamp or child support agency that is operating under the plan prescribed in the law for child support agencies or under the specified section of the Food Stamp Act as set forth in the law in the case of Food Stamp agencies.

    P.L. 96-265 provides that child support agencies are entitled to "any wage information contained in the records of such State agency." The phrase "any wage information" is construed to mean that at a minimum, the State agency must disclose wages reported in its wage record file (for wage record States) or the wages reported upon request pursuant to a claim (for request reporting States). The phrase "wage information" is further construed to include the names, identification numbers, and addresses of the employers who reported the earnings. In general requests for information :ill probably be received from State and local (city and county child support enforcement agencies. In some instances child support enforcement responsibilities may be carried out by courts, court clerks and governmental entity attorneys prosecuting attorneys, district attorneys, county attorneys), who may request information.

    P.L. 96-249 specifies the information to be released to food stamp agencies in greater detail. The phrase "wage information" has the same meaning as indicated in the immediately proceeding paragraph. Generally speaking, the other information required to be given food stamp agencies is the same type of information which SESAs are now releasing to public agencies administering the AFDC and child support programs pursuant to the provision of Section 3(a) of the Wagner-Peyser Act. Arrangements made and methods employed in those activities will provide valuable experience in dealing with requests from food stamp agencies and should be utilized accordingly.

  7. Action Required. All States should immediately examine their State laws, regulations, and procedures to determine whether disclosure can be made to child support agencies effective July 1, 1980. If there is no bar, the State must begin to release information to child support agencies beginning with July 1, 180. If there is an obstacle under State law appropriate changes in the law must be made not later than September 1, 1981. Action required through changes in regulations or procedures should be undertaken immediately to allow release of information as soon as possible in accordance with the July 1, 1980 effective date. Similar action should be taken with respect to disclosure to food stamp agencies effective January 1, 1933.

    The attachment contains draft language which can be used to amend State laws to permit release of the required information. Changes iii regulations and- procedures should be consistent with the interpretations container? in this UIPL.

  8. Inquiries. Questions should be directed to your regional office.