115-8          BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS GENERAL ASSISTANCE

 

115-8 A.      INTRODUCTION

 

The purpose of the Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance ( BIA - GA ) program is to provide cash assistance for certain specified basic needs of individual Alaska Natives and American Indians, or families which include Alaska Natives and American Indians.  Covered needs include such items as food, clothing, shelter, and utilities; burial assistance may also be included as an essential need.

 

The program is administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs local agency offices, or its tribal contractors.  Because DPA cash assistance programs, except General Relief Assistance, are a prior resource to BIA - GA , BIA will screen applicants and make referrals to the ATAP , APA , and SSI programs.

 

This manual section provides DPA staff with basic information about BIA - GA .  It also guides DPA staff in coordinating eligibility determinations for state public assistance programs with the BIA - GA program.

 

115-8 B.       BIA ORGANIZATION AND CONTRACTORS

 

In Alaska, the BIA - GA program is administered by five BIA agency offices and its tribal contractors.  The BIA regional agency offices are located in Anchorage, Bethel, Juneau, Fairbanks, and Nome.

 

115-8 C.       BIA -GENERAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

 

BIA - GA provides cash assistance to eligible Alaska Natives and American Indians in the amount of the unmet basic need.

 

1. Application Requirements:

 

A client makes application for BIA - GA on a form prescribed by the BIA ; the application must be complete with verification of resources and income of all household members.

 

2. Eligibility Determination:

 

BIA must make an eligibility determination within 45 days from receipt of an application; financial assistance is prorated from the application receipt date.

 

115-8 D.       BIA - GA BENEFIT

 

1. Cash Assistance:

 

The BIA - GA payment standards follow the Alaska ATAP payment standards.

 

The BIA - GA benefit is paid on a monthly basis; the BIA - GA monthly payment amount is the difference between the applicable payment standard and all net income not disregarded by BIA - GA .

 

BIA - GA payments are made by  U. S. Treasury warrant; the warrant does not have a stub.  Delivery of the benefit payment may be made directly to the recipient, or to a vendor if BIA determines that the family may not apply the payment for its intended use.   BIA anticipates making very few vendor payments.

 

2. Burial Assistance:

 

BIA - GA burial assistance pays $1,250 for basic burial services which include preparation and embalming, the casket, and funeral home services (similar to the state GRA burial assistance basic $1,250 benefit).  In limited circumstances, BIA - GA will pay for transportation.  

 

115-8 E.       BIA / DPA INFORMATION EXCHANGE

 

BIA , its tribal contractors, and DPA will exchange information regarding applicants for and recipients of BIA - GA and DPA programs in order to coordinate between programs and to provide accurate and timely delivery of benefits.

 

1. Release of Information:

 

The BIA - GA applicant completes a release of information form, giving permission for DPA and BIA to exchange eligibility information; the signed release is filed in the BIA - GA case record as part of BIA standard operating procedures.  It is not necessary for DPA to obtain a copy of the release form to release information to a BIA - GA agency or contractor.

 

2. Disclosure of Information (Confidentiality):

 

BIA and/or its tribal contractors and DPA may exchange eligibility information, such as an applicant's or recipient's name, household member's name, social security number, program(s) applied for, application date; case status, such as open, pended or denied and the reason for the action; if opened, the benefit month(s), amount and date of payment(s), and length of certification period.  All information will be treated as confidential by the agencies involved and used solely for the purpose of determining eligibility for the BIA - GA or DPA assistance programs.

 

DPA gives applicants an appointment receipt at the time an identifiable application is received in a district office.  The applicant may use this as proof of application for a DPA program.

 

BIA provides applicants and recipients written notice of the initial BIA - GA eligibility determination, of changes in BIA - GA benefits, and of termination of BIA - GA benefits.

 

BIA will send the appropriate DPA district office a copy of each BIA - GA approval notice along with a copy of the completed "Application for Assistance/Services", BIA 5-6601, (Addendum D) page of the application [this page contains a list of household members and Social Security Numbers].   DPA district offices will review these notices to assure that BIA - GA payments are correctly considered in the determination of eligibility for DPA benefits.

 

To facilitate the exchange of information, BIA will batch its requests for information to the DPA offices.   DPA and BIA will complete the exchange of information within one working day of receipt of any request.  The information exchange may be made in writing, by telephone, or by facsimile machine, at the discretion of the regional manager.

 

115-8 F.      COORDINATION OF BENEFIT DELIVERY

 

1. General Program Coordination:

 

BIA - GA may pay benefits pending an applicant's determination of eligibility for DPA cash assistance programs.   DPA and BIA workers must coordinate the issuance of benefits to assure that BIA - GA benefits are not paid to ATAP or APA recipients, and that any BIA - GA benefits paid are correctly budgeted in the DPA case.  This coordination should be handled by phone and documented in the case record.  

 

Each DPA district office will establish a contact person in the office to respond to requests for information from the BIA .  The BIA will, in turn, establish a contact person in each of its offices to respond to DPA requests for information.

 

Neither DPA nor BIA will delay processing one of its own applications because the other party has not yet made an eligibility determination on an application for benefits from the other agency.

 

2. Burial Assistance Programs:

 

DPA and BIA - GA workers must coordinate the issuance of burial assistance benefits for dual-eligible Alaska Natives or American Indians to ensure that state GRA burial costs are correctly paid for burial services covered by the state GRA program which are not covered by BIA - GA burial assistance.

 

 

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2008-01 (6/08)