[Adopted 11-13-2013 by Ord. No. 13-08. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The following are rules and regulations for the administration of general assistance.
Case records and all other information relating to an applicant or recipient of general assistance are confidential and will not be disclosed to the general public unless the applicant or recipient states, in writing, what information is to be released (22 M.R.S.A. § 4306).
Release of information. Applicants, recipients and their legal representatives have the right to review their case records. No record will be released to a third party, however, unless the administrator receives a consent form signed by the applicant expressly authorizing the release of his or her records to the specified parties. Whenever the administrator releases any information, he/she will make a notation in the applicant's file stating to whom the record was released and the date. The administrator may charge a reasonable fee for the reproduction of any records when appropriate.
Information from other sources; penalty.
Information furnished to the municipality by the Department of Health and Human Services or any other agency or institution pursuant to 22 M.R.S.A. § 4314 is confidential. The general assistance administrator will also comply with laws relating to the confidentiality of vital statistic records such as those concerning birth, marriage and death (22 M.R.S.A. § 2706).
Any representative of a financial institution (except national banks) or any employer of a general assistance applicant who refuses to provide necessary information to the administrator in order to verify an applicant's eligibility must state, in writing, the reason for the refusal. Any such person who refuses to provide information, without just cause, may be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $25 nor more than $100. Any person, including the applicant, who knowingly and willfully makes a false representation of a material fact to the administrator is committing a Class E crime (22 M.R.S.A. §§ 4314, 4315).
Misuse of information. Misuse of any information relating to an applicant or recipient is a punishable offense [22 M.R.S.A. § 42(2)].
The general assistance administrator will keep complete and accurate general assistance records (22 M.R.S.A. § 4306). These records are necessary to:
Provide a valid basis of accounting for municipal expenditures;
Document and support decisions concerning an applicant or recipient; and
Ensure the availability of all relevant information in the event of a fair hearing or judicial review of a decision by the general assistance administrator.
The administrator will establish and maintain a separate case record, either in paper format or digital format for each applicant or recipient. Each case record will include at least:
Information concerning the types and amounts of assistance provided.
Narrative statements describing the nature of the emergency situation whenever general assistance is granted in amounts greater than the applicant's mathematical eligibility (i.e., deficit or unmet need, whichever is less).
Requests for fair hearings and the fair hearing authority decisions.
Workfare participation records.
Repayments to the municipality.
Narrative writings documenting the need for general assistance, the results of home visits, collateral information, referrals, changes in status.
Client authorization(s) for the release of GA information and/or reason(s) for the release of confidential information.
Adjustments in aid, and suspension or termination of eligibility.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) interim assistance.
Reimbursement authorization forms.
Case records will not include information or material that is irrelevant to either the applicant's or recipient's application or the administrator's decisions.
Retention of records. General assistance records shall be retained for a minimum of three full years. The three-year period shall coincide with the state's fiscal year which begins July 1 and ends on the following June 30. Records may be destroyed after three years by one of the two preferred methods of destruction for confidential records, i.e., supervised shredding, burning or appropriate digital deletion/destruction process. In the event a client's records contain SSI reimbursement forms, the client's records should be maintained so that the municipality may seek reimbursement.