Economic abuse, lack of resources and opportunities, and the high costs associated with starting over all function as barriers to survivors’ ability to escape violent relationships and maintain safe, stable lives. Effective advocacy centers on the strengths and resilience of survivors and provides tools and options to promote the prosperity among survivors and their children. TCFV is dedicated to supporting advocates and survivors by serving as a clearinghouse of relevant economic related information and resources and promoting economic justice through policy and systems advocacy.
The webinar will explore the health coverage and services available in Texas for survivors and their children. The webinar will begin with the information about Adult Medicaid, Pregnancy Medicaid, and Perinatal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), available to very low income adults and pregnant women. Representatives from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) will discuss recent changes to the Medicaid and CHIP programs for children pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), including changes to eligibility and the renewal process. HHSC presenters will highlight the most efficient avenues individuals can use when applying for HHSC benefits. The webinar will identify resources that exist for adults that may fall in the ‘coverage gap’-those who are above the income threshold for Adult Medicaid, but below the minimum income needed to find affordable coverage in the exchange. PPACA experts from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) will then provide an overview of finding coverage through the new state exchange (also called the “Marketplace”) and taking advantage of subsidies and tax premiums. Finally, the CBPP presenter will highlight new policy flowing from the PPACA relevant to survivors of domestic violence in terms of obtaining affordable coverage through the exchange.
Navigating the Family Violence Option (FVO): Waivers from Public Benefit Program Requirements for Survivors
This webinar will provide a detailed overview of navigating the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) FVO “good cause” recommendation process. The FVO allows victims of family violence to opt out of the requirements to file for child support and/or work requirements when receiving certain public benefits in Texas such as TANF cash assistance. Participants will understand the requirements and expectations in order to access waivers for victims, and learn about the unique role of family violence advocates in this process per TANF policy and funded programs HHSC Plan of Operations. The webinar will also go over additional programs, such as SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps), Child Care Services, and subsidized housing that also include requirements and waiver options.
Tax Time & Domestic Violence Survivors – What You Need to Know
The webinar will discuss ways to help domestic violence survivors maximize financial assistance available through the federal tax code. This webinar will cover the Earned Income Credit, the Child Tax Credit, the Child and Dependent Care Credit, the Affordable Care Act, the Premium Tax Credit, and free tax filing assistance programs, including Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) & Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE). Specific tax provisions available for domestic violence survivors will be explored. The webinar will also highlight one Texas local family violence program’s tax advocacy efforts and collaboration with their local VITA program.
Tax Time: An Advocates Guide to Tax Resources for Survivors
The webinar will discuss methods to help domestic violence survivors maximize financial assistance available through the federal tax code. This webinar will provide information on the Earned Income Credit, the Child Tax Credit, the Child and Dependent Care Credit, the Affordable Care Act, the Premium Tax Credit, and free tax filing assistance programs, including Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). Specific tax provisions available for domestic violence survivors will be discussed as well as options and strategies for translating tax refunds into short and long term assets.
The ABCs of IDAs
Learn about how to utilize Individual Development Accounts and asset building skills and opportunities to support survivors.
The New Family Violence Exemption for Medicaid and CHIP: Information for Program Leadership
This webinar will build on the information shared at the Executive Directors’ Conference HHSC Plenary regarding the new Family Violence Exemption for Medicaid and CHIP. This exemption allows survivors to omit information about an abusive household member, thus taking out that person’s income from the eligibility calculations and protecting case information. Domestic violence program staff are the only entities able to recommend this exemption for survivors. It is important that Leadership understand this new protection and encourage staff to educate survivors and complete the recommendation forms.
Economic safety planning is an additional consideration for survivors when developing a comprehensive safety plan. Financial abuse is one of the most common tactics that abusers use to control and isolate victims. Learning how to identify the dynamics and complexities of economic abuse can help survivors overcome financial abuse. Reviewing short-term strategies can assist survivors in economic safety planning in following a crisis as well as planning for longer term planning.
If you are a Texas family violence program advocate, you may request the TCFV 2012 Texas Advocates’ Guide (TAG) that includes an entire Economic Options chapter with attachments. Please contact TCFV (1-800-525-1978), if you are interested.
Good Cause, also called the Family Violence Option, exists to exempt survivors from certain requirements, such as working and applying for child support, if doing so would place the participant or child in danger. If a TANF participant needs a waiver from the child support requirement, they should inform their Texas Works Advisor at the local Health and Human Services Commission benefits granting office. More information about good cause from child support can be found at: www.getchildsupportsafely.org. If they need a waiver from the work requirements, they should inform their caseworker at the local workforce office.
- Form H1706: Good Cause Recommendation
- Form H1073: Personal Responsibility Agreement
- Form H1702: One-Time Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (OTTANF) Acknowledgement
- Form H1713: Service Plan for Family Violence Option and Report of Good Cause
Texas Workforce Commission (TWC): Choices Program – Work requirement exemption for family violence victims. Varies from county to county.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – A monthly cash grant (for children and their parents or relatives who are living with them) that is linked to the parent’s or relative’s participation in work activities and cooperation with program requirements.
One-Time TANF – A one-time cash payment of $1,000 for families in crisis.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – An assistance to help low-income individuals, families and elderly people purchase food, formerly referred to as Food Stamps. Family violence is a basis for Good Cause from Employment and Training (E & T) requirements. In order to receive a good cause waiver for family violence from E & T requirements, a SNAP participant will need to contact the Texas Workforce Center and let their case manager know that they are a victim of family violence and request Good Cause.
Medicaid – Government funded health insurance for low-income adults and children. Income eligibility varies by age of child. Medicaid automatically covers individuals receiving TANF. To apply for Medicaid, SNAP, One-Time TANF or TANF, individuals may call 2-1-1 or go to www.yourtexasbenefit.com.
WIC (Women, Infants and Children) – A program that provides nutrition education, food, formula and other services for low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants and children under five. WIC clients get vouchers for certain food items they can use at grocery stores throughout the state. Food packages vary depending on the needs of the client, but may include infant formula, milk, cheese, cereal, juice, eggs, peanut butter and beans. To find out more about WIC or to apply, go to www.texaswic.org or call the Texas WIC Program at (800)942-3678.
CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) Health coverage for children in families that earn up to 200% of the federal poverty level with sliding scale co-pays. Pregnant women not eligible for Medicaid (with incomes between 185% and 200% of poverty or those lacking lawful immigration status) may be eligible for CHIP coverage of prenatal care, as well as labor and delivery services, if they meet eligibility criteria. To learn more about CHIP or to apply, go to www.chipmedicaid.org or call (877)543-7669.
Parents may apply to receive child support through the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) or a survivor may request child support through a protective order. The OAG will establish paternity, financial and medical support, and access and visitation of the child(ren). The Attorney General also offers parent locator services. If a survivor is concerned for their safety, they should ask for their case to be “flagged” with the Family Violence Indicator (FVI). The FVI ensures that a survivor’s address is kept confidential throughout the application process and routes her case to court.
For more information about safely participating in the OAG Child Support Program, go to: www.getchildsupportsafely.org. To apply for child support services, individuals may go online to www.oag.state.tx.us, go to a local child support office or request an application be mailed by calling 1-800-252-8014. Applications submitted online will be processed much faster.
Safe, secure, stable housing is critical component to survivor safety. Understanding the role that state and federal housing protections play in enhancing survivors housing security is paramount. For many survivors housing protections will help prevent homelessness, help survivors escape abuse and violence, and offer critical tools to aid survivors in rebuild their lives.
A victim of family violence residing in any rental property has the right to seek police and emergency assistance in response to family violence (TX Property Code § 92.015). A victim of family violence or sexual assault in a rental property also has the right to terminate a lease without penalty. This right applies to:
- A victim of family violence who has been living with their abuser and who has provided to the landlord a final protective order (under Chapter 85 of the TX Family Code) or a temporary injunction (under Subchapter F, Chapter 6 of the TX Family Code) to stop family violence within a divorce.
Note: A survivor residing with their abuser and protected under this law is not required to provide a 30-day notice. Texas Property Code 92.016
- A victim of family violence who does not live with their abuser (abuser is not a co-tenant or co-occupant of the residence) who has provided to the landlord a temporary ex parte order (under Chapter 83 of the TX Family Code), a final protective order or a temporary injunction. They are also required to provide in writing a 30-days’ notice of termination of the lease to the landlord (Texas Property Code 92.016)
- A victim of sexual assault or parent/guardian of a victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse who was assaulted at their residence or on the premises of the victim’s residence within the previous six months, provided the victim gives 30-days’ notice and documentation of the assault such as; a final PO issued under CCP Ch. 7A, OR Documentation of the assault or abuse from: a licensed health care service provider, a licensed mental health service provider, a victim advocate authorized under Gov. Code Ch. 420 to provide services to victims, to the landlord. (Texas Property Code 92.0161).
- A victim or parent/guardian of a victim of stalking that occurred at home or on the property in the last six months may terminate if the victim delivers one of the forms of documentation required for sexual assault victims, AND a police record documenting the Stalking. (Texas Property Code 92.0161(d)(2)).
30 Day Notice to Vacate Forms
The 30 Day Notices to Vacate below are intended to assist survivors in asserting their rights under the Texas Property Code.
- 30 Day Notice to Vacate for Victim of Family Violence (English and Spanish)
- 30 Day Notice to Vacate for Victim of Sexual Assault (English and Spanish)
- 30 Day Notice to Vacate for Victim of Stalking (English and Spanish)
The following housing protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual abuse of a child, dating violence and stalking were enacted through the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 and apply to federally funded “covered housing programs”. Public housing authorities, owners and managers of participating in the covered housing programs must comply with VAWA 2013.
- Housing Provisions 42 U.S.C.A. § 14043e-11(a)(3), 42 U.S.C.A. § 13925(a)(8), (a)(9),
(a)(10), (a) (29) – The housing protections listed below were enacted through the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization of 2005 & 2013 and apply to all federally administer covered public housing programs and protects victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and affiliated individuals.
- Eviction Protection 42 U.S.C.A. § 14043e-11(b)(1), (b)(2) – Criminal activity relating to domestic violence, dating violence and stalking does not constitute grounds for terminating a victim’s tenancy. Victims of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking cannot be evicted because of incidents of actual or threatened violence. Further, victims of domestic violence, dating violence or stalking cannot have their housing assistance terminated based on their status as victims unless there is an actual or imminent threat to other tenants or employees.
- Consistency with Court Orders 42 U.S.C.A. § 14043e-11(b)(3)(C)(i) – PHAs, owners and managers must honor court orders addressing a survivor’s access to or control of property, such as civil protection orders and orders concerning the distribution or possession of property.
- Ability to Bifurcate Leases 42 U.S.C.A. § 14043e-11(b)(3)(B)(i),(B)(ii) – PHAs and Section 8 landlords may evict, remove or terminate the assistance of the offender while allowing the victim who is the tenant or lawful occupant to remain.
- Portability 42 U.S.C.A. § 1437f(r)(5) – Victims of domestic violence, dating violence or stalking using the Section 8 voucher can transfer their voucher to another jurisdiction if safety is a concern, even if moving would otherwise terminate their lease. Public housing residents can request an emergency transfer to another PHA not within the same jurisdiction.
- Emergency Transfer Plan: 42 U.S.C.A. § 14043e-11(e), (f) – VAWA 2013 includes a new provision mandating that each federal agency adopt a model emergency transfer plan to be used by PHAs and owners or managers of housing assisted under covered housing programs. This transfer plan must allow survivor tenants to transfer to another available and safe dwelling unit assisted under a covered housing program if they (1) requests the transfer and (2) reasonably believe that they are threatened with imminent harm from further violence if they remain in the dwelling.
- Confidentiality 42 U.S.C.A. § 14043e-11(c)(4) – PHAs, landlords and managers must maintain the confidentiality of any information or documents of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking.
- Notification 42 U.S.C.A. § 14043e-11(d), (2)(D) – HUD must develop a notice of VAWA housing rights (“HUD notice”), which includes the right of confidentiality, for applicants and tenants. Additionally, PHAs, owners and managers must provide the HUD notice and an agency-approved, self-certification form to applicants and tenants. The HUD notice must be available in multiple languages.
Tools & Information
Survivors asserting their VAWA protections as a qualified tenant, participant, applicant, and or affiliated individual may be requested to provide documentation of the victimization to the public housing authority, owner, and or manager of participating in the covered housing programs. Survivors may provide one of the following forms of documentation to demonstrate victimization;
- HUD Form 50066 Self-Certification Form
- Police, Court or Administrative Record including; federal, state, tribal, territorial, or local entity or administrative records
- Statement from Third Party; including a victim service provider, medical professional, mental health professional or attorney. This statement must be signed by the third party under penalty of perjury.
By submitting one of the above listed forms of documentation the survivor meets the requirements under VAWA (§ 5.2007(b)) and the PHA, owner or manager may not require additional evidence from the Victim.
Financial Education Curriculums
- The Allstate Foundation: Moving Ahead Through Financial Management– This resource is free and covers the following topics: Surviving Financial Abuse, Learning Financial Basics, Budgeting Your Money, Saving and Investing, Understanding Your Credit, Repairing Your Credit, Renting an Apartment, Applying for Loans, Buying a Home, Buying a Car, Understanding Insurance, Building a Future
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) MoneySmart– Create a login to access this free training material
- Redevelopment Opportunities for Women (ROW) REAP Realizing Your Economic Plan: An Economic Education Curriculum for Women Experiencing Domestic Violence– $150.00 per curriculum
Cost of Living Plans / Budgeting
- Budgeting and Debt Prioritization: Safety and Self-determination for Survivors (CSAJ)
- Prioritizing Your Expenses (CSAJ)
- Prioritizing Debts for Survivors of Domestic Violence (CSAJ)
Debt collection & defense
Payday Lending & Auto Title Loans
- Reshaping the Future of Small Dollar Lending in Texas: Alternatives to High-Cost Payday & Auto Title Loans
- Texas Appleseed Publications
- Helping Domestic Violence Survivors Build Assets (IDA Toolkit)
- Assets for Independence (AFI) – Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)
- Find an AFI grantee in your area
Asset Building Organizations
As one of four organizations selected to participate in the national pilot project; Building Partnerships for Economic Justice, TCFV and the Center for Survivor Agency and Justice (CSAJ) continue their collaborative efforts. The Building Partnerships for Economic Justice Pilot Projects, has enhanced TCFV’s economic and consumer rights work for domestic violence survivors.
Survivors experience a wide range of consumer rights issues including; credit reporting law, Federal Tax, Debt Collection Defense, Foreclosure and Eviction Defense, and employment discrimination, identity theft. Consumer law education and tools can provide advocates a general overview of common consumer rights issues and offer advocacy tips to help survivors. To learn more visit the CSAJ website or review the Consumer Rights Screening Tool for Domestic Violence Survivors.
Survivors who must leave their job to protect themselves from family violence or stalking, or sexual assault against themselves or an immediate family member, are eligible for unemployment compensation if they show:
- An active or recently issued protective order documenting the occurrence of or potential for family violence or stalking against the employee, or sexual assault against the employee or immediate family member, OR
- A police record documenting family violence or stalking against the employee, or sexual assault against the employee or immediate family member, OR
- A physician’s statement or other medical documentation of family violence against the employee, or sexual assault against the employee or immediate family member, OR
- Written documentation from a family violence center or rape crisis center describing the family violence or sexual assault.
None of the above information may be disclosed to any person without the consent of the employee. Individuals may apply for unemployment insurance through the Texas Workforce by going to www.twc.state.tx.us or by calling (800)939-6631 / 1-800-735-2989 (TDD).
Tax education and advocacy a critical strategy to helping survivors maximize financial assistance available through the federal tax code. Knowing how to accurately recognize specific tax provisions available for survivors can play a pivotal role in translating tax refunds into short and long term assets. Additionally, establishing effective collaborations with tax experts is critical to ensuring survivors have access to professionals who specialize in the topic. Learn more about: available tax relief available to survivors, approaches for effective collaborations, and integrating asset building strategies into tax advocacy via our tax webinars.
Federal Tax Information & Credits
Various tax credits and protections are potentially available to survivors and others. Individuals may receive refunds for returns filed within three years of the due date.
- Earned Income Tax Credit: A tax credit available to lower-income, working individuals who meet income guidelines and additional eligibility requirements (though the credit is available to individuals without children, the credit increases with the number of eligible children). The Earned Income Tax Credit can mean thousands of dollars refunded to a family.
- Child Tax Credit: A tax credit that may be up to $1000 per qualifying dependent child, subject to income and other eligibility requirements. The Additional Child Tax Credit also may be available, depending on eligibility.
- Child and Dependent Care Credit: A credit available to people who, in order to work or to look for work, have to pay for child care services for qualifying dependents under age 13. The credit also is available for those who pay for the care of a spouse or a dependent of any age who lived with them for more than half of the year and is physically or mentally incapable of self-care. The credit is a percentage, based on adjusted gross income, of the expenses paid for child and dependent care.
Innocent Spouse Relief
Relief from tax liability, penalties and interest available to spouses who signed joint returns and are now being held responsible for taxes or income of which they were unaware.
*NOTE: By law, the IRS must contact your spouse or former spouse. There are no exceptions, even for victims of family violence. However, to protect your privacy, the IRS will not disclose your personal information (for example, your current name, address, phone number(s), information about your employer, your income or assets or any other information that does not relate to making a determination about your request for relief from liability. Additional information about this relief is available via the IRS in the Innocent Spouse Relief publication 971.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs offer free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individual. Identifying local VITA sites and establishing collaborations with these vital organizations can aid survivors in accessing free reputable tax assistance; click here to locate a local VITA site
Free Tax Help
- IRS free tax help through irs.gov or by calling 800-829-1040
- The Taxpayer Advocate Service at 1-877-777-4778
- Texas Taxpayer Assistance Project TRLA