In obtaining collateral verification of the claimant’s eligibility when appropriate as specified in the Verification section of each categorical chapter, the worker should discuss only that information which specifically relates to obtaining the necessary collateral verification and only after the collateral has been determined qualified. Do not discuss the claimant’s protected health information with the collateral.
Collateral verification is defined as:
- a written; or
- oral statement; from any person, other than the claimant or member of the group:
- who has knowledge of the circumstance of the claimant, with respect to an eligibility factor which is being verified; and
- whose information proves or helps to prove that the claimant meets or does not meet an eligibility requirement. This definition may include:
- members of the staff when they can qualify;
- a relative, only when no other collateral is available; and
- “In-the-home” collateral, if they are not considered part of the assistance group and if in the worker’s judgment no other collateral is available.
Selecting qualified collaterals involves evaluating:
- what information is needed;
- who can best supply that information; and
- why the information is needed.
Example: The claimant had recently moved to the community; residing in his/her aunt’s home; on a rental basis. (S)he states they do not yet know anyone who could serve as a collateral for them. It would then become the worker’s responsibility to determine if the Claimant’s aunt would be a qualified collateral.
The worker would do this based upon:
- the data the claimant has supplied;
- consideration of the specific areas being explored;
- the worker’s observations;
- past experience, in the same or similar situations; and
- by exercising common sense or sound practical judgment.
In some cases, and for some eligibility factors, the worker processing the case or other members of the staff may have the necessary information and thereby serve as a collateral on the case. When this is done, the worker must follow the procedures outlined in any collateral situation.
Verification by collateral meets requirements only when the caseworker believes that the collateral has either general or specific knowledge applicable to the point in question. His/her reason for knowing may be by virtue of his/her position, e.g., a current employer who knows the client’s financial and household status.
The worker must evaluate the information and the basis for the information (s)he receives from the collateral and make a decision regarding its validity.