Exemptions to IHSS overtime rules

CDSS has issued instructions for exemptions from the new IHSS overtime rules. Instructions about these rules are in CDSS ACL 16-01. There are two exemptions from these rules for IHSS providers. An IHSS provider who, on or before January 31, 2016, is providing services to two or more live-in family member, can work up to 12 hours per day or 90 hours per week, not to exceed 360 hours per month. The criteria for this exemption are: 1) The provider works for two or more IHSS recipients, 2) The provider lives in the same home as all of the IHSS recipients for whom services are provided and 3) The provider is related to all of the IHSS recipients for whom services are provided as parent, adoptive parent, step-parent, grandparent or legal guardian. This exemption does not apply to providers who do not meet these criteria prior to February 1, 2016.

This exemption does not change the rules regarding minor IHSS recipients living in two parent households. However, a non-parent provider can provide IHSS for any remaining hours that cannot be provided by the parent provider who is limited to 360 hours per month.

There is also an exemption for extraordinary circumstances which place the IHSS recipient at imminent risk of institutionalization. A potential example is where no other caregiver who speaks the recipients primary language can be located in the community. These exemptions will only be granted on a case by case basis. CDSS will issue another ACL with criteria and requirements for the extraordinary circumstances exemption.  ACL 16-07 (January 21, 2016).

CalWORKs and CalFresh file access rules

CDSS has issued instructions about access to county welfare department case files for CalWORKs, CalFresh, Trafficking and Crime Victim’s Assistance Program and Refugee Cash Assistance. The general rule is the client may inspect non-privileged, non-confidential documents in their case record, including the entire case narrative. Clients are not required to state why they want to inspect their case file. The only questions the county can ask are questions necessary to assist in identifying the information the client wants. The county cannot require a Public Records Act request for the client to see their case file.

Clients must be able to access their case file regardless of whether the file is maintained in paper or electronically, including documents stored separately from the county consortia automated systems. Documents can be provided by hard copy, read only access to systems with a hard copy of any requested documents, or by a pdf file. The county must provide if the client so requests.

If the client’s request includes documents that the county deems to be privileged or confidential, the county should redact the privileged or confidential information and provide the redacted documents to the client. If the documents cannot be redacted, the entire document can be withheld. Examples of potentially privileged or confidential information include whereabouts of an absent parent, child protective services information, and information about minor’s consent services. Medical records are also privileged, but as the holder of the privilege clients have access to their own medical records that are in the case file. The identity of an informant is also privileged, but must be disclosed if the informant will testify at a hearing.

If a document is redacted or withheld pursuant to a claim of privilege or confidentiality, the county must use the Response to Request to Inspect Case Record form to inform the client that documents are being withheld and why. CDSS recommends that counties establish an informal dispute resolution process to resolve these disputes. Case file access disputes can also be raised during administrative hearings.

For an administrative hearing, the county must allow a claimant to examine their case record during normal business hours. The county must provide the claimant with any and all information that can assist the claimant in preparing for the hearing. The county cannot charge for copies of CalFresh documents. For CalWORKs documents, the county can copy requested documents without charge or for a charge related to the cost of copying.

Claimants are entitled to access to fraud investigation files when the county has taken an administrative action based on the fraud investigation and the claimant has requested a hearing to challenge that action. The claimant can examine relevant, non-privileged, non-confidential documents from the fraud investigation file that the county used in making its decision to take the administrative action that is the subject of the hearing. ACL 16-02 (January 20, 2016).

IHSS provider wage rules

CDSS has issued instructions about implementing IHSS overtime, travel time and waiting time rules effective February 1, 2016. These rules will be in effect because of the decision in Home Care Association of America v. Weil, 799 F.3d 1084 (D.C. Cir. 2015) which upheld the United States Department of Labor regulations applying the Fair Labor Standards Act to domestic workers who work for third parties. Please note that this may change because a petition for certiorari is pending in the United States Supreme Court.

Providers will be entitled to overtime (time and one-half) for time worked over 40 hours per week. A single provider for a single recipient will be able work the maximum number of hours authorized for the recipient. The weekly number of authorized hours will be the number of monthly hours divided by four. For multiple providers for a single recipient, the weekly number of hours can be divided in any manner among the providers. For a single provider working for multiple recipients, the provider will be limited to working a total of 66 hours per week. Counties will be sending informing notices that include the weekly authorized hours.

The recipient may authorize the provider to work more than the maximum weekly hours without county approval if 1) the adjustment does not result in the provider working more than a 40 hour week when the recipient is authorized for 40 hours or less per week, and 2) does not result in the provider receiving more overtime hours than normally worked during the month, and 3) does not result in the provider working more than 66 hours in a week for multiple providers.

If the recipient needs the provider to work more than the maximum weekly hours and the work performed does not meet these criteria, the recipient must contact the county to request an exception to allow the provider to work additional overtime hours. Counties should grant exceptions when the additional hours are 1) necessary to meet an unanticipated need, 2) the additional hours are related to an immediate need that cannot be postponed until a back-up provider arrives and 3) the additional time is needed to ensure the recipient’s health or safety. The recipient will be sent a notice granting or denying the exception request.

The county can adjust weekly hours when it becomes aware of a known or recurring or periodic need that requires an adjustment in hours to cover. The county will send written notice of such an adjustment.

Providers who work for multiple recipients will be entitled to time traveling between the two recipients up to seven hours per week. Travel time does not count toward the maximum 66 hours per week for providers working for multiple recipients.

Providers will be entitled to on duty waiting time, that is time not actively performing services but the provider cannot effectively use the time for their own purposes because the time is unpredictable and of unknown duration. Providers will not be entitled to waiting time if the provider is informed in advance that they will be relieved of performing work duties for a specified period of time during which they can engage in personal business.

Providers must submit a new Provider Enrollment Agreement (SOC 846) no later than April 15, 2016 or be terminated from the program effective May 1, 2016. If the Agreement is submitted by June 1, 2016, the provider can be retroactively reinstated. If the Agreement is submitted after June 1, 2016, the provider can be reinstated but will not receive back pay.

CDSS has created the IHSS Program Recipient and Provider Workweek Agreement forms to assist providers who assist multiple recipients in apportioning their hours. Counties must have a process for assisting with these forms.

CDSS has also created a penalty system for providers who do not follow the overtime rules that will become effective on May 1, 2016. CDSS will issue another All County Letter discussing the penalty system. ACL 16-01 (January 7, 2016).

2015 Child Support Legislation

DCSS has issued information about new child support legislation. Two of these bills are noteworthy. AB 610 authorizes administrative suspension of child support orders due against incarcerated or other involuntarily institutionalized obligors and adjustment of arrears to zero for these obligors if there is no objection from either parent. If there is an objection, the issue is heard in court. This bill is effective October 9, 2016

SB 646 adopts the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act of 2008 (UIFSA) as California law effective January 1, 2016. This is required by federal law. SB 646 also adopts the 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance as California law. The Hague Convention establishes uniform procedures for processing international child support cases. CSSIN 15-01 (12/22/15).

2016 CalWORKs IRT

The CalWORKs Income Reporting Threshold (IRT) is the income amount which CalWORKs recipients are required to report mid-period. The CalWORKS IRT is the lower of 1) 55% of the Federal Poverty Level plus the amount of income used to calculate the assistance unit’s current grant or 2) the amount of income likely to make the assistance unit ineligible for CalWORKs.

CDSS issued a chart of the IRT levels effective October 1, 2015. Counties are required to notify each assistance unit of their new IRT level.

CDSS also reminded counties that, upon reporting of income over the IRT, the county must determine if that income is reasonably anticipated to continue. If the income over IRT is reasonably anticipated to continue, the county recalculates the grant amount based on the new reasonably anticipated income. ACL 15-75 (10/1/15).

CalWORKs learning disability screening

CDSS issued new forms for learning disability screening and waiver of learning disability screening and evaluation. CDSS also issued rules about using these forms. Counties must offer learning disability screening both verbally and in writing. Counties must provide all information about learning disability screening before discussing waiver and cannot offer or require WTW participants to sign a waiver in lieu of offering learning disability screening or referral for evaluation.

Counties must provide learning disability screening to all WTW participants who request it. If screening is not available in the participant’s primary language, the participant may request referral for an evaluation.

If the participant has a previous learning disability evaluation, the county must decide whether to accept it. If the county accepts the prior evaluation, the participant signs a waiver of a new screening. If the county does not accept it, the county must offer a new screening, and the participant can accept the new screening, waive screening, or request a hearing to challenge the county’s decision not to accept the prior evaluation. ACL 15-101 (12/18/15).