Residency for CalFresh

CDSS has issued guidance on determining residency for purposes of CalFresh eligibility. CDSS states that counties cannot have a durational residency requirement, cannot require a fixed mailing address, and cannot require intent to permanently reside in the county as conditions of CalFresh eligibility.   Temporary absence from a county when there is an intent to return should not affect CalFresh eligibility or require an inter-county transfer.

“Whereabouts unknown” is not a permissible reason to terminate CalFresh benefits. If mail is returned as undeliverable, counties should send a request for information form to the last known address, if that form is not returned within 10 days, the county can terminate benefits.

Semi-annual reporting households are only required to report address changes when submitting a semi-annual report or at annual recertification. Change reporting households must report address changes within 10 days.

An overissuance cannot be established solely because a client accesses benefits in another county or state or is temporarily located in another county or state.  ACL 15-91 (11/3/15).

End of CalFresh change reporting

Currently, migrant and seasonal worker households, homeless household and households in which all adults are elderly or disabled are subject to change reporting, that is reporting all changes in household income or composition within 10 days. SB 79 Sections 54 and 55 require the elimination of change reporting and converting all households to semi-annual reporting by January 2017.

CDSS has issused instructions about transitioning these households to semi-annual reporting. CDSS states that counties that use the CalWIN computer system will convert on June 1, 2016 and counties that use the C-IV and LEADER computer systems will convert on July 1, 2016. CDSS will sent information notices to all effected households six months and three months before the change. In addition, CDSS directed counties to find good cause for late submission of a semi-annual report for twelve months after the change to semi-annual reporting occurs if the report is submitted in the first month after it is due.  ACL 15-90 (10/30/15).

CalFresh COLA

CDSS has issued the CalFresh cost of living increase for Federal Fiscal Year 2016. Effective October 1, 2015, the maximum CalFresh grants increases to $194 per month for a one person household with similar increases for larger households. The maximum shelter deduction increases to $504. The standard deduction increases to $155 for a one to three person household with similar increases for larger households. The standard utility allowance increases to $385, the limited utility allowance increases to $118 and the telephone utility allowance decreases to $19.

CDSS included a chart of new income eligibility standards, maximum allotments, and deductions. ACIN I-75-15 (9/4/15).

CalFresh fleeing felon and probation violation rules

CDSS has issued new rules about when persons can be disqualified from CalFresh for being a fleeing felon violating a condition of probation and parole. These rules comply with new federal regulations issued at 80 Fed. Reg. 54410. To be considered a fleeing felon and ineligible for CalFresh, a person must have a warrant issued for their arrest that is under the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) code for escape, flight to avoid prosecution or flight-escape. Only warrants with one of those three NCIC codes are a reason to deny or terminate CalFresh benefits.

To be considered violating a condition of probation or parole and be ineligible for CalFresh, there must be a judicial determination that the individual violated a condition of probation or parole. Issuance of a warrant for a violation of probation or parole by itself is not a reason to deny or terminate CalFresh benefits.

In addition, local law enforcement must be actively seeking the individual to enforce a condition of probation or parole. To determine whether law enforcement is actively seeking an individual, the county must contact local law enforcement and ask whether they intend to enforce violation of probation or parole within 30 days. If the answer is no, then the individual is not considered a probation or parole violator. If the answer is yes, the case is held for 30 days to find out if local law enforcement takes action to enforce the probation or parole violation. If no action is taken in 30 days, the individual is not consider a probation or parole violator.

The new rules are effective December 1, 2015. ACL 15-82 (10/14/15).

CalFresh student eligibility

AB 1930 required CDSS to identify and verify participation in programs that are exempt from the rule that students are generally ineligible for CalFresh. CDSS has identified that students enrolled in either a Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program or Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) program are eligible for CalFresh. CDSS states it is developing a form to verify enrollment in these programs and is continuing to work on identifying other educational programs that are exempt from the CalFresh student rules. ACL 15-70 (9/17/15).

Drought relief programs

CDSS has issued information about drought relief programs. One such program is the Drought Food Assistance Program that provides low income individuals and families with three to five days of food if they live in one of 29 designated counties and are unemployed or underemployed as a result of the drought. Households self-certify and agree that the food received is for personal home use only. The food boxes are distributed by local food banks. Another program is the Drought Water Assistance Program to assist low income households with residential water utility bills in 10 counties. CDSS also distributed a brochure about drought relief programs. ACIN I-62-15 (7/22/15).