Prior felony drug conviction no longer precludes CalFresh and CalWORKs eligibility

It took nearly two decades for California to lift the statutory prohibition preventing individuals with prior drug felony convictions from qualifying for CalFresh or CalWORKs benefits. But the recent enactment of AB 1468 (2014) did just that. Effective April 1, 2015, no person can be excluded from an assistance unit or otherwise be denied CalFresh or CalWORKs benefits because of a prior felony drug conviction. Two important All County Letters have been issued addressing this change: All County Letter No. 14-100 sets out in detail the rule changes, key implementation dates, applicable forms, as well as what is expected of local county welfare offices to facilitate eligibility and receipt of benefits for individuals previously excluded. There is also the related All County Letter No. 14-92 explaining specific changes made to the CalFresh application form to conform to AB 1468. ACL 14-100 (December 19, 2014); ACL 14-92 (December 22, 2014).

USDA publishes final guidance on Title VI prohibition against discrimination of persons with limited English proficiency

The Office of Civil Rights within the USDA has issued detailed final guidance, including its responses to submitted comments, clarifying the obligations of entities receiving federal financial assistance from USDA (e,g,, the California Department of Social Services, which administers the SNAP/CalFresh program). If you work on language access issues affecting the CalFresh population, this is a must-read, to better understand USDA’s expectations of state agencies “in meeting their existing obligations to provide meaningful access for LEP persons.” 79 Federal Register 70771- 70784.

Process changing for warnings about excessive EBT replacement requests

In response to recent FNS changes in the federal SNAP rules targeting illegal trafficking, the CalFresh program is changing its process for warnings to recipients who make repeated requests for replacement EBT cards. Effective 2015, County Welfare Departments will issue warning letters to any EBT cardholder after the fourth card replacement within any rolling 12-month period. Upon the fifth request, if trafficking is suspected, the County will be required to refer the case to the Special Investigation Unit (SIU).

That said, this ACL recognizes that frequent requests for EBT card replacement may be indicative of non-fraudulent situations, e.g., the recipient’s need for a disability-related reasonable accommodation, simply (although frequently) misplaced cards, or the recipient’s inability to properly use the card. The County is expected to explore these alternate reasons for the repeated requests before making an SIU referral. ACL-14-90.

ACL 14-66: State Utility Assistance Subsidy (SUAS) (9/19/14)

Instructions regarding the new State Utility Assistance Subsidy (SUAS) program. Lists how to cover recipients during the transfer period from LIHEAP Heat and Eat to SUAS.  The SUAS payment ($20.01) is only to be provided to those households who will actually receive additional CalFresh benefits or become eligible for CalFresh as a result of receiving the payment.  [Download]