CalFresh ABAWD Handbook 2.0

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued version 2.0 of the CalFresh Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) Handbook.  Federal law limits Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (CalFresh in California) benefits to 3 months in a 36 month period for ABAWDs unless a waiver applies.  The handbook includes a general overview of the ABAWD time limit, guidance on ABAWD exemptions, and how ABAWDs subject to the time limit may satisfy the ABAWD work requirement.  The handbook also addresses counting months of ABAWD participation, losing and regaining CalFresh eligibility, and the system California uses to track an ABAWD’s eligibility and participation through the 36-month period.  (ACL 19-93, September 12, 2019.)

CalFresh ABAWD waiver

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding the new federal waiver of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Able Bodied Adults Without Dependants (ABAWD) time limit.  The new waiver is effective September 1, 2019 through August 31, 2020.  52 counties qualify for waiver of the ABAWD three month time limit.  Six counties must implement the ABAWD time limit: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara.

Counties with a waiver must continue to report work registrant, ABAWD, and Employment and Training data quarterly. Counties with a waiver must continue to sanction CalFresh work registrants who voluntarily quit a job of 30 or more hours per week or which provides earnings equivalent to federal minimum wage times 30, or who reduce weekly hours worked to less than 30.

Individuals who were previously discontinued for failure to satisfy ABAWD work requirements and subsequently reapply for CalFresh in a county with a waiver are eligible for benefits. CalFresh Employment and Training, and voluntary quit sanctions, do not stop when an individual moves to a county with an ABAWD time limit waiver.  (ACL 19-96, September 20, 2019.)

Immediate and continuous child care eligibility

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued directions implementing immediate and continuous child care eligibility.  Effective October 1, 2019, counties must approve child care concurrently with CalWORKs cash aid and authorize child care for 12 months or until CalWORKs recipients are transferred to Stage Two.  Child care shall be authorized full time, that is 30 or more hours per week, unless the recipient requests part-time care.

Stage One recipients no longer need to recertify child care eligibility more than once every 12 months unless child are needs increase, they have a new child who needs care, they have changed child care providers or the eligible child becomes ineligible.

Once a family is determined eligible for CalWORKs they will receive a 12-month Stage One Child care authorization except for families with no aided adults, and newly approved recipients who are exempt from welfare-to-work and do not indicate a desire to voluntarily participate.  Exempt recipients who declare an intent to participate and sign a welfare-to-work plan will be eligible for immediate and continuous child care.

If a mandatory welfare-to-work participant stops participating in their activity, child care services continue for the remainder of the authorization period or until child care authorization is discontinued.  Parents sanctioned after being authorized for child care shall remain eligible until the 12-month period is concluded or they are transferred to Stage 2.  Parents sanctioned before October 1, 2019 who received CalWORKs in the last 24-months are eligible for State Two. Sanctioned parents who indicate an intent to cure their sanction are eligible for immediate and continuous child care effective at the time they communicate their intent to cure.

Recipients with a domestic violence waiver remain eligible for continuous child care regardless of their welfare-to-work participation.

Immediate and continuous child care eligibility will not be granted to two parent families in which one parent is able and available to provide child care.

Counties must verify that suitable child care has been authorized and secured before mandating participation in any activities.  Counties must provide written notice that participants have 30 days to confirm that child care has been secured before participation is mandatory.  The notice should include information about how to get help finding child care.  If the county has not been informed that child care has been secured after 15 days, the county must contact the participant to help secure child care.

License exempt providers who are not exempt from TrustLine must complete registration prior to being paid.  Once TrustLine registration has occurred, the provider can receive retroactive payments for up to 120 days from the date CalWORKs services were requested or services provided, whichever is later.

Immediate and continuous child care can be discontinued only if the recipient is transferred to Stage Two and the county receives confirmation of Stage Two enrollment, the participant exceeds income eligibility of 85% of the state median income for their family size, or if an exempt participate initially volunteers but later decides not to participate and does not sign a welfare-to-work plan.

When determining eligibility for diversion services instead of CalWORKs, counties must consider the adequacy of the applicant’s child care arrangements.  Stage Two child care can be provided to diversion recipients when a funded Stage Three space is not immediately available.

Counties must provide written notice of availability of child care several times throughout their time on CalWORKs.

Stage One must continue until confirmation is received from the Stage Two administrator that child care is provided in Stage Two unless a family is otherwise ineligible.  Practices to improve the transfer process between Stage One and Stage Two include ongoing communication between the Stage One and Stage Two administrators, confirmation of transfer before Stage One is discontinued, and transferring data elements.  The case is transferred to Stage Two when the Stage Two contractor received all nine data elements from the county welfare department or Stage One administrator and has notified the transferring contractor in writing or by email that the nine data elements are complete.

Beginning no later than January 1, 2021, county welfare departments shall provide limited, read-only, online access to SAWS systems including a single summary page that contains current data needed to enroll a family in CalWORKs child care or transfer a family between stages.

Beginning no later than January 1, 2021, county welfare departments must provide Stage Two contractors a monthly report of all families for which the parent’s cash aid has been discontinued, the parent has not received aid in the last 30 days and the parent has children in the home who are potentially eligible for child care.  (ACL 19-99, October 4, 2019.)

Social Security disability evaluation of cases involving primary headache disorders

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has issued a new Ruling about evaluating disability cases involving primary headache disorder.

Primary headache disorders are a collection of chronic headache illnesses characterized by repeated exacerbations of overactivity or dysfunction of pain-sensitive structures in the head. Examples include migranes, tension headaches and trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias.  They are typically severe enough to require prescribed medication and sometime warrant emergency department visits.  Physicians diagnose primary headache disorder only after excluding alternative medical and psychiatric causes of the symptoms, and after review of the full medical and headache history and conducting a physical and neurological examination.  The International Diagnosis of Headache Disorders -3 criteria are used to as diagnostic criteria and are included in the Ruling.

A diagnosis or statement of symptoms is insufficient to establish primary headache disorder as a medically determinable impairment.  To establish primary headache disorder as a medically determinable impairment, there must be consideration of the following findings by an acceptable medical source:

— A primary headache disorder diagnosis which must document review of medical history, a physical examination, and excluding alternative medical or psychiatric causes.

— An observation of a typical headache event by the acceptable medical source.  In the absence of such direct observation, Social Security can consider a third party observation of a typical headache event.

— Remarkable or unremarkable findings on laboratory tests. Social Security will not purchase tests related to headaches or allegations of headaches.

— Response to treatment.  Evidence documenting ongoing headaches that persist despite treatment may constitute medical signs to help establish a medically determinable impairment.

Although primary headache disorder is not a listed impairment, it can, alone or in combination with other impairments, medically equal a listing.  Epilepsy (listing 11.02) if the most closely analogous listed impairment to primary headache disorder.

If primary headache disorder does not medically equal a listed impairment, Social Security assesses residual functional capacity.   For example, symptoms such as photophobia may cause difficulty sustaining attention and concentration.  (SSR 19-04p, August 26, 2019.)

Posted in SSI

Additions to Resource Family Approval program

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has provided information about additions to the Resource Family Approval (RFA) program made by AB 1930.  The RFA program created a new approval process for foster family homes, relative and non-relative extended family members interested in caring for children in foster care.  AB 1930 made three changes to the program.

First, AB 1930 extended the Foster Family Home and Small Family Home Insurance Fund to resource families.  The fund covers claims for bodily or personal injury to foster children during the foster care relationship.  Previously the fund only applied to foster family homes and small family homes.

Second, AB 1930 provides caregiver immunity for any act or omission made by the caregiver when acting as a reasonable and prudent parent, and for any act or omission of a child or nonminor dependant while in the caregiver’s home.  Immunity does not apply when the act exceeded a caregiver’s duty, the act was made with malice or bad faith or was the result of recklessness or gross negligence of the caregiver, the act or omission did not comply with instructions from the county placement agency, and when liability is expressly imposed by another statute.

Finally, AB 1930 created exceptions to confidentiality of the RFA Written Report, including authorizing release to the applicant or resource family, a tribal agency, a county child welfare agency or probation department, CDSS, a licensed foster family agency, a county adoption agency, a licensed adoption agency, or the child welfare agency of a sending state.  (ACL 19-72, August 26, 2019.)

Funding for emergency caregiver placement

Emergency Caregiver Funding for families with whom a child or non-minor dependant has been placed on an emergency basis has been continued.  This funding is also available for placements for a “compelling reason” pending approval as a Resource Family.

In addition, effective July 1, 2019, Emergency Caregiver funding must be paid to an emergency caregiver with whom an Indian child is placed pending approval as a Tribally Approved Home.  A TAH is a home that has been licensed or approved for placement of an Indian child by the Indian child’s tribe, or a tribe or tribal organization designated by the Indian child’s tribe, for foster care or adoptive placement using standards established by the Indian child’s tribe

To initiate funding on or after July 1, 2019, there must be a placement prior to approval in California on an emergency basis, or, for pending Resource Family Approval only, placement for a compelling reason.  Then the emergency caregiver must submit a Resource Family Approval application or initiate the Tribally Approved Home process with the tribe.  Finally, the caregiver must submit an application for emergency assistance.  The beginning date of aid is the date of placement.

Emergency Caregiver funding is available for up to 120 days, or until the emergency caregiver is approved as a Resource Family or Tribally Approved Home, or the child is no longer placed in the home, whichever is first.  (ACL 19-84, September 4, 2019.)