CalWORKs eligibility for fire victims

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) reminded counties about CalWORKs regulations and policies for processing applications and documents on behalf of disaster victims and evacuees.  Emergency proclamations have been issued for Siskiyou County because of the Lava Fire, for Plumas and Lassen Counties because of the Beckwith Complex Fire, Plumas County because of the Dixie Fire and Fly Fire, Butte and Lassen Counties because of the Fly Fire, and Alpine County because of the Tamarack Fire.

Some evacuees will apply for CalWORKs in disaster counties or counties other than the county in which they live because of disaster related-relocation.  Many evacuees will not have documentation.  If the applicant and the county make a good faith effort to obtain verification of identity, time on aid, and linking and non-linking conditions of CalWORKs eligibility and are unable to contact the evacuees financial institutions or necessary entities or institutions, the county must accept the evacuee’s statement signed under penalty of perjury.

CalWORKs recipients may be eligible for nonrecurring special needs payments because of emergencies such as damage to or loss of shelter because of fires.  Funds can be used to repair or replace clothing or household equipment, to provide assistance for damage to the home or to pay for interim shelter.  Nonrecurring special needs payments are a maximum of $600 for each incident.  An assistance unit is eligible if it has less than $100 in nonexempt liquid resources.

Federal disaster and emergency assistance, and comparable disaster assistance from state or local governments, and disaster assistance organizations, is exempt from consideration as income or resources.

Counties are encouraged to explore diversion eligibility for fire evacuees.

Fire evacuees are in an emergency and should be evaluated for an immediate need payment.

Because of the disaster, some income that evacuees had will no longer have income that can be reasonably anticipated.

Many evacuees will not be able to access, occupy or sell their property.  The county shall consider the ability to access or sell property and make a good faith effort to obtain needed verification or accept a statement signed under penalty of perjury.

A family is considered temporarily absent from their county if they expect to reunite within one calendar month.  Evacuee recipients can maintain a home in a different county if they intend to return to their home county within four months.

Counties should make a Welfare-to-Work good cause determination for evacuees.  Counties are encouraged to exercise flexibility in this regard.  Counties should determine if an applicant or recipient needs barrier removal services such as mental health services, housing support program, or temporary homeless assistance.  For homeless assistance, disaster is an exception to the once-every-12-month limit. (ACWDL, July 22, 2021 and July 26, 2021.)

Dispositional heaing after 18th birthday and extended foster care eligibility

An amendment to AB 748 now allows ​​for a child welfare dispositional hearing to occur for a youth who has turned 18 if the youth was a minor at a jurisdictional hearing prior to his or her 18th birthday and was continuously detained. The youth must provide informed consent for the dispositional hearing to take place. The dispositional hearing shall be held within 30 days of the jurisdictional hearing. 

If the 18 year old is adjudicated as a dependent, the youth shall be treated as if they attained 18 years of age while under an order of foster care placement, which will make them eligible for extended foster care.  If the youth chooses not to remain in extended foster care, the court shall set a hearing for termination of jurisdiction within 30 days.  If jurisdiction is terminated, the nonminor may petition the court to resume dependency jurisdiction at any time before turning age 21. (ACL 21-62, June 16, 2021).

COVID-19 updates to IHSS changes

The California Department of Social Services has provided information about the status of changes to In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) policies because of COVID-19.

Counties should continue to use video-conferencing for IHSS initial assessments when the applicant or someone in the household has been infected with COVID-19, has symptoms of COVID-19, or has been exposed to COVID-19 in the two weeks prior to the initial assessment. Counties may continue to use telephone or videoconferencing for annual reassessments as needed until the end of the State of Emergency in California

Counties may continue to accept self-attestation instead of original signatures on most required forms through September 30, 2021.  Original signatures are required on the SOC 321 for Paramedical Services, the SOC 839 Authorized Representative form, and the SOC 862 Request for Provider Waiver.  Original signatures are required on new forms beginning October 1, 2021.

Counties continue to allow a 45-day good cause extension for submitting the SOC 873 Health Care Certification Form through September 30, 2021.

The current emergency provider backup system for IHSS recipients whose providers cannot work because of COVID-19 is extended to December 31, 2021.

Provider enrollment requirements were waived between April and August, 2021.  Providers who have not yet completed orientation now have until September 30, 2021 to complete orientation.  Provider orientation can be done remotely.

Waiving of presentation and photocopying of original documentation for providers is waived until September 30, 2021.  On or after October 1, 2021, applicant providers must present original documentation verifying identity.

For Quality Assurance/Program Integrity Home Visits, counties should continue to use videoconferencing if when the applicant or someone in the household has been infected with COVID-19, has symptoms of COVID-19, or has been exposed to COVID-19 in the two weeks prior to the initial assessment until the end of the State of Emergency.  (ACL 21-79, July 19, 2021.)

COVID 19 counting of emergency assistance for SSI

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has issued policy guidance regarding counting of COVID-19 emergency assistance as income or resources for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  With this guidance, Social Security is lifting the hold on cases involving unemployment, state stimulus payments, and those with any remaining CARES Act stimulus payments.

The following pandemic related assistance types are excluded as income and resources for SSI:  CARES Act, Consolidated Appropriations Act and American Rescue Plan Act stimulus payments; all regular and pandemic unemployment received during the pandemic period,; Paycheck Protection Act and Loan Forgiveness to Employers and Self-Employed persons; Economic Injury Disaster Program loans and grants to employers and self-employed persons,; Tribal payments from the Coronavirus Relief Fund and Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds; the Golden State Stimulus and Golden State Grant payments; COVID-19 Funeral Assistance; Emergency Rental Assistance Funds; Emergency Assistance for Rural Housing and Rural Rental Assistance; Homeowner Assistance Funds; Housing Assistance and Supportive Services Programs for Native Americans; Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds; Supporting Foster Youth and Families during the Pandemic; COVID-19 Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program; Emergency Assistance to Children and Families through the Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund; Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Direct Payments to Farmers and Ranchers; Farm Loan Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers; and USDA Assistance and Support for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers; Ranchers, Forest Land Owners and Operators and Groups.

For state stimulus payments from Maryland and New Mexico are also excluded as income and resources.  Stimulus payments from other states are evaluated by the Social Security regional office.

Benefits that are counted as income and resources are: Paycheck Protection Program Wage Payments to Employees; Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program Wage Payments to Employees; Hazard Duty Pay; Qualified Disaster Distribution or Use of Retirement Funds; and Paid Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Benefits that are excluded as income or resources for reasons other than being disaster relief are: Temporary Expansion of Child Tax Credit for 2021; Qualified Disaster Loans to Retirement Plan Participants; Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program; Low Income Home Water Assistance Program; Corporation for National and Community Service; and Emergency Broadband Benefit.  (EM-20014 REV 3, July 23, 2021, and EM-21050, July 23, 2021.)

COVID-19 extension of waiver of CalWORKs pregnancy verification, identity verification, interview and signature requirements

The California Department of Social Services has extended waiver of CalWORKs pregnancy verification, identity verification, interview and signature requirements until September 30, 2021 based on Executive Order N-08-21.

For aid to a pregnant person in a family that does not include another child, applicants can submit a sworn statement verifying pregnancy when medical verification of pregnancy cannot be provided.  Applicants who cannot provide either medical verification or a sworn statement can provide verbal attestation and medical verification within 30 days.  If after 30 days the applicant presents evidence of good-faith efforts to obtain and submit medical verification, the county must continue aid.  Pregnancy verification must be provided within 90 days after the California Department of Public Health no longer requires physical distancing.

In general, applicants must present photo identification in person before aid can be granted.  A sworn affidavit is acceptable but individuals must present photo identification within 30 days for aid to continue.  If county offices are closed because of COVID-19, aid will continue until the applicant can submit photo identification in person without needing to present evidence of good faith efforts to obtain or submit photo identification.   Applicants will be asked to submit photo identification electronically and to present photo identification in person within 90 days after the California Department of Public Health no longer requires physical distancing.

The requirement for signatures on the CalWORKs application and Rights and Responsibilities form is waived.  When a telephonic or electronic signature is unavailable, the county can document verbal attestation in the case file.  Following verbal attestation, the county must mail the Statement of Facts to the client to be returned via U.S. Mail within 30 working days.  If the applicant presents evidence of good faith efforts to submit the wet signature by mail, the county must continue aid.

The requirement for an interview for applicants is suspended for applicants whose identity has been verified and who have submitted all required verification.  This includes requests for immediate need.

Counties are reminded that when verification does not exist a sworn statement is adequate.  Counties cannot deny applications for failure to provide evidence if the county determines that the applicant is making a good faith effort.

These rules also apply to Refugee Cash Assistance, Entrant Cash Assistance and Trafficking and Crimes Victims Assistance Program.  (ACWDL, July 22, 2021.)

Family Fee Waivers for Child Care and Development programs

Family fees will be waived for all Child Care and Development Programs administered by the California Department of Social Services from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. receiving subsidized child care services. Fees will be waived for a period approved by the Federal Administration for Children and Families, during which contractors shall reimburse the subsidized child care providers for the full amount of the voucher without deducting family fees. Families should not be terminated due to outstanding fees owed for the 2021-22 fiscal year or while repayment plans are on hold. Families disenrolled due to delinquent family fees when family fees are waived may be reinstated. Additionally, contractors must record both collected and waived family fees. (CCB 21-01, July 1, 2021).