Advising CalFresh Work Registrants of Employment Services

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding a new federal requirement for County Welfare Departments to inform all CalFresh work registrants (individuals subject to the general CalFresh work requirements) with no earned income of local employment services, including but not limited to CalFresh Employment and Training (E & T). This requirement is effective immediately.

Work registrants are required to register for work every twelve months, provide information to determine employment status, report to an employer when referred by the county welfare department, accept a bona fide offer of suitable employment, and not voluntarily quit a job of 30 hours or more a week or reduce work hours to fewer than 30 hours a week. There is currently no mandatory CalFresh E&T required of work registrants n California.

The county welfare department is responsible for the work registration process and must determine which individuals in the household are work registrants and note this information in the case record. CalFresh recipients are not required to take additional steps in the application or recertification process to complete the work registration process.

All CalFresh recipients are subject to work registration unless they qualify for an exemption. If an individual no longer qualifies for an exemption from work registration, they must be registered for work when reported. (ACL 20-10, February 6, 2020.)

CalFresh Student Eligibility Handbook

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has released its CalFresh Student Eligibility Handbook.  The Handbook provides guidance regarding student eligibility for CalFresh including definition of a student, income exclusions for students, exceptions from the general rule that students are not eligible for CalFresh, programs to increase employability which in qualifies a student for an exemption from the student eligibility rule, and verification procedures.  (ACL 20-08, February 12, 2020.)

IHSS timesheet signature authorization requirements

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued information regarding the timesheet signature authorization requirement.  An IHSS recipient or their legal representative can designate an authorized representative to sign a provider’s timesheet on their behalf.  For this purpose, a legal representative is a court-appointed guardian or conservator, or for a recipient who is a minor, the parent or other individual who is the legally authorized decision maker for the minor.

To do so, the recipient or their legal representative must complete the SOC 839 Form Part C.  Upon receipt of the SOC 839 form, the county must enter the timesheet signatory information into the CMIPS computer system.  (ACL 19-115, December 17, 2019.)

CalWORKs Mandatory Inclusion

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has clarification regarding mandatory inclusion rules for determining the CalWORKs Assistance Unit (AU).  Mandatory inclusion means that a parent, sibling or half-sibling be included in the filing unit, that is the group of people that must be included in the CalWORKs application.  Optional persons must also be included in the statement of facts when aid is requested for them and they are living in the home of the applicant child.

Mandatory inclusion also means that an eligible parent, sibling or half-sibling must be included in the AU with applicant or eligible child.  A CalWORKs eligible child must be both deprived and needy, meaning the child meets both linking and non-linking eligibility factors.  Linking factors are single conditions that link an applicant to eligibility.  The linking factors for CalWORKs are blindness and deprivation of parental care or support.  Non-linking eligibility factors establish whether an individual is entitled to assistance.  The non-linking factors for CalWORKs are age, property, residence, financial status and institutional status.

In practice, this means that a sibling or half-sibling of the applicant or eligible child who is not eligible for CalWORKs because of their income is not mandatory included in the CalWORKs AU.  CDSS provides several examples to illustrate this.

Circumstances may change over time and this may result in a different AU composition mid-period, at semi-annual reporting or at annual redetermination.  When the AU reports income over the Income Reporting Threshold in any month except the last month of the payment period, the county must determine if the reported income is reasonably anticipated to continue.  If it is, the CalWORKs grant is recalculated based on the AU’s new income and the grant is lowered or terminated accordingly.  If the income reported is not reasonably anticipated to continue, the report will not affect ongoing benefits for the payment period.

When income over the Income Reporting Threshold is reported in the last month of the payment period and is reasonably anticipated to continue, the county uses that information to determine eligibility and grant amount for the next payment period.  If the new income will make the AU ineligible, the county must determine if eligibility exists for any members of the current AU and if so change the AU composition accordingly.  (ACIN I-03-20, January 16, 2020.)

IHSS Electronic Visit Verification

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued information about implementation of Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) for In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) providers.  States are required to implement EVV for personal care services and home health programs no later than January 1, 2020.  California received an extension to January 1, 2021 to implement.

CDSS chose to modify the existing Electronic Services Portal and Telephone Timesheet System to allow providers to submit and recipients to verify and approve EVV information.  To do this, CDSS added start time, end time and location fields to the Electronic Services Portal and added functionality to the Telephone Timesheet System.

Los Angeles County piloted the EVV system beginning on July 1, 2019.  Statewide implementation began in January 2020.  The state is divided into five waves.  Each waive will have a two-month roll-out.  Two months prior to each wave, CDSS will send notices to all providers and recipients in the affected counties.  Providers and recipients will receive another notice one month prior to their implementation date.

Counties can hold CDSS-supported information sessions for providers and recipients.  CDSS has been hosting webinars for providers and recipients and will continue to do so until implementation is complete.  Recipients and providers will also be able to call the IHSS Help Desk for assistance.

Counties will be able to defer provider and recipient enrollment if the provider needs to complete  specific activities to enroll such as establishing internet connectivity or identifying a time sheet signatory.

Exceptions from EVV can be granted for recipients if they have no access to landline or internet two times per month or they have a disability verified by a medical doctor that prevents them from using EVV and there is no one available to act as the recipient’s timesheet signatory.   (ACL 20-04, January 6, 2020.)

Changes to CalWORKs Homeless Assistance

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding changes to the CalWORKs Homeless Assistance program.  16 days of temporary homeless assistance no longer needs to be used consecutively.  Families will be able to receive 16 days of Homeless Assistance cumulative in a 12-month period.  The 16 days of temporary Homeless Assistance will not be exhausted until all 16 days are used, the family resolves their homelessness or 12 months have passed.  The first three days of temporary homeless assistance must still be issued the day the family applies, followed by weekly issuances not to exceed 16 days.

However, this change will be not be effective until it is automated.  CDSS estimates that will take six to nine months.  Counties are encouraged to implement this change using a manual workaround as soon as possible.  CDSS will release the official implementation date later.

Families must still provide receipts verifying temporary Homeless Assistance was spent on shelter.  Counties are encouraged to offer good cause or accept a sworn statement when benefits are not received consecutively and families have not kept their receipts.  Counties are also encouraged to grant good cause or accept a sworn statement of permanent housing search when they do not have proof of their search.

Removal of the consecutive day requirement also applies to Homeless Assistance for persons fleeing domestic violence.  However, those benefits will still be issued in 16 day increments.

Effective January 1, 2020, families will no longer be required to use Homeless Assistance to rent from a person in the business of renting properties.  Families now can use Homeless Assistance to rent from any person or establishment with whom the family executes a valid lease, sublease or shared housing agreement.  This change also allows temporary Homeless Assistance to enter into a short-term lease, sublet or sharing housing arrangement to meet temporary housing needs.  (ACL 19-118, January 2, 2020.)