The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding Authorized Representatives (AR) for household applying for or receiving CalFresh. An AR is an adult non-household member who is authorized to act on the household’s behalf to apply for CalFresh, complete work registration forms, complete reporting or use the Electronic Benefits Card to purchase the household’s food.
The AR must be an individual. The county cannot designate an entity as an AR. If an individual is employed by an entity, the county is encouraged to note that fact.
A Social Security Representative Payee can act as an AR, but the household must designate the Representative Payee as a CalFresh AR.
A third party can be authorized to apply for or obtain CalFresh for the household via power of attorney, guardianship or conservatorship. These third parties are not required to be designated as an AR.
Counties must inform all CalFresh applicants and recipients at recertification of the right to designate an AR. The household can designate an AR on the CalFresh application, recertification form or a separate form developed by the county. A household may designate an AR at any time during the certification period.
There are several groups of people who cannot be designated as ARs including county employees who are involved in eligibility determinations, employees of retailers authorized to accept CalFresh, employees of homeless meal providers authorized to accept CalFresh and federally funded application assisters.
When an AR applies for CalFresh on behalf of the household, the identity of both the AR and the responsible household member must be verified. When an AR is applying on behalf of the household, the application may be denied for failure to verify the identity for both or either the AR and the responsible household member.
When a household designates an AR, the household is liable for any overissuance, even if the AR provided incorrect information.
Households must be allowed to designate an emergency AR to obtain benefits and purchase food for a particular month. This designation must be made using a county form or a written statement signed by the responsible household member and the emergency AR. (ACL 19-55, May 31, 2019.)