Applicant IEVS processing

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued instructions to counties regarding use of the Applicant Income and Eligibility Verification System (IEVS). Applicant IEVS is a third party verification system that is used at initial application and each subsequent redetermination.  Counties must use Applicant IEVS to assist in resolving any potential discrepancies with what was reported on the application (SAWS 2) and/or in the interview.  These discrepancies must be resolved prior to the beginning of a new certification period.  However, the eligibility determination cannot be delayed pending receipt of Applicant IEVS if other information establishes eligibility.

Counties must request Applicant IEVS information at least 15 days prior to the redetermination interview.  If a county cannot resolve a discrepancy relevant to the eligibility determination, the county must provide the client with a CW 2200 verification letter.

The Applicant IEVS process does not impact the existing Recipient IEVS process for using the IEVS system to determine whether a recipient has earned or unearned income.  Counties should ensure that the client is not asked to provide identical information based on duplicate IEVS information.  (ACL 19-78, August 5, 2019.)

Separation of SIU and eligibility determination functions

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued a reminder to counties that management of eligibility determination and program integrity investigation must be separate.

County Special Investigative Unit (SIU) staff responsible for preventing and discovering fraud by applicants and recipients.  SIU staff must investigate fraud allegations.  County eligibility workers are responsible for referring cases to the SIU.

The SIU must be a separate organization, independent of organizations performing eligibility and benefit determination functions.  Counties must ensure separate and independent operation of eligibility and investigation activities.  SIU staff cannot dictate CalWORKs or CalFresh eligibility determinations but can make recommendations.  (All County Welfare Directors Letter May 1, 2019.)

CalFresh denials for missing verification

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued instructions regarding denials of CalFresh applications for failure to provide requested verification.  California has been granted an extension of a waiver by the federal government that allows counties to choose to deny CalFresh applications for failure to submit requested verification within 10 days of the written request even if 30 days have not passed since the application date.  The new waiver is in effect until April 30, 2024.  42 counties have chosen to implement this waiver.

Counties must meet several conditions to deny an application for failure to submit requested verification within 10 days of the written request even if 30 days have not passed since the application date including the county completed an interview with the applicant, inform applicants of the 10 day standard both verbally and in writing, the county must assist the applicant in obtaining verification, counties must act on verification submitted within 60 days of the application date without a new application and grant benefits from the date verification is submitted, and if verification is submitted within 30 days of the application date, the county must reopen the application and grant benefits from the original application date.

In addition, the notice of denial must state the reason for the denial and inform of the right to submit verification within 30 days of the date of application, and if eligible receive benefits from the application date.  (ACL 19-57, June 11, 2019.)

CalFresh eligibility for residents of institutions

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding CalFresh eligibility for residents of institutions.  A resident of an institution is an individual who provided over 50 percent of three meals daily at the institution as part of the institution’s normal services.  The following individuals are not considered residents of institutions: residents of federally subsidized housing for the elderly, residents of a drug and alcohol (DAA) rehabilitation center for regular participation in a drug or alcohol treatment program, residents of a group living arrangement who are disabled or blind, temporary residents of a shelter for battered persons and residents of public or private-nonprofit shelters for homeless persons.

For CalFresh purposes, a DAA treatment center must be operating under Title 19 Part B of the Public Health Services Act or be authorized by the Food and Nutrition Service as a retailer.  DAA treatment centers cannot require residents to apply for CalFresh.  If a resident voluntarily applies for CalFresh, they must apply through an Authorized Representative who is employed by and designated by the DAA treatment center.  The DAA treatment center can require residents to use an Authorized Representative employed by the DAA treatment center for receiving and using benefits.

When a household leaves the DAA treatment center, the DAA treatment center must 1) notify the county, provide the household with a change report and advise the household to return the change report to the county within 10 days; 2) provide the household with its EBT card and 3) return household benefits.  If benefits have already been spent on the household and the household leaves prior to the 16th of the month, the DAA must return at least one-half of the monthly allotment.  If the household leaves after the 16th of the month, the remaining portion of the benefits must be returned to the household.

The DAA treatment center is responsible for any, overissuances, losses or misuse of benefits, misrepresentation of facts or intentional program violations.  The resident is held harmless for these overissuances.

Sober living environments cannot be considered a DAA treatment center for CalFresh purposes because no state agency licenses them.  Sober living environments can be authorized by the Food and Nutrition Service as a retailer.

A group living arrangement is a public or private-nonprofit residential home for disabled or blind persons that served no more than 16 residents.  A group living arrangement must be certified by CDSS.  Residents of group living arrangements must be blind or disabled to be eligible for CalFresh.  Residents of private for-profit group living arrangements are ineligible for CalFresh.

If an employee designated by the group living arrangement is acting as an Authorized Representative for the purpose of receiving and using benefits, the group living arrangement may purchase and prepare food to be consumed by CalFresh recipients on a group basis if residents normally obtain their meals at a central location or meals are prepared at a central location for delivery to residents.

If a household leaves the group living arrangement and no benefits have been spent on the behalf of the household for that month, the group living arrangement must return the full monthly allotment.  If the household leaves prior to the 16th of the month and benefits, the group living arrangement must return one-half of the benefit allotment.  If only one member of the household leaves, the group living arrangement must return a pro rata share to the individual who is leaving.  If the household leaves after the 16th of the month and benefits have already been spent on behalf of the household, the household does not receive any benefits for the remainder of the month.

When the group living arrangement is the authorized representative, it is responsible for any, overissuances, losses or misuse of benefits, misrepresentation of facts or intentional program violations and the resident is held harmless.

Persons who reside in shelters for battered persons that are public or private-nonprofits or are authorized by the Food and Nutrition Service, and which are residential facilities that serve meals are eligible for CalFresh.  The Food and Nutrition Service can provide point of sale devices to shelters for battered persons.

A shelter for homeless persons is a public or private-nonprofit facility that temporarily houses homeless persons.  Shelter for the homeless may be a homeless meal provider to accept CalFresh benefits.  Homeless meal providers must be authorized by the Food and Nutrition Service and meals must include food purchased by the homeless meal provider.

Individuals must be homeless to be eligible to use CalFresh at a homeless meal provider.  An employee of a homeless meal provider cannot be an authorized representative.  The homeless meal provide cannot require persons to use CalFresh benefits for their food.  The Food and Nutrition Service can provide point of sale devices to homeless shelters that are meal service providers.  (ACL 19-51, May 23, 2019.)

CalFresh Authorized Representatives

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.)

CalFresh revised forms and notices due to expansion to SSI recipients

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) is revising several forms because of the expansion of CalFresh eligibility to SSI recipients. The CF 285 Application for CalFresh Benefits now includes optional questions regarding the need for a reasonable accommodation and if there is a history of domestic violence, and questions excluding SSI recipients have been removed.  The CF 33 CalFresh Budget Worksheet-Special Medical/Shelter Deduction now includes CalFresh, Supplemental Nutrition Benefits and Transitional Nutrition Benefits programs.

The CF 285, CF 33, CF 377.1 Notice of Approval for CalFresh Benefits, CW 2200 Request for Verification, and SAR 2 Reporting Changes for Cash Aid and CalFresh are all digitally accessible, meaning that screen readers can access them.  The CF 285, CF 33, CF 377.1 and CW 2200 are not available in large font, and, upon request by a county to CDSS, in Braille.

Counties must begin using these new forms on June 1, 2019.  (ACL 19-49, May 20, 2019.)