CalWORKs Increase to the Maximum Aid Payment

Effective October 1, 2021, Assembly Bill (AB) 135 grants a 5.3 percent increase to the CalWORKs Maximum Aid Payment (MAP). Recipients must be informed of the MAP increase by October 1st. The country welfare department computer systems must have the MAP increase programmed into their system by October 1st, and if not, they must manually issue the benefits increase. 

Under SB 380, children who receive child support in an amount more than the CalWORKs grant can opt-out of the CalWORKs case.  For some of these cases, the increase in the MAP will increase the CalWORKs payment to more than the child support paid.  In those cases, the family can ask to add the child to the CalWORKs case mid-period.  If the family does not ask for that mid-period change, the child will be added to the case at their following semi-annual report or annual recertification.  (ACL 21-87, August 18, 2021.)

60-Month Time Limit implementation

The California Department of Social Services informs counties of a change in implementation of the change in implementation of the 60-Month CalWORKs time limit.  To the extent inconsistent with this policy, ACL 20-113 is superceeded.

Parents who meet the following conditions will be added to their assistance unit (AU) when the 60-Month time limit is implemented on May 1, 2022 or when the county welfare department computer system can perform the necessary automation:

  • They are living in the home with existing an CalWORKs AU but are not aided because of the CalWORKs time on aid limit, and
  • They are mandatorily included in the filing unit and included in the most recent statement of facts; and
  • They are joining an existing AU mid-period because of the 60-month time limit; and
  • They have not used 60 months of CalWORKs.

Persons who meet these criteria are to be added to the AU as a county initiated mid-period change.  No statement of facts is required to add these family members.  Child support cooperation is waived for 60 days for these persons added to the household. If needed, counties can request additional information to make an eligibility determination.  However, this should be rare because these formerly timed out persons are already on the Statement of Facts and required to verify eligibility factors.

Timed out individuals are optional or new household members must be added to the AU under the policy in ACL 20-113.

These policies will remain in effect for 120 days after the 60-month time limit becomes effective.

Counties must distribute the TEMP 3022 informing notice to all CalWORKs at least 90 days before the 60-month time on aid limit is implemented. Counties must also provide the TEMP 3022 to applicants and recipients at intake and annual recertification.  (ACL 21-89, August 12, 2021.)

Eligibility of Afghan Humanitarian Parolees for Refugee Resettlement Program, CalWORKs, CalFresh and SSI

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has provided guidance regarding eligibility of Afghan Humanitarian Parolees Afghanistan for Refugee Resettlement Program, CalWORKs and CalFresh benefits.

Humanitarian Parolees are not eligible for Refugee Cash Assistance or any other Office of Refugee Resettlement programs.

Humanitarian Parolees are eligible for CalWORKs from the day they are paroled into the United States.

Humanitarian Parolees are not eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  Humanitarian Parolees are eligible for Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants.

Humanitarian Parolees are eligible for CalFresh only if they have been paroled into the United States for at least one year, and, among other factors, have lived in the United States for qualified aliens, have 40 quarters of qualifying work, or are children under age 18.

Humanitarian Parolees are eligible for the California Food Assistance Program when the have been paroled into the United States for one year or more.

Regardless of documentation provided, the county must submit these cases to the SAVE system for immigration status verification. (ACWDL, September 3, 2021 and Errata, September 17, 2021.)

Eligibility of Afghan Special Immigrant Parolees for Refugee Resettlement Program, CalWORKs, CalFresh and SSI

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has provided guidance regarding eligibility of Special Immigrant Visa holders and special immigrant parolees in the SQ/SI categories (collectively called Special Immigrant Parolees) from Afghanistan for Refugee Resettlement Program, CalWORKs and CalFresh benefits.

Special Immigrant Parolees are eligible for Refugee Cash Assistance, Refugee Medical Assistance and other Office of Refugee Resettlement programs.  A Social Security Number is not required to be eligible for these programs.

Special Immigrant Parolees and their families are eligible for CalWORKs effective on their date of entry to the United States.

Special Immigrant Parolees are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  If for some reason Special Immigrant Parolees are found to be ineligible for SSI, the can be eligible for Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants.

Special Immigrant Parolees are immediately eligible for CalFresh.

Regardless of documentation provided, the county must submit these cases to the SAVE system for immigration status verification.  (ACWDL, August 30, 2021.)

CalWORKs Census Earned Income Exemption

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has provided guidance about the CalWORKs earned income exemption for work on the census.

All temporary work or stipends paid by the U.S Census Bureau, government entities, and non-profits related to the decennial census work will be exempt from CalWORKS. This changes from the previous guidance, which stated that only income or stipends earned the year proceeding and not income earned during the decennial census year is exempt.

This new revision exempts Census income regardless of the year paid. 

This exemption is retroactive Jan 1, 2021. (ACL 21-99, August 24, 2021.)

 

CalWORKs eligibility for fire victims in Lake County

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.  An emergency proclamation has been issued for Lake County because of the Cache 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.  Counties will need to establish whether evacuees are from a county that has been designated a federal or state disaster, and whether other family members are receiving CalWORKs in that county.

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 evacuee’s 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, September 9, 2021.)