COVID-19 CalFresh emergency allotment for March 2021

California has been approved to issue an emergency allotment of CalFresh for March, 2021, so long as the COVID-19 public health emergency remains in place at some point in the month of March.  The emergency allotment will be issued on April 18, 2021 to raise each household’s monthly CalFresh allotment to the maximum allowable for the household size.

Moving forward, emergency allotments may be approved by FNS on a month-to-month basis until the Secretary of Health and Human Services rescinds the public health emergency. (ACWDL, February 25, 2021.)

CalWORKs overpayments during COVID-19

The California Department of Social Services has issued reminders of CalWORKs overpayment policies in consideration of COVID-19.  In recognition of the pace of policy changes, and the impact COVID-19 had on county operations and CalWORKs recipients’ inability to complete required reports such as gross monthly income over the IRT, counties must consider these circumstances when establishing overpayments as it is very likely there will be an increase in administrative error overpayments beginning with April, 2020.

Federal individual stimulus payments are excluded from counting as income in the month of receipt and as an asset for 12 months following receipt.

Semi-annual reporting was suspended for March, April, and May, 2020.  However, assistance units who did not make mandatory mid-period reports may be subject to overpayments.  Mandatory mid-period reports are income exceeding the income reporting threshold, fleeing felon status, violation of conditions of probation or parole, and address change.  Unearned income must be paired with earned income to be considered over the income reporting threshold.  Failure to report an address change cannot be based on failure to report an address change.

The $600 per week Pandemic Unemployment Compensation provided through July 31, 2020 is exempt from being considered income for recipients, but not for applicants.  If a family had Pandemic Unemployment Compensation in its possession when they applied and it was not used in determining eligibility there could be total ineligibility and an overpayment.

The Lost Wage Assistance Program issued for the period July 26, 2020 to September 5, 2020 does not count as income for CalWORKs because it is Stafford Act disaster benefits.

Administrative Error overpayments are caused when the county has all information in its possession necessary to make a correct grant determination.

For current CalWORKs recipients, collection can be made by grant adjustment, offset of an underpayment with the overpayment, action on a civil judgment, voluntary cash recovery and voluntary cash offset.

For former CalWORKs recipients, the county cannot demand collection of a nonfraudulent overpayment if the balance is less than $250.  When the claim is more than $250, collection can be made by action on a civil judgment, voluntary cash recovery and voluntary cash offset. (ACIN I-14-21, February 17, 2021.)

COVID-19 third extension of time eligibility for RCA, ECA and TCVAP

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued instructions for an additional extension of time eligibility for Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA), Entrant Cash Assistance (ECA) and Trafficking and Crime Victim Assistance Program (TCVAP).  Effective February 1, 2020, this extension applies to RCA, ECA and TCVAP until April 30, 2021.  This extension is limited to persons whose date of eligibility for benefits is April 1, 2019 through August 31, 2020.

Applicants for RCA, ECA and TCVAP are not required to provide Social Security Numbers.

Verification and documentation requirements are waived for all three programs. Verbal declarations are acceptable verification, including verification of immigration status.

Counties must provide uninterrupted assistance retroactive to February 1, 2021 through April 30, 2021 regardless of whether they received the prior benefits extension.  For benefits recipients who were scheduled to be terminated January 31, 2021, counties must rescind any discontinuances of benefits. Recipients who reached their time limit before August 31, 2020 may reapply for benefits.  Those persons must confirm that they were economically impacted by COVID-19.

People receiving extension benefits must comply with SAR-7 and annual redetermination requirements.

Counties are encouraged to use flexibilities to help client meet employment requirements.  Counties should ensure that all RCA and ECA recipients are enrolled in and referred for employment services and English classes.

TCVAP recipients must provide proof of submission of a T-Visa application within 12 months of the date of application.  Counties should review cases where applicants or recipients are unable to apply for a T-Visa for good cause.  Counties can accept written declarations for verification that an applicant or recipient has applied for a U-Visa.

Counties should disregard certain COVID-19 emergency payments when determining income and assets for applicants impacted by COVID-19.

Counties must notify RCA, ECA and TCVAP recipients receiving extended cash assistance of the time extension and continuance of aid at least 10 days prior to issuing cash payments.  (ACWDL, January 28, 2021.)

COVID-19 CalFresh emergency allotment for February 2021

California has been approved to issue an emergency allotment of CalFresh for February, 2021.  The emergency allotment will be issued on March 7, 2021 to raise each household’s monthly CalFresh allotment to the maximum allowable for the household size.

The date for issuance of the January, 2021 emergency allotment is changed from February 7, 2021 to February 14, 2021.

Moving forward, emergency allotments may be approved by FNS on a month-to-month basis until the Secretary of Health and Human Services rescinds the public health emergency. (ACWDL, January 29, 2021.)