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.)

Impact of end federal pandemic unemployment programs impact on CalWORKs and CalFresh

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has provided guidance regarding the end of the federal pandemic unemployment programs in CalWORKs and CalFresh.  The programs ending are Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)(benefits for self-employed and independent contractor workers), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)(extension benefits), Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (additional benefits because of COVID), Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation and FED-ED.  These benefits are no longer payable after September 4, 2021, except for FED-ED which is no longer payable after September 11, 2021.

Counties should anticipate an increase in voluntary mid-period reports because of the end of these programs.  These reports may be made in writing, online, verbally, or in person. Counties can act on these reports only if they increase benefits.

For CalWORKs, an increased grant because of decrease in income is effective the first of the month in which the change occurred or is reported, whichever is later.  The recipient must provide verification of the change within 10 days of the county requesting verification.  Adequate verification can include, but is not limited to, a letter from the Employment Development Department, an Income Eligibility Verification System report, or, when other verification does not exist, a sworn statement.  The same rules apply to Refugee Cash Assistance, Entrant Cash Assistance, and Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program.

For CalFresh, when a reported change results in an increase in benefits, the change must be effective no later than the first allotment issued 10 days after the date the change is reported.  Counties cannot request verification unless the income change is over $50 the income source has changed, or the change would results in an increase in benefits.  Counties must inform the household in writing of required verification. (ACWDL, September 3, 2021.)

COVID-19 CalWORKs overpayments

All CalWORKs overpayments established on or after August 1, 2021 for the period April, 2020 to either the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency or June 30, 2022, whichever is earlier, must be classified as administrative error.

Overpayment claims that include any month during the COVID-19 state of emergency must be classified as administrative error, regardless of the cause of the overpayment.  For example, an overpayment from November, 2019 to April, 2020 must be classified as administrative error because one month of the overpayment period is during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

Counties are reminded that unearned income must be paired with earned income for that month to be considered over the Income Reporting Threshold and thus triggering a mid-period reporting obligation.  Counties are also reminded that failure to report a change of address cannot, in and of itself, result in a reduction or termination of aid.  Failure to report an address change cannot be the basis of an overpayment allegation.

These rules also apply to Refugee Cash Assistance, Entrant Cash Assistance and Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program.  (ACL 21-85, August 5, 2021.)

COVID-19 extension of waiver of CalWORKs pregnancy verification, identity verification, interview and signature requirements

The California Department of Social Services has extended waiver of CalWORKs pregnancy verification, identity verification, interview and signature requirements until September 30, 2021 based on Executive Order N-08-21.

For aid to a pregnant person in a family that does not include another child, applicants can submit a sworn statement verifying pregnancy when medical verification of pregnancy cannot be provided.  Applicants who cannot provide either medical verification or a sworn statement can provide verbal attestation and medical verification within 30 days.  If after 30 days the applicant presents evidence of good-faith efforts to obtain and submit medical verification, the county must continue aid.  Pregnancy verification must be provided within 90 days after the California Department of Public Health no longer requires physical distancing.

In general, applicants must present photo identification in person before aid can be granted.  A sworn affidavit is acceptable but individuals must present photo identification within 30 days for aid to continue.  If county offices are closed because of COVID-19, aid will continue until the applicant can submit photo identification in person without needing to present evidence of good faith efforts to obtain or submit photo identification.   Applicants will be asked to submit photo identification electronically and to present photo identification in person within 90 days after the California Department of Public Health no longer requires physical distancing.

The requirement for signatures on the CalWORKs application and Rights and Responsibilities form is waived.  When a telephonic or electronic signature is unavailable, the county can document verbal attestation in the case file.  Following verbal attestation, the county must mail the Statement of Facts to the client to be returned via U.S. Mail within 30 working days.  If the applicant presents evidence of good faith efforts to submit the wet signature by mail, the county must continue aid.

The requirement for an interview for applicants is suspended for applicants whose identity has been verified and who have submitted all required verification.  This includes requests for immediate need.

Counties are reminded that when verification does not exist a sworn statement is adequate.  Counties cannot deny applications for failure to provide evidence if the county determines that the applicant is making a good faith effort.

These rules also apply to Refugee Cash Assistance, Entrant Cash Assistance and Trafficking and Crimes Victims Assistance Program.  (ACWDL, July 22, 2021.)

Increase in CalWORKs resource limit

Effective July 1, 2021, the maximum resource limit will increase by 2.11 percent to $10,211 for the CalWORKs, Refugee Cash Assistance, Entrant Cash Assistance, and Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program. The new resource limit for Assistance Units that include at least one member who is aged 60 or older or disabled is $15,317. Subsequent increases to the resource limit will occur every January 1, beginning in 2023, if there is an increase to the California Necessities Index.  Restricted account rules will remain unchanged. (ACL 21-56, May 18, 2021.)