The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has provided guidance about joint processing of CalFresh applications by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and county welfare departments for SSI recipients.
SSI recipients will be eligible for CalFresh beginning June 1, 2019. Households that include only SSI recipients may apply for CalFresh at a SSA office. SSA must inform SSI applicants or recipients of their right to apply for CalFresh at the SSA office or their right to apply at the county welfare department whenever a member of a household consisting of only SSI applicants or recipients conducts business with SSA. SSA will not assist households with both SSI and non-SSI members.
SSA will screen all households for CalFresh eligibility. Based on the screening, SSA must give the household the opportunity to apply for CalFresh. If a household with only SSI applicants or recipients agrees, SSA will assist the household in submitting and completing a CalFresh application. These household may also complete their annual recertification at the SSA office.
SSA can use the GetCalFresh.org online application starting June 1, 2019. If the application is submitted using GetCalFresh.org, the county must not require an additional signature from the household. If a household wants to submit a paper application, SSA will assist the household in completing the written application and will submit it to the county within one business day of receipt of the signed application.
For either type of application, SSA then will provide the following information to the household in writing: 1) contact information for the county; 2) remaining actions to be taken to complete the application; 3) a statement that the household should be notified of their CalFresh eligibility determination within 30 days; 4) the household’s rights and responsibilities; and 5) information about how to get an EBT card.
The expedited service timeframe will begin the date the county receives the application. SSA will prescreen the application for entitlement to expedited service.
If the household chooses to apply with the county, SSA will inform the household of their option to apply online or take the paper application to the county.
Households in which all members receive or are authorized to receive SSI are categorically eligible for CalFresh unless the entire household is institutionalized or disqualified from receiving CalFresh. In determining categorical eligibility, the county must verify that each member of the household receives or is authorized to receive SSI. For persons who are categorically eligible, no additional verification is needed for resources, gross and net income, social security number, sponsored immigrant information, and residency. Although identity must be verified, verification of identity in MEDS is sufficient and counties must check MEDS prior to requesting verification of identity. Counties can verify SSI benefits through the State Data Exchange or the Beneficiary Data Exchange.
Households whose applications are processed using SSA joint processing will not be required to go to a county welfare department office or otherwise be subject to a county interview. The county will not contact the household to obtain information unless the application is improperly completed, mandatory verification is missing or the county determines that information in the application is questionable. Counties may contact the household to determine whether the household has expenses which can be deducted from income including shelter and medical expenses.
Counties must certify households processed under SSA joint processing for 24 months because all members of the household will be elderly or disabled. If the household has no earned income, certification will be for 36 months under the Elderly Simplified Application Project. (ACL 19-44, May 9, 2019.)