Treatment of the Golden State Stimulus and Golden State Grant for CalWORKs

Households receiving the California Earned Income Tax Credit for 2020 will receive a $600 one-time relief payment through the Golden State Stimulus program.  In addition, the Golden State Stimulus program will provide a one-time $600 payment to households that filed with an Individual Tax Identification Number, have income below $75,000 per year, and were precluded from receiving a federal stimulus payment.  Eligible households can receive both payments.

As a tax rebate, credit or temporary tax refund measure, Golden State Stimulus payments are not counted as income and are exempt from being counted as a resource for 12 months for CalWORKs CalFresh, and CAPI.

The CalWORKs Golden State Grant payment will provide a $600 one-time payment to eligible CalWORKs Assistance Units that will be distributed by mid-April 2021.  This payment is exempt from being considered income, and is exempt from being considered a resource for 12 months.

The CalWORKs Golden State Grant payment cannot be considered an overpayment and must be excluded from overpayment establishment and collection.

All active CalWORKs recipients as of March 27, 2021 are eligible for the CalWORKs Golden State Grant.  A family that contains a CalWORKs assistance unit may also be eligible for additional Golden State Grant payments if it includes a SSI or CAPI recipient.

Refugee Cash Assistance, Entrant Cash Assistance and Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program recipients are not eligible for the CalWORKs Golden State Grant.  (ACL 21-23, March 25, 2021.)

CalWORKs, CalFresh, and other programs treatment of rebates, refunds and credits under American Rescue Plan Act

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 contains several tax credits and rebates, including Earned Income Tax Credit, additional child tax credits, and child and dependent tax credits.  These individual rebates are excluded from consideration as income, and as an asset for 12 months after receipt for CalWORKs, CalFresh, Refugee Cash Assistance, Entrant Cash Assistance, Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program, Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payments, Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants, programs that fund foster care payments, Approved Relative Caregiver program, and Emergency Assistance funding.  (ACL 21-37, March 26, 2021.)

Treatment of Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and other Unemployment Insurance for CalWORKs

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding how Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) and other Unemployment Insurance programs are treated for purposes of CalWORKs.  PUC is the additional $300 per week in Unemployment Insurance benefits in the December, 2020 stimulus package.  For CalWORKs, PUC payments are now exempt for both applicants and recipients.  For CalFresh, PUC payments are exempt from consideration as income or resources for nine months following receipt.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which is for self-employed workers and independent contractors, is considered income for CalWORKs applicants and recipients.  Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which is extension benefits after regular Unemployment Insurance or PUA expires, also is considered income for CalWORKs applicants and recipients.

FED-ED is an additional extension of Unemployment Insurance benefits during periods of high unemployment for people who have sufficient earnings.  FED-ED is considered unearned income.  FED-ED benefits are considered income for CalWORKs applicants and recipients.

Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) is an additional $100 per week in Unemployment Insurance for individuals eligible for Unemployment Insurance and who have at least $5,000 in self-employment income.  MEUC will be considered unearned income when it is issued.  MEUC will be considered unearned income.  MEUC benefits will be considered income for CalWORKs applicants and recipients.

Refugee Cash Assistance, Entrant Cash Assistance and Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program follow the same CalWORKs rules for PUC, PUA, PEUC, FED-ED and MEUC.  (ACL 21-22, February 26, 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 not counting new stimulus payments as income for benefits programs

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding treatment of the new individual stimulus payments as income for various benefits programs.

The payments authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 are individual tax rebates.  They are excluded from income in the month received for CalWORKs, CalFresh, Refugee Cash Assistance, and the Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program.  The individual stimulus payments count as a resource after 12 months if they have not been spent.  (ACWDL, December 31, 2020.)

COVID-19 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 October 1, 2020, this extension applies to RCA, ECA and TCVAP until January 31, 2021.  This extension is limited to persons whose date of eligibility for benefits is April 1, 2019 through May 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 October 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021 regardless of whether they received the prior benefits extension.  For benefits recipients for September through December, 2020, counties must rescind any discontinuances of benefits. Recipients who reached their time limit before August, 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, December 15, 2020.)