Revised CalWORKs Welfare-to-Work exemption and time on aid forms

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued revised CW 2186A, CalWORKs Exemption Request, and CW 2184, CalWORKs 60-Month Time limit forms.

Effective January 1, 2022, all pregnant CalWORKs recipients are exempt from Welfare-to-Work.  Effective October 1, 2024, or when automation is complete, whichever is later, the CalWORKs time on aid will stop for recipients who also receive Paid Family Leave benefits from the Employment Development Department.

CDSS has issued revised CW 2186A and CW 2184 forms that include these new exemptions.  Counties must begin using these new forms when the Paid Family Leave exemption goes into effect. (ACL 24-07, January 26, 2024.)

ITIN and SSN requirements for IHSS applicants and recipients

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued instructions about In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) recipients as employers of their providers.  The IHSS recipient is an employer of record of the provider.  CDSS performs payroll and other functions for the IHSS recipient. For CDSS to complete these functions, all IHSS recipient and applicants must have a Social Security Number (SSN).  If the applicant or recipient does not have a SSN, they must have or apply for a Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

CDSS must register IHSS as an employer of record with the Employment Development Department (EDD). To establish the IHSS recipient as an employer of record, EDD requires the recipient to have either a SSN, or, if ineligible for a SSN, apply for an ITIN through the Internal Revenue Service.

Counties cannot deny an IHSS application if the applicant does not have either a SSN or ITIN. The county will redirect applicants who do not have a SSN or ITIN to apply for an ITIN through the Internal Revenue Service. During the process for receiving an ITIN, which can take 60 to 90 days, the county must still process the IHSS application. Counties can help applicants or recipients apply for an ITIN. (ACIN I-70-23, November 21, 2023)

CalWORKs Domestic Abuse policies

The California Department of Social Services has updated its guidance and provided policy reminders regarding the support of domestic abuse survivors through the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program. Before the implementation of AB 2277, the County Welfare Department (CWD) had the option to waive certain program requirements for a recipient who was identified as a past or present survivor of abuse if the CWD determined good cause existed. AB 2277 has changed this option to make it a requirement for the CWD to waive program requirements for recipients identified as past or present survivors of abuse. However, certain eligibility requirements can’t be waived including deprivation, assets, income, and homeless assistance (HA) except as detailed below.

Counties must provide informing materials about domestic abuse at application, the beginning of welfare-to-work services, and recertification.

County staff are required to recognize indicators of abuse to the best of their ability. Staff interacting with survivors must make every effort not to reinforce trauma by being aware of triggers that cause reactions to trauma. Using a trauma-informed lens, staff must make efforts to ensure that the program and waiver process are accessible and built around the client’s needs.

Counties can give good cause waivers if they determine there is a condition or circumstance that impairs or prevents the recipient’s ability to participate in Welfare-to-Work (WTW) activities. Program requirements that the county can waive include, but are not limited to: time limit on aid, paternity establishment, child support cooperation, and proof of age-appropriate immunizations for children under the age of six Sworn statements by survivors of abuse are enough to verify abuse. County staff must not require identifying details of abuse or the abuser. Adults who receive Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI), non-needy caregiver relatives, and ineligible non-citizens cannot be given good cause waivers. Counties may not condition these waivers upon participation in specific activities, including attending counseling.

Domestic abuse waivers stop the CalWORKs time on aid clock. Domestic abuse survivors can have their time on aid clock extended and be added to the Assistance Unit when they meet good cause criteria.

Counties must have written policies for re-evaluating good cause waivers and the granting of good cause waivers retroactively. These waivers must be reviewed every three months to ensure the survivor’s needs are met.  Waivers must continue to be granted if the effects of abuse are impacting the family. Counties must also establish criteria for granting good cause waivers retroactively. These waivers can be given for more than three months when the failure to grant the waiver was due to errors by the CWD. These criteria must be provided in the county’s domestic abuse policies and procedures.

Survivors are also eligible for programs including permanent or temporary CalWORKs Homeless Assistance (HA) to the maximum allowable amount and can be granted exceptions of up to an additional 48 days of temporary HA. Survivors may also be eligible for CalFresh benefits and receive expedited services and an additional month of benefit allotment as a separate household.

Non-citizen survivors certified by the Office of Trafficking in Persons (OTIP) who are eligible are entitled to the same benefits as those admitted to the United States as refugees. Non-citizens who are not eligible for CalWORKS may be eligible for state-funded benefits and services through the Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program (TCVAP). Certain non-citizen survivors who are certified by OTIP may be eligible to receive Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) or Entrant Cash Assistance (ECA).  (ACL 23-109, December 29, 2023.)

Civil rights complaint language

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has updated its appeal language for civil rights complaints. There are three main changes to the appeal language. The first of these changes increases the amount of time CalFresh complainants have to file civil rights appeals to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to 90 days from the previously set 30 days.

The next two changes were implemented because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County which established that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is also considered discrimination based on sex. The second change establishes that complainants may appeal Cal Fresh complaints to USDA based on  gender identity and sexual orientation. It has also added reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity as a protected category. The third change establishes that complainants may file discrimination complaints with the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) based on  pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Counties must use the provided language from the USDA when informing people of their right to appeal to the USDA. Additionally, the requirements to inform of the right to appeal to CDSS or the USDA do not apply when the complainant fails to participate or withdraws the complaint and no County Welfare Department (CWD) decision was made. However, complainants must be informed of their right to file their complaint with the HHS. Mail or email can be used to inform complainants of complaint outcomes.  (ACL 23-98, November 27, 2023.)

Elimination of IHSS provider eligibility requirements for minor recipients

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding the end of In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) provider eligibility requirements for minor recipients.  Previously, minors could only hire a non-parent IHSS provider if their parents were not available to be providers.  In addition, parents could only be providers for their minor children if there were no other suitable providers, and the parent was prevented from full-time employment because of the need to care for the child.  Effective 60 days after December 21, 2023 (the date of the release of this ACL) these limits on parent providers are eliminated.

The limits on providers for minors still apply to minor recipients in the Personal Care Services Program.  Counties should ensure that minor applicants who want a parent provider are enrolled in the Community First Choice Option, the IHSS Plus Option, or the IHSS Residual program.  Counties should transfer qualifying minor recipients from the Personal Care Services Program to the Community First Choice Option upon request of the recipient or at the next scheduled reassessment, whichever is first.  Minor recipients who are institutionally deemed and enrolled in the Personal Care Services Program may hire a non-parent provider without limitation.

Other rules for IHSS remain unchanged.  Service assessment rules for minors are unchanged.  Minors remain ineligible for domestic services, heavy cleaning, yard hazard abatement, and teaching and demonstration. Provider enrollment rules are unchanged.  Provider overtime rules and exemptions are unchanged. (ACL 23-106, December 21, 2023.)



IHSS and nonmedical out-of-home care, and unmet need

In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) is available to persons who cannot remain in their own home without services.  Persons who receive SSI can get an additional payment if they are in a non-medical out-of-home living arrangement.

Individuals who receive the SSI non-medical out-of-home care rate are considered not to be living in their own home and are not eligible for IHSS.

IHSS applicants who are eligible for both IHSS and the SSI non-medical out-of-home care rate can choose whether they want IHSS or the SSI non-medical out-of-home care rate. Counties must inform people of this choice.

If an IHSS applicant states that they are not receiving the SSI non-medical out-of-home care rate, but the MEDS system says they are, the applicant must get a letter from the Social Security Administration stating that they do not get the SSI non-medical out-of-home care rate.  The applicant must also complete the SOC 810 form stating that they told the Social Security Administration that they have been discharged from a facility.

When evaluating for IHSS, county social workers must assess for all IHSS services, and must document any unmet need in the case file, identify other resources to meet the unmet need, and refer applicants to those programs at no cost.  (ACL 23-108, December 27, 2023.)