Treasury Offset Program and Franchise Tax Board Intercept for CalFresh overissuances

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance on suspending collection of CalFresh overissuances by Treasury Offset Program (TOP) and Franchise Tax Board Intercept.  TOP is the federal program to collect overissuances from federal tax refunds or other federal benefits such as Social Security.

When an individual has an overissuance that becomes delinquent, it is referred to both TOP and the Franchise Tax Board for collection.  After three years, TOP is the only method that can be used to collect on CalFresh overissuances.  However, if the individual goes back on CalFresh, the overissuance can be collected by grant reduction.  In that instance, the case must be removed from TOP and Franchise Tax Board because grant adjustment is the only allowed method of collection.

If the individual stops receiving benefits, the case is then returned to TOP for collection as long as the case is delinquent.  The case is considered delinquent until the individual establishes or resumes a repayment agreement, the individual makes a satisfactory payment, the individual pays the entire debt, or, the individual begins receiving CalFresh again.

CDSS states that if an individual stops receiving CalFresh, the county can also reactivate collection by the Franchise Tax Board.   (ACL 23-07, January 11, 2023.)

Time limit exemption for zero basic grant cases.

The California Department of Social Services has issued a reminder about counting zero basic grant cases toward the Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) federal time on aid clock, and CalWORKs state time on aid.  TANF and CalWORKs each have a 60-month time on aid limit.  However, the federal TANF clock and the state CalWORKs time in aid clock can count slightly different months.  The TANF 60-month time limit applies to any months in which “assistance” is received.

Zero basic grant cases do not count toward the TANF time clock.  Zero basic grant cases are: when aid payments are not issued when the grant is under $10, months when a payment is not issued due to a penalty which reduces the payment to zero, the grant is under $10, the grant is $0 because of overpayment recoupment, and the grant is diverted to an employer to offset the recipient’s wages in an on-the-job training program.

By contrast, except for when the grant is under $10, zero basic income cases count towards the CalWORKs time limit.

Nonrecurring, short-term benefits such as homeless assistance do not count toward the TANF time clock.  This means that months where someone receives only short-term benefits such as homeless assistance do not count toward the TANF time clock.

However, special needs payments such as homeless assistance count toward the CalWORKs time clock.  This means that months where someone receives only short-term benefits such as homeless assistance count toward the TANF time clock.  (ACIN I-67-22, October 11, 2022.)

February 2023 emergency CalFresh allotment and end of emergency allotments

California has been approved to issue an emergency allotment of CalFresh for February. 2023.  All households will receive at least the maximum CalFresh allotment.  Households eligible to receive the maximum allowable allotment based on household size are now eligible to receive an emergency allotment of $95 per month. Households who are not eligible to receive the maximum allowable allotment based on household size, but whose emergency allotment would be less than $95 per month to receive the maximum allotment, will receive additional CalFresh benefits to raise their emergency allotment to the $95 minimum.

The emergency allotment will be issued on March 26, 2023.

The February, 2023 emergency allotment will be the last emergency allotment.  Beginning April 2023, CalFresh benefits will return to the regular amount listed on the most recent notice of action.  All CalFresh recipients are mailed an informing notice regarding the end of the emergency allotment.  CDSS is also doing a communications campaign to inform CalFresh recipients about the end of the emergency allotments

Counties are reminded that there are several income deductions, allowances, and exclusions that can help maximize household allotments while minimizing the impact of the end of emergency allotments.  These deductions include the earned income deduction, self-employment deduction, standard deduction, excess shelter deduction, homeless shelter deduction, standard utility allowance, limited utility allowance, telephone utility allowance, dependent care deduction, standard medical deduction, excess medical expense deduction, and child support exclusion.    (ACWDL, February 2, 2023.)

Disaster Unemployment Assistance for December and January storms

Californians in multiple counties can now apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).  DUA is available to workers business owners, and self-employed persons who lost their job or business, or had their work hours reduced or interrupted because of impacts of the severe storms.

DUA applies to losses beginning the week of January 1, 2023.  Eligible full-time workers and self-employed persons can get between $166 and $450 per week for up to 28 weeks.  Part-time workers and part-time self-employed persons may be eligible.  The last payable week of DUA ends July 15, 2023.

DUA is available to storms victims who meet any of the following criteria:

  1. Worked or were a business owner or self-employed, or were scheduled to begin or resume work or self-employment, in the disaster area and lost work or had their hours reduced or interrupted because of the disaster.
  2. Cannot reach work because of the disaster or can no longer work or perform services because of physical damage or destruction to the place of employment or self-employment as a direct result of the disaster.
  3. Live in the major disaster area and cannot reach their place of work or self-employment outside the major disaster area because of the disaster.
  4. Cannot perform work or self-employment because of an injury caused by the disaster.
  5. Became the major support for their household because of the death of their head of household caused by the disaster.

Persons must have applied for and used all regular unemployment insurance benefits, or be ineligible for regular unemployment benefits, and remain unemployed, to be eligible for DUA.  In addition, the work or self-employment that the person can no longer do must have been their primary source of income.

Applicants must submit all required documentation within 21 days of applying.  Required documentation includes the most recent federal tax form or check stubs, or other documentation to support that the applicant was working or self-employed when the disaster happened.

Unless the applicant has good cause, applications for DUA must be filed by:

February 22, 2023 for residents of Sacramento, Merced, Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and San Joaquin counties.

February 27, 2023 for residents of Calaveras County.

March 2, 2023 for residents of San Mateo County.

March 9, 2023 for residents of Alameda, Contra Costa, Mendocino, and Ventura counties.

(EDD News Releases 23-02, January 23, 2023; 23-03, January 26, 2023; 23-04, January 31, 2023, and 23-05, February 7, 2023.)

Disaster CalFresh February 2023

The California Department of Social Services has issued guidance and information regarding implementation of Disaster CalFresh for the California winter storms.  Disaster CalFresh has been approved in waves.  Wave 1 is : Calaveras, Merced, Monterey, Sacramento, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz Counties.  Wave 2 is Contra Costa and Mendocino Counties, and Ventura County zip codes 93022, 93023, and 93001.  Wave 3 is Alameda County,

Disaster CalFresh provides one month of temporary food assistance to households affected by natural disasters who were not already receiving CalFresh.

To be eligible for Disaster CalFresh, a household must have:

1) lived or worked in the disaster impacted county at the time of the disaster;

2) Purchased or planned to purchase food during the benefits period, which is December 27, 2022 through January 25, 2023;

3) Experienced an adverse effects because of the disaster, such as food loss, loss of income, inaccessible resources, or disaster-related expenses;

4) Meet the Disaster Gross Income Limit.  To be eligible, the household’s income received plus accessible liquid resources, minus disaster related expenses, must be less than the Disaster Gross Income Limit.

A Disaster CalFresh household includes people who lived and purchased and prepared food together on the start date of the disaster. A Disaster CalFresh household does not include people who the applicant is temporarily staying with at the time of application due to the disaster. A Disaster CalFresh household may include people who had been excluded from an ongoing CalFresh household at the time of the disaster.

Disaster CalFresh requires verification of 1) Identity; 2. Residency and loss/inaccessibility of income or liquid resources, if possible; and 3. Household composition and food loss, when questionable.

While identity verification is required, a specific type of documentary proof is not Acceptable identity verification may include, but is not limited to, a driver’s license, a work or school identification card, an identification card for health benefits, a voter registration card, a foreign passport, and “matricula consulares.”

A social security number is not required to apply for D-CalFresh.

To the extent possible, verification of residency should be satisfied via information from other sources, such as a rent or mortgage billing statement, utility billing statement, and identity documents. No specific type of documentary proof is required.

Counties should assist households in obtaining necessary verification. This includes, with the client’s permission, verifying information through alternative sources such as online banking or utility accounts, and using collateral contacts.

Certified households must be able to access benefits within 72 hours of application, which begins to run on the day of the interview.

Authorized representatives may assist with Disaster CalFresh applications following the same policy as for regular CalFresh.

For wave 1, the Disaster CalFresh application period is February 6-10, and February 14-15.  For wave 2, the application period is February 9-10, and February 13-15.  For Wave 3, the application period is February 21-24 and February 27 to March 1,  Applicants must complete the CF 385 form and submit it during the application period.  Applications can be submitted by phone, online or in person. When accepting Disaster CalFresh applications by phone, verbal attestation is acceptable.

Disaster CalFresh interviews should be done in person when possible, but they can be done by phone.

If an online application does not have a phone number, or an applicant does not complete the interview when the county makes contact, the county must send the applicant a reminder notice.  (ACWDL, February 3, 2023,, February 8, 2023, and February 15, 2023.)

Additional extension of benefits eligibility for Afghan migrants

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has provided guidance about an additional extension of the arrival timeframe for Afghan Humanitarian Parolees and other persons who have left Afghanistan to be eligible for CalWORKs and CalFresh and refugee resettlement benefits.

Afghan Humanitarian Parolees, and their spouse and children, are eligible for benefits and services to the same extent as refugees. Persons are Afghan Humanitarian Parolees if they are citizens or national paroled into the United States between July 31, 2021 and September 30, 2023 (an extension of the original cutoff date first from September 30, 2022 and then from December 16, 2022). They are eligible from October 1, 2021 or the date they are paroled in the United States, whichever is later, to March 31, 2023, or the end of parolees’ parole term, whichever is later. Benefits that Humanitarian Parolees, and their spouse, children, parents or legal guardians are eligible for are Refugee Cash Assistance, CalWORKs, CalFresh, SSI, Refugee Support Services, and Services for Older Refugees. Counties should redetermine eligibility for benefits when parole has expired or by March 31, 2023, whichever is later.

Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders, Special Immigrant Conditional Permanent Residents, and Afghan Special Immigrant Lawful Permanent Residents are eligible for public benefits to the same extent as refugees if their status is established between July 31, 2021 and September 30, 2023.

Effective November 21, 2022, Afghan parolees and their families with certain classes of admission are considered work authorized without waiting for their employment authorization. This allows them to enroll in Refugee Cash Assistance employment services. Their unexpired I-94 is sufficient to show employment authorization for 90 days after they are hired.

Afghan Humanitarian Parolees, and their spouse, children, parents and legal guardian, who are admitted into the United States between July 31, 2021 and September 30, 2023 are eligible for CalFresh. They are not subject to the five year waiting period for refugees. They are eligible until March 31, 2023.  (ACWDL, January 30, 2023.)