The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has released an update on bank account standards for direct deposit of CalWORKs benefits.

The Welfare and Institutions Code allows direct deposit by electronic fund transfers to qualifying financial institution accounts selected by CalWORKs recipients. However, some non-bank organizations charge an overdraft fee. To protect against these actions, SB 497 and this ACL set out criteria that extend protection from overdraft fees, and sets standards accounts to be considered qualifying accounts for direct deposit of government benefits.

There are two types of account that are considered qualifying accounts.  One is a demand deposit or savings account at an insured depository financial institution

County treasurer and county welfare departments are not responsible for allowing direct deposits into accounts that do not meet the necessary requirements for a “qualifying account” under SB 497.  Counties are recommended to give information about qualifying accounts when telling applicants and recipients about their option to use direct deposit accounts at application and redetermination, and additionally upon request.  The EBT 2216 form can be used to give this information.

Form EBT 2216 was created to inform clients and recipients about using EBT cards and direct deposit accounts to receive government assistance benefits. This form now includes information on overdraft fees and qualified accounts. EBT 2216 is a mandatory form and cannot be changed.  (ACL 22-82, October 20, 2022.)

Exclusion of foster care and guaranteed income payments for child care eligibility

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance and information on the exclusion of foster care payments and guaranteed income payments when determining eligibility for subsidized child care and development programs. CDSS will implement these changes via childcare bulletin immediately until regulations are adopted, and these changes are effective immediately.

Foster care payments, Approved Relative Caregiver Funding Program payments, Emergency Assistance Program payments, and Tribal Approved Relative Caregiver Funding Program payments are no longer counted as income when determining eligibility for subsidized child care.

Guaranteed income payments received by an individual will not be included as income when determining eligibility for subsidized child care. Guaranteed income payments are unconditional, recurring, regular cash payments, whether publicly or privately funded, that are intended to support the basic needs of eligible recipients. Guaranteed income payments include, but are not limited to, payments provided through pilot programs and projects receiving funding from the California Guaranteed Income Pilot Program. (CCB 22-30, October 10, 2022.)

Implementation of CalWORKs Homeless Assistance changes

SB 1065 (2020) made several changes to CalWORKs Homeless Assistance benefits.  Implementation of those changes was contingent on programming into the CalSAWS computer system.  The California Department of Social Services has announced that the programming has been completed, and the changes to the Homeless Assistance program are operational effective September 1, 2022.  These changes are described in ACL 21-121, summarized here.

Any family denied Homeless Assistance on or after September 1, 2022 based on rules that were changed shall have that denial reversed.  (ACIN I-70-22, November 1, 2022.)

 

CAPI Cost of Living Increase

The Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI) payment standard will increase by 8.7% effective January 1, 2023.  This increase is because the SSI/SSP payment standard will increase by 8.7%.

According to the Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) §18941, CAPI payment standards are equivalent to SSI/SSP. Accordingly, an increase in cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) standards will lead to an increase in CAPI and SSI / SSP standards. The federal SSI COLA plan will also affect eligibility for the program.

Presumed maximum value (PMV) for in-kind and maintenance will change accordingly from $300.33 to $324.66 for a person and from $440.33 to $477.00 for a couple.

Allowance for ineligible children in deeming situations will change from $420.00 to $457.00. This allowance is used when a CAPI case includes deemed income from an ineligible spouse with a child(ren), or when a CAPI case includes deemed income from an ineligible parent(s) to a child.

Sponsor’s allocation in sponsor deeming situation will increase from $841.00 to $914.00. This allocation is used in a case involving deemed income from a sponsor.

Allowance for parent(s) in parent-to-child deeming situations will increase from $841.00 to $914.00 for one parent and from $1,261.00 to $1,371.00 for two parents. The allowance is used when a CAPI case includes deemed income from an ineligible parent(s).  (ACIN I-71-22, November 8, 2022.)

Treatment of CAPP payments for various programs

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance to County Welfare Departments (CWDs) regarding treatment of California Arrearages Payment Program (CAPP) payments issued to California assistance program applicants and recipients to help pay eligible past due energy bills that increased during the COVID-19 pandemic

CAPP payments do not count as income when determining eligibility and/or grant amount for the CalWORKs program and do not count against the resource limit for the 12 months after receipt of payment. Furthermore, CAPP authorized payments are not considered in-kind income for CalWORKs recipients.

For both CalFresh and the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP), CAPP payments are considered third-party payments that are not owed to the household and therefore are not counted income. CAPP payments are not considered resources for CalFresh and CFAP.

For Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) Medi-Cal, CAPP payments are treated as a qualified disaster relief payment similar to other disaster payments that the IRS exempts from gross income. This means that CAPP payments are not counted in the MAGI Medi-Cal eligibility determination. For Non-MAGI Medi-Cal, CAPP payments are considered exempt disaster and emergency assistance and do not count as income or a resource.

CAPP payments do not count as income for the Cash Assistance Programs for Immigrants (CAPI), because they are considered to be a tax refund. CAPP payments do not count as a resource for CAPI for the 12 months after the payment is made.

RCA, ECA, and TCVAP programs do not count CAPP payments as income and do not count as a resource limit for 12 months after receipt of the payment because their programs use the same rules as CalWORKs. (ACL 22-83, October 21, 2022.)

Treatment of Better for Families Tax Refund, and the Young Child and Foster Youth Tax Credits

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance for various programs about the treatment of Better for Families Tax Refund, and the Young Child and Foster Youth Tax Credits.

AB 192 established the Better for Families Tax Refund program, called the middle-class tax refund. SB 201 expanded the definition of a qualified taxpayer to include taxpayers with no earned income and those in foster care between the ages of 18 and 25.

The CalWORKs program treats the Better for Families Tax Refund the same as the federal earned income tax credit. It does not count as income and does not count as a resource for 12 months.  Refunds from the Young Child and Adopted Youth Tax Credit are treated the same as federal earned income refunds and do not count as income, and do not count as a resource for 12 months.

CalFresh and the California Food Assistance Program do not count either the of Better for Families Tax Refund, or the Young Child and Foster Youth Credits as income. CalFresh and the California Food Assistance Program counts them as a resource beginning in the month received. However, most households are in California are not subject to a resource limit because they have either Categorical Eligibility or Modified Categorical Eligibility.

The Better for Families Tax Refund does not count as income for Medi-Cal Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) applicants or recipients. It will be considered property for non-MAGI Medi-Cal recipients.  Counties are reminded that the property limit for non-MAGI Medi-Cal is now $130,000 for one person and $65,000 for each additional person.

The Department of Health Services (DHCS) is seeking a federal waiver to exempt the Young Child and Foster Youth Tax Credit from being treated as income.

The CalWORKs program rules apply to RCA, ECA, and TCVAP programs, and they must follow the CalWORKs rule above both the Better for Families Tax Refund, and the Young Child and Foster Youth Tax Credits.

The Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI) treats both the Better for Families Tax Refunds and the Young Child and Foster Youth Tax Credit in the same way as federal earned income refunds, and federal tax refunds are excluded from counting as income and from the resource limit.  (ACL 22-91, October 28, 2022.)