ACL 08-11: CalWORKs And Food Stamp Program: Changes In Asset Exclusion Rules And New EITC Outreach Activities (4/23/08)

Assembly Bills 2466 and 1078 changed the asset exclusion rules in the CalWORKs and Food Stamp programs and provide for EITC outreach activities in the CalWORKs program. Until the implementing regulations are released (“soon”), the counties must follow the rules in this ACL. 1) Effective January 1, 2008, there is no maximum amount that current CalWORKs recipients may save in a restricted account. (This changes the existing regulation at MPP Section 89-130.) The ACL tells counties to “ensure” that no one has been discontinued since 1/1/08 for excess resources in restricted accounts, and if they have, to restore aid retroactively. Already a rule in the Food Stamps program, and CalWORKs through Food Stamp simplification (MPP Sect. 42-213.2) the letter also instructs counties that both the principal and interest in 401(k), 403(b) and 457 retirement plan accounts are exempt from consideration as property for both CalWORKs applicants and recipients. Additionally, effective January 1, 2007 (yes, over a year ago), AB 2466 exempted IRAs, 529 college savings plans and Coverdell Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs) from consideration as property for CalWORKs recipients only. Counties must immediately exempt these three accounts for either applicants or recipients, and correct any cases denied or terminated for these accounts on or after January 1, 2007. Food Stamps does not exclude IRAs, 529 college savings plans and Coverdell ESA accounts for non-assistance households, per Food and Nutrition Service’s Administrative Notice (AN) 02-26. Since there is no separate food stamp resource test for CalWORKs families who are categorically eligible for food stamps, accounts excluded for CalWORKs eligibility purposes shall also be excluded for categorically eligible food stamp households. There’s a handy chart of what counts/doesn’t in these two programs, attached to the letter. Finally, the letter reminds counties that they are required to provide applicants/recipients the federal EITC form and encourage and assist the recipient to take advantage of it. [Download]