Verifying shelter costs for CalFresh excess shelter deduction

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued instructions implementing AB 494 that requires counties to accept shelter costs reported by a CalFresh applicant or recipient on a signed application, periodic report or recertification.  Counties cannot request additional verification unless the expenses reported are questionable.

Counties must deduct the actual amount of the household’s monthly shelter costs in excess of 50 percent of their income after all other deductions.  The excess shelter cost deduction cannot be more than the current maximum unless the household includes at least one elderly and/or disabled member.

Allowable shelter costs include rent, mortgage payment, loan payment on a mobile home, condominium and homeowner association fees, property taxes and insurance on the home.

To be considered questionable, information reported must be inconsistent with statements made by the applicant or inconsistent with other information received by the county.  If the reported shelter expense is questionable, the county must verify it before allowing the deduction.  Counties cannot require a specific document or type of verification.  Acceptable verification includes rental agreement, rent receipts, mortgage bills, property tax assessment, home or renter’s insurance bills, hotel receipts, cancelled checks or copies. The reason a reported shelter cost was determined questionable, the request for verification, and any verification provided by the household, must be documented in the case file.  (ACL 19-86, August 21, 2019.)