CalFresh verification requirements and job loss reports

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding CalFresh verification requirements and treatment of reports of job loss or zero income at initial application and thereafter.  CDSS has listed 13 categories of information that must be verified.  Not all of those mandatory verifications apply to all households.  The county must only verify information that applies to the household and/or to claim a deduction.  Of the household cannot provide verification to claim a deduction and the household is eligible without the deduction, the county must complete the eligibility determination.  The household may qualify for the deduction later if they provide the verification.

Counties cannot require a specific type of verification even if the information is considered a mandatory.  Verification can be provided by various methods including documentary evidence, electronic verification, collateral contact and client statement.   When certain verification methods are unavailable to the household, the county must use the best available information.

Counties must assist all households in obtaining mandatory verification.  Counties must use existing verification sources when available, and electronic verification when applicable to the household.

Information that is not considered mandatory verification must only be verified is it is questionable.  The county must document in the case record why the information is considered questionable before requesting verification from the household.

At initial application, households must provide verification of income earned over the last 30 days unless the household just started working.  Verification of job loss is not mandatory. When a household member reports to have lost a job, the county must not require verification unless it is questionable.  The client’s statement of recent job loss is sufficient evidence that a household cannot reasonably anticipate income from that job to continue during the certification period.

When a household has zero income at initial appliction, a statement on the application that it has zero income is sufficient evidence that the household cannot reasonably anticipate income during the certification period.  The county must not require verification of zero income unless it is questionable.

When a household member is subject to CalFresh work requirements and the county learns that the applicant voluntarily quit their job within 60 days prior to the date of the application, the county must determine whether there was good cause to quit.  The county must request verification if the information provided is questionable.

When a CalFresh household reports a job loss after initial application, counties must request verification of the decrease in income and the amount of the decrease.  If the job loss caused a decrease in income of $50 or more, the county must verify the household’s new income to determine continuing eligibility.  If the job loss led to zero income, a statement from the household that it has zero income is sufficient unless it is questionable.

For voluntary mid-period reports of a decrease in income of $50 or more, the county must change benefits no later than the month following the month when the decrease was reported.  If the change was reported after the 20th of the month and it is too late to adjust the following month’s benefits, the county shall issue an underpayment by the 10th of the following month.  (ACL 20-48, April 22, 2020.)