COVID-19 CalFresh waiver of interview requirements

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) is implementing federal waivers of the initial application and recertification interview and face-to-face interview.  These waivers were previously in effect, and are not being reimplemented because of the Continuing Appropriations Act.  These waivers are effective from now until June 30, 2021.  The waivers can be applied to any application pending at the time of the release of the guidance.

Counties must waive the requirement for an interview at initial certification and recertification of eligibility for benefits if the county has verified the identity of the applicant and has completed all mandatory verifications.  Households entitled to expedited service and whose identity is verified within the three-day expedited service timeframe will have their initial interview waived prior to benefit issuance.  If an expedited service household does not provide missing mandatory verification, benefits will be discontinued per existing CDSS policy.

To verify identity counties must accept any readily available documentary evidence which reasonably establishes the applicant’s identity.  If documentary evidence is not readily available, counties may verify identity using collateral contacts.

For other verification, counties should proactively use electronic verification when it is available.

Verification of job loss is not a mandatory verification for CalFresh.  Verification of job loss should be requested only if the job loss is questionable. A client’s statement of job loss is sufficient evidence that the client cannot reasonably anticipate income from that job.

If the county determines that any of the information provided on the application is questionable or incomplete, or the applicant does not complete identity verification or other mandatory verification, then an interview is required.

For households whose interviews cannot be waived, counties may require the household to completed a telephone interview even if they request a face-to-face interview.  (All County Welfare Directors Letter, October 21, 2020.)