CalFresh reporting responsibilities for substantial lottery or gambling winnings

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding reporting requirements for CalFresh applicants and recipients who receive substantial lottery or gambling winnings.  Households must report receipt of substantial winnings within 10 calendar days of receipt of winnings at any time during the certification period.  This mid-period reporting requirement is in addition to existing mid-period reporting requirements.

Substantial lottery winnings are a cash prize won in a single game, purchase of a ticket, hand, or similar bet, which is equal to or greater than the resource limit for elderly or disabled households, which is currently $3,500.  The dollar amount is determined before taxes or other withholding.  If a household member shared in the purchase of a ticket, hand, or similar bet, with a non-household member, the total portion of the winnings allocated to the household must be considered when determining whether a household is required to report during the certification period.  This reporting requirement applies even if the household immediately spends or loses a substantial portion of the winnings and the remaining winnings are below the resource limit for elderly and disabled households.

The county must verify the winnings, and if the dollar amount is above the resource limit, must discontinue the entire household based on receipt of the winnings.  A household with substantial winnings will remain ineligible until the household’s income and resources do not exceed the resource limit.  This applies to all households, including categorically eligible households where all members receive CalWORKs, general assistance, SSI, and households certified under modified categorical eligibility.

A household may reapply for CalFresh at any time.  The household must not be considered categorically eligible or modified categorical eligible.  Counties must apply the CalFresh gross income, net income and resource test.  This requirement only applies the first time the household is certified following the loss of eligibility.

If the household composition has changed, the household is considered a different household that is treated as any other CalFresh applicant household.

Counties must verbally inform all new and existing households of the new substantial lottery and gambling winnings reporting requirement during the initial certification and recertification interview.  Counties must inform the household that benefits will be discontinued if the household receives substantial winnings during the certification period.  (ACL 20-132, December 11, 2020.)