CAPI application process

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued reminders about the application process for the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI).

Any person who wants to apply for CAPI must be allowed to do so immediately.  People attempting to apply for CAPI cannot be turned away by the county for any reason.  This is true even if the an applicant is applying in a county they do not reside in.  In that situation, the county must offer to start the application and that the application will be forwarded to the correct county.

Counties cannot dissuade persons from applying for CAPI.  Counties may not issue verbal eligibility decisions and must follow all notice requirements.  Counties may not redirect CAPI applicants to other county offices or agencies until they have made a determination of CAPI eligibility.

Counties must assist applicants as needed to establish CAPI eligibility.  This includes providing required application forms, information on how to obtain required documents, and information about alternative types of documentation.  Counties must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities in the application process.

Counties must assist applicants in their preferred language.  CAPI applicants may not be turned away based on unavailability of county staff who speak the applicant’s preferred language.  Counties can use telephone interpreter services.  CAPI applicants can use their own interpreter if the interpreter is at least 18 years old.  Only under extenuating circumstances or at the specific request of the applicant can a minor temporarily act as an interpreter.  Whenever the applicant provides their own interpreter, the county should inform the applicant that they have a right to a free interpreter.

All CAPI forms are available in English, Armenian, Spanish and Chinese on the CDSS website.  Applicants requesting assistance in any other language must be provided with interpretation of CAPI forms in their preferred language.

When a married couple applies for CAPI, each spouse must complete and sign their own application, must be assigned a separate case number, and get separate notices of action.

Counties must accept CAPI applications and documents at any county welfare department office. Applicants may not be redirected to other offices to apply.  County residents who call an office that does not process CAPI applications must be transferred to a county office that does and be given the direct phone number for that office.  Counties with call centers that accept CAPI applications must be given the opportunity to apply over the phone and the application should be sent for processing within 24 hours.  Counties cannot redirect phone applicants to apply in person or by mail.

Members of one of the CAPI consortia must accept CAPI application in-person, by mail or by phone, at any county welfare department office.  Consortium counties cannot direct callers or transfer callers to the lead consortium county.  Applications and forms must be scanned and emailed to the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance or the San Mateo Human Services as appropriate.

Counties must collect a photo id from the applicant.  CAPI applicants who apply based on age must provide evidence of age.  For people who do not have birth certificates, other evidence may be submitted to establish date of birth.

Counties must collect evidence of immigration status.  An applicant who does not have this documentation must still be allowed to apply.  There are many ways to prove immigration status or intent to obtain immigration status for victims of serious crime or trafficking survivors.  Counties must require qualified aliens to apply for SSI and to get evidence of the application or a denial based on immigration status.  Counties must not require an SSI application as a condition of applying for CAPI.  People who are not qualified aliens are not required to apply for SSI to be eligible for CAPI.  Because of COVID-19, verbal attestation of applying for SSI is sufficient until the end of the state of emergency.

All CAPI applicants are usually required have a face-to-face interview.  However, because of COVID-19, interviews can be done electronically until the end of the state of emergency.  (ACL 20-143.)  The interview should be within five days of the application so the county can make an eligibility decision within 30 days.

CAPI applicants under age 65 who have not already been found disabled for purposes of Med-Cal must be evaluated by the Disability Determination Service Division and are not eligible until that evaluation is done unless they are presumptively eligible.  (ACIN I-84-20, November 16, 2020.)