CalFresh medical expense deduction

Elderly or disabled persons can deduct qualifying medical expenses from their income to determine CalFresh eligibility.  Under a federal waiver, until September 30, 2021, households with one elderly or disabled member that have qualifying medical expenses over $35 per month may claim a standard income deduction of $120.  Eligible households with qualifying medical expenses over $155 per month may deduct their actual expenses.

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has transmitted the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Guide to the Treatment of Medical Expenses for Elderly or Disabled Household members.  In addition to the FNS Guide, California has additional guidance on special circumstances.

A household can report medical expenses at any time during the certification period.  If the report results in an increase in benefits, the change is effective no later than the first allotment issued 10 days after the date the change was reported.  No supplemental benefits can be issued for previous months.  This supersedes previous guidance.

Costs of securing and maintaining a service animal are allowable medical expenses.  Service animals must be specially trained to assist the individual with the medical condition for which the animal is prescribed to be considered as service animal for purposes of CalFresh.  Expenses for an emotional support animal that meets this criteria are countable for purposes of CalFresh.

If it is evident that an animal is specially trained, no verification is needed.  If it is questionable whether the animal qualifies as a service animal, counties can only ask if the applicant/recipient if animal is required for a disability and what tasks the animal is trained to perform.

Direct payments for the costs of a service animal are not income for purposes of CalFresh.

For medical transportation, counties must use the Internal Revenue Service standard business rate to determine the amount of the expense deduction.  (ACL 21-13, February 5, 2021.)