Verification of CalFresh student eligibility rule exemptions

Effective immediately, exemptions from the CalFresh student eligibility rule are now no longer mandatory verifications. Counties must only require verification that a student meets an exemption when information provided by the household is questionable or when a student’s claim of physical or mental unfitness is not evident to the county.

A student is defined as any person who is enrolled at least half-time, as defined by the institution, at an institution of higher education. A student must be determined ineligible to participate in CalFresh unless they meet at least one exemption. Students who are enrolled less than half-time in courses are not considered a student for CalFresh purposes and do not need to meet an exemption. Exemptions include but are not limited to:

  • Working 20 hours a week or 80 hours a month
  • Attending school as part of an employment and training program
  • Attending school as part of a program to increase employability
  • Being a TANF-funded benefit recipient
  • The student is physically or mentally unfit

Previously, the county verified all exemptions, but now must only verify exemptions from the student eligibility rule in questionable cases or when a student’s physical or mental unfitness is not evident to the county. When verifying exemptions, the county must follow existing guidelines.

Information is considered questionable when the application differs from the applicant’s statements or other information received by the county. The county must document why the information is questionable, or where in the case file the inconsistency exists and what documentation was used to resolve the inconsistency.

Verification for physical or mental unfitness is required when the unfitness or disability is not evident to the county. Verification can be provided by any medical health professional or the applicant’s case manager.

Counties must review relevant information during the application and reapplication process to mitigate the occurrence of errors and variances. (ACL 21-58, May 21, 2021.)