CalFresh pre-release application process for incarcerated persons

The California Department of Social Services has issued recommendations regarding processing CalFresh applications for incarcerated persons.  Currently, California does not have a statewide process for processing pre-release CalFresh applications.  California has requested a federal waiver to create such a process.  However, California has a waiver for a pilot project in Orange County from March 1, 2021 to February 28, 2023 that allows incarcerated persons to apply for CalFresh up to 30 days before their release date.

For verifying the identity of the applicant, counties must accept any readily available documentary evidence which reasonably establishes the applicant’s identity and, if documentary evidence is not readily available, counties may verify identity through a collateral contact.  For formerly incarcerated individuals, identification cards and booking sheets from the prison or jail are examples of acceptable forms of identification. Any documents which reasonably establish the applicant’s identity must be accepted, and counties cannot require a specific type of document.

For Social Security Numbers, applications should be filed using the exact name associated with the Social Security Number even when the applicant is incarcerated under an alias or other alternate name.

Counties must assist all households in getting mandatory verification. Counties must use existing verification when available including electronic sources when applicable to the household.

Counties must screen all CalFresh applicants for work registration requirements.  This includes formerly incarcerated individuals.  Counties must inform all applicants of available local employment services related to experience, training, and education that the individual has obtained before or during their incarceration.

Counties can partner with community based organizations to provide application assistance inside county jails.  (ACWDL, November 18, 2022.)