Eligibility Disqualifications for Certain Convicted Felons and New Attestation Requirements

The California Department of Social Services has issued guidance regarding a federal regulation change to CalFresh eligibility that imposes new disqualifications for certain convicted felons. These new disqualifications do not change the rules regarding fleeing felons and probation or parole violations.

Any adult who has been convicted of aggravated sexual abuse, murder, sexual exploitation and other abuse of children, a Federal or State offense involving sexual assault, or an offense under State law determined by the Attorney General to be substantially similar to one of the first three offenses listed, after February 7, 2014, and who is not in compliance with the terms of their sentence, will not be eligible for CalFresh benefits.

The new federal regulations require an attestation by all individuals applying or recertifying for CalFresh benefits whether they have been convicted of one of these crimes as an adult, and whether the convicted household member is complying with the terms of their sentence. Individuals may provide attestations in writing, verbally, or both.  CalFresh applications will have a new question where individuals can state whether the individual or any adult member of their household has been convicted of any of the disqualifying crimes, and if so whether they are in compliance with the terms of their sentence. The online applications will also have the new attestation requirement added.

Counties must explain the attestation requirement to the applicant household during the interview. Individuals cannot be required to come to the county office only to make the attestation. The individual’s attestation must be documented by the CWDs in their case file.

Verification requests must be limited to attestations that are considered questionable, which is  when the application has contradicting information or discrepancies that would cast doubt on the timeliness, completeness, or accuracy. For questionable applications, the county must verify any conviction for crimes and that the individual is out of compliance with the terms of their sentence. When verifying an attestation, counties can use their Special Investigation Unit, Investigators, and R-IEVS Fleeing Felon Match.

Application processing must not be delayed beyond required processing times only because verification has not yet been received.  If the county must act on the case to meet the time standards, the application must be processed without consideration of the individual’s conviction status.

The implementation of the new eligibility disqualifications will be effective upon funding and completion of automation in CalSAWS.  (ACL 23-59, June 28, 2023, and ACL 23-59E, September 28, 2023.)