Changes to CalFresh electronic theft replacement policy

California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding changes to the CalFresh electronic theft replacement policy.  These changes are effective December 1, 2023.

CalFresh recipients are no longer required to report electronic theft to EBT Customer Service or the county within 10 days of the theft.  CalFresh recipients must file the EBT 2259 Report of Electronic Theft form with the county within 90 calendar days of the theft.  CalFresh recipients who had there benefits electronically stolen by scamming, that is, by getting tricked into disclosing their PIN, no longer need to also complete the EBT 2259A form.

The county or EBT Customer Service must immediately deactivate and replace an EBT card when the household reports theft.

CalFresh recipients who lose benefits to electronic theft can receive up to two months of replacement benefits for each countable replacement of electronic theft.  A countable replacement is each overall sequence of electronic theft transactions, regardless of how many transactions are involved.

A household can only receive two instances of electronic theft replacement each fiscal year (October 1 to September 30).  Replacements prior to December 1, 2023 do not count toward this limit.

The county has 10 business days from receipt of the EBT 2259 form to process the claim.

Automation of electronic theft claims, including availability of the EBT 2259 form on BenefitsCal, is expected by March 2024.

CalFresh recipients may be eligible for retroactive replacement of CalFresh benefits electronically stolen between October 1, 2022 and November 30, 2023.  To file a retroactive claim, CalFresh recipients must complete the revised EBT 2259 form no later than February 29, 2024.  Retroactive replacements are available if the cardholder was denied replacement benefits for not meeting the previous 10 day filing requirement, the cardholder only got one month of replacement benefits, but more than one month of benefits was electronically stolen, or the cardholder did not previously file an EBT 2259 form.  Retroactive claims are subject to the to countable replacements per fiscal year limit.

The county has 30 days to process retroactive claims and issue replacement benefits.  The county cannot require issuing a replacement EBT card.

Counties can no longer deny replacement benefits based on the dollar amount of a claim or the number of previous claims.  Counties must consider all facts of a claim to determine if an investigation is appropriate.  Counties can no longer delay replacement of benefits unless the county believes the claim itself to be fraudulent.  If the investigation determines that the claim is fraudulent, the county can pursue appropriate administrative or criminal actions.

(ACL 23-92, November 6, 2023.)