CalFresh work rules verbal script

The CalFresh Work Rules Oral Script provides guidelines for county welfare departments (CWDs) to explain work rules to CalFresh recipients. Section 1 provides information on CalFresh Work rules which may vary by household. Section 2 only applies to households with a work registrant. The section communicates CalFresh work rules and how to receive CalFresh benefits. Section 3 only applies to households with able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD). The section communicates the work requirements for ABAWD’s including exemptions, punishments for non-compliance, and the process to regain CalFresh benefits within a 3 year period. Section 4 only applies to households if the county provides an employment and training program (E&T). The section provides information on the E&T voluntary program and must be introduced by CWD’s to household members considered work registrants. Section 5 is for questions raised during the oral explanation.

California currently has a waiver of the ABAWD rules, which means that, except for work registration, none of the ABAWD rules currently apply in California.  However, CWDs are still  required by federal regulation to provide a written and oral explanation of CalFresh work rules to eligible members. After submitting a CalFresh application, applicants are automatically registered for CalFresh work requirements. CalFresh work rules must be followed to ensure benefits are not decreased or stopped.

CDSS’ CalFresh work rules script explains the ABAWD rules.  CalFresh recipients are required to work at least 30 hours a week and cannot decrease hours worked unless they have a valid reason. Examples include being sick, caring for a child younger than 12 years old, working in unreasonable conditions, or physically being unable to work.

Recipients are excused from CalFresh work rules if they are:

  1. Under 16 years old or over 60, or
  2. Taking care of a child that is under 6 years old, or
  3. Taking care of someone with a disability, or
  4. Getting or applying for unemployment or disability benefits, or
  5. Going to school or a training program, or
  6. Meeting work rules for another program like CalWORKS, or
  7. Attending a drug abuse treatment program.

The first violation of CalFresh work rules results in a 1-month suspension of benefits. The second violation results in a 3-month suspension. A third violation results in a 6-month suspension of benefits. Once benefits are suspended, applicants must reapply and meet or be excused from the work rules to access benefits.

. ABAWD work requirements apply to people between the ages of 18 and 52 who don’t live with children under 18 years old and are physically and mentally able to work. Adhering to ABAWD work requirements allows recipients to keep CalFresh benefits for longer than three months in a three-year period. In order to maintain benefits, ABAWDs must work, volunteer, or participate in employment and training activities for at least 20 hours per week or 80 hours per month. Examples of work activities include a job, workfare, community service, volunteer work, or joining a training program. If ABAWDs begin working below 20 hours per week/80 hours per month, the county must be notified within 10 days. ABAWDs are exempt from work requirements in the following scenarios:

  1. Struggling with mental and physical health issues
  2. Experiencing homelessness
  3. Struggling with drug and alcohol problems
  4. Victims of domestic violence
  5. Living with a child under 18
  6. Pregnant
  7. Veteran
  8. Under 28 years old and were in foster care on their 18th birthday

If CalFresh recipients do not meet ABAWD work requirements for 3 months, they will lose benefits until the end of the 3-year period. To get CalFresh benefits again, recipients must reapply and meet or be excused from ABAWD work requirements.

If the county CalFresh recipients reside in has an employment and training program, CWDs are required to explain the program. The CalFresh employment and training program (E&T) helps recipients find and train for jobs. The program is voluntary and covers costs like transportation, childcare, tools, books, uniforms, and personal safety items. CalFresh recipients are not required to participate in the program to receive benefits.

After CWDs finish explaining the CalFresh work rules, recipients will be mailed all of the information discussed.  (ACL 24-42, June 14, 2024.)