New languages for online Unemployment Insurance application

The online application for Unemployment Insurance is now available in Armenian, Korean, and Tagalog.  These languages are in addition to English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Vietnamese.  The application is available through the MyEDD online portal and UI Online.

Unemployment Insurance customers can now receive  updates about the status of their claim and payment notifications via email or text message in those eight languages.  (EDD News Release 24-12, March 28, 2024.)

 

 

Direct deposit of Unemployment Insurance, State Disability Insurance and Paid Family Leave benefits

Unemployment Insurance, State Disability Insurance and Paid Family Leave benefits can now be issue by direct deposit into personal checking or savings accounts.  Recipients can elect to have their benefits issued by direct deposit by going to their MyEDD account, selecting profile on the main menu, and then updating their preferred payment option.  (EDD News Release 24-23, June 17, 2024.)

Electronic signatures for CAPI

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding electronic signatures for the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI).  Counties that have electronic signature capability can use it for CAPI applications and redeterminations, as long as the process meets the requirements of the California Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, Civil Code section 1633.1 et seq. Counties can use electronic signatures for all CAPI forms, and for the SSP-14 form.

Counties must ensure that their electronic signature processes include: for telephone signatures, having necessary technology catalog and maintain an audio file to record verbal assent; for other electronic signature options, have the technology to catalog and retrieve an electronic record of the claimant’s actions; for non-paper applications, promptly give a printed application and instructions for correcting errors and omissions; using the date the application was received by the county, and implement confidentiality procedures.

CDSS is working on electronic signature capability for several additional CAPI forms, including the Statement of Facts, and waiver of recovery of overpayment. (ACL 24-41, June 14, 2024.)

2024 SUN Bucks implementation

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) is implementing the SUN Bucks program for Summer 2024 to provide nutrition benefits to low-income families with school age-children. The program will provide $40 per month in food benefits during the Summer Operational Period (SOP), spanning June, July, and August.

During the Summer of 2024, County Welfare Departments (CWD’s) are not responsible for implementing SUN Bucks. However, eligible families may contact CWD’s with general questions about SUN Bucks. CDSS is asking CWD’s to proactively share information about the availability of the program.

Sun Bucks cards will be mailed to addresses on file with the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) or the California Statewide Automated Welfare System (CalSAWS). Families are highly encouraged to keep their addresses current with their schools or county.

For school aged children receiving Cal Fresh, Cal Works, or Medi-Cal who are experiencing homelessness and using a CWD office address for mail pick up, SUN Buck cards are delivered to the CWD office.

Children eligible for Free or Reduced Price Meals (FRPM) automatically qualify for SUN Bucks. Eligibility for FRPM is determined by

  1. School meal applications or alternative income forms; OR
  2. Receipt of CalWORKs, CalFresh, or Medi-Cal benefits; OR
  3. Categorical eligibility for FRPM established by attending Head Start, experiencing homelessness, being in Foster Care, being a runaway, or being part of a migrant family

Children are automatically eligible for SUN Bucks if either

  1. For Children age 0-22, the CALPADS system shows they have been determined eligible for FRPM based on school meal application/alternative income forms ‘categorical eligibility or
  2. For Children age 6-18, the CALSAWS system shows they are eligible for FRPM based on receipt of CALWORKS, Cal Fresh, or Medi-Cal

Children who are not a part of CALPADS or CALSAWS and still want to access SUN Bucks benefits must apply for FRPM by completing a school meal application or alternative income form. Either application must be submitted to the school of enrollment by August 31, 2024. Families can obtain a correct FRPM application from the school administrators office.

For summer 2024, there is no dedicated SUN Bucks application.

SUN Bucks EBT cards look the same as Golden State Advantage EBT Cards and will arrive in the mail with activation information. SUN Bucks cards are accepted at the same locations as Cal Fresh EBT cards, including grocery stores, farmers markets, and approved online grocery retailers.

Each eligible child will get a card with $120 in food benefits. If a family has 4 eligible children, they will receive 4 separate cards. Cards will be mailed to the address on file with CALPADS and CalSAWS.

For summer 2024, EBT cards will be mailed to households by California’s EBT vendor, Fidelity Information Systems (FIS). Over the counter issuance of SUN Bucks EBT cards is prohibited.

SUN Bucks benefits will be expunged 122 days after available funds are loaded onto the EBT card. Expunged funds cannot be restored or replaced.

For Summer 2024, SUN Bucks EBT cards will be mailed by FIS staggered in stages.

Stage 1 card issuance begins June 2024 for children streamlined through CALPADS data as of March 31, 2024, or through CalSAWS data as of February 29, 2024. The first stage is anticipated to be completed in August 2024.

Stage 2 card issuance is for newly eligible children who qualify for SUN Bucks and will begin in late August. Children determined eligible through Cal SAWS data between March 1 and August 31, 2024 will be issued cards in stage 2. Children determined eligible through CALPADS data beginning April 1, 2024 will also be issued cards in stage 2 until issuance is complete. Stage 2 will include issuances related to replacement request. The second stage of SUN Bucks card issuance should be completed by the end of January 2025.

The SUN Bucks helpline is accessible via the California EBT customer service center, beginning May 28, 2024. Families can call (877) 328-9677 to reach the SUN Bucks helpline.

Requests to replace SUN Bucks card are granted if

  1. A SUN Bucks card holder reports a previously activated card was lost, stolen, or damaged; OR
  2. The SUN Bucks card was not received in the mail

For Summer 2024, disputes regarding eligibility or other actions will be handled at the state level through a process facilitated by SUN Bucks helpline. Families can use the SUN Bucks helpline to request a review of a decision regarding their benefits.  (ACWDL, May 28, 2024.)

GetCalFresh sunset

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has announced that the GetCalFresh online application tool for CalFresh will sunset on September 30, 2025.  The sunset will happen in phases.  The GetCalFresh tool for joint applications processing of CalFresh and Social Security applications with counties the Social Security Administration will sunset and transition to BenefitsCal on September 30, 2024.  The Semi-Annual reporting (SAR 7) feature in GetCalFresh will sunset in December 2024.  The GetCalFresh application assistance tool, including the community based organizations portal, and the document uploader tool in GetCalFresh will sunset in June 2025.  The GetCalFresh website and customer service will sunset on September 30, 2025. (ACWDL, May 14, 2024.)

Guaranteed Income pilot for nonminor dependents exiting foster care

iFoster is operating a Guaranteed Income Pilot Project statewide.  Youth can be eligible for the iFoster Guaranteed Income pilot if they 1) are exiting extended foster care in California, and are California residents, except for youth exiting foster care in San Francisco, Ventura, Riverside, San Bernardino, Napa, San Mateo, and Alameda (because those counties operate their own guaranteed income projects for exiting foster youth); 2) are youth in foster care who are expected to exit foster care on their 21st birthday and who apply within 90 days prior to, or 30 days after, their 21st birthday, for the enrollment window specified above; 3) have income below a predetermined threshold; and 4) are not currently enrolled in another Guaranteed Income Pilot Project.

iFoster will give $750 per month for 18 months to 300 people who qualify for the program. Individuals will be selected for receipt of guaranteed income using random assignment or a lottery.

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) encourages counties and probation departments to give information about iFoster to youth exiting foster care during their transition planning. iFoster will work with CDSS to verify a youth’s eligibility and help them complete the application.

Applications will be accepted until July 31, 2024.  Individuals who are not selected for the program may still be able to be compensated for participation in research activities. iFoster will provide resource navigation services including referral and application, and government benefits counseling and application support, to all youth referred by counties regardless of eligibility for or enrollment in iFoster’s guaranteed income pilot. (ACIN I-60-23, October 16, 2023.)