Instructions on interpreter services and confidentiality agreement

County welfare departments must offer free bilingual or interpreter services to all non-English speaking or limited English proficient persons. The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued a new form, the CR 6181, to inform non-English speaking or limited English proficient persons of the risks of using their own interpreter instead of using a free interpreter provided the county.  Counties must use this form when applicants or recipients choose to use their own interpreter after being offer a free interpreter by the county.  The CR 6181 form replaces any county form previously used for this purpose.

The county must ensure that the applicant or recipient and their interpreter have read and understood the CR 6181 form.  The county must provide the CR 6181 form in the applicant or recipient’s primary language (if it has been translated into that language), and provide an interpreter to help with understanding the form.   If the applicant/recipient or their interpreter refuse to sign the form, the county must use a county-provided interpreter or bilingual staff member.

The form must be completed at redetermination, if it was signed over a year previous, or if the applicant/recipient chooses a different interpreter.

For telephone or virtual communication, the county must use a county provided interpreter unless a CR 6181 is already on file.  If there is a CR 6181 on file, the applicant/recipient can use their own interpreter.  If there is not a CR 6181 on file, it was signed over a year previous, or a different interpreter was named on the form, the county must read the form to the applicant/recipient in their primary language age get verbal consent to the risks of using their own interpreter.

The CR 6181 does not replace the GEN 1365 Notice of Language Services which informs individuals of their right to free language assistance services.  Counties are reminded that they must advise clients of their right to a free interpreter, and must provide interpreter services promptly and without delay.  Although clients can use their own interpreter, a county must not compel or encourage them to do so.  A client can use a minor as an interpreter only in extenuating circumstances.  (ACL 21-128, November 12, 2021.)

CalFresh flexible interview scheduling and Medi-Cal dual enrollment

Counties were initially required to implement flexible interview scheduling for CalFresh no later than July 1, 2021.  See ACL 21-24, summarized here.  That deadline was extended to January 1, 2022.  By January 1, 2022, counties must one of these interview scheduling methods: time block interviews, telephonic contact in conjunction with written communication about scheduling an interview, and same day interviews.

Counties were required to implement CalFresh/MediCal dual enrollment by January 1, 2022.  See ACL 21-52, summarized here.  That deadline has been extended to January 1, 2023.  (ACL 21-150, December 31, 2021.)

Eligibility of Afghan Humanitarian Parolees and Afghan Special Immigrant Conditional Permanent Residents for Refugee Resettlement Program, CalWORKs, CalFresh and SSI

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has provided revised guidance regarding eligibility of Afghan Humanitarian Parolees Afghanistan for Refugee Resettlement Program, CalWORKs and CalFresh benefits, and new guidance regarding eligibility for Afghan Special Immigrant Conditional Permanent Residents.  This guidance superceedes ACWDL September 3, 2021.

Afghan Special Immigrant Conditional Permanent Residents and Afghan Special Immigrant Lawful Permanent Residents are eligible for public benefits to the same extent as refugees.  Afghan Special Immigrant Conditional Permanent Residents are persons waiting for medical clearance to enter the United States.

Afghan Humanitarian Parolees, and their spouse and children, are eligible for benefits and services to the same extent as refugees.  They are eligible from October 1, 2021 or the date they are paroled in the United States, whichever is later, to March 31, 2023, or the end of parolees’ parole term, whichever is later.  Benefits that Humanitarian Parolees, and their spouse and children, are eligible for are Refugee Cash Assistance, CalWORKs, CalFresh, SSI, Refugee Support Services, and Services for Older Refugees.  Counties should redetermine eligibility for benefits when parole has expired or by March 31, 2023, whichever is later.

For CalWORKs, Afghan Humanitarian Parolees are not subject to the five-year ban on federally funded CalWORKs benefits.

For CalWORKs, reception and placement cash benefits count as property because they are considered recurring lump sum payments.

Afghan Humanitarian Parolees can be eligible for CalWORKs Housing Support Program.  Housing Support and Homeless Assistance can supplement federal refugee resettlement funds.  (ACWDL, December 2, 2021.)

COVID-19 CalFresh emergency allotment for December, 2021

California has been approved to issue an emergency allotment of CalFresh for November, 2021.  All households will receive at least the maximum CalFresh allotment.  Households eligible to receive the maximum allowable allotment based on household size are now eligible to receive an emergency allotment of $95 per month. Households who are not eligible to receive the maximum allowable allotment based on household size, but whose emergency allotment would be less than $95 per month to receive the maximum allotment, will receive additional CalFresh benefits to raise their emergency allotment to the $95 minimum.

The emergency allotment will be issued on January 16, 2022.

Moving forward, emergency allotments may be approved by FNS on a month-to-month basis until the Secretary of Health and Human Services rescinds the public health emergency.  There will be a one-month phase out of emergency allotments after the public health emergency is rescinded.  (ACWDL, December 17, 2021.)

Replacement of CalFresh stolen by electronic theft

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has changed its policy regarding CalFresh benefits stolen by electronic theft in accordance with the decision in Ortega v. Johnson. There are two types of electronic theft of benefits: skimming, which is use of electronic equipment to capture a recipient’s electronic benefits card, and scamming, which is deceiving a recipient to disclose their account information.

Recipients can report possible electronic theft by contacting the EBT Customer Service Helpline or contacting the county.  The report must occur within 10 days of the electronic theft.  Once the report is made, the recipient must complete the EBT 2259 report within 90 days of the electronic theft.  The recipient is not required to file a police report.  If the recipient does file a police report, they are not required to submit a copy of the police report.

CalFresh benefits stolen electronically cannot be replace more than twice in six months.  This does not include replacement because of household misfortune such as a mass replacement because of a power outage.  A skimming or scamming sequence over a series of transactions counts as one countable replacement.  The maximum replacement amount is one month of benefits.

Counties can deny replacement when the available documentation indicates that the replacement request is fraudulent, or the request for replacement is not for electronic theft.

Counties must refer a case for investigation when the claim is over $1,000 and the claim amount is more than the maximum monthly allotment for the household.  Counties can refer a case for investigation when more than two skimming claims are processed within a six month period.  Counties must refer a case for investigation and pend the replacement for up to 25 days when three or more electronic theft claims are filed within a 12-month period.

Replacement benefits do not count as income or a resource.  (ACL 21-133, October 29, 2021.)