CalWORKs Income Reporting Threshold for Fiscal Year 2024

Effective October 1, 2023, new CalWORKs Income Reporting Threshold (IRT) will be effective.  The new IRT amounts are in a chart attached to this ACL.  Income over the IRT amount must be reported mid-period, that is, when it occurs between semi-annual reports or annual recertifications.  Income that must be reported is the total combined earned and unearned income of the assistance unit.  The IRT reporting amount is 55% of the federal poverty level for a family of 3, plus the amount of income used most recently used to determine the assistance unit’s grant.  Income over the IRT must be reported within 10 days of receipt.

Assistance Units with no income or only unearned income are required to report income changes only if they receive new earned income that, when combined with other earned income, exceeds the IRT.

When income over the IRT is reported to the county, the county must determine if the income is reasonably anticipated to continue.  If it is reasonably anticipated to continue, the county must redetermine the CalWORKs grant amount using the new income amount.  If the grant will be decreased, the county must give timely and adequate notice to decrease the grant at the end of the month.  If the new income amount exceeds 130% of the Federal Poverty Level, the county must discontinue CalWORKs at the end of the month after timely and adequate notice is given.

It is possible that there will be some cases that are over the IRT, but under 130% of the Federal Poverty Level, where the assistance unit will not be eligible for a cash grant.  Those cases will have zero grant, but will be eligible for supportive services and CalWORKs special needs.

Counties must inform recipients of their IRT at application approval, at least once per semi-annual reporting period, and whenever the IRT amount changes.  The IRT level which the recipient was last notified of is used for reporting purposes.  (ACL 23-75, August 31, 2023.)

Increase in CalWORKs Maximum Aid Payment

Effective October 1, 2023, the CalWORKs Maximum Aid Payment (MAP) will increase by 3.6%.  In addition, the 10% MAP increase that was scheduled to end on September 30, 2023 will continue.

The 3.6% increase in the MAP may cause a decrease in CalFresh benefits.  Counties must give written notice of any CalFresh grant decrease because of the MAP increase no later than September 20, 2023.

Counties must send a notice to all CalWORKs recipients informing of the MAP increase and the potential CalFresh decrease no later than September 1, 2023. Counties must also send individualized notices giving each assistance unit information specific to their CalWORKs grant amount.

CDSS has updated the child MAP charts to reflect the October 1, 2023 MAP increase.  The child MAP is used to determine if child support received on behalf of a child is more than the CalWORKs grant amount for that child.  If the child support received on behalf of a child is more than then CalWORKs grant amount for that child, the assistance unit has the option of having that child opt-out of the assistance unit.  The county may add the child back into the grant mid-period if the child support received is no longer greater than the CalWORKs grant amount.  If the child support received remains lower than the CalWORKs grant amount, the county must add the child to the CalWORKs grant at the next semi-annual review or annual recertification.

These changes must be programmed into the CalSAWS computer system no later than October 1, 2023.  If they are not, CalSAWS must provide counties with a manual work-around to ensure that families receive the correct amount of benefits.  (ACL 23-74, August 30, 2023.)

Increase in CalWORKs resource limit

Effective January 1, 2024, the CalWORKs resource limit for applicants and recipients will increase to $11,634 or $17,452 for assistance units that include at least one member who is age 60 or older, or disabled. This is a 6.85% increase based on the California Necessities Index. This increase also applies to Refugee Cash Assistance, Entrant Cash Assistance, and Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program.  (ACL 23-71, September 1, 2023.)

Providing CalWORKs supportive services via contractors

WTW participants are eligible to receive supportive services, including child care, transportation, and ancillary expenses.  If supportive services are not provided, the participant has good cause not to participate.

The California Department of Social Services has informed counties that they can allow Welfare-to-Work (WTW) contractors to provide supportive services directly to participants.  These contractors include job search agencies, education agencies, and other entities that provide WTW services. Counties may enter into written agreements or memorandum of understanding to directly provide supportive services to WTW participants.

Counties should continue to process overpayments of supportive services including overpayments of supportive services issued by contractors, without change.  (ACIN I-42-23, August 8, 2023.)

Requirement to use CW 80 Self-Certification Form for Motor Vehicles

The California Department of Social Services has issued a reminder that counties must use the CW 80 Self-Certification Form for Motor Vehicles for CalWORKs applicants and recipients.  The CW 80 form must be used at application and redetermination instead of the SAWS 2 Plus Appendix E while the SAWS 2 Plus is being updated. The CW 80 must also be used for mid-period reports and at the semi-annual reporting if the recipient is reporting a vehicle.  CDSS is releasing this reminder because file reviews showed that counties were using the SAWS 2 Plus instead of the CW 80.

When the revised SAWS 2 Plus is available, the CW 80 will only be used for mid-period of a vehicle that was not previously reported. (ACIN I-42-23, August 8, 2023.)

Revised WTW 5 form to reflect changed Welfare to Work pregnancy exemption

Effective January 1, 2022, all pregnant CalWORKs recipients are exempt from Welfare to Work participation.  Pregnancy verification is no longer required prior to granting the Welfare to Work exemption. The exemption may continue for the duration of the pregnancy if medical verification of the pregnancy is provided.  Counties no longer determine whether an individual qualifies for the Welfare to Work pregnancy exemption because it is no longer tied to ability to work because of pregnancy.

The California Department of Social Services WTW 5 Welfare to Work notice has now been updated to reflect the new pregnancy exemption from Welfare to Work.  (ACL 23-61, July 18, 2023.)