CAPI Cost of Living Increase

The Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI) payment standard will increase by 8.7% effective January 1, 2023.  This increase is because the SSI/SSP payment standard will increase by 8.7%.

According to the Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) §18941, CAPI payment standards are equivalent to SSI/SSP. Accordingly, an increase in cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) standards will lead to an increase in CAPI and SSI / SSP standards. The federal SSI COLA plan will also affect eligibility for the program.

Presumed maximum value (PMV) for in-kind and maintenance will change accordingly from $300.33 to $324.66 for a person and from $440.33 to $477.00 for a couple.

Allowance for ineligible children in deeming situations will change from $420.00 to $457.00. This allowance is used when a CAPI case includes deemed income from an ineligible spouse with a child(ren), or when a CAPI case includes deemed income from an ineligible parent(s) to a child.

Sponsor’s allocation in sponsor deeming situation will increase from $841.00 to $914.00. This allocation is used in a case involving deemed income from a sponsor.

Allowance for parent(s) in parent-to-child deeming situations will increase from $841.00 to $914.00 for one parent and from $1,261.00 to $1,371.00 for two parents. The allowance is used when a CAPI case includes deemed income from an ineligible parent(s).  (ACIN I-71-22, November 8, 2022.)

Treatment of CAPP payments for various programs

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance to County Welfare Departments (CWDs) regarding treatment of California Arrearages Payment Program (CAPP) payments issued to California assistance program applicants and recipients to help pay eligible past due energy bills that increased during the COVID-19 pandemic

CAPP payments do not count as income when determining eligibility and/or grant amount for the CalWORKs program and do not count against the resource limit for the 12 months after receipt of payment. Furthermore, CAPP authorized payments are not considered in-kind income for CalWORKs recipients.

For both CalFresh and the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP), CAPP payments are considered third-party payments that are not owed to the household and therefore are not counted income. CAPP payments are not considered resources for CalFresh and CFAP.

For Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) Medi-Cal, CAPP payments are treated as a qualified disaster relief payment similar to other disaster payments that the IRS exempts from gross income. This means that CAPP payments are not counted in the MAGI Medi-Cal eligibility determination. For Non-MAGI Medi-Cal, CAPP payments are considered exempt disaster and emergency assistance and do not count as income or a resource.

CAPP payments do not count as income for the Cash Assistance Programs for Immigrants (CAPI), because they are considered to be a tax refund. CAPP payments do not count as a resource for CAPI for the 12 months after the payment is made.

RCA, ECA, and TCVAP programs do not count CAPP payments as income and do not count as a resource limit for 12 months after receipt of the payment because their programs use the same rules as CalWORKs. (ACL 22-83, October 21, 2022.)

Treatment of Better for Families Tax Refund, and the Young Child and Foster Youth Tax Credits

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance for various programs about the treatment of Better for Families Tax Refund, and the Young Child and Foster Youth Tax Credits.

AB 192 established the Better for Families Tax Refund program, called the middle-class tax refund. SB 201 expanded the definition of a qualified taxpayer to include taxpayers with no earned income and those in foster care between the ages of 18 and 25.

The CalWORKs program treats the Better for Families Tax Refund the same as the federal earned income tax credit. It does not count as income and does not count as a resource for 12 months.  Refunds from the Young Child and Adopted Youth Tax Credit are treated the same as federal earned income refunds and do not count as income, and do not count as a resource for 12 months.

CalFresh and the California Food Assistance Program do not count either the of Better for Families Tax Refund, or the Young Child and Foster Youth Credits as income. CalFresh and the California Food Assistance Program counts them as a resource beginning in the month received. However, most households are in California are not subject to a resource limit because they have either Categorical Eligibility or Modified Categorical Eligibility.

The Better for Families Tax Refund does not count as income for Medi-Cal Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) applicants or recipients. It will be considered property for non-MAGI Medi-Cal recipients.  Counties are reminded that the property limit for non-MAGI Medi-Cal is now $130,000 for one person and $65,000 for each additional person.

The Department of Health Services (DHCS) is seeking a federal waiver to exempt the Young Child and Foster Youth Tax Credit from being treated as income.

The CalWORKs program rules apply to RCA, ECA, and TCVAP programs, and they must follow the CalWORKs rule above both the Better for Families Tax Refund, and the Young Child and Foster Youth Tax Credits.

The Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI) treats both the Better for Families Tax Refunds and the Young Child and Foster Youth Tax Credit in the same way as federal earned income refunds, and federal tax refunds are excluded from counting as income and from the resource limit.  (ACL 22-91, October 28, 2022.)

Treatment of CalKIDS accounts

In 2019, the passage of SB 77 provided one-time state funding to create CalKIDS, a qualified scholarship program. It opens a college savings account for every newborn child in California regardless of income. CalKIDS will provide an initial seed deposit of at least $25 in each savings account and other potential financial awards to participants. In 2021, the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act significantly expanded the program to include an additional 3.7 million low-income public school students in grades 1 through 12 who qualify for free or reduced lunch, are homeless, or are in foster care. Eligible students receive an initial seed deposit of $500. Later in 2021, CalKIDS clarified eligibility to include students attending state special schools.  The CalKIDS expansion was implemented on July 1, 2022. 

College Savings and CalKIDS Accounts allow families to save and invest money for their children’s future higher education expenses. Savings withdrawn from a CSA program that utilizes a 529 college savings account, such as CalKIDS, are not subject to federal or state taxes if they are used for qualified higher education expenses. 

Because CalKIDS Accounts are owned by the State and are not available to the Assistance Unit (AU) are not counted as income or resources for CalWORKs purposes. Any funds, including funds deposited and investment returns, originating from a CalKIDS account will not be considered in the eligibility determination or grant calculation for CalWORKs applicants or recipients. 

CalKIDS Accounts are entirely excluded as income or resources for the CalFresh and California Food Assistance Program CalKIDS shows accounts must be excluded from income and resources entirely. 

CalKIDS does not count as income for CalWORKs Homeless Assistance Program (HA) and the CalWORKs Housing Support Program (HSP) because they are CalWORKs programs.  CalKIDS also does not count as income when determining eligibility for assistance provided by other Housing and Homelessness Programs, including Project Roomkey/Homelessness COVID Response, Bringing Families Home, and the Housing and Disability Advocacy Program.

CalKIDS accounts do not count as income for CalWORKs Stage 1 Child Care.  For other child care programs,  CalKIDS accounts are not considered countable income because they are owned by the state.. CalKIDS funds that are withdrawn and not utilized for educational purposes may be considered countable income if not excluded on some other basis.

The impact of CalKIDS on RCA/ECA and TCVAP follows the income and assets eligibility and administration rules of the CalWORKs program unless specifically superseded by RCA regulations. The eligibility criteria for ECA and TCVAP Cash Assistance states benefits shall be the same as those for RCA, with certain exceptions. These CalWORKs regulations regarding the treatment of CalKIDS accounts and funds also apply to RCA, ECA, and TCVAP recipients.

CalKIDS accounts are not counted as a resource for SSI/SSP or CAPI because they are owned by the state.  Distributions that are used for educational expenses of the designated beneficiary are excluded as a resource in the month received, and if retained beyond the month of receipt, they are excluded for 9 months beginning with the month of receipt. However, since the funds will be distributed directly to the higher education institutions on behalf of the participants to pay for qualifying higher education expenses and not retained by the beneficiary, the distributions will likewise not be considered a resource to the beneficiary.  (ACL 22-79, October 4, 2022.)

Cuban and Haitian Entrant eligibility for benefits programs

The California Department of Social Services has issued information regarding eligibility of Cuban/Haitian entrants for public benefits programs. 

Cuban/Haitian entrants may be eligible for Entrant Cash Assistance (ECA),. This refers to federally funded cash assistance available to those who do not meet the categorical requirements of other state/federal cash assistance programs. ECA follows the rules of the Refugee Resettlement Program. ECA applicants are not required to have a Social Security Number.

Cuban/Haitian entrants can be eligible for CalWORKs upon entry into the United States.  They must submit proof of applying for a Social Security Number within 30 days or have good cause for not applying for a Social Security Number.  Cuban/ Haitian Entrants who apply for or receive CalWORKs must be eligible for Homeless Assistance or the Housing Support Program (HSP). Cuban/Haitian Entrants can be eligible for Project Roomkey, the Bringing Families Home (BFH) program, the Housing and Disability Advocacy Program (HDAP), and/or the Home Safe program if they otherwise meet the eligibility requirements for each program.”

Cuban/Haitian entrants can be eligible for CalFresh immediately without a waiting period. Non-citizens who are eligible based on immigration status must meet all other requirements. These individuals are not eligible for the California Food Assistance Program while Entrant status is in effect because they are eligible for CalFresh.. 

Cuban/Haitian Entrants who are aged, blind, or disabled and meet income limits, may be eligible for SSI/SSP. Entrants are eligible for SSI for seven years. A Cuban/Haitian Entrant who is found ineligible for SSI because of their immigration status can be eligible for CAPI.

Cuban/Haitian Entrants who become eligible for ECA must meet work registration requirements.  Cuban/Haitian Entrants who do not have work authorization should be enrolled in services to help achieve self sufficiency.   (ACIN I-63-22, September 20, 2022.)

Duties regarding county Statement of Position to Limited English Proficient claimants

County hearings representative for both California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) programs must enclose the GEN 1365 Notice of Language Services form with the Statement of Position.  For non-county administered DHCS programs, county hearings representatives must enclose the DHCS Non-Discrimination Policy and Language Access Process document.

CDSS is working on a new version of the GEN 1365 specifically for fair hearings that will be released soon.

When the applicant or recipient indicates their preference for communication in a language other than English, counties must provide forms in that language when the translation is provided by CDSS or DHCS in that language.  Counties must provide oral interpretation services of any document on request, including non-standardized forms and individually tailored documents.  If requested, the county or agency must provide an oral interpretation of the Statement of Position, including any exhibits attached to the Statement of Position, at least two days before the hearing.

When the county is aware of the need for assistance in a language that is not listed in the GEN 1365, the county or agency should attempt to inform the claimant of how to get a free oral interpretation of the Statement of Position in the claimant’s preferred language.  (ACL 22-56, July 8, 2022.)