CAPI undue hardship exception to transfer of assets rule

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding the undue hardship exception to the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI) transfer of assets rule.

CAPI follows rules for the federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program unless state law says otherwise.  For the SSI program, applicants or recipients cannot transfer assets for less than fair market value.  If a SSI applicant transfers resources for less than fair market value, they are subject to a period of ineligibility from the program of up to 36 months.  This rule applies to CAPI. If the county determines that there has been a transfer of assets for less than fair market value, the county must evaluate the case for exceptions to the transfer of assets rule, including the undue hardship exception.

Undue hardship exists if the claimant alleges that failure to receive CAPI would deprive them of food or shelter; and the individual’s total available funds (income and liquid resources) is less than the federal SSI benefit rate plus the state supplemental payment.  The county must accept a claimant’s documented allegation of deprivation of food or shelter unless there is clear evidence to the contrary.  Counties cannot consider receipt of CalFresh when determining whether a claimant has sufficient food, and cannot consider receipt of federal housing assistance when determining whether a claimant would be deprived of shelter without CAPI benefits.

For purposes of determining undue hardship, there is loss of shelter if the recipient would be subject to eviction without CAPI benefits, and there is no other affordable available, or there is no other available housing with necessary modifications for a disabled person.

The county must explain the undue hardship exception and econsider undue hardship in all cases where the county determines that there has been a transfer of assets for less than fair market value and no other exceptions apply.  If the county determines that undue hardship exists, the transfer of assets penalty is not imposed.  If the claimant states that there is no undue hardship, the county is not required to determine undue hardship, but must document the statement in the case file.

Undue hardship is a mnth-by-month determination.  Counties should determine undue hardship for six month periods and re-evaluate if the period of ineligibility lasts for more than six months.

For purposes of determining income for undue hardship, all income counts including the actual value of In Kind Support and Maintenance that is counted for purposes of CAPI.

For purposes of determining resources for undue hardship, all liquid resources, whether otherwise countable or excluded, count, except for designated burial funds or certain dedicated accounts. Any CAPI or SSI retained from prior months counts as a resource.

When determining countable income and resources, counties exclude 1) CAPI or SSI and items that are not countable as income for CAPI or SSI; 2) CalFresh benefits; 3) federally subsidized housing; 4) proceeds of a bona-fide loan.

For cases where CAPI benefits have already been granted, counties determine when the period of ineligibility started and develop the undue hardship for each prior month of the period of ineligibility.  (ACL 24-11, March 11, 2024.)

CAPI COLA

Effective January 1, 2024, Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants benefits will increase by 3.2 percent.  This increase is because of the Social Security and SSI 3.2 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) and the amount of CAPI benefits is linked to the amount of SSI benefits.

The COLA increase will also increase the presumed value of in-kind support and maintenance, the allowance for ineligible children in deeming situations, the sponsor’s allocation in sponsor deeming situations, and the allowance for parents in parent-to-child deeming situations.  (ACIN I-66-23, November 9, 2023.)

Full child support pass-through for former CalWORKs recipients child only CalWORKs cases

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding full pass through of collected child support for CalWORKs recipients child only CalWORKs cases.

Effective January 1, 2024, or when automation is completed, whichever is later, all child support collected must be passed through to former recipients and to CalWORKs recipients where only the children receive benefits (known as K1 and 3F families).  Any pass through payments that cannot be delivered to former CalWORKs recipients for six months will be used to recoup CalWORKs paid to the former recipient.  The former recipient family can make a claim with the Local Child Support Agency for the recouped funds within 12 months of the payment being sent for recoupment.

Also effective January 1, 2024, or when automation is completed, all support payments received in child only CalWORKs cases do not count as income for purposes of CalWORKs eligibility.

Child support payments received by a CalFresh or California Food Assistance household, including child support pass through payments, are counted as unearned income when determining CalFresh eligibility and benefit amount.

Child support payments are considered unearned income of the child when determining eligibility for Supplemental Security Income and Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants.  Any unspent child support payments count as a resource for Supplemental Security Income and Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants.  (ACL 23-93, November 6, 2023, and ACL 23-93E, December 27, 2023.)

Withdrawing state hearing requests

California Department of Social Services (CDSS) State Hearings Division (SHD) has issued instructions regarding withdrawing of a state hearing request.  A claimant or the Authorized Representative can withdraw a hearing request any time before a decision is issued.

A withdrawal can be unconditional or conditional.  An unconditional withdrawal is a complete retraction of the hearing request without conditions.  There are three ways to unconditionally withdraw a hearing request.  A claimant can request an unconditional withdrawal in the ACMS computer system if they have an account.  A claimant can submit a request to unconditionally withdraw their hearing by mail, fax or email.  A claimant can submit a verbal request to unconditionally withdraw their hearing request using the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system or by telephone.  SHD will send a letter to the claimant confirming the unconditional withdrawal request.

The opposing party may be aware that the claimant wants to unconditionally withdraw their hearing request.  If the opposing party tells SHD that the claimant or their Authorized Representative wants to unconditionally withdraw a hearing request, SHD will contact the clamant to confirm their intent to unconditionally withdraw their hearing request. If the claimant has any questions, SHD will tell the claimant to talk to the opposing party.  If the claimant or Authorized Representative confirms that they want to unconditionally withdraw the hearing request, SHD will enter the withdrawal in ACMS and will send the claimant a letter confirming the unconditional withdrawal.

A conditional withdrawal is a retraction of the hearing request based on the opposing party’s agreement to certain actions to resolve the case.  A conditional withdrawal must be in writing signed by the claimant or their Authorized Representative.

SHD will accept any conditional withdrawal request that is submitted by mail, fax, email, text, IVR, phone, or uploaded to ACMS, that includes written terms and is signed by the opposing party and the claimant.  These methods are considered to be a valid electronic signature.

A claimant or Authorized Representative can confirm a conditional withdrawal by phone with SHD.  The opposing party must contact the claimant to confirm the agreement.  The opposing party cannot rely on a telephonic signature unless they have gotten the claimant’s consent.  If the opposing party parts gets consent, they must upload the terms to ACMS.  SHD will then contact the claimant to confirm the terms.

The claimant or Authorized Representative can use the SHD IVR to state the terms of a conditional withdrawal.  If the opposing party has their own IVR, it can upload a recording of the terms to ACMS.  The agreement must state that the parties complete all terms within 30 days.

If the case has multiple opposing parties, all parties must consent to the conditional withdrawal.

When a case is withdrawn, SHD will notify all parties that the hearing request has been dismissed.

If the claimant or Authorized Representative does not appear at the hearing and a conditional withdrawal has not been processed, SHD will dismiss the case.

A party can withdraw a rehearing request any time before SHD acts on it.  After a rehearing request has been granted, the claimant can withdraw it with the approval of the Chief Administrative Law Judge.  The parties can submit a conditional withdrawal to resolve the case after rehearing is granted.  SHD will review the terms to ensure that all issues in the rehearing are addressed, and then will forward the request to the Chief Administrative Law Judge for approval.  (ACL 23-82, September 19, 2023.)

 

Additions to county web pages regarding programs for immigrants

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding revising or adding information to county websites regarding programs available for Refugees; Asylees; Cuban/Haitian Entrants; certain Humanitarian Parolees; Special Immigrant Visa Holders; Amerasians; and Noncitizen Victims of Human Trafficking, Domestic Violence, and Other Serious Crimes populations.

County webpages must include CalWORKs, CAPI, RCA, TCVAP, and all county programs available for Refugees; Asylees; Cuban/Haitian Entrants; certain Humanitarian Parolees; Special Immigrant Visa Holders; Amerasians; and Noncitizen Victims of Human Trafficking, Domestic Violence, and Other Serious Crimes. Counties that do not have this information on their webpages should include it as soon as possible.  Counties that do not have this information on their webpage should notify CDSS as soon as the webpage updates are completed, but no later than December 1, 2023.

The information in the website should be clear and in plain language, with simple instructions about how to apply for benefits. Information on how to apply for programs should include both the link to BenefitsCal and a description of other ways to apply, such as applying in person at their respective CWD offices.

For CalWORKs, counties should review their public-facing websites on a regular basis to ensure that content is accurate, and contains plain language information about how to apply, and services and services available through CalWORKs.

For the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI), county websites must direct CAPI applicants to the county social services office to apply in person because the CAPI application is not available in BenefitsCal.

For Refugee Cash Assistance, and Trafficking and Crime Victims Protection Act (TCVAP), applicants who have minor children should be evaluated for CalWORKs first.  If they are ineligible for CalWORKs, or they do not have minor children, they should be evaluated for RCA and TCVAP.

Counties should notify CDSS as soon as their websites are updated, but no later then December 1, 2023.  (ACWDL, October 19, 2023.)

New NA Back 9 form

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued a revised version of the NA Back 9 form, which is the form on the back of every Notice of Action for a CDSS administered program about hearing rights and how to request a hearing.  The new NA Back 9 form includes the ability to request a preferred hearing modality, instructions on submitting hearing requests online or by email, and information about on-line hearings accounts.

Counties must begin using the new NA Back 9 form when automation in the CalSAWS computer system is complete.  All county generated notices must include the revised NA Back 9 after it is programmed into CalSAWS.  CDSS does not state when to expect the revised NA Back 9 to be programmed into CalSAWS or state a deadline for that programming.

Counties must include the local legal aid office(s) in the “Get Help” section of the new NA Back 9.

Agencies that use a form other than the NA Back 9 to request a hearing must have those forms reviewed and approved by the CDSS State Hearings Division.  (ACL 23-81, September 19, 2023.)