Administrative review and state hearing requests for Franchise Tax Board intercepts for CalWORKs overpayments

California Department of Social Services (CDSS) can use the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) Interagency Intercept Collection Program to intercept state income tax refunds, lottery winnings and unclaimed property disbursements for CalWORKs overpayments.  FTB intercepts were suspended effective March, 2020 because of COVID-19.  FTB intercepts restarted on July 13, 2022.

Prior to a CalWORKs debt being submitted to FTB, the CalWORKs recipient can request a county administrative review if they believe that all or part of the debt is either not delinquent or not legally enforceable.  The recipient must submit a written request to the county for an administrative review within 30 days of receiving the FTB pre-offset notice. If the request for administrative review is submitted within this period, the county must not submit the debt to FTB until the conclusion of the administrative review process.  If the administrative review review request is submitted after that period, the county must submit the debt to FTB, and stop collection only if the recipient wins the administrative review.

If requested, recipients are entitled to inspect and copy county records related to the debt prior to the administrative review.  Counties must mail copies of records to the recipient as a reasonable accommodation for recipients unable to come to the county office.

The administrative review must: confirm the notice was adequate and language compliant,  verify that a demand letter/notice was properly issued; ensure CalWORKs overpayments resulting from client error and administrative error do not exceed the $250 collection threshold and are within the two-year collection period from the date of computatation; verify that the recipient was given the opportunity to appeal the claim and any state hearing decision; verify that no responsible party to the claim is an active member of a CalWORKs assistance unit; verify the current balance of the claim and any collections or payment agreements; verify the claim meets the criteria for referral to the FTB per MPP section 20-403; and consider any evidence provided by the recipient.

The county must issue a decision on the administrative review within 30 days of receiving the request.  The administrative review decision must include: the reason the debt is past due and legally enforceable; that the county intends to refer the claim to the FTB; and that the recipient  may request a State Hearing to review the county’s decision.

If the administrative review finds for the claimant, the county must delete the debt and return any intercepted money within 10 days of receiving the decision.

If the recipient requests a state hearing either before requesting an administrative review, or while the administrative review is pending, the request will be considered an appeal of the CalWORKs overpayment.

The recipient can request a state hearing to appeal the administrative review decision within 90 days of either the initial notice of action establishing the overpayment or the county administrative review decision.  If the hearing request is submitted within this time period, the debt cannot be submitted to FTB.

If the hearing request is submitted within 180 days of either the initial notice of action establishing the overpayment or the county administrative review decision, and the Administrative Law Judge finds good cause for late filing, FTB intercept must stop.

If the hearing request is submitted after 180 days of either the initial notice of action establishing the overpayment or the county administrative review decision, FTB intercept continues pending the hearing decision.

If the hearing request is submitted more than 90 days after either the initial notice of action establishing the overpayment or the county administrative review decision, or the county believes the issues were decided in a prior state hearing, the county can request bifurcation of the hearing in order to address state hearing jurisdiction first.

If the county wins the state hearing, the decision will state a new payment date.  If it does not, the county must issue a new demand letter or notice.  If the recipient wins the state hearing, the county must delete the debt and return any intercepted money within 10 days of receiving the decision.

If the county requests rehearing, it must comply with the hearing decision pending the outcome of the rehearing request.  If the recipient requests rehearing, and rehearing is granted within 180 days of either the initial notice of action or demand letter for payment, FTB intercept continues pending issuance of the rehearing decision.  (ACL 23-86, October 4, 2023.)


End of Homeless Assistance eligibility because of COVID-19

The California Department of Social Service (CDSS) has informed counties of the end of CalWORKs Homeless Assistance (HA) eligibility because of COVID-19. In general, families can only receive HA once per year.  However, there is an exception to the once per year limitation because of a disaster.  Effective May 12, 2023, families can no longer receive HA under the disaster exception when homelessness is because of COVID-19.  Families may still be eligible for an HA exception for medically verified mental of physical disability because of COVID.

Going forward, HA applications do not need to be made in person or include a face-to-face interview.  Counties can complete the HA application and have the client sign it electronically.

Counties can continue to accept sworn statements or verbal attestations that HA benefits were properly spent or housing search was done.  Counties can also grant good cause for not providing paper verification.

Counties can record a verbal attestation for the homeless assistance application form when the county cannot get a written or electronic signature.  Counties that cannot record verbal attestation can enter a journal not stating the attestation.

For clients on vendor payments because of fraud or mismanagement, counties can issue HA benefits directly to the EBT card when there is no feasible way to issue a vendor payment.  (ACL 23-56, June 26, 2023.)

End of CAPI COVID-19 procedures

During COVID-19 counties could perform eligibility interviews electronically, and accept verbal attestation that the client applied for SSI.  Now that the COVID-19 State of Emergency is over, those procedures are no longer in effect.

Effective immediately, neither a face-to-face or virtual interview is required for CAPI if the application is signed and the county has verified all necessary information.  Counties can still require a face-to-face, phone, or virtual interview if they decide an interview is necessary.

Counties can no longer accept verbal attestation that a client has applied for SSI.  The CAPI applicant must provide either a denial letter or other communication from the Social Security Administration that their SSI application is denied because of immigration status, or verification that the applicant has filed a SSI application and it is pending a final determination.  (ACL 23-44, May 5, 2023.)

End of COVID expansion of CalFresh student exemptions

During COVID-19, there were two additional exemptions to the CalFresh rule that students are ineligible for CalWORKs:  students who were eligible for federal or state work study and students who had an Expected Family Contribution of zero dollars.  These new exemptions will no longer be available to new CalFresh applicants beginning on June 10, 2023 (30 days after the end of the federal Public Health Emergency).

Students who are currently exempt under one of the COVID-19 exemptions must remain exempt until their next annual recertification.  Student status is not redetermined mid-period or periodic report.  Beginning July 1, 2023, students who must do annual recertification will need to meet one of the permanent exemptions to the CalFresh student rule in order to be eligible.

As temporary students exemptions expire, counties should screen students for all allowable exemptions.  (ACIN I-18-23, April 26, 2023.)

End of child care flexibility for COVID-19

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding the end of child care flexibilities for COVID-19 effective June 30, 2023.

Effective July 1, 2023, provider will no longer be able to bill for non-operational days because of COVID-19 closures.

The statewide waiver of family fees expires on June 30, 2023.  Contractors must resume collecting family fees effective July 1, 2023.

Effective July 1, 2023, providers and contractors will be reimbursed in accordance with pre-COVID-19 attendance and reporting requirements.

Contractors must issue notices of action to the parent when changes are made to the service agreement, including an increase or decrease in family fees.  Due process requires suspending any action while an appeal is pending.  (CCB 23-09, April 13, 2023.)

CalFresh waivers for the end of the Public Health Emergency

California has been approved for three federal waivers to assist with the end of the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.

California has a waiver for address changes that will be effective from April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024.  Under the waiver, if a county receives a verified change of address, but does not receive updated shelter cost information, the county will not change the household’s shelter cost.  The county must send a notice encouraging the household to report any changes in shelter costs.  The county must also ask about shelter cost at the household’s next recertification or periodic report.  If the county believes the change of address information is questionable or unclear, the county must respond to the information as required in 7 C.F.R. 273.12(c)(3).

The waiver of the initial application and recertification interview is extended until March 31, 2024.  As part of the waiver extension, starting April 1, 2023 or upon completion of automation, counties must send a written explanation of simplified reporting to all households; provide a verbal explanation of the work requirement if the county contacts the household or the household is subject to mandatory employment and training; send a written notice to all households subject to the general work requirements, the Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents work requirements, and mandatory employment and training; and screen all households for exemptions from work requirements and the Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents work requirements.

The waiver of the recording requirement for telephonic signatures for initial applications and recertifications is extended to March 31, 2024. (ACWDL, March 28, 2023.)