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.)

Waivers and flexibilities for application for RCA, ECA, TCVAP and RSS

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding waivers and flexibilities that apply to Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA), Entrant Cash Assistance (ECA), Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program (TCVAP), Refugee Support Services (RSS), and RSS set aside programs, such as Services to Older Refugees (SOR). The waiver and flexibility policies were issued in Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) letter 23-01.

The waivers and flexibilities are effective beginning October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2023 when they will automatically expire, without further notice. Once expired, waivers and flexibilities will no longer apply unless further extended by CDSS.

The requirement for written declarations from applicants of their immigration status has been waived to provide states time to increase their capacity to serve the influx populations. The process for obtaining the declarations may be conducted over the phone. Verbal declarations must be supported by a written declaration as soon as possible. If unable to meet in-person with applicants, counties can confirm immigrant status eligibility through a database or other electronic means without first checking documentation. A eligibility determination may be made if the declaration shows the applicant has the status or category that confers eligibility for services. Applicants must provide proof of their immigration status within 90 days of making a written or verbal declaration.

The determination that an applicant is not eligible for TANF/CalWORKs prior to providing RCA benefits has been waived in order to allow recipients to receive benefits and services while waiting for approval for TANF/CalWORKs. This includes inability to apply for or receive a Social Security Number.  If, however, the recipient of RCA benefits is later approved for TANF/CalWORKs and given retroactive payments, they must pay back the funds given to them through RCA. Counties should inform applicants about this possibility of recoupment. Counties must ensure that RCA benefits are discontinued for clients who are approved for TANF/CalWORKs before their eligibility for RCA ends.

Recipients of RCA funds must enroll or be referred to employment services within 30 days after issuance. CWDs may use virtual means to provide employment services only when it is in the best interest of the recipients.  Virtual services should be complementary to in-person instruction.

The eligibility criteria (except immigrant status/category) for ECA for Cuban Haitian Entrants is the same as RCA.  Therefore, the ECA program receives the same flexibilities and waivers as the RCA program. Similarly, the eligibility criteria (except legal status) for TCVAP are the same as RCA and as such the same flexibilities and waivers apply.  (ACWDL, July 14, 2023.)

CalWORKs MBSAC increase

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has informed counties that the CalWORKs Minimum Basic Standard of Care (MBSAC) will increase by 6.85% effective July 1, 2023.  This is an annual cost of living increase.  This will increase the MBSAC in Region 1 to $862 for a 1 one person assistance unit, $1,415 for a 2 person assistance unit, $1,753 for a 3 person assistance unit and increasing with increases in assistance unit size.  The MBSAC for Region 2 will increase to $818 for a 1 one person assistance unit, $1,343 for a 2 person assistance unit, $1,664 for a 3 person assistance unit and increasing with increases in assistance unit size.

The MBSAC is the maximum income before deductions that a family can have to be eligible for CalWORKs.

The same increase will apply to the MBSAC for Refugee Cash Assistance, Entrant Cash Assistance and Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program.  The same increase will apply to the CalWORKs Income in-kind level, which is the maximum amount of in kind income that is counted against the grant. (ACL 23-48, May 26, 2023.)

 

Increase in CalWORKs vehicle value limit

The California Department of Social Services has informed counties that the vehicle value for the CalWORKs program increases to $32,045 effective July 1, 2023.  This increase also applies to Refugee Cash Assistance, Entrant Cash Assistance, and Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program (TCVAP).  The vehicle value is the amount of the value of a vehicle that does not count toward the program resource limit.

The welfare department computer systems will be programmed for the increased vehicle value effective July 1, 2023.  (ACL 23-47, May 30, 2023.)

Treatment of Hospital and Skilling Nursing Facility retention pay for various programs

Hospital and Skilled Nursing Facility COVID-19 Worker Retention Pay gives eligible full-time employees a one-time payment of up to $1,500, eligible part-time employees a one-time payment of up to $1,250, and eligible physicians a one-time payment of up to $1,000.

The Clinic Workforce Stabilization Retention Payment Program provides funds to eligible clinics make a one-time retention payment to eligible employees.

For CalWORKs and CalFresh, payments under each of these programs are non-recurring lump sums and are therefore not income.  These payments are considered property in the month of receipt.

These payments are not considered income for Refugee Cash Assistance, Entrant Cash Assistance, or Trafficking and Crime Victims Protection Act benefits.

For CAPI, these payments are not income and are excluded as a resource. (ACL 23-21, January 31, 2023.)

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.)