Direct deposit of cash benefits

The California Department of Social Services reminds counties that electronic benefits transfer cardholders can opt-in to receive benefits by direct deposit at any time.  Benefits may be issued by direct deposit for CalWORKs, RCA, CAPI, and Kin-GAP.  Counties must inform recipients and applicants of these programs of the direct deposit option at application and any redetermination.

Delivery of benefits by direct deposit is more secure, and benefits will always arrive on the first of the month.

Demand Deposit Accounts are eligible to receive cash benefits through direct deposit.  (ACIN I-23-23, May 3, 2023.)

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.)

Increase in CalWORKs Earned Income Disregards

For the CalWORKs program, certain earned income and disability-based income is disregarded in determining eligibility.  This is called the Earned Income Disregard.  Starting July 1, 2022, the Earned Income Disregard for applicants will increase from the first $90 per month of earned income for each employed person to the first $450 of earned income.

Starting June 1, 2022, the Earned Income Disregard for recipients will increase from $550 per month to $600.   This increase in the recipient Earned Income Disregard applies to the state KinGAP program, but not to the federal KinGAP program.

(ACL 21-130, November 29, 2021 and ACL 21-130E, March 22, 2022.)


COVID-19 reassessment and redetermination for AAP and Kin-GAP

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding reassessment and redetermination for the Adoption Assistance Program and the Kin-GAP program because of COVID-19.

Counties should send the AAP reassessment form to adoptive parents at least 60 and no more than 90 days prior to the reassessment date. Returning the form is optional.  If the parent(s) return the form without a request for change, the county can process it when received or wait until after June 30.

If parent(s) return the form requesting an increase in assistance, the county must process it.  If parent(s) do not return the form, the rate continues at the rate in the prior AAP agreement.  However, signed AAP agreements for wraparound services and out-of-home placements paid by AAP are limited to 18 months.

The requirement to return the Kin-GAP Determination of Eligibility form within two weeks of the date it was mailed is temporarily suspended.  Counties shall continue Kin-GAP payments even if receipt of the paperwork is delayed. (ACL 20-47, April 21, 2020.)

Separation of SIU and eligibility determination functions

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued a reminder to counties that management of eligibility determination and program integrity investigation must be separate.

County Special Investigative Unit (SIU) staff is responsible for preventing and discovering fraud by applicants and recipients.  SIU staff must investigate fraud allegations.  County eligibility workers are responsible for referring cases to the SIU.

The SIU must be a separate organization, independent of organizations performing eligibility and benefit determination functions.  Counties must ensure separate and independent operation of eligibility and investigation activities.  SIU staff cannot dictate CalWORKs or CalFresh eligibility determinations but can make recommendations.  (All County Welfare Directors Letter May 1, 2019.)

Disability and domestic violence questions computer system flags

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued directions regarding AB 2030.  AB 2030 requires CDSS to include in any amendments or revisions to standard application or semi-annual reporting forms after January 1, 2019 that allow applicants or recipients to disclose disabilities, the need for reasonable accommodations because of a disability and any experiences of domestic violence. 

CDSS states that initial application forms and semiannual report will capture the need for reasonable accommodations the next time they are revised.

The current welfare computer system vary in how they flag reasonable accommodations.  CalWIN has an icon for disability accommodations that is displayed in the upper-right side of the “Display Individual Demographics Summary” window.  CalACES North (formerly known as C-IV) can flag cases with an indicator type that county users can select (special accommodations, special circumstances etc.)  CalACES South (formerly known as LRS) allows any county user with access to falg a case to alert the first point of contact.  These flags are identified by a banner at the top of every page.  (ACL 19-13, February 21, 2019.)