Eligibility of Ukranian nationals for federal and state benefits

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has provided guidance regarding eligibility of Ukranian nationals for various public benefits programs.

Ukranian arrivals who have refugee or asylee status qualify for CalWORKs, CalFresh, SSI, and Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA).

Ukranian refugees and asylees are eligible for RCA. Persons with Temporary Protected Status are not eligible for RCA.  Counties must accept a declaration under penalty of perjury of the applicant’s immigration status while documentary verification is pending.

Ukranian nationals who have Temporary Protected Status are not eligible for most federal or state public benefits.

Ukranian humanitarian parolees can be eligible for CalWORKs with state funds.  This is because humanitarian parolees have Permanent Residence Under Color of Law (PRUCOL).  This includes eligibility for Homeless Assistance and Housing Support Program, both of which can supplement federal refugee resettlement funding.

Ukranian humanitarian parolees are eligible for the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI).  They are not eligible for SSI.

Ukranian humanitarian parolees are eligible for CalFresh or California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) if they have been paroled into the United States for at least one year.  Paroled for at least one year means the duration of parole.  A humanitarian parolee is eligible for CalFresh or CFAP from the day they are paroled into the United States if their parole will last at least one year.

Public interest parolees must be admitted to the United States for at least one year and must meet two additional criteria to be eligible for CalFresh, including five years of residence, working 40 quarters, children under age 18, elderly or disabled as defined.  People who do not meet two of the additional criteria can be eligible for CFAP.

Ukranians with refugee, asylee or humanitarian parolee status are eligible for Project Roomkey, Bringing Families Home, Housing and Disability Advocacy Program, and Home Safe.

Ukranian arrivals, including humanitarian parolees, can be eligible for Medi-Cal.

Regardless of the documentation presented, counties must verify immigration status with the SAVE system.  (ACIN I-40-22, April 22, 2022.)

Extension of COVID-19 flexibilities for Refugee Cash Assistance

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance implementing the extension of COVID-19 flexibilities for Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA), Entrant Cash Assistance (ECA), Refugee Support Services (RSS), Services to Older Refugees (SOR), and Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program (TCVAP) Cash Assistance benefits through September 30, 2022.  These waivers include:

  • Allowing verbal attestation for eligibility determinations. This waiver continues flexibility regarding verification of immigration status. This flexibility also applies to arrivals from Afghanistan.
  • Excluding certain types of COVID-19 emergency assistance when determining eligibility and grant amounts. Such assistance is excluded as income, and excluded as an asset for 12 months.
  • Flexibility regarding participation in employment services. Under the waiver for employment services, counties are highly encouraged to continue to use remote case management and learning.
  • providing interim RCA payments for eligible applicants with pending CalWORKs applications who cannot complete application requirements because of COVID-19. When possible, counties must assess and grant good cause instead of interim RCA payments when Social Security Number applications and approvals are delayed because of COVID. However, when good cause is not possible, counties can issue interim RCA payments when CalWORKs approvals are delayed because of COVID.  These COVID-related delays can include inability to apply for or get a Social Security Number because of office closure.

TCVAP follows the same administrative rules as RCA and therefore these waivers also apply to TCVAP.  (ACWDL, March 3, 2022.)

Eligibility of Afghan Humanitarian Parolees and Afghan Special Immigrant Conditional Permanent Residents for Refugee Resettlement Program, CalWORKs, CalFresh and SSI

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has provided revised guidance regarding eligibility of Afghan Humanitarian Parolees Afghanistan for Refugee Resettlement Program, CalWORKs and CalFresh benefits, and new guidance regarding eligibility for Afghan Special Immigrant Conditional Permanent Residents.  This guidance superceedes ACWDL September 3, 2021.

Afghan Special Immigrant Conditional Permanent Residents and Afghan Special Immigrant Lawful Permanent Residents are eligible for public benefits to the same extent as refugees.  Afghan Special Immigrant Conditional Permanent Residents are persons waiting for medical clearance to enter the United States.

Afghan Humanitarian Parolees, and their spouse and children, are eligible for benefits and services to the same extent as refugees.  They are eligible from October 1, 2021 or the date they are paroled in the United States, whichever is later, to March 31, 2023, or the end of parolees’ parole term, whichever is later.  Benefits that Humanitarian Parolees, and their spouse and children, are eligible for are Refugee Cash Assistance, CalWORKs, CalFresh, SSI, Refugee Support Services, and Services for Older Refugees.  Counties should redetermine eligibility for benefits when parole has expired or by March 31, 2023, whichever is later.

For CalWORKs, Afghan Humanitarian Parolees are not subject to the five-year ban on federally funded CalWORKs benefits.

For CalWORKs, reception and placement cash benefits count as property because they are considered recurring lump sum payments.

Afghan Humanitarian Parolees can be eligible for CalWORKs Housing Support Program.  Housing Support and Homeless Assistance can supplement federal refugee resettlement funds.  (ACWDL, December 2, 2021.)

Changes to CalWORKs eligibility for pregnant persons

Effective July 1, 2022, pregnant CalWORKs recipients with no other eligible children will get an increase on their monthly pregnancy special needs (PSN) payment from $47 to $100.

Previously, pregnant adults age 19 or over with no other eligible children were eligible for CalWORKs benefits beginning of their second trimester of pregnancy, six months before the expected birth date.  Effective July 1, 2022, pregnant persons will be eligible for CalWORKs as of the date of application. They will no longer need to wait until their second trimester to receive CalWORKs and are eligible in their first trimester of pregnancy. 

In addition, medical verification requirements will change to allow recipients to provide a sworn statement or verbal attestation of pregnancy. This sworn statement shall include the applicant’s name, date of application, and declaration of pregnancy. Medical verification of pregnancy must be given to the county within 30 days of sworn statement/verbal attestation. Aid will discontinue with failure to provide medical proof unless the recipient presents evidence of a good-faith effort to provide information to fulfill this requirement. 

Benefits provided to Pregnant teens under the age of 19 or without a high school diploma will remain the same.

If a pregnancy ends before the delivery date, the $100 monthly Pregnancy Special Needs payment will end the month following the date the recipient reports the end of their pregnancy.

Although CalWORKs rules apply to Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA), Entrant Cash Assistance (ECA), and Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program (TCVAP), those programs are intended for families without children.  However, recipients of those benefits can apply for  CalWORKs anytime during their pregnancy.

To be eligible for CalWORKs Home Visiting Program (HVP), an individual must a) be a member of the CalWORKs assistance unit b) The individual is pregnant, or c) the individual is a parent/caretaker relative of a child less than 24 months of age at the time the individual enrolls in the program.  (ACL 21-140, November 18, 2021.)

Eligibility of Afghan Humanitarian Parolees for Refugee Resettlement Program, CalWORKs, CalFresh and SSI

THIS POLICY IS SUPERCEEDED BY ACWDL December 2, 2021, summarized here, for federal benefits.

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has provided guidance regarding eligibility of Afghan Humanitarian Parolees Afghanistan for Refugee Resettlement Program, CalWORKs and CalFresh benefits.

Humanitarian Parolees are not eligible for Refugee Cash Assistance or any other Office of Refugee Resettlement programs.

Humanitarian Parolees are eligible for CalWORKs from the day they are paroled into the United States.

Humanitarian Parolees are not eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  Humanitarian Parolees are eligible for Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants.

Humanitarian Parolees are eligible for CalFresh only if they have been paroled into the United States for at least one year, and, among other factors, have lived in the United States for qualified aliens, have 40 quarters of qualifying work, or are children under age 18.

Humanitarian Parolees are eligible for the California Food Assistance Program when the have been paroled into the United States for one year or more.

Regardless of documentation provided, the county must submit these cases to the SAVE system for immigration status verification. (ACWDL, September 3, 2021 and Errata, September 17, 2021.)

Eligibility of Afghan Special Immigrant Parolees for Refugee Resettlement Program, CalWORKs, CalFresh and SSI

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has provided guidance regarding eligibility of Special Immigrant Visa holders and special immigrant parolees in the SQ/SI categories (collectively called Special Immigrant Parolees) from Afghanistan for Refugee Resettlement Program, CalWORKs and CalFresh benefits.

Special Immigrant Parolees are eligible for Refugee Cash Assistance, Refugee Medical Assistance and other Office of Refugee Resettlement programs.  A Social Security Number is not required to be eligible for these programs.

Special Immigrant Parolees and their families are eligible for CalWORKs effective on their date of entry to the United States.

Special Immigrant Parolees are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  If for some reason Special Immigrant Parolees are found to be ineligible for SSI, the can be eligible for Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants.

Special Immigrant Parolees are immediately eligible for CalFresh.

Regardless of documentation provided, the county must submit these cases to the SAVE system for immigration status verification.  (ACWDL, August 30, 2021.)