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.)

Social Security protective filing tool

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has implemented its Online Protective Filing Too.   It allows submitting a request for an appointment to file for benefits and record a protective filing date online.  A protective filing date is established upon submission from the Tool.  The Tool collects responses to initial screening questions, determines applicable Title II and Title XVI claim types, and establishes Title II and Title XVI protective filing dates.  The individual must complete all required fields and submit the inquiry to establish a protective filing date.

The Tool gives a confirmation message onscreen and sends an email confirmation that Social Security will schedule an appointment within 7-14 business days.

The Tool is located at https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/ssi/start.html.

(EM-22015, March 19, 2022.)

Posted in SSI

Effect of SSI COLA on CalFresh benefits

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients received a Cost of Living Increase effective January 1, 2022.  The new SSI amount must be acted on for CalFresh purposes no later than March, 2022.  This will happen automatically for most CalFresh cases. Counties must manually process some cases, including cases that receive SSI amount that are more than the maximum monthly SSI payment (because of a retroactive SSI payment for example).  Supplemental Nutrition Benefits and Transitional Nutrition Benefit cases are not affected by the SSI COLA increase.

Note that retroactive SSI payments are excluded as income for CalFresh purposes.  January 2022 should include a higher than usual number of retroactive payments because of improper benefits reductions and denials caused by Social Security incorrectly counting pandemic benefits as income.  Any cases with amounts over the SSI maximum payment will be excluded from automatic processing to prevent improperly counting SSI retroactive payments.

As a reminder, amounts recouped from SSI benefits, including recoupment of SSI overpayments, do not count as income for CalFresh. (ACIN I-11-22, January 28, 2022.)

Social Security hold on failure to provide information suspensions

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has temporarily changed its procedures about benefits suspension for failure to provide information.  SSA will be changing its procedures for suspending benefits for failing to provide information.  Until that change is made, SSA will not suspend payments for failure to provide information.  If at any time the recipient provides the requested information, benefits should be processed normally.

For redeterminations and other post-eligibility issues, SSA should exhaust all efforts to obtain the requested information.  If the issue remains unresolved, payments continue until the moratorium on suspending benefits ends.

For continuing disability review cases, SSA will develop the cases but cannot suspend benefits until the moratorium on suspending benefits ends.

The moratorium on suspending benefits will remain in place until further notice.  (EM 21079, December 23, 2021.)

Posted in SSI

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.)

Reopening of SSI cases denied because of pandemic assistance

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is reopening cases that may have been denied because of receipt of pandemic-related financial assistance.  SSA initially determined that such payments counted as income but later decided that such payments are excludable disaster assistance.  (See EM-20014 REV 4, summarized here.)  EM-20014 REV 4 lists the pandemic-related financial assistance that SSA decided does not count as income for SSI.

SSA will send outreach notices to persons potentially affected.  Some people who had their claims denied will not receive an outreach notice.  They are people who have Denied claims with pending appeals, denied claims with pending subsequent applications, and denied claims with approved subsequent applications.  The outreach notice will tell people that SSA may have denied their SSI claim because they received pandemic-related financial assistance, that they may now be eligible for SSI and/or retroactive payments; and that they should contact SSA so we can reevaluate whether they are eligible for SSI and/or retroactive payments.  SSA started mailing the outreach notices on November 29, 2021 and expects to mail 144,000 notices.

There is no deadline to respond to the outreach notice.  If individuals do not respond to the outreach notice or it is returned as undeliverable, SSA will keep the case open and will review the case for any necessary action.  SSA will reevaluate the denial after speaking to the claimant.

Cases with Interim Assistance Reimbursement Agreements (IAR), that is agreements to reimburse General Assistance or other benefits paid while SSI applications are pending, will need new IAR authorizations.  States can reach out to claimants for new IAR authorizations.  (EM-21068, December 9, 2021.)

Posted in SSI