CalWORKs diversion payments should not interfere with CalFresh applications

Sometimes welfare offices keep people from applying for CalWORKs benefits, either by giving them a one-time payment to help meet immediate needs or by providing various services. This is called “diversion”.

Sometimes diversion efforts have the unintended effect of deterring the household from applying for CalFresh benefits. Even if someone has been diverted from applying for CalWORKs, they must be allowed to file a CalFresh application.

Existing application protections also apply to diversion recipients, including:

  • They must be permitted to file a CalFresh application the first day they contact the CalFresh office;
  • Their CalFresh application only needs to have a name, address, and signature before it can be submitted;
  • Their CalFresh application must be processed within 30 days of the date of the initial application. This applies even if the CalWORKS application is withdrawn or delayed unless applying for emergency (expedited) CalFresh benefits [7 C.F.R. § 273.2(j); MPP § 63-301.6];
  • They must specifically withdraw the CalFresh application for it to be terminated. [7 C.F.R. § 273.2(c)(6)].

What is the direct impact of a diversion payment on CalFresh eligibility? Simply put, one-time diversion payments should not be counted as income in determining CalFresh eligibility.