Continuing benefits while waiting for a fair hearing

While waiting for its fair hearing, the household has a right to keep getting its CalFresh benefits at the same amount until the fair hearing occurs. But to do so, the household must be careful to ask for the fair hearing within 10 days from when the CalFresh office sends the written notice that the county is stopping or reducing the household’s benefits. If the household makes its request for a fair hearing within this 10-day rule, the household has a right to keep getting its benefits uninteruppted and at the same amount until the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) decides if the CalFresh household wins its hearing.

This is called “aid paid pending.” [7 C.F.R. §§ 273.13(a)(1), 273.13(a)(3)(vi), 273.15(k)(1); MPP §§ 63-504.211(a)(4), 63-804.62, 22-072.5.] If the household is late in asking for a hearing, missing the 10-day deadline, the household should not count on the CalFresh office to continue its benefits, pending the fair hearing. That said, if the household has a good reason (“good cause”) for not asking for a hearing within the 10 days, the CalFresh office must still give the household the same amount of benefits that the household was getting until the ALJ decides if the household wins its hearing. [7 C.F.R. § 273.15(k)(1); MPP §§ 63-804.613, 22-072.522.]

A recipient household will keep getting the same amount of CalFresh benefits each month unless one of the following applies:

  • The recipient’s certification period ends while waiting for the fair hearing [7 C.F.R. § 273.15(k)(2)(i); MPP §§ 63-804.642(a), 22-072.65.].
  • The CalFresh office sends the household a new notice to reduce or cut off its benefits because something new changes in the household’s circumstances and the household did not ask for a hearing on the new notice within the 10-day period [7 C.F.R. § 273.15(k)(2)(iii); MPP § 63-804.642(c).];
  • The CalFresh program makes a “mass change” affecting not just the recipient’s particular household but many or all others in the CalFresh program, such that the state agency is not required to give “timely” notice. [7 C.F.R. § 273.15(k)(2)(iv); MPP § 63-804.642(d).]
  • The CalFresh office sends a notice to cut off the household’s benefits for not turning in a semi-annual report (SAR 7) form and the household admits it did not turn in the form. [7 C.F.R. § 273.21(m)(1)(ii); MPP § 63-804.642(e)(QR).] (See the section of this Guide about semi-annual reporting requirements for more details about what the household has to do to keep getting benefits.)
  • The ALJ tells the household in writing that it will lose its hearing and the only reason the recipient asked for the hearing is because she does not agree with the way the CalFresh office understands the SNAP Act or federal SNAP regulations. [7 C.F.R. § 273.15(k)(2)(ii); MPP §§ 63-804.642(b), 22-072.62.]

If a household’s certification period ends while waiting for its fair hearing or the hearing to be decided, the household must complete the recertification process to continue to receive CalFresh benefits. [7 C.F.R. §§ 273.14(a), 273.15(k)(2)(i); MPP §§ 63-504.1, 22-045.3.] However, the CalFresh office still must hold the fair hearing.