Failure of the CalFresh program to act on an application within 30 days

Determining who is at fault for the county’s failure to act

Sometimes the CalFresh office will not decide if applicants qualify for CalFresh benefits within 30 calendar days after they apply. If the CalFresh office does not approve or turn down an application after the normal 30 days, it must determine the cause for delay. [7 C.F.R. § 273.2(h)(1); MPP § 63-301.41.] If the CalFresh office has all of the information it needs to approve or deny an application, the county is at fault and should act immediately. [7 C.F.R. § 273.2(h)(3)(i); MPP § 63-301.43.] A delay is also the fault of the CalFresh office, unless it has helped the applicant do what was required. [7 C.F.R. § 273.2(h)(1)(ii); MPP § 63-301.412.]

If a household is found responsible for the delay, the consequences range from limited retroactive benefits to denial. The delay might be the applicant’s fault if:

If an applicant missed the scheduled interview, it is his responsibility to reschedule the interview. The CalFresh office should send a notice saying so. The applicant must call to reschedule a new interview within 30 days from the date of the application. There are special rules if the rescheduled interview is set between the 21st and 30th day since the application was submitted. If a new interview falls in this window, the applicant must appear for the new interview, bring in all required verification, and register every non-exempt household member for work. He must do all of this by the 30th day after submitting the application. [7 C.F.R. § 273.2(h)(1)(i)(D); MPP § 63-301.411(c).] Otherwise, the delay will be deemed the applicant’s fault, not the county’s.

When the applicant is responsible for the county’s failure to act

When a household causes the delay, they lose the right to get CalFresh benefits for the month in which the application was filed. [7 C.F.R. § 273.2(h)(2)(i); MPP § 63-301.42.] If the delay is due to a failure to turn in proof, the county may choose whether to deny the application or “pend” the application, i.e., put on hold its processing by the county. This choice by the county must be applied to all households that fail to turn in proof. [7 C.F.R. § 273.2(h)(2)(i)(A).] The CalFresh office cannot make the applicant have an appointment or otherwise appear “in person” to turn in proof. [7 C.F.R. § 273.2(f)(5)(i).]

Notice of Denial

When an applicant fails to give the CalFresh office requested proof, the office must wait 30 days from when the application was submitted before it can issue a notice of denial. [7 C.F.R. § 273.2(h)(2)(i).] The CalFresh office should only deny an application after the 30 days expire, and the county has offered to help the applicant household get the requested information. [7 C.F.R. § 273.2(h)(1)(ii); MPP § 63-301.411(a).

Receiving a notice of denial due to a failure to provide proof does not mean an applicant has been denied and must reapply. If an applicant receives a notice of denial for failure to provide required proof, he has until the 60th day from the date he submitted an application to provide the county with the requested information.

If a notice of denial is sent, and the household performs the required action within 60 days of the original application date, then the application should be re-opened without requiring a new application. [7 C.F.R. § 273.2(h)(2)(i)(A); MPP § 63-301.421.] If the applicant provides the county with the requested information between the first and second 30-day windows, the CalFresh office must give the applicant benefits starting the day such requested information was submitted. [MPP § 63-301.423.]

Notice application remains pending

Notices of “pending” applications are uncommon. When they do occur, pending applications allow the household another 30 days to complete the actions requested by the county. [7 C.F.R. § 273.2(h)(2)(i)(A); MPP § 63-301.422.] The 30 days start from when the applicant receives the request for information. If the applicant provides the requested information before these 30 days are up, he will get benefits back to the day he submitted his application. If not, he will have to reapply.

Regardless of what type of notice is sent, it would be the final notice a household would receive before being denied benefits for failure to provide proof. [7 C.F.R. § 273.2(h)(2)(i)(A); MPP § 63-301.421(a), 301-422(b).]

When the county itself is responsible for the failure to act

If the delay was the fault of the CalFresh office, it cannot deny the application without information shwoing the applicant is ineligible. [7 C.F.R. § 273.2(h)(3)(i); MPP § 63-301.43.] The CalFresh office must send the applicant a notice informing him that his application is pending. The CalFresh office must send this notice by the 30th day he submitted an application. The notice must also tell the applicant what he must do, if anything, in order for the CalFresh office to decide on his application for benefits. [7 C.F.R. § 273.10(g)(1)(ii)-(iii); MPP § 63-504.23.]

If the CalFresh office delays an applicant who is found eligible, it must give benefits back to the day the application was submitted. [7 C.F.R. § 273.2(h)(3)(ii); MPP §§ 63-301.432, .] This is true even if the CalFresh office does not decide on the application until more than 60 days after the applicant first applied. [7 C.F.R. § 273.2(h)(4)(i); MPP § 63-301.441(a)(1).]

As a worst-case-county-caused-delay scenario — if the CalFresh office has not decided on the application at the end of 60 days from the date of first application, the delay is the county’s fault and the file is otherwise complete, then in California the county must proceed to process that original application completely, and pay benefits immediately. [MPP § 63-301.441.]