Non-work program penalties

CalFresh recipients can also receive a penalty when they have a non-work program failure in a means-tested public aid program. The penalty imposed is such that, although the household’s cash-aid income goes down, the CalFresh benefits will not go up. This is because the CalFresh budget continues to be based on the pre-sanction cash-aid amount. [MPP § 63-503.7; 7 C.F.R. § 273.11(j). However, it is critical to note the foregoing California regulation fails to specify that the “failure” in the cash-aid program must not be procedural, and the failure must have been for violating a rule that is “substantive” and “designed to improve the well-being of the family.”

Therefore, reaching a time limit, failing to reapply or complete the application process for continued assistance under the other program, failing to perform an action that the individual is unable to perform as opposed to refusing to perform, or failing to comply with a purely procedural requirement — these are not “requirements” that would trigger this type of penalty. [See 7 C.F.R. § 273.11(j).]