Temporary application changes because of COVID-19

Because of COVID-19, effective from October 21, 2020 through March 31, 2024, counties must waive the requirement for an interview at initial certification of eligibility and recertification for benefits if the county has verified the identity of the applicant and has completed all mandatory verifications.  [All County Welfare Directors Letter, October 21, 2020; ACWDL, September 26, 2022 (extending waiver until December 31, 2022); ACWDL, December 21, 2022 [extending waiver until March 31, 2023];  ACWDL, March 28, 2023 [extending waiver until March 31, 2024).]

As part of the waiver extension to March 31, 2024, starting April 1, 2023 or upon completion of automation, counties must send a written explanation of simplified reporting to all households; provide a verbal explanation of the work requirement if the county contacts the household or the household is subject to mandatory employment and training; send a written notice to all households subject to the general work requirements, the Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents work requirements, and mandatory employment and training; and screen all households for exemptions from work requirements and the Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents work requirements.  [ACWDL, March 28, 2023.]

Households entitled to expedited service and whose identity is verified within the three-day expedited service timeframe will have their initial interview waived prior to benefit issuance.  If an expedited service household does not provide missing mandatory verification, benefits will be discontinued per existing CDSS policy.  [Id.]

To verify identity counties must accept any readily available documentary evidence which reasonably establishes the applicant’s identity.  If documentary evidence is not readily available, counties may verify identity using collateral contacts. For other verification, counties should proactively use electronic verification. [Id.]

Verification of job loss is not a mandatory verification for CalFresh.  Verification of job loss should be requested only if the job loss is questionable. A client’s statement of job loss is sufficient evidence that the client cannot reasonably anticipate income from that job. [Id., see ACL 20-48.]

If the county determines that any of the information provided on the application is questionable or incomplete, or the applicant does not complete identity verification or other mandatory verification, then an interview is required.  [All County Welfare Directors Letter, October 21, 2020.]

For households whose interviews cannot be waived, counties may require the household to completed a telephone interview even if they request a face-to-face interview. [Id.]

Counties also could waive the interview requirement at initial certification of eligibility  from March 27, 2020 through the end of August, 2020 if the county has verified the identity of the applicant and completed all mandatory verifications. [See All County Welfare Directors Letter, April 2, 2020, ACWDL, July 24. 2020.]

California also received a waiver of the requirements for recording of electronic signatures because of COVID-19.  That waiver is extended to  until March 31, 2024.  [ACWDL, March 28, 2023.]