What happens if the household moves

Moving within a county, within a state, or outside a state

There are three basic “moving” scenarios for CalFresh households: The household moves within the same county; moves from one county to another county within California; or moves from a California county to another state (or vice-versa):

  • If a household moves within the same county it is best to tell both the new and the old county CalFresh offices so the household’s case can be transferred to the new office. This is important also so notices are not delayed or lost. Moving within the same California county should not result in any loss of CalFresh benefits. The address change must be reported either on the change reporting form within 10 days or on the SAR 7 form, when next due.
  • The second situation would be where a household moves from one California county to another California county. In that situation, the rules for the inter-county transfer (ICT) for CalFresh only cases apply. See Welf. & Inst. Code § 11053.2 (providing for inter-county transfers); ACL 11-22 (process for inter-county transfers); ACL 13-78 (clarifications and form for initiating transfer).  In general, recipients can report their move to either the county they are coming from (sending county) or the county they are going to (receiving county).  The sending county must notify the receiving county of the transfer.  Within seven days, the sending county must send the receiving county certain documents.  [ACL 11-22.]  Note that the sending county cannot send information about domestic abuse to the receiving county unless the recipient has signed the CW 37 form.
  • The third situation is where a household moves from California to another state, or vice versa. If someone moves to another state, the CalFresh office cannot transfer the case to the other state. To keep receiving SNAP benefits, the household must apply for benefits in the new state. [7 C.F.R. § 273.3(a); MPP § 63-401.] Households moving from one state into another should not be required to establish that they did not receive SNAP benefits in their former residence before receiving expedited service in the new state. See, e.g., Villegas v. Concannon, 742 F.Supp. 1083 (D.Or. 1990) (expedited service requires only verification of identity and refusal to accept affidavit that benefits not received in prior state was improper). Applicants should offer to sign an affidavit of non-receipt if they did not get the benefits. If benefits were issued and available for use, the county should still accept the application, but benefits would be pro-rated from the month after the prior state’s benefits stop.

If only part of an existing CalFresh household moves, those who move can apply for CalFresh benefits at the new county office, even if those household members already received CalFresh benefits for the month — provided the household tells the new CalFresh office that it already got CalFresh benefits. That said, a recipient cannot get CalFresh benefits twice for the same month, unless she was abused and has fled the home of the abuser or fled to a shelter for battered women and children. [7 C.F.R. § 273.3(a); MPP § 63-401.2.]

Temporary Absence

A recipient is considered temporarily absent if they are temporarily residing in another county or state but intend to return to their initial county of residence.  [ACL 15-94.]  If the household states that they intent to return but has within one year, the household will be considered to have changed its residence.  [Id.]

If an adult member of the household is absent because of incarceration for more than 30 days and remains incarcerated, the county must send the household a notice of action removing the incarcerated adult from the household and adjust benefits accordingly.  [ACL 19-33.]

Inter-County Transfers (ICT) in CalFresh/CalWORKs, CalFresh/Medi-Cal, and CalFresh only cases

CalFresh/CalWORKs and CalFresh/Medi-Cal ICTs

Welf. & Inst. Code § 11053.2 sets out the basic parameters for inter-county transfers (ICT) of benefits, requiring the county use the existing “linked program” process. For CalWORKs, the ICT process is set forth at MPP §§ 40-187 through 40-197. For Medi-Cal, see ACL 03-12 and ACL 04-14.

The recipient can report the move to either the old or the new county.  [ACL 17-58.]  Recipients must report a change of residence within 10 days of the actual move.  However, failure to report a move, by itself, cannot be a basis for an overpayment, overissuance or other negative action.

The county that the recipient informs of the move must initiate the ICT process within seven days.  Benefits must be transferred from the sending county to the receiving county with no redetermination or recertification of eligibility in the receiving county.  The new county cannot interview the recipient, request or require a new application, or request or request any verification.  The new county can interview the client only regarding Welfare-to-Work participation.  [ACL 17-58.]  The sending county must provide the receiving county copies of documents necessary to verify current benefits and grant amount within seven business days, including the most recent SAR 7, SAWS 2 Plus, SAWS 1 and Welfare-to-Work plan.  Benefits and payment responsibility must be transferred to the receiving county no later than the first day of the next month following 30 days after the county is notified of the move.  [ACL 17-58.]

If only some of the household moves, they would be added to an existing household or must apply to establish their own household. See  ACL 13-78 for more information.

CalFresh only cases

The process is the same for non-assistance CalFresh cases except that CalFresh recipients are not required to report a mid-period move to a new county. [ACL 17-58.]   CalFresh recipients are encouraged to promptly notify the county when they move to another county to ensure continuity of benefits.  [Id.]  If a household voluntarily reports an address change mid-period, the county must initiate an intercounty-transfer (if applicable) within seven days.  [Id.]  Payments must be transferred to the new county within 30 days.  [Id.]  The new county cannot do a recertification unless it is the previously scheduled month for a recertification.  [Id.]

Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents (ABAWD)

Should a household move to a county without an ABAWD waiver, the county of residence is responsible to check if the participant is meeting the ABAWD work rule. That said, California has been granted a statewide waiver of the federal Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) work requirement. The current waiver is approved until September 1, 2018.  No CalFresh recipients are currently subject to the ABAWD work requirement. (However, be mindful that other CalFresh work requirements still apply.)

Transitional CalFresh and ICT

The ICT process now applies to Transitional CalFresh cases.  This change will be effective when the computer systems are programmed for it, but no later than September 1, 2017.  [ACL 17-58.]

If CalFresh benefits get discontinued during ICT

If the household has its CalFresh benefits terminated for any reason during the ICT, it is potentially eligible for a restoration of aid. [See ACL 10-32.] If, in the month following the discontinuance, the household either appears in or contacts the county welfare department (CWD) in a new county of residence, the CWD must determine whether the household would benefit from having the case restored or by completing a new application, in the event the household is eligible for expedited service. If it is more advantageous to the household to have the case restored, the receiving county must provide any information needed by the sending county to complete the restoration, and the sending ounty is responsible for restoring the case. [ACL 10-32.] If the household is better served by completing a new application, the receiving county will notify the household and assist in the completion of the application. [ACL 11-22.]

Whereabouts unknown

The CalFresh program does not allow discontinuance of benefits because the recipient’s whereabouts are unknown. [ACL 15-24.] The discontinuance must be based on facts establishing a “loss of residency” acquired from reliable information indicating a move out of the county.  [Id.]  The county cannot assume loss of residence because mail is returned.  [Id.]  ACL 10-01 reviews how to handle cases where mail is returned. Transitional CalFresh households are not required to report changes, including address change. [MPP § 63-504.132(b); ACIN I-21-04, at No. 17.] The county should never terminate TCF benefits solely because the address is not known. [ACL 10-01.]