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AB-494 CalFresh: eligibility: shelter expense deductions.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 03/20/2019 09:00 PM
AB494:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  March 20, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 494


Introduced by Assembly Member Berman

February 12, 2019


An act to add Section 18901.15 to the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to public social services, and declaring the urgency thereof, to take effect immediately.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 494, as amended, Berman. CalFresh: eligibility: shelter expense deductions.
Existing federal law provides for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known in California as CalFresh, under which supplemental nutrition assistance benefits allocated to the state by the federal government are distributed to eligible individuals by each county. Under existing law, the State Department of Social Services is charged with state administration of the CalFresh program. Federal and state regulations establish allowable income deductions for the purpose of establishing CalFresh eligibility, including a deduction for excess shelter costs, as specified.
This bill requires would require the State Department of Social Services to issue guidance to simplify the verification of shelter expense deductions necessary to determine a household’s CalFresh eligibility or benefit level. The bill would specify that a county human services agency is not precluded from requesting additional documentation to verify a shelter expense if the verification provided is questionable. county human services agencies to establish that shelter costs reported by an applicant or recipient on a signed CalFresh application or semiannual report form is sufficient for the purpose of determining the applicant’s or recipient’s excess shelter costs deduction, and to prohibit county human services agencies from requesting additional documents to verify excess shelter costs, except as specified. The bill would authorize the department to implement and administer this section its provisions through all-county letters or similar instructions.
This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.
Vote: 2/3   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this act to support an increase in CalFresh benefits for low-income working families by simplifying the verification of their shelter expenses.
SEC. 2.Section 18901.15 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, immediately following Section 18901.1, to read:
18901.15.

(a)The department shall issue guidance to simplify the verification of shelter expense deductions necessary to determine a household’s CalFresh eligibility or benefit level. The guidance shall establish that shelter expenses shall be considered verified upon receipt of a self-certified statement of monthly shelter expenses, unless federal law or guidance requires additional documentation.

(b)This section does not preclude a county human services agency from requesting additional documentation to verify a shelter expense if the verification provided is questionable.

(c)Notwithstanding the rulemaking provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code), the department may implement and administer this section through all-county letters or similar instructions.

SEC. 2.

 Section 18901.15 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, immediately following Section 18901.1, to read:

18901.15.
 (a) The department shall issue guidance to counties that does both of the following:
(1) Establishes that shelter costs reported by an applicant or recipient on a signed CalFresh application or semiannual report form shall be sufficient for purposes of determining the applicant’s or recipient’s excess shelter costs deduction.
(2)  Prohibits a county human services agency from requesting additional documents to verify excess shelter costs, except when the reported shelter costs are questionable.
(b) Notwithstanding the rulemaking provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code), the department may implement and administer this section through all-county letters or similar instructions.

SEC. 3.

 This act is an urgency statute necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety within the meaning of Article IV of the California Constitution and shall go into immediate effect. The facts constituting the necessity are:
In order to prevent nearly 400,000 elderly or disabled recipients of federal Supplemental Security Income benefits and/or or State Supplementary Payment Program benefits provided in Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 12000) of Part 3 of Division 9 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, who are newly eligible to receive CalFresh benefits pursuant to the Budget Act of 2018, from being delayed in their application for food aid, it is necessary for this act to take effect immediately.