Code Section Group

Welfare and Institutions Code - WIC

DIVISION 9. PUBLIC SOCIAL SERVICES [10000 - 18999.8]

  ( Division 9 added by Stats. 1965, Ch. 1784. )

PART 1. DEFINITIONS AND GENERAL PROVISIONS [10000 - 10077]

  ( Part 1 added by Stats. 1965, Ch. 1784. )

CHAPTER 3. Electronic Benefits Transfer Act [10065 - 10077]

  ( Chapter 3 added by Stats. 1997, Ch. 270, Sec. 31. )

ARTICLE 3. Systems Design [10072 - 10072.3]
  ( Article 3 added by Stats. 1997, Ch. 270, Sec. 31. )

10072.
  

The electronic benefits transfer system required by this chapter shall be designed to do, but not be limited to, all of the following:

(a) To the extent permitted by federal law and the rules of the program providing the benefits, recipients who are required to receive their benefits using an electronic benefits transfer system shall be permitted to gain access to the benefits in any part of the state where electronic benefits transfers are accepted. All electronic benefits transfer systems in this state shall be designed to allow recipients to gain access to their benefits by using every other electronic benefits transfer system.

(b) To the maximum extent feasible, electronic benefits transfer systems shall be designed to be compatible with the electronic benefits transfer systems in other states.

(c) All reasonable measures shall be taken in order to ensure that recipients have access to electronically issued benefits through systems, including, but not limited to, automated teller machines, point-of-sale devices, or other devices that accept electronic benefits transfer transactions. Benefits provided under Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11200) of Part 3 shall be staggered over a period of three calendar days, unless a county requests a waiver from the department and the waiver is approved, or in cases of hardship pursuant to subdivision (p).

(d) The system shall provide for reasonable access to benefits to recipients who demonstrate an inability to use an electronic benefits transfer card or other aspect of the system because of disability, language, lack of access, or other barrier. These alternative methods shall conform to the requirements of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 12101, et seq.), including reasonable accommodations for recipients who, because of physical or mental disabilities, are unable to operate or otherwise make effective use of the electronic benefits transfer system.

(e) The system shall permit a recipient the option to choose a personal identification number, also known as a “PIN” number, to assist the recipient to remember his or her number in order to allow access to benefits. Whenever an institution, authorized representative, or other third party not part of the recipient household or assistance unit has been issued an electronic benefits transfer card, either in lieu of, or in addition to, the recipient, the third party shall have a separate card and personal identification number. At the option of the recipient, he or she may designate whether restrictions apply to the third party’s access to the recipient’s benefits. At the option of the recipient head of household or assistance unit, the county shall provide one electronic benefits transfer card to each adult member to enable them to access benefits.

(f) The system shall have a 24-hour per day toll-free telephone hotline for the reporting of lost or stolen cards that will provide recipients, at no additional cost to the recipient, with information on how to have the card and personal identification number replaced, and that will allow an authorized representative or head of household to access, over the telephone, the transaction history detail for at least the last 10 transactions and to request that the transaction history detail for at least the past two months be sent by mail.

(g) The system shall have an Internet Web site that will provide recipients, at no additional cost to the recipient, with information on how to have the card and personal identification number replaced, and that will allow an authorized representative or head of household to view the transaction history detail for at least the last 10 transactions and to request that the transaction history detail for at least the past two months be sent by mail.

(h) In addition to the ability to receive transaction history detail pursuant to subdivisions (f) and (g), a county human services agency shall make available to an authorized representative or head of household, at no additional cost to the authorized representative or head of household, all electronic benefit transaction history details that are available to the county human services agency within 10 business days after a request has been received by the agency.

(i) (1) A recipient shall not incur any loss of electronic benefits after reporting that his or her electronic benefits transfer card or personal identification number has been lost or stolen. The system shall provide for the prompt replacement of lost or stolen electronic benefits transfer cards and personal identification numbers. Electronic benefits for which the case was determined eligible and that were not withdrawn by transactions using an authorized personal identification number for the account shall also be promptly replaced.

(2) (A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), a recipient shall not incur any loss of cash benefits that are taken by an unauthorized contact, withdrawal, removal, or use of benefits, including, but not limited to, use that results from an unauthorized solicitation, request, or representation that does not occur by the use of a physical electronic benefits transfer card issued to the recipient or authorized third party to directly access the benefits. Benefits taken as described in this subparagraph shall be promptly replaced in accordance with the protocol established by the department pursuant to paragraph (3).

(B) If a recipient knowingly provides his or her electronic benefits transfer card number and personal identification number to an unauthorized third party that the recipient mistakenly believes to be the contracted electronic benefits transfer vendor, an approved retailer, or a governmental entity, any benefits taken as described in subparagraph (A) shall be promptly replaced in accordance with the protocol established by the department pursuant to paragraph (3), but not more than one time in a 36-month period.

(3) The State Department of Social Services shall establish a protocol for recipients to report electronic theft of cash benefits that minimizes the burden on recipients, ensures prompt replacement of benefits in order to minimize the harm to recipients, and ensures program integrity. This protocol may include the automatic replacement of benefits without the need for recipient reporting and verification.

(4) (A) Notwithstanding paragraphs (2) and (3), the State Department of Social Services may issue mass reimbursements to recipients for the loss of cash benefits if the department finds that the benefits of multiple recipients were taken by an unauthorized withdrawal, removal, or use of benefits in which the recipients’ electronic benefits transfer card numbers or personal identification numbers were obtained by means of a data breach.

(B) A mass reimbursement made pursuant to subparagraph (A) requires the approval of the Department of Finance with notice given to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

(j) Electronic benefits transfer system consumers shall be informed on how to use electronic benefits transfer cards, how to protect their cards from misuse, and where consumers can use their cards to withdraw benefits without incurring a fee, charge, or surcharge.

(k) The electronic benefits transfer system shall be designed to inform recipients when the electronic benefits transfer system does not function or is expected not to function for more than a one-hour period between 6 a.m. and midnight during any 24-hour period. This information shall be made available in the recipient’s preferred language if the electronic benefits transfer system vendor contract provides for services in that language.

(l) Procedures shall be developed for error resolution.

(m) A fee shall not be charged by the state, a county, or an electronic benefits processor certified by the state to retailers participating in the electronic benefits transfer system.

(n) Except for CalFresh transactions, a recipient may be charged a fee, not to exceed the amount allowed by applicable state and federal law and customarily charged to other customers, for cash withdrawal transactions that exceed four per month.

(o) The electronic benefits transfer system shall be designed to ensure that recipients of benefits under Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11200) of Part 3 have access to using or withdrawing benefits with minimal fees or charges, including an opportunity to access benefits with no fee or charges.

(p) A county shall exempt an individual from the three-day staggering requirement under subdivision (c) on a case-by-case basis for hardship. Hardship includes, but is not limited to, the incurrence of late charges on an individual’s housing payments.

(q) A county shall use information provided by the department to inform recipients of benefits under Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11200) of Part 3 of all of the following:

(1) The methods of electronic delivery of benefits available, including distribution of benefits through the electronic benefits transfer system or direct deposit pursuant to Section 11006.2.

(2) Applicable fees and charges, including surcharges, consumer and privacy protections, and liability for theft associated with the electronic benefits transfer system.

(3) How to avoid fees and charges, including opting for delivery of benefits by direct deposit and using the electronic benefits transfer card solely at surcharge free locations.

(4) Where to withdraw benefits without a surcharge when using the electronic benefits transfer system.

(5) That a recipient may authorize any available method of electronic delivery of benefits and instructions regarding how the recipient may select or change his or her preferred method of electronic delivery of benefits and that the recipient shall be given the opportunity to select the method prior to the first payment.

(6) That a recipient may be entitled to an alternative method of delivery if the recipient demonstrates an inability to use an electronic benefits transfer card or other aspect of the system because of disability, language, lack of access, or other barrier pursuant to subdivision (d) and instructions regarding how to determine whether the recipient qualifies for an alternative method of delivery.

(7) That a recipient may be entitled to an exemption from the three-day staggering requirement under subdivision (c) on a case-by-case basis for hardship pursuant to subdivision (p) and instructions regarding how to determine whether the recipient qualifies for the exemption.

(r) A county is in compliance with subdivision (q) if it provides the recipient a copy of the information developed by the department. A county may provide a recipient information, in addition to the copy of the information developed by the department, pursuant to subdivision (q), either verbally or in writing, if the county determines the additional information will benefit the recipient’s understanding of the information provided.

(Amended by Stats. 2018, Ch. 712, Sec. 1. (AB 2313) Effective January 1, 2019.)

10072.1.
  

(a) The Legislature finds and declares that flea markets, farmers’ markets, and certified farmers’ markets are important sources of low-cost produce for Californians in need of food assistance.

(b) (1) An interested collective group or association of produce sellers that is Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) authorized and actively participating in produce sales in a market described in subdivision (a) may initiate and operate an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) acceptance system on behalf of its members, to the extent and manner allowed by federal law and regulation. The market operator shall allow and accommodate the FNS-authorized group or association in a reasonable manner that aids in the creation, implementation, and operation of its EBT acceptance system. The allowance and accommodation by the market operator mandated by this section is limited solely to the activity of the operation of the EBT acceptance system by the group or association. No other activities are authorized without the express permission of the market operator.

(2) This subdivision shall not apply to a market described in subdivision (a) that currently or subsequently operates an EBT acceptance system.

(c) Nothing in this section or any other provision of law shall prohibit an individually FNS-authorized produce seller in a market described in subdivision (a) from operating his or her own individual EBT acceptance activity as part of that seller’s personal business customer transaction offering.

(d) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to require a market described in subdivision (a) to itself create, operate, or maintain an EBT acceptance system on behalf of its produce sellers.

(Added by Stats. 2010, Ch. 435, Sec. 1. (AB 537) Effective January 1, 2011.)

10072.2.
  

(a) The electronic benefits transfer system required by this chapter shall be designed to include a flexible benefit issuance mechanism.

(b) The flexible benefit issuance mechanism created under this section shall be designed in a manner that can target multiple populations with specific benefits and shall allow the department flexibility to provide benefits for specific populations, as determined by the department, contingent upon the appropriation of funds by the Legislature.

(c) (1) The distribution of benefits pursuant to the flexible benefit issuance mechanism created under this section shall comply with all federal and state laws and regulations governing electronic benefits.

(2) The distribution of benefits pursuant to the flexible benefit issuance mechanism created under this section shall comply with privacy and confidentiality procedures required by federal and state law.

(d) The flexible benefit issuance mechanism created under this section shall become operative within nine months of the date that the Department of Social Services certifies and publishes on the department’s Internet Web site that the third generation electronic benefits transfer system required by this chapter has otherwise been fully implemented.

(Added by Stats. 2017, Ch. 24, Sec. 13. (SB 89) Effective June 27, 2017.)

10072.3.
  

(a) This section shall be known, and may be cited, as the California Fruit and Vegetable EBT Pilot Project.

(b) For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:

(1) “Authorized retailer” means any retail establishment that is authorized to accept CalFresh benefits, including, but not limited to, grocery stores, corner stores, farmers’ markets, farm stands, and mobile markets.

(2) “California-grown” means agricultural products that have been produced in the state, as specified in paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 43100 of the Food and Agricultural Code.

(3) “Fresh fruits and vegetables” means any variety of whole or cut fruits and vegetables without added sugars, fats, oils, or salt and that have not been processed with heat, drying, canning, or freezing.

(4) “Supplemental benefits” means additional funds delivered to a CalFresh recipient’s EBT card upon purchase of California-grown fresh fruits and vegetables using CalFresh benefits, and to be redeemed only for purchases allowed under the CalFresh program at an authorized retailer.

(c) The department, in consultation with the Department of Food and Agriculture, county CalFresh administrators, and stakeholders with experience operating CalFresh nutrition incentive programs, shall include within the EBT system a supplemental benefits mechanism that allows an authorized retailer to deliver and redeem supplemental benefits. The supplemental benefits mechanism shall be compatible with operational procedures at farmers’ markets with centralized point-of-sale terminals and at grocery stores with integrated point-of-sale terminals. The supplemental benefits mechanism shall ensure all of the following:

(1) Supplemental benefits can be transferable across any authorized retailer.

(2) Supplemental benefits can be accrued, tracked, and redeemed by CalFresh recipients in a seamless, integrated process through the EBT system.

(3) Supplemental benefits can only be accrued by CalFresh recipients through the purchase of California-grown fresh fruits and vegetables from an authorized retailer.

(4) Supplemental benefits can only be redeemed to make eligible purchases under the CalFresh program from an authorized retailer.

(5) The supplemental benefits mechanism complies with all applicable state and federal laws governing procedures to ensure privacy and confidentiality.

(6) Authorized retailers that use EBT-only point-of-sale terminals, such as farmers’ markets, and those that use integrated point-of-sale terminals, such as grocery stores, shall be able to integrate the new supplemental benefits mechanism into their existing systems, including the free state-issued hardware provided to certified farmers’ markets and farmers.

(7) The supplemental benefits mechanism provides a CalFresh benefits to supplemental benefits match ratio of at least 1:1.

(8) A CalFresh household may only accrue up to a limited amount of supplemental benefits, as determined by the department.

(9) There shall be no expiration date for use of supplemental benefits, but the benefits may be expunged in accordance with federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) regulations.

(d) There is hereby created in the State Treasury the California Fruit and Vegetable EBT Grant Fund. The fund shall consist of moneys from state, federal, and other public and private sources to provide grants pursuant to subdivision (e).

(e) Upon the deposit of sufficient moneys into the California Fruit and Vegetable EBT Grant Fund, as determined by the department, and upon the appropriation of moneys from the fund by the Legislature for this purpose, the department shall provide grants for pilot projects to implement and test the supplemental benefits mechanism in existing retail settings. The goal of the pilot project is to develop and refine a scalable model for increasing the purchase and consumption of California-grown fresh fruits and vegetables by delivering supplemental benefits to CalFresh recipients in a way that can be easily adopted by authorized retailers of various types, sizes, and locations in the future. The department, in consultation with the Department of Food and Agriculture, shall develop and adopt guidelines for awarding the grants, which shall include, at a minimum, all of the following requirements:

(1) (A) A minimum of three grants shall be awarded to nonprofit organizations or government agencies.

(B) At least one of the grants shall provide the ability to test the supplemental benefit mechanism at farmers’ markets. A farmers’ market that operates a centralized point-of-sale terminal and a scrip system and that also participates as a pilot project pursuant to this section may disburse scrips for supplemental benefits and for California-grown fresh fruit and vegetables concurrently.

(2) Selection criteria shall require that grant applicants demonstrate all of the following:

(A) Previous experience and effectiveness in administering CalFresh nutrition incentive programs, or similar supplemental benefits programs.

(B) Partnership commitment from at least one existing authorized retailer that already accepts CalFresh benefits and sells fresh fruits and vegetables, including a variety of California-grown fresh fruits and vegetables, and commits to selling California-grown fresh fruits and vegetables during the pilot project period.

(C) Ability to ensure that supplemental benefits are only accrued and delivered when purchasing California-grown fresh fruits and vegetables with CalFresh benefits and will be used only to make purchases authorized under the CalFresh program.

(D) Status as a nonprofit organization or government agency.

(E) Ability to provide the minimum data deemed necessary for the department to successfully evaluate the pilot project, as described in paragraph (1) of subdivision (f).

(F) Any other criteria that the department deems necessary for successful pilot project implementation, such as the level of need in the community, the size of the CalFresh population, and the need for geographic diversity.

(3) Grantees shall be responsible for all of the following:

(A) Securing the commitment of at least one authorized retailer willing to participate in the pilot project.

(B) Conducting community outreach.

(C) Providing evaluation data to the department.

(D) Ensuring the integrity of the pilot project following guidelines adopted by the department pursuant to this subdivision.

(f) (1) The department shall evaluate the pilot projects and make recommendations to further refine and expand the supplemental benefits mechanism. These recommendations shall also include a strategy for CalFresh client education, developed in consultation with county CalFresh administrators and advocates. The evaluation shall examine the efficacy of supplemental benefits accrual, delivery, and redemption from the perspective of CalFresh recipients, participating retailers, and state administrators. The evaluation shall also provide recommendations for further modifications that would make the mechanism easier for CalFresh recipients to use, for a variety of authorized retailer types to adopt, and for the department to administer. The department may contract with an independent evaluator to conduct this evaluation.

(2) Nine months after the department has received sufficient data to evaluate the pilot, but no later than January 1, 2022, the department shall submit a report to the Legislature that includes the results of the evaluation required pursuant to paragraph (1).

(g) Notwithstanding any other law, all of the following shall apply for the purposes of this section:

(1) Contracts or grants awarded pursuant to this section shall be exempt from the personal services contracting requirements of Article 4 (commencing with Section 19130) of Chapter 5 of Part 2 of Division 5 of Title 2 of the Government Code.

(2) Contracts or grants awarded pursuant to this section shall be exempt from the Public Contract Code and the State Contracting Manual, and shall not be subject to the approval of the Department of General Services or the Department of Technology.

(3) The state shall be immune from any liability resulting from the implementation of this section.

(4) 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, interpret, or make specific this section without taking any regulatory action.

(h) Notwithstanding Sections 18927 and 11004, the supplemental benefits described in this section are not subject to recovery for an overissuance caused by intentional program violation, fraud, inadvertent household error, or administrative error, and shall not be subject to review under Section 10950.

(i) The supplemental benefits described in this section are not entitlement benefits, and the department shall provide those benefits pursuant to this section only to the extent that funding is appropriated in the annual Budget Act for purposes of this section.

(j) The department shall seek any necessary federal approvals to establish this pilot project.

(k)  This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2024, and as of that date is repealed.

(Added by Stats. 2018, Ch. 35, Sec. 11. (AB 1811) Effective June 27, 2018. Repealed as of January 1, 2024, by its own provisions.)

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