8. People who leave the CalWORKs program
California’s Transitional Food Stamps (TFS) Program provides food stamps for five months to households that leave CalWORKs. [Welf. & Inst. Code § 18901.6; MPP § 63-504.13; see also 7 U.S.C. § 2020(s).] The county determines eligibility for TFS without the households having to apply for it. [ACL 03-66 at 1.] A household is eligible for TFS each time it leaves CalWORKs, even if it has received transitional food stamp benefits in the past. [ACIN I-21-04 at #5.] This is true even if part of the household continues to get KinGAP benefits after the other members’ CalWORKs stops. ACIN I-84-09.
Households that lose CalWORKs because the county sanctions or disqualifies them for reasons that render the household ineligible for food stamps are not eligible for TFS. [7 U.S.C. § 2020(s)(5); 7 C.F.R. § 273.12(f)(4) ; 7 C.F.R. § 273.26(c); MPP § 63-504.131(b).] [This disqualification applies only when all household members are disqualified for an Intentional Program Violation (IPV), a failure to comply with a work requirement, or serving a "comparable disqualification under 7 C.F.R. § 273.11(k); are serving a period of ineligibility for a knowing transfer to qualify for food stamps; are receiving SSI, are ineligible immigrants, or a fleeing felon; or the household is terminated for failure to complete a periodic report (the QR-7 in California). 7 C.F.R. § 273.26(c).] Households (0r members) that are approved for (either TANF or food stamps) benefits elsewhere are also not eligible. (Households which move out of California can still receive TFS benefits. ACIN I-41-10 corrects and overrides MPP § 63-504.131(a).) These are the only bases for ineligibility. Once the household qualifies for TFS, it does not matter if the person would otherwise not be eligible for food stamps, such as becoming an SSI recipient or fleeing felon. [ACIN I-21-04 at #21.] In other words, the disqualification needs to be the basis for stopping the CalWORKs, not for later occurring changes.
A TFS household’s food stamp amount is the same as the amount it received while on CalWORKs, adjusted for the decrease in household’s income due to CalWORKs grant loss. [7 U.S.C. § 2020(s)(3)(A); 7 C.F.R. § 273.27(a); FNS Farm Bill Questions and Answers, § 4115, #4; MPP § 63-504.132(a).] The food stamp amount remains the same even if a household member become ineligible for food stamps due to receipt of SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits or change in his fleeing felon status, [ACIN I-21-04 at #21.], or becomes incarcerated [ACIN I-84-09] during the TFS period. If some, but not all the members, of the TFS household leave and are granted CalWORKs (or Food stamps) in another household, the TFS benefits will continue, but be adjusted to remove the absent members. (Example: Family A is getting TFS for 4 people. 2 people leave to set up a new CalWORKs household elsewhere; TFS to family A remains, lowered to 2 people. The new CalWORKs household could get CalFresh for themselvs.) The date of the pro-rated amount is the 1st of the month after authorization of aid in the other household. ACIN I-84-09.
When TFS ends, California has chosen to use the recertification process to transition the household to regular food stamps without a break in aid. [7 U.S.C. § 2020(s)(4); 7 C.F.R. § 273.27; MPP § 63-504.132(d); ACL 11-70; ACL 03-66 at 2.]
A TFS household also may apply for regular food stamps during its transitional period, or after TFS benefits stop, if the household did not recertify. [7 U.S.C. § 2020(s)(6); FNS Farm Bill Questions and Answers, § 4115, #5; ACL 11-70; ACL 03-66 at 2.] This is not always a good idea, unless the household changes will result in increased benefits, because if approved for regular food stamps, TFS ends and all food stamp program requirements, including the use of current income and resources to determine eligibility, apply. [7 U.S.C. § 2020(s)(6); ACL 03-66 at 2.] ACL 11-70 requires counties to inform households if the benefits would be lower, and to allow the household to withdraw the application.
TFS households are not required to report changes in their circumstances during the transitional period, including address change or income changes. [MPP § 63-504.132(b); ACIN I-21-04 at #17.] The county calculates and issues benefits based on information that it already has, and any contact with the household is not required. [MPP § 63-504.132(a); ACL 03-66 at 2.] If a TFS household member leaves for another Food Stamps household, the county will reduce the grant benefit as well as the departing individual’s income. ACL 08-22. If the household’s change may increase the food stamp amount (i.e., someone moves into the household), then it may be advantageous to reapply for regular food stamp benefits. FNS Farm Bill Questions and Answers, § 4115, #5; ACIN I-21-04 at #12.]
When the household becomes eligible for TFS, the county will adjust the household’s certification period to coincide with the end of the transitional benefit period. [MPP § 63-504.132(d); ACL 03-66 at 2.] When TFS ends, the household will be given the regular certification period. When recertifying at the end of the TFS period, all the regular recertification rules set forth at MPP § 63-504.6 apply.
Forms and notices
The county must send a notice to tell a household when its TFS begins and that in some cases its food stamp certification period has been either extended or shortened until the transitional period ends. [MPP § 63-504.132(d); ACL 03-66 at 2.] Counties are to send Notice of Expiration (NEC) notice in the month prior to the last month of the benefit period (i.e Month 4). ACL 11-70. In order to avoid a break in aid, households must complete the recertification process by filing an application no later than the 15th day of the last month of the benefit period (month 5) and complete an interview, and submit any proof of income, expenses, or other information no later than 10 days of the date of the interview. The counties are required to schedule interviews so that households have at least 10 days to provide the required verification before the certification period expires. Id. [ State regulation MPP § 63-504.132(d) and (e) are void to the degree inconsistent with the ACL 11-70, as the latter reflects the new federal regulation, 7 CFR § 273.27.] If the transitional food stamp benefits are ending for any reasons other than the expiration of the five-month transitional period, the county must send a timely notice of action (10 days before terminating transitional benefits). [MPP § 63-504.132(e); ACIN I-21-04.]
Terminating the TFS benefits
In the final month of the transitional benefit period, the State agency must do one of the following: 1) clarify “unclear information” needed to determine benefits by sending a “Request for Contact” (RFC) to resolve “unclear information” or 2) recertify the household. 7 C.F.R. § 273.31(a). California chose to recertify the household. If the household does not submit a new application to recertify prior to the end of the TFS benefits, the household will be terminated. The NEC notices that is sent to recertify informs the household that benefits will be discontinued for failure to comply with the recertification process.