69. Registering for work
- How to register for work
- Penalties for not registering for work
- Good cause for not registering for work
- County’s duty to provide information and notices of action
- Loss of work registration exemption
Every “non-exempt” member of a non-assistance household must register for work. [MPP §63-407.1; 7 C.F.R. §273.7(a)(1).] (See the section about exemptions from work Requirements) for related details.) This is done at application, recertification, and when there is a change in the household circumstances that then requires registration. [MPP §63-407.221.] (A change requiring registration would be a loss of exemption or employment, for example.) If the change is not one that needs to be reported outside of the periodic reporting or change reporting, then the person just registers at the next recertification. [MPP §63-407.222.] The counties enter the registration information in a data tracking system on line.
How to register for work
The work registration process is something the county completes, not the individual. Registration occurs when the county determines the individual does not qualify for an exemption, and enters that finding into the automated eligibility system. The various county practices of how to register a person for work are set out at ACIN I-01-13. The majority of CWDs determine an individual’s work registrant status at application and the information is entered into the case file. In this case, the individual is not required to take additional steps to complete the work registration process. CDSS “strongly advises” counties to use this process, and not require other, burdensome, steps.
Penalties for not registering for work
Individuals disqualified for not complying with the work requirements without good cause cannot get food stamps (called a disqualification or penalty). [MPP § 63-407.53; 7 C.F.R. §273.1(b)(7)(iii).] Since the county handles the work registration, CalFresh applicants and recipients should not be facing penalties for failure to register. However, the law provides that if the person failed to register (their fault, not the county’s), the penalty would be one month for the 1st failure; three months for the second; and six months for the third and subsequent failure. [MPP §63-407.53.] (The County will count each work program failure as an “instance” – so, for example, if you previously were sanctioned for a failure to participate in a mandatory FSET assignment, and then became exempt, if you then fail to work register, it would be a second instance.) Id.
There are other penalties for failure to do other work program requirements, other than registration. See Section 71. Non-compliance with a work requirement.
When the person decides to “cure” the penalty by registering, or their circumstances change (and are granted good cause or an exemption), the person may reapply and be approved if otherwise eligible. [ MPP §63-407.52; 7 C.F.R. §273.7(f)(2).]
Good cause for not registering for work
Before sanctioning a participant for not registering for work, the food stamp office must determine if the person has “good cause”. [MPP § 63-407.51; 7 C.F.R. §273.7(f)(1)(i).] Good cause includes circumstances beyond the person’s control, such as illness, illness of another household member requiring the presence of the member, a household emergency, the lack of transportation, or the lack of adequate child care for children from 6 to 12 years old. [MPP §63-407.51; 7 C.F.R. § 273.7(i)(2). ] California also provides that good cause includes “problems caused by inability of the work registrant to speak, read, or write English.” [MPP § 63-407.51.] The lack of adequate child care is explained in MPP § 63-408.41(j). The office must look at the person’s situation and any information from the household or any employer in deciding if there is good cause. [MPP § 63-407.51; 7 C.F.R. §273.7(i)(1).] (For more information, see the section about exemptions from work Requirements.) The county food stamp office must issue a notice of action (NOA) when it finds no good cause for not registering for work. [MPP § 63-407.52; 7 C.F.R. § 273.13.] If the individual complies (or is granted an exemption or good cause) before the end of the notice period, the penalty (disqualification) is cancelled. The notice must be sent within 10 days of the County office deciding the person does not have good cause. The person has a right to a state hearing on the finding of no good cause and the disqualification. [MPP § 63-407.521.]
County’s duty to provide information and notices of action
As part of the work registration process, and at recertification, the county food stamp office must explain and give written information to all applicants explaining:
- work requirements;
- rights and responsibilities of work-registered household members; and
- consequences of failure to comply.
[MPP § 63-407.311-.313; 7 C.F.R. §273.7(c)(1).] When a person fails to register, a notice of action must be sent before any penalty (disqualification) is imposed. [MPP § 63-407.52; 7 C.F.R. §273.7(c)(3); 273.13.] The notice must explain: what they failed to do; that good cause was not found; the length of the penalty; what they can do to avoid the penalty and that if they subsequently qualify for good cause or an exemption the penalty can end. [MPP § 63-407.52.] The county office must also issue a notice of action when a previously exempt individual or new household member becomes subject to a work requirement, and at recertification. [MPP §63-407.313; 7 C.F.R. §273.7(c)(1).] The notices must be both timely and adequate. [MPP § 63-504.21; 7 C.F.R. §273.7(c)(3); 273.13.]
Loss of work registration exemption
When recipients lose exemption status, they must report the change and register for work with the county welfare department. The date that they need to report varies based on their circumstances. [MPP § 63-407.22; 7 C.F.R. §273.7(b)(2)(i).] If the change must be reported on the QR 7 (such as a loss of a job), then they will have to register soon after they report the change. [MPP § 63-407.221.] If the change is not one that needs to be reported, then they register at the next recertification. [MPP § 63-407.222.] In either case, the county welfare department must send them a form and then a notice informing them that they need to register.