December 28, 2012

 Program Guide Letter # 579

 

Subject

Implementation of the HEAT AND EAT program for CalFresh

 

Effective Date

January 2013

 

Reference

All County Letter 12-61

 

Purpose

To provide staff with instructions for the implementation of the Heat and Eat Program whereby all CalFresh recipients will receive a nominal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) benefit of 10 cents and be eligible to the Standard Utility Allowance (SUA) deduction.

 

Background

Assembly Bill (AB) 6 (Chapter 501, Statutes of 2011) requires the California Department of Social Services, in conjunction with the Department of Community Services and Development, to develop and implement a utility assistance initiative whereby all CalFresh households will annually receive a nominal LIHEAP benefit (a cash benefit of 10 cents).

 

CalFresh Program Regulation

Per existing United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service [USDA-FNS]) regulations, receipt or the expectation of receipt of a LIHEAP benefit entitles households to the full SUA for the purpose of calculating CalFresh benefits.  Refer to CalFresh Program Guide Section 63-236.3.

 

The LIHEAP (Heat and Eat) Benefit

Beginning January 2013, CalFresh recipients will receive a nominal LIHEAP benefit of 10 cents. The LHEAP benefit will be issued to ALL CalFresh households including homeless households, and households receiving benefits through the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

The 10 cent LIHEAP benefit will be issued to:

·      CalFresh applicants no later than the end of the month in which CalFresh benefits are authorized.

·      Continuing CalFresh households once every Federal Fiscal Year in October.

 

Entitlement to the SUA

Effective January 1, 2013 ALL CalFresh households will be entitled to the SUA as part of their CalFresh budget computation.  This will result in an increase in the amount of CalFresh benefits for many households and eligibility to CalFresh to some households who would otherwise be income ineligible to CalFresh.

 

LUA, TUA, and Homeless Shelter Deductions

As stated above, ALL CalFresh households will be eligible for the SUA as a result of receiving the nominal LIHEAP benefit.

Therefore, the Homeless Shelter Deduction, the Limited Utility Allowance (LUA) and the Telephone Utility Allowance (TUA) will no longer be used in the determination of CalFresh allotments.

 

Verification of Heating and Cooling, Utilities

Human Services Specialists (HSSs) will continue to request verification of utilities to document heating or cooling expenses. However, verification of utilities is no longer a requirement to allow the SUA.  All CalFresh households will receive a SUA deduction whether or not the verification of utilities is provided.

The HSS will not delay the approval of a CalFresh application or discontinue a CalFresh case because verification of utilities is not submitted by the household.

NOTE: The verification of utilities for heating or cooling is recommended to prevent Quality Control (QC) errors in case Congress eliminates the nominal LIHEAP payment provision when the Farm Bill is re-authorized.

 

Verification of the Nominal LIHEAP benefit

The HSS is responsible for determining whether or not a household reapplying for CalFresh or moving from another County has previously received the nominal LIHEAP benefit within the federal fiscal year.

 

Transitional CalFresh

Transitional CalFresh cases will not receive the nominal LIHEAP benefit.  As stated in the CalFresh Program Guide Section 63-321.2, Transitional CalFresh benefits will be issued in an amount equal to the allotment received in the last month of CalWORKs eligibility, adjusted for the loss of the CalWORKs grant.

Transitional CalFresh households transitioning back to regular CalFresh are eligible to receive the LIHEAP benefit and will be automatically eligible to the SUA.

 


LIHEAP Benefit Issuance Method

The 10 cent LIHEAP benefit will be issued to all CalFresh households via their EBT account.  A new EBT benefit type has been established for LIHEAP and is now available on the EBT system.  The new:

·      EBT Benefit Type is “Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP);”

·      Benefit Type Code is “LIHEAP.”

The 10 cent LIHEAP benefit is an EBT cash issuance within the CalWIN Maintain Card Request window.  Therefore, the EBT Account Access field for all LIHEAP cases must be set to “Both” for the primary card holder.

EXPUNGEMENT REGULATIONS

“Expungement” rules will apply to the LIHEAP benefit (Section 63-402.10).  However, unlike CalFresh and cash benefits, LIHEAP benefits in “inactive” or “dormant” status will not be reissued upon reapplication or request by the recipient.

 

Automation Impact

LIHEAP BENEFIT EBT ISSUANCE

The LIHEAP (10 cent) cash benefit will be issued to all ongoing cases in January 2013 for Federal Fiscal Year 2013.  It will be issued again in October 2013 for Federal Fiscal Year 2014 and every October afterward.

There will be a monthly CalWIN program run that will issue the LIHEAP benefit at the end of the month to all intake CalFresh cases granted during the month.

ONGOING CASES

The LIHEAP Mass Update ran on December 15, 2012 to add the “LIHEAP” Expense Type to the Display Shelter/Food Expense screen for all ongoing CalFresh households.  These households will have the SUA deduction reflected in their CalFresh budget effective January 2013. The December 15 LIHEAP Mass Update run also included a SQL to change the EBT Account Access field to “Both” for all active LIHEAP cases.

NEW APPLICATIONS (INTAKE)

The December 15, 2012 LHEAP Mass Update did not add the “LIHEAP” Expense Type to pending (intake) cases.

The HSS must select “LIHEAP” from the Utility Information/Expense Type field on the Display Shelter/Food Expense Detail window and Both” from the EBT Account Access field on the Maintain Card Requests window before authorizing the case. This will allow the SUA and will also trigger the 10 cent LIHEAP benefit.  Refer to the Operational Impact section below

 

Automation Impact: Exception Report

CalFresh cases that did not authorize in batch during the LIHEAP Mass Update will be identified on the attached LIHEAP MU Exception Report.  The primary errors encountered are:

·         Error Encountered in EDBC Process

Cases that have UEM data conflicts

·         Error Encountered in Authorization Process

EDBC ran successfully but the case was not authorized

·         Pre-Authorization Exceptions

Cases in which Authorization did not process in batch (benefit split, failed for future month, error prone, etc.)

The HSS is required to review the Mass Update Exception Report to manually update the LIHEAP entry on the listed cases.

 

Client Correspondence Impact

The LIHEAP Client Correspondence Report lists all Client Correspondence triggered during the December 15, 2012 LIHEAP Mass Update.  Some correspondences were mailed automatically and require no additional action by the HSS.    

HSSs are required to review all Client Correspondence remaining online to release or delete as appropriate.  A list of cases identifying the Client Correspondence left Online is being provided in a separate attachment.  

 

Prevention of LIHEAP Duplicate Benefits

The LIHEAP cash benefit will be issued to all CalFresh cases approved in January 2013 and thereafter.  Therefore the entry of “prior aid” will stop CalWIN from re-issuing the LIHEAP benefit in the same Federal Fiscal Year. 

If CalFresh was issued in a different County the HSS will view MEDS to verify if the household has received CalFresh during the federal fiscal year.  If MEDS shows the household has received CalFresh in another county for the same federal fiscal year (October thorough September), the HSS will enter the prior aid information in the Collect Individual Prior/Current Aid Detail window of CalWIN.  This stops the 10 cent LIHEAP benefit from issuing again.  The LIHEAP benefit will not be issued again until the next federal fiscal year when CalWIN runs the annual batch in October.

 

Operational Impact

For CalFresh cases granted on or after December 17, 2012, the HSS will manually select “LIHEAP” from the Utility Information/Expense Type field on the Display Shelter/Food Expense Detail window and Both” from the EBT Account Access field on the Maintain Card Requests window before authorizing the case. This will allow the SUA and will also trigger the 10 cent LIHEAP benefit at the end of the month.

 

 

Quality Control (QC) Impact

QC will cite the appropriate error when instructions in the CalFresh Program Guide are not followed or are followed incorrectly.

 

Other Programs Impact

No impact.

 

ACCESS (Call Center) Impact

No impact.

 

 


 

 

Summary of Changes

The following CalFresh Program Guide sections have been updated:

CHPTER/SECTION

CHAPTER OR

SECTION TITLE

UPDATES

63-105.1

Eligibility Requirements

Deleted references to the TUA and LUA.

63-238.2, 4, 6, 7

Chapter: Shared Living Expenses

63-117.22

Shelter Expenses

Deleted references to the TUA and LUA and added statement that verification of utilities is not a requirement to allow the SUA.

63-1102.1

Income Deductions Table

Added statement that the LUA, TUA, and Homeless Shelter Deduction are no longer used. 

63-234

Chapter: Homeless Shelter Deduction

63-236.2

Homeless Shelter Deduction & SUA

63-237

Chapter: Utility Allowances LUA & TUA

63-235.1

Definition

Deleted reference to the Homeless Shelter Deduction.

63-236.1

Definition

Added statement that all CalFresh households are now receiving a LIHEAP benefit and are eligible to the SUA deduction.

63-281.8

Reasonably Anticipated Utility Costs

63-236.3

Households Receiving Energy Assistance

63-271.4

Verification Responsibilities of QR Households

Deleted utility costs verification requirement to allow SUA, LUA, or TUA.

Updates to the CalFresh Program Guide are noted with highlighted text.

 

Director Approval

 

 

OA