September 30, 2013

Program Guide Letter #587

 

Subject

CALFRESH COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENTS (COLA) FOR FEDERAL FISCAL YEAR (FFY) 2014 EFFECTIVE 10/01/13 AND THE ENDING OF ARRA MAXIMUM ALLOTMENTS EFFECTIVE 11/01/13

 

Effective Dates

COLA – October 1, 2013

ARRA – November 1, 2013

 

Reference

All County Information Notice I-52-13; I-41-13; and I-46-12

All County Letter 12-25 and 09-12

 

Purpose

To inform staff that:

 

·         The COLA mass update process ran the weekend of September 07, 2013 for CalFresh including Public Assistance CalFresh (PACF), Non-Assistance CalFresh (NACF) and Transitional CalFresh (TCF);

·         The mass update process to end the ARRA maximum allotment increase will run the weekend of October 12, 2013 for CalFresh including Public Assistance CalFresh (PACF), Non-Assistance CalFresh (NACF) and Transitional CalFresh (TCF);

·         CSC 92 which details the ending of ARRA was triggered for all active CalFresh cases September 21, 2013;

·         The CalFresh Program Guide (CFPG) has been updated as specified below; and

·         The Scratch Budget has been updated and uploaded to the shared drive.

 

To provide staff with:

 

·         Instructions for COLA implementation; and

·         CalWIN Mass Update Reports.

 

Background

The Food Stamp Act of 1977 provides annual COLA adjustments to allotments, certain deductions, and eligibility standards. The adjustments are effective every year on the first day of October.  For SAR households where October falls mid-period, the COLA is treated as a county-initiated mid-period change.

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the maximum allotments were raised by 13.6 percent of the June 2008 value and provided that benefits could not decline below this level.  This provision of ARRA ends effective November 1, 2013.  As a result, on November 1, 2013, maximum allotments will decrease by 5.4 percent.

 

Due to the ending of ARRA, CalFresh allotments will be adjusted twice this year: once on October 1, 2013 and again on November 1, 2013. 

 

CalFresh Program Guide Updates

SECTION

TITLE

REVISIONS/UPDATES

63-120.10

MCE Household Allotment

Added a link to 63-254.7

63-120.12

MCE Determination Examples - Example 2 and 6

Added a link to 63-254.7

63-1101.2

CalFresh Maximum Allotment Table

Updated the Maximum Allotment Table

63-1101.3

Income and Eligibility Standards

·         Updated Gross and Net Income Limits

·         Updated limits for Modified Categorical Eligibility (MCE)

63-1101.5

CalFresh Allotment Tables

Tables of benefit issuance have been added for October 2013 and November 2013 allotments

63-1102.1

Income Deductions Table

Updated Deductions

63-1102.2

CalFresh Assistance Standards Table

Updated Table for October 2013 and November 2013

63-1104.3

165% FPL Gross Income Chart

Updated Gross Income Chart

63-1104.4

Examples of Determination for Elderly/Disabled Separate Household Status

Updated 165% FPL in the examples

63-254.7

Minimum Monthly Allotment

Decreased the minimum monthly allotment from $16 to $15

63-322.4

Zero Grant – Categorical Eligibility

Added a link to 63-254.7

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

 

Summary of Changes

The following changes are part of the FFY 2014 COLA:

·   The Excess Shelter Deduction* has been increased to $478;

·   The Standard Deduction Amount changes according to the Eligible CalFresh Household size as follows:

o  1-3 Eligible household members = $152 (increase)

o  4 Eligible household members = $163 (increase)

o  5 Eligible household members = $191 (increase)

o  6 or more Eligible household members = $219 (increase)

*NOTE:  There was no change in the Homeless Household Shelter Allowance, currently $143.  Homeless households are entitled to the SUA but they can receive the Homeless Shelter Deduction if they incur a shelter cost and this is more beneficial to the household. 63-234.1 and 63-236.2.

 

Standard Utility Allowance (SUA)

The SUA amount increased from $331 to $363 for FFY 2014, effective October 1, 2013.  Effective January 1, 2013 ALL CalFresh households are entitled to the SUA as a result of receiving a LIHEAP benefit of 10 cents (63-236.1). Homeless households can receive the Homeless Shelter Deduction instead of the SUA if they incur a shelter cost and if this is more beneficial to the household 63-234.1 and 63-236.2.

Limited Utility Allowance (LUA)

The LUA amount increased from $104 to $109 for FFY 2014, effective October 1, 2013.  Effective January 2013 the LUA deduction will no longer be used in the determination of CalFresh allotments (63-237).

Telephone Utility Allowance (TUA)

The TUA amount is unchanged and remains at $20 for FFY 2014.  Effective January 2013 the TUA deduction will no longer be used in the determination of CalFresh allotments (63-237).

 

Informing Notice
COLA

State regulations do not require timely notice when processing a mass change.  However, we are required to inform clients that a change will occur or has occurred in their CalFresh allotment.  This informing requirement can be met by displaying posters containing the information, in places accessible to clients.  Households must be informed by October 1, 2013.

Samples of the COLA informing posters (Attachment A, 2014 COLA Poster English and Attachment B, 2014 COLA Poster Spanish) are attached to this letter.  Family Resource Centers (FRCs) shall post the notification in their lobbies and other areas frequented by clients.  These posters must be posted no later than October 1, 2013 and must remain on display until November 30, 2013.

Attachment C, CF11A ENG/SP (9/13) “Notice To All CalFresh Recipients” has been uploaded to the Xerox Print Center for staff use if a household has additional questions regarding the COLA.

 

Informing Notice ARRA Ending

Attachment D, CSC 92 – Important Message – Federal Reduction in Benefits effective November 1, 2013 was issued to all active CalFresh households September 21, 2013.  This message will include common questions and answers regarding the ending of ARRA as well as a CalFresh Maximum Monthly Benefits chart and EBT information.

 

Transitional CalFresh

As maximum allotments are decreasing effective November 1, 2013, TCF cases will also be affected by the ending of ARRA.

 

Automation Impact

The COLA mass update process ran the weekend of September 07, 2013.  Cases containing CalFresh were included in the run.  The batch AU Exception indicators listed below were lifted during the COLA process.  Once the COLA was completed the Batch AU indicators were restored.

Type of Special Indicator

 

CA – (CAPI)

Batch AU Exception-CA

CW – (CalWORKs)

Batch AU Exception-CW

FS – (Food Stamps)

Batch AU Exception-FS

GA – (General Relief)

Batch AU Exception-GA

MC – (Medi-Cal)

Batch AU Exception-MC

RC – (RCA)

Batch AU Exception-RC

The Standard Deduction, Maximum Excess Shelter Cost Standard Deduction, and Utility Allowance Reference Tables were updated in CalWIN Production September 07, 2013.  The October 2013 budget calculations for the impacted cases will reflect these updates.

COLA SUPPLEMENTAL REPORTS

The reports below require action by FRC staff and can be accessed by clicking the links:

 

·         Exception Report MU0007R (Error Worker Detail)Is the COLA exception EDBC and Authorization report.  This report lists and describes errors encountered during the batch run process and details corresponding case number, case name, case status and worker detail.  The cases on this list have not been auto-authorized by CalWIN.

Worker Action Required:

1.    Review cases and authorize.

 

·         Client Correspondence Details Report This report lists all the Client Correspondence that was triggered during the September 7, 2013 CalFresh COLA run for each case.  Some Correspondence was deleted, some was mailed in batch and some was held in the print queue for review. 

Worker Action Required: 

1.  Review all correspondence that is held in the Print Queue.

2.  Delete any redundant or unnecessary correspondence.

Before mailing required client correspondence, complete manual variables.  Print and mail necessary correspondence to the household via batch or with immediate print as appropriate.

 

NOTE: Failure to complete required manual variables will prevent client correspondence from generating in batch.

 

Forms Impact and Scratch Budget

The Assistance Standards Chart has been updated to reflect both the CalFresh COLA and the ARRA ending adjustment.

 

The Scratch Budget located in the S:\ENTERPRISE\QR Excel Spreadsheet folder has been updated to reflect the October 1, 2013 COLA and the ending of ARRA.

 

Medi-Cal, GR, CAPI, and CalWORKs Impacts

Workers shall continue to review their Medi-Cal, General Relief (GR), Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI), and CalWORKs (CW) cases with CalFresh associated programs alerts and communications for impacts.

When EDBC is run on a case, CalWIN re-evaluates all eligible participants for all programs and generates denials and/or approvals for all the evaluated programs.  Workers shall review the Correspondence Details report and evaluate the correspondence held in the print queue for appropriateness and print any necessary correspondence held in the print queue and mail it to participants.

 

 

ACCESS Call Center Impact

ACCESS staff may receive phone calls on correspondence resulting from the COLA and the ending of ARRA.  If they do, they should review the NOA’s that were generated from Client Correspondence to determine if they were issued appropriately.

 

Quality Control (QC) Impact

No impact.

 

Director Approval

RICK WANNE, MA, MFT

Eligibility Operations Director

TG