On June 1st of 2019 hundreds of thousands of Californians with disabilities and seniors who rely on SSI/SSP will be able to apply for the CalFresh food assistance program for the first time. Serving nearly 4 million people monthly, CalFresh defends against hunger and malnutrition, and lifts more people out of poverty than any other social service program. Californians receiving SSI have been ineligible for CalFresh because of the now reversed cash-out, a 10 dollar a month addition to their SSI income.
The long overdue reversal of the cash-out will reduce food insecurity among seniors and people with disabilities in the state. There are also built in protections for newly eligible CalFresh participants already living in CalFresh households:
- If adding the SSI recipient to a CalFresh household increases the households’ CalFresh benefit the household will simply receive an increased amount on their CalFresh EBT each month through the program.
- If adding the SSI recipient to a CalFresh household reduces the households’ CalFresh benefit they will be eligible to receive a state funded nutrition benefit called the Supplemental Nutrition Benefit (SNB). The SNB will be added to the existing CalFresh EBT card for the household to use at grocery stores and farmers’ markets.
- If adding the SSI recipient leads to a total loss of CalFresh benefits for a household they will be eligible to receive a state funded nutrition benefit called the Transitional Nutrition Benefit (TNB). Similar to the SNB the TNB will load directly onto the households’ existing CalFresh EBT and work at participating grocery stores and farmers’ markets.
With the reversal of the Cash-Out the CDSS hopes to:
- Enroll an estimated 369,000 newly eligible CalFresh households of all SSI recipients.
- Enroll SSI recipients who are excluded members of 125,100 current CalFresh households, and, in order to mitigate any loss of CalFresh benefits, provide SNB and TNB as eligible.
- Provide equal access to all Californians.
- Preserve accuracy and timeline standards.
- Integrate healthy living (nutrition education) and employment and training services as appropriate.
To learn more, visit the CDSS webpage Reversing the CalFresh SSI/SSP Cash-Out Policy and consider attending the upcoming Reversing SSI Cash-Out All Stakeholder Implementation Meeting on Tuesday, January 15 either via webinar or in-person.
(Excerpt taken from the Arc of California. Written by Christian McMahon, Communications Specialist, The Arc of California.)