CalFresh benefits do not lose their validity over time. Instead, they have a predetermined time of certification, following which your eligibility needs to be reaffirmed. The county office will confirm a household’s eligibility after the application process and subsequently authorize it to receive CalFresh benefits for a limited time.
This period, known as the certification period, might last anywhere between a month and a year. To keep receiving CalFresh benefits, you must submit semi-annual reports on your household size, income, and expenditure, as well as apply for annual recertification.
CalFresh Recertification Application
If you are currently receiving CalFresh benefits, then applying for a CalFresh recertification on time is one of the crucial things you must do on a regular basis to continue receiving those benefits. To do so, you must submit a recertification application by the 15th of the month in which your certification period expires.
Most households receiving CalFresh benefits in California have a certification period of 12 months, whereas other households with elderly or disabled members have a certification period of 24 months. In addition, households with no earned income and only elderly or disabled members are certified for 36 months. Counties cannot waive or extend the recertification period due to workload or budget constraints.
Answer all of the questions on the recertification application if possible, although it is not required. You can still submit your recertification application after providing your name, address, and signature. You must always go through your rights and responsibilities before signing the application.
By mail, fax, or online, you can submit your signed application to your county office.Before your certification period ends, you must give a recertification interview after submitting your application.
Conditions to Maintain Your CalFresh Benefits
In addition to your CalFresh recertification, you must meet three more conditions to keep receiving your CalFresh benefits.
#1. Work Rules for CalFresh
You may need to participate in a mandatory work program as assigned by your County. Your CalFresh benefits may be decreased or terminated if you do not cooperate when mandated by the County. Anyone receiving CalFresh between the ages of 18 and 49 who does not have a child staying in the home is subject to these rules.
You can easily meet your employment activity requirements by participating in the CalFresh Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents Program ( ABAWD), which provides a variety of activities that can be conducted remotely or safely in person. Your employment consultant will work with you to identify which activities are safe for you. If you have recently left a job without a valid reason, you may not qualify for CalFresh.
#2. Reporting Change in Income
Households are required to timely report all significant changes in their household income to their County, for instance, when their income exceeds the Income Reporting Threshold (IRT). Your county caseworker will explain to you your personal IRT.
Your household must report the changes as directed by the caseworker, or else your CalFresh benefits could be reduced or terminated if you fail to report. Additionally, throughout the certification period, you must report any income changes that could increase your CalFresh benefits, such as losing a job or a rise in housing costs.
#3. Semi-Annual Report (SAR 7)
Most households receiving CalFresh benefits are required to submit an Eligibility Status Report, also known as the SAR 7, once a year, i.e., six months after your application and again six months after the annual renewal. You must submit a completed and signed SAR 7 form to the county office to keep receiving your CalFresh benefits. Also, you can submit your SAR 7 report online here. If you do not submit your SAR 7 report on time, or if the information reported is not verified, your benefits could be discontinued.
You must call your local county office if you are doubtful about your reporting schedule, have not received a schedule in the mail, or have recently relocated.
CalFresh Recertification Time Frame
The timeframe of the CalFresh recertification process is summarized in the table below. It also includes the timeframe for the SAR 7 renewal.
Based on the date of your initial CalFresh application, the table provides the exact date by which each renewal step should be completed.
Online CalFresh Recertification via BenefitsCal
In most California counties, you can complete the CalFresh recertification application online. They utilize the BenefitsCal web portal, a one-stop shop for CalFresh recipients which assists them at every stage of the CalFresh application and management process, including the recertification process. It is an easy-to-use website that can be easily accessed from any computer, tablet, or mobile device and is available in 21 different languages.
Click here to check if you can use the BenefitsCal portal for CalFresh recertification in your County.
If you do not have a BenefitsCal account, read our post: How To Create A BenefitsCal Account? (Insert link)
Next, follow the instructions below to submit your online CalFresh recertification application through the BenefitsCal portal:
- Go to the BenefitsCal website. Click the login button in the top right corner of the homepage.
- Enter your sign-in credentials, such as your account email address and password, and click the login button below.
- On the customer dashboard, go to the Things to do section and choose the Submit Recertification option. Click on the Start your recertification hyperlink to begin the recertification application.
- An overview window of the recertification process will appear. At the top, it will display the application due date.
- Select the Begin button at the bottom of the overview window.
- The recertification summary screen will appear in the next window. It will display each section of the recertification form and its status. You can return to the screen any time you want.
- Click the Start button next to the Your Information section to start your recertification form.
- Enter your current contact information details and click Next.
- Select an answer to the question displayed on the screen and click Next.
- Provide your current address information, then click Next.
- You can authorize a representative to help you with your CalFresh case. To do so, select Yes for the question on the screen and click Next.
- Review a summary of the changes made to the Your Information section and click Next.
- Click Start The Next Section button to return to the recertification summary screen. Then, go to the People section and click Start.
- If anyone has moved in or out of your home, check the box beside the appropriate option. Provide the necessary information about the new member of the household and click Next.
- Review the summary of the People section and proceed to the Household Details section.
- Answer all the questions regarding your household and move on to the Income section.
- In the Income section, answer all the questions about the members of the household’s jobs and income. Also, add another job, if any. Next, move on to the Expenses section.
- In the Expenses section, answer the questions about the household’s expenses and make the necessary updates regarding a new expense change. Click Next and go to the Document Upload section.
- Upload any necessary document as suggested on the screen or by your caseworker. However, it is not mandatory to upload all the documents to submit your recertification application.
- In the Review and Submit section, enter your first and last name, and the date, and check the box to sign the application electronically. Then, click the Submit Signature button.
- Finally, click the Submit button on the new window.
Calfresh Recertification Interview
After receiving the recertification request, your county office will schedule an interview to discuss the application. Most recertification interviews are conducted over the phone, but they can also be conducted in person at the County office or another location if authorized by the County.
You can inform your county caseworker if you require special accommodations due to a disability. All CalFresh recipients are entitled to such arrangements free of charge. If you did not complete all sections of the application form or if you need to make any changes, your caseworker will assist you in completing it during the interview.
During the interview, the county caseworker will review the information on the application form and may ask you questions to approve your CalFresh recertification and reevaluate your benefits. You must provide all supporting paperwork for any changes in circumstances at the time of the interview to prevent a delay in the recertification process.
Changes in circumstances include a decrease in income, an increase in household size, an increase in housing costs, etc. Attend the interview even if you do not have the required proof. The county caseworker may be able to help you in obtaining the necessary documents needed to recertify.