Generally, the county office must send a timely and appropriate notice at least 10 days before it discontinues or terminates someone’s CalFresh benefits. In all cases, the notice must be documented and sent in writing. The ten-day period begins when the notice is mailed or sent electronically with the permission of the receiving household.
The written notice is only deemed adequate if it explains the specifics of the problem to the recipient, such as what actions the county office intends to take, why the office is doing it, and when the office will do it. Therefore, the reasons for the discontinuation of CalFresh benefits must be clearly stated in this notice. The notice must include the following information:
- The planned action;
- The grounds for the mentioned action;
- The right of the household to request a fair hearing;
- The county office’s contact number; and
- If available, the name of the person to contact for more information.
Reasons for CalFresh Benefits Discontinuance
The primary reasons for the discontinuation of your CalFresh benefits are as listed:
Failure to complete recertification
Ideally, you should submit the recertification application before your certification period expires in order to get recertified for CalFresh. If a recertification application was submitted before the 15th day of the final month of the certification period, the county should consider it timely. However, if the application is not completed by the end of the certification period, it is considered delayed. In the event of late certification, your CalFresh benefits may be disrupted.
If the recertification application is late, the County will deny the application at the end of the certification period and your benefits may be discontinued. Once the application is denied, the household has up to 30 days past the end of the certification period to complete the process. You must reapply using the full application if you submit the application more than 30 days past the end of your certification period. The county office may also send a denial notice if it receives an incomplete application.
Failure to report necessary changes
You must continue to report the changes that the County has instructed you to report. Your benefits could be reduced or discontinued if you fail to report. You can also report changes that could boost your benefits, such as getting a low salary.
In California, households must report changes to their CalFresh eligibility through a Semi-Annual Reporting (SAR) system by submitting a SAR 7 form. The county office will first send you a notice of action if you fail to submit a SAR 7 on time, i.e., by the 11th day of the sixth month of the reporting period, or submit an incomplete SAR 7 form. The notice is to inform you that if you do not follow the advised procedures, your CalFresh benefits will be discontinued.
To continue receiving benefits, you must abide by the notice guidelines for incomplete and late SAR 7s. You could lose your CalFresh benefits and have to reapply if you don’t submit a complete SAR 7 by the end of the first business day of the seventh month following your application or recertification unless there was a good cause.
Disqualification for intentionally lying about your CalFresh eligibility
If the County has grounds to suspect you have committed an intentional program violation, it may discontinue your CalFresh benefits. It suggests that you purposefully provided false or incomplete information to the County or inaccurately answered the inquiry questions both in an effort to obtain CalFresh benefits for which you are not qualified or assist another person in receiving benefits for which they are not qualified.
This type of program violation includes:
- Hiding crucial information
- Making false or misleading statements
- Lying about your identity and address to get extra benefits
- Submitting fake documents for any children or adults living with you who are not eligible or do not exist
- Attempting to get double benefits, for instance, by simultaneously applying in two or more counties or states.
You will be committing a crime if you commit any of the above program violations. As a result, in addition to losing your CalFresh benefits or being disqualified from the program, you may even face legal consequences.
Unauthorized EBT usage
Essentially, CalFresh EBT benefits can only be utilized to purchase a USDA-authorized list of nutritious food items. Using your CalFresh for an unauthorized purchase or activity can lead to your temporary or permanent disqualification from the program. In severe cases, you may need to pay a heavy fine or even serve time in prison.
Utilizing your EBT card or CalFresh benefits in the following ways is prohibited under the program regulations:
- Buy alcohol or tobacco with your CalFresh benefits.
- Buy, sell, trade, give away, or steal CalFresh benefits or EBT cards, or even attempt to do so.
- Buy a product that has a return deposit using your benefits, then intentionally discard the contents and return the container for the deposit amount or make an attempt to do so.
- Buy a product with your benefits and resell it for cash or something other than the authorized food items.
- Sell or trade CalFresh benefits or attempt to do it for cash, ammunition, firearms, explosives, ineligible goods, or controlled substances like drugs.
Failure to comply with CalFresh work rules
You may need to participate in a mandatory work program to receive CalFresh benefits. If you refuse to comply as required, your CalFresh benefits could be reduced or discontinued.
If you fail to meet the mandatory work requirements or voluntarily quit your job without a good cause, the County may disqualify you from the CalFresh program and consider you an ineligible household member.
Furthermore, if the county finds that you have resigned from your job (without good cause) within 60 days of applying for CalFresh or during the application processing period, it will impose the sanction by rejecting the application or reducing your benefits.
Failure to provide a Social Security Number
It is necessary for applicant or recipient households to provide the county office with the Social Security Numbers (SSNs) of all members of their household or provide proof of application for an SSN before certification. People who have multiple SSNs must provide all of them.
If you refuse or fail to provide or apply for an SSN (without good cause) it may result in your disqualification from the program. In such a case, the county office will provide the household with a notice of action outlining how the disqualification will affect the remaining household members’ eligibility and allocation.
Failure to return overissuance
Overissuance refers to receiving more CalFresh benefits than you were allotted by the County. You must repay it even if you did not spend it intentionally or if the County made a mistake.
If you refuse or fail to return the extra benefits, your personal benefits may be reduced or stopped. Authorities, courts, collection agencies, or federal government actions may also use your Social Security Number to recover the amount of benefits owed.
Failure to cooperate in case file review
Your case may be chosen for an additional review to confirm that your CalFresh eligibility was determined accurately. In any inquiry or review, such as a quality control review, you must fully cooperate with the county or federal personnel. Failure to cooperate could result in the reduction or loss of your benefits.
Appealing for a Fair Hearing
If you receive a notice of action stating your CalFresh benefits will be reduced or stopped by the county office, you have the right to appeal for a hearing if you disagree with the decision. By exercising your right to appeal the County’s actions, you can have your case considered by an impartial hearing officer.
Although, you will have only 90 days to ask for a hearing. This 90-day period starts the day after the county office gives or mails you the written notice.
If you file an appeal before your benefits are stopped, the County will continue paying your benefits until the hearing officer rules on your case. You can appeal up to 180 days from the date of the notice on grounds of good cause, i.e., a good reason for missing the appealing window.
You can still appeal later than that if the county notice does not fulfill the legal requirements, such as not stating a reason for the proposed action or not being in your native or preferred language.
After you file an appeal, a hearing will be set up so that you can defend why the County should not cease your CalFresh benefits. The hearing officer will determine if the county’s action is right or not. If the hearing officer rules in your favor, the County will continue paying your benefits or reconsider your CalFresh application. If the hearing officer rules against you and you received benefits during the hearing procedure, you may need to repay those benefits.
Restoration of CalFresh Benefits
If a household that has been discontinued from the CalFresh program resolves the reasons for the discontinuation within a month, it can have its CalFresh benefits restored without having to submit a new application. Once the household resolves the issue of discontinuation, the county office will restore its eligibility and prorated benefits as of the day it settles the discontinuance.
The only exceptions are if the discontinuation of benefits was due to failure to complete CalFresh recertification, returning after moving out of a county, and disqualification from the program. Yet, you can still reapply for CalFresh unless you are permanently disqualified from the program.
2 thoughts on “Why Was My Calfresh Discontinued?”
I did not get my benefits on the 1st like I do every month, I’m homeless with 2 small kids we were evicted Jan 1st I’ve been using my cash to rent a motel for the month and I need my benefits today not 30 days from now we have no where to go and we have to eat !!
I am sorry to hear that you are having difficulty receiving your benefits. Your situation is very concerning. It is important that you contact your local benefits office as soon as possible to find out why you have not received your benefits and to see what can be done to help you. They may be able to provide you with emergency assistance or a temporary payment until your benefits are sorted out. It is also important to reach out to your local social services or welfare agency for additional support.