By Becky Gershon, July 16, 2019 for California Food Bank Association
The law will help Californians, especially newly eligible SSI recipients, quickly access & maximize CalFresh benefits.
On July 12th, Governor Newsom signed into law AB 494 – authored by anti-hunger champion Assemblymember Marc Berman. The California Association of Food Banks was a co-sponsor of this legislation, in partnership with the Western Center on Law and Poverty, and the Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations. Thank you to our many food bank members who sent in letters of support throughout the process – we would not have been able to pass this bill without your advocacy!
AB 494 will make a significant improvement to the experience of applying for CalFresh by allowing applicants to self-certify their housing costs, instead of requiring them to provide an official bill or document, unless the amount stated was questionable. This is a particularly critical issue for the 500,000 SSI recipients who face unlivable rent burdens, and are applying for CalFresh this year, because they can utilize the un-capped shelter deduction. SSI recipients, like any California senior or person with a disability, can deduct all of their housing costs when applying for CalFresh, making a simple verification process even more important to maximizing CalFresh benefits. In short, simplifying the housing verification process will help ensure that all applicants can receive benefits more quickly by lifting a verification burden, and it will help to ensure that SSI recipients receive the maximum CalFresh benefit to which they are entitled.
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