Investment Opportunities and Funding Needs in Health and Human Services Programs – CWDA May Revision Memo # 1

Budget Priority

CWDA requests $1.5 million in 2021-22, $150 million in 2022-23, and $178 million in 2023-24 and ongoing to increase the Applicant Earned Income Disregard (EID) from $90 to $600 effective June 2022, commensurate with changes approved to the Recipient EID in the 2019-20 Budget Act. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, redeterminations of eligibility for the CalWORKs program were suspended; when they resumed in late 2020, thousands of families were removed from the program because they failed to complete paperwork requirements. However, even though these families would not have lost eligibility had they successfully completed the redetermination process, many of them cannot get back on the program because the Applicant EID remains too low. The rationale for the Applicant EID seems to have been to establish a barrier to entry to the program for working families. Even with employment, families working at the state minimum wage remain deeply impoverished. Even unemployed families receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits, as many have been during the pandemic, have income too high to qualify for the program. The alignment of the Applicant and Recipient EIDs will allow the Applicant EID to keep pace with inflation and will facilitate access to the CalWORKs program for low-income families.