Cutting Even More Red Tape in California’s Food Stamp Program

Currently, California families who receive food stamp benefits must repeat the entire application process when they move to a new county in order to continue receiving benefits. That’s because California doesn’t seamlessly transfer food stamp recipients’ information across county lines. Requiring a new application imposes a needless paperwork burden on low-income families – not to mention county workers – that no doubt causes many eligible Californians to lose food stamp benefits each year.

AB 2018 (Skinner), which will be heard in the Assembly Human Services Committee this afternoon, would cut this red tape by requiring the Department of Social Services to establish an “inter-county transfer” process for food stamp recipients who move across county lines. This change would maintain recipients’ eligibility and allow them to avoid a break in benefits without having to submit a new food stamp application. Similar transfer processes already exist in CalWORKs and Medi-Cal. AB 2018 would use those existing processes for food stamp recipients who are also enrolled in those programs. In addition, a new, “client-friendly” transfer process would be created for families who receive only food stamps.

AB 2018 is one of two bills on the Human Services Committee’s docket today that would simplify safety-net programs for low-income families. AB 1642, which we blogged about last week, would reduce reporting requirements for food stamp and CalWORKs recipients from four times to twice per year. These bills give Committee members a golden opportunity to lead the charge against red tape and toward program simplification at a time when the safety net is more important than ever.

— Scott Graves

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