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An Appeal for CalFresh

A 70-year-old senior contacted the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Stockton (CCST) CFO program to get assistance and guidance in applying for CalFresh benefits. She was homeless and had recently moved in with a friend from church since she had no income and was waiting to hear back from the Social Security Administration on her retirement. The agreement with the friend was that she wouldn’t pay rent until she would begin receiving her retirement payment but needed to find her own food. The senior shared her frustration of not understanding the application process and the challenges she was facing such as no transportation to get to the County office. She was in distress because she didn't have access to the internet and technology to apply for benefits electronic.

The senior was prescreened for CalFresh benefits and educated on what the process would be. The Staff would complete an application online and it would be submitted directly to the Human Service Agency. She was also reassured that assistance would be provided throughout the process. An application was submitted on her behalf and a couple of weeks afterward she received a Notice of Action (NOA) providing her with an appointment for the required interview. The client did not receive the call from the Eligibility Worker (EW) as specified in the NOA. When the client called the HSA office to reschedule the interview, she couldn't get someone who could help her in Spanish. Shortly afterward the client received an NOA to inform her that the application was denied since had not completed the process by having her interview. She immediately contacted CCST to get help. The CFO made several attempts to speak to the EW about this application, but she wouldn't speak to them. The client would call the EW, but she would only speak in English. The CFO Staff informed the client that was able to appeal the decision and help her complete the application in the back of the NOA. After submitting the appeal, the client received a call from a Manager from the HSA office. She was advised her application would not be approved and recommended she reapply. The client turned down the recommendation and decided to proceed with her Appeal. The CFO staff helped the client to write down her timeline and the details of the events, so she was prepared for her meeting with the Judge. The client was scared but ready for the meeting!

After the meeting with the Judge, the client contacted CCST to informed them that the appeal was approved. The Judge heard and reviewed all the notes in the case and saw that ​in one of the County's notes it stated, "Client called but did not speak English" and he ruled in her favor. Not only was she not assisted in Spanish, but the NOA was also sent in English. Not only did the Judge approve her initial application going back a couple of months but also advised her she could file a Civil Rights complaint. The client did not want to file a complaint she was just happy she was approved for benefits.

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