Leyva Bill Improving Access to Assistance for Domestic Violence Survivors and People with Disabilities Signed into Law

After Strong Bipartisan Support in Legislature, Governor Newsom Signs SB 735

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

SACRAMENTO – Legislation authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) to improve accommodations for Californians with disabilities and survivors of domestic violence seeking public assistance benefits was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Specifically, SB 735 requires that 1) application and redetermination forms for public assistance programs include a question about whether the applicant needs accommodations due to a disability or domestic violence experience, and 2) once an individual has already told a caseworker that they need accommodations, the first page of their case file will alert any other caseworkers that the applicants need the necessary accommodations.

“Given the already high caseload for case workers, SB 735 will make sure that a practical and effective process is in place to identify Californians who may need accommodations due to their disability or domestic violence experience,” Senator Leyva said.  “I would like to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who supported this important measure.  SB 735 solidifies California’s commitment to improving access to public benefit programs for individuals that need that help the most.”

Currently, counties use the Statewide Automated Welfare System (SAWS) to manage enrollment and eligibility for CalFresh, CalWORKS, Medi-Cal and General Assistance, among others.  Unfortunately, some forms for these assistance programs do not ask about the applicant’s need for disability or domestic violence accommodations, so those applicants may not even be aware that certain accommodations are available to them.  When trying to access much needed assistance, it is critically important that Californians with disabilities and survivors of domestic violence receive the accommodations they need without having to continuously disclose their life situations.

In addition, last year the Legislature passed AB 1811 which means that, for the first time since 1973, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients who are 65 or older, or people of any age who are blind or disabled, would be eligible to apply for and receive CalFresh benefits.  This change has the potential to create an influx of new applicants and recipients who may need accommodations.

Sponsored by the Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations and supported by the Association of Regional Center Agencies, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, Disability Rights California and National Association of Social Workers - California Chapter, SB 735 will take effect on January 1, 2020