California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 473


Introduced by Assembly Member Harper

February 23, 2015


An act to amend Section 10072 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to public social services.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 473, as introduced, Harper. Electronic benefits transfer system.

Existing law, administered by the State Department of Social Services, provides for the establishment of a statewide electronic benefits transfer (EBT) system for the purpose of providing financial and food assistance benefits. Existing law authorizes a county to deliver CalFresh benefits and, upon election by the county, CalWORKs benefits through the use of an EBT system. Existing law requires, among other things, that a recipient not incur any loss of cash benefits that are taken by an unauthorized withdrawal, removal, or use of benefits that does not occur by the use of a physical EBT card issued to the recipient or authorized 3rd party to directly access the benefits.

This bill would make technical, nonsubstantive changes to those provisions.

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no. State-mandated local program: no.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

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SECTION 1.  

Section 10072 of the Welfare and Institutions
2Code
is amended to read:

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10072.  

The electronic benefits transfer system required by this
2chapter shall be designed to do, but not be limited to, all of the
3following:

4(a) To the extent permitted by federal law and the rules of the
5program providing the benefits, recipients who are required to
6receive their benefits using an electronic benefits transfer system
7shall be permitted to gain access to the benefits in any part of the
8state where electronic benefits transfers are accepted. All electronic
9benefits transfer systems in this state shall be designed to allow
10recipients to gain access to their benefits by using every other
11electronic benefits transfer system.

12(b) To the maximum extent feasible, electronic benefits transfer
13systems shall be designed to be compatible with the electronic
14benefits transfer systems in other states.

15(c) All reasonable measures shall be taken in order to ensure
16that recipients have access to electronically issued benefits through
17systems such as automated teller machines, point-of-sale devices,
18or other devices that accept electronic benefits transfer transactions.
19Benefits provided under Chapter 2 (commencing with Section
2011200) of Part 3 shall be staggered over a period of three calendar
21days, unless a county requests a waiver from the department and
22the waiver is approved, or in cases of hardship pursuant to
23subdivision (p).

24(d) The system shall provide for reasonable access to benefits
25to recipients who demonstrate an inability to use an electronic
26benefits transfer card or other aspect of the system because of
27disability, language, lack of access, or other barrier. These
28alternative methods shall conform to the requirements of the
29Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 12101, et seq.),
30including reasonable accommodations for recipients who, because
31of physical or mental disabilities, are unable to operate or otherwise
32make effective use of the electronic benefits transfer system.

33(e) The system shall permit a recipient the option to choose a
34personal identification number, also known as a “PIN” number,
35to assist the recipient to remember his or her number in order to
36allow access to benefits. Whenever an institution, authorized
37representative, or other third party not part of the recipient
38household or assistance unit has been issued an electronic benefits
39transfer card, either in lieu of, or in addition to, the recipient, the
40third party shall have a separate card and personal identification
P3    1number. At the option of the recipient, he or she may designate
2whether restrictions apply to the third party’s access to the
3recipient’s benefits. At the option of the recipient head of
4household or assistance unit, the county shall provide one electronic
5benefits transfer card to each adult member to enable them to
6access benefits.

7(f) The system shall have a 24-hour per day toll-free telephone
8hotline for the reporting of lost or stolen cards that will provide
9recipients, at no additional cost to the recipient, with information
10on how to have the card and personal identification number
11replaced, and that will allow an authorized representative or head
12of household to access, over the telephone, the transaction history
13detail for at least the last 10 transactions and to request that the
14transaction history detail for at least the past two months be sent
15by mail.

16(g) The system shall have an Internet Web site that will provide
17recipients, at no additional cost to the recipient, with information
18on how to have the card and personal identification number
19replaced, and that will allow an authorized representative or head
20of household to view the transaction history detail for at least the
21last 10 transactions and to request that the transaction history detail
22for at least the past two months be sent by mail.

23(h) In addition to the ability to receive transaction history detail
24pursuant to subdivisions (f) and (g), a county human services
25agency shall make available to an authorized representative or
26head of household, at no additional cost to the authorized
27representative or head of household, all electronic benefit
28transaction history details that are available to the county human
29services agency within 10 business days after a request has been
30received by the agency.

31(i) (1) A recipient shall not incur any loss of electronic benefits
32after reporting that his or her electronic benefits transfer card or
33personal identification number has been lost or stolen. The system
34shall provide for the prompt replacement of lost or stolen electronic
35benefits transfer cards and personal identification numbers.
36Electronic benefits for which the case was determined eligible and
37that were not withdrawn by transactions using an authorized
38personal identification number for the account shall also be
39promptly replaced.

P4    1(2) A recipient shall not incur any loss of cash benefits that are
2taken by an unauthorized withdrawal, removal, or use of benefits
3that does not occur by the use of a physicalbegin delete EBTend deletebegin insert electronic benefits
4transferend insert
card issued to the recipient or authorized third party to
5directly access the benefits. Benefits taken as described in this
6paragraph shall be promptly replaced in accordance with the
7protocol established by the department pursuant to paragraph (3).

8(3) The State Department of Social Services shall establish a
9protocol for recipients to report electronic theft of cash benefits
10that minimizes the burden on recipients, ensures prompt
11replacement of benefits in order to minimize the harm to recipients,
12and ensures program integrity. This protocol may include the
13automatic replacement of benefits without the need for recipient
14reporting and verification.

15(j) Electronic benefits transfer system consumers shall be
16informedbegin delete onend deletebegin insert as toend insert how to use electronic benefits transfer cards,
17how to protect their cards from misuse, and where consumers can
18use their cards to withdraw benefits without incurring a fee, charge,
19or surcharge.

20(k) The electronic benefits transfer system shall be designed to
21inform recipients when the electronic benefits transfer system does
22not function or is expected not to function for more than a one-hour
23period between 6 a.m. and midnight during any 24-hour period.
24This information shall be made available in the recipient’s preferred
25language if the electronic benefits transfer system vendor contract
26provides for services in that language.

27(l) Procedures shall be developed for error resolution.

28(m) No fee shall be charged by the state, a county, or an
29electronic benefits processor certified by the state to retailers
30participating in the electronic benefits transfer system.

31(n) Except for CalFresh transactions, a recipient may be charged
32a fee, not to exceed the amount allowed by applicable state and
33federal law and customarily charged to other customers, for cash
34withdrawal transactions that exceed four per month.

35(o) The electronic benefits transfer system shall be designed to
36ensure that recipients of benefits under Chapter 2 (commencing
37with Section 11200) of Part 3 have access to using or withdrawing
38benefits with minimal fees or charges, including an opportunity
39to access benefits with no fee or charges.

P5    1(p) A county shall exempt an individual from the three-day
2staggering requirement under subdivision (c) on a case-by-case
3basis for hardship. Hardship includes, but is not limited to, the
4incurrence of late charges on an individual’s housing payments.

5(q) A county shall use information provided by the department
6to inform recipients of benefits under Chapter 2 (commencing with
7Section 11200) of Part 3 of all of the following:

8(1) The methods of electronic delivery of benefits available,
9including distribution of benefits through the electronic benefits
10transfer system or direct deposit pursuant to Section 11006.2.

11(2) Applicable fees and charges, including surcharges, consumer
12and privacy protections, and liability for theft associated with the
13electronic benefits transfer system.

14(3) How to avoid fees and charges, including opting for delivery
15of benefits by direct deposit and using the electronic benefits
16transfer card solely at surcharge free locations.

17(4) Where to withdraw benefits without a surcharge when using
18the electronic benefits transfer system.

19(5) That a recipient may authorize any available method of
20electronic delivery of benefits and instructions regarding how the
21recipient may select or change his or her preferred method of
22electronic delivery of benefits and that the recipient shall be given
23the opportunity to select the method prior to the first payment.

24(6) That a recipient may be entitled to an alternative method of
25delivery if the recipient demonstrates an inability to use an
26electronic benefits transfer card or other aspect of the system
27because of disability, language, lack of access, or other barrier
28pursuant to subdivision (d) and instructions regarding how to
29determine whether the recipient qualifies for an alternative method
30of delivery.

31(7) That a recipient may be entitled to an exemption from the
32three-day staggering requirement under subdivision (c) on a
33case-by-case basis for hardship pursuant to subdivision (o) and
34instructions regarding how to determine whether the recipient
35qualifies for the exemption.

36(r) A county is in compliance with subdivision (q) if it provides
37the recipient a copy of the information developed by the
38department. A county may provide a recipient information, in
39addition to the copy of the information developed by the
40department, pursuant to subdivision (q), either verbally or in
P6    1writing, if the county determines the additional information will
2benefit the recipient’s understanding of the information provided.



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