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CBEST

Countywide Benefits Entitlement Services Team (CBEST)

In April 2017, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) entered into an agreement with the Department of Health Services (DHS) to provide CBEST services to General Relief (GR) participants at the 14 GR District Offices.  DHS partners with eight community-based organizations.  CBEST participants are also able to see benefits advocates at various community-based locations across Los Angeles County..

The goal of CBEST is to increase the income of disabled individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness by providing advocacy services to assist them with applying for either veterans’ benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI).  CBEST is a comprehensive program that provides advocacy, case management services, and linkage to needed health, mental health and substance abuse services.

Eligibility for Cash Assistance Programs

SSI is a federally funded program that provides income support to individuals 65 or older, blind or disabled. SSI benefits are also available to qualified blind or disabled children. The State Supplementary Payment (SSP) Program is the state program which augments SSI. Both SSI and SSP benefits are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Eligibility for both programs is determined by the SSA using Federal criteria. Individuals qualifying for SSI also qualify for SSP. Individuals with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind or age 65 or older are entitled to both a cash benefit and medical insurance (Medicaid).


SSDI is a cash benefit for individuals who have worked and paid FICA taxes and who now have a disability meeting SSA disability rules. It also provides Medicaid coverage.

CAPI is a state-funded program designed to provide monthly cash benefits to aged, blind, and disabled non-citizens who are ineligible for SSI/SSP solely due to their immigrant status. In Los Angeles County, this program is administered by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS).

The Veteran Administration (VA) Disability Compensation is a tax-free benefit paid to a veteran for disabilities that are a result of or made worse by injuries or diseases that happened while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training. The Los Angeles County Office of Military and Veteran’s Affairs is the lead on this strategy and works closely with the CBEST advocates to provide services to veterans.

Apply On-Line with Your Benefits Now

The easiest and quickest way is to apply for CalWORKs online at Your Benefits Now.


Apply by Telephone for CalFresh and Medi-Cal
You can apply by phone. Call the Customer Service Center (CSC) (866) 613-3777 to have an application mailed to you.

Apply In Person
You can apply In person at any Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) District Office or outreach site.
CBEST Process

The initial screening to assess potential eligibility for federal disability programs will take place at the DPSS office. Subsequent assessments, linkages and referrals are done at the community-based locations or at a place of the client’s choosing.

The CBEST Advocate works with the participant to develop a robust SSI/SSDI or CAPI application and/or links them to an accredited agent to complete a Veteran’s Benefits application.  CBEST advocates may accompany program participants to appointments that are directly or indirectly related to benefits advocacy, including but not limited to medical and mental health appointments. The CBEST Advocates will also assist participants to resolve non-disability related SSI eligibility issues such as citizenship documentation, birth certificate, etc., which are required to complete the disability applications.

Throughout the application process, the CBEST Advocate remains in regular contact with the participant, the SSA and the State Disability Determination Service Division (DDSD).  The DDSD offices make disability determinations for SSA programs.  In this way, the CBEST Advocate can assist the participant to remain in compliance with the SSI claim requirements and liaise with SSA and DDSD, as needed, on behalf of the participant.

Appeals

If a SSI or SSDI application is denied, the first appeal is a Request for Reconsideration.  The Request for Reconsideration must be filed within 60 days of receipt of the application denial notice.  The CBEST Advocate assists the participant in filing the request.  The reconsideration consists of the SSA and DDSD staff (not involved in the first decision) reviewing the medical documentation already on file, plus any additional evidence provided by the participant or CBEST Advocate.

If a SSI/SSDI Request for Reconsideration is denied, the final step is to request a hearing with the SSA Office of Hearings Operations (OHO).  This request must be filed within 60 days after the reconsideration denial.  The CBEST Advocate refers the case to the DPSS’ contracted SSI/SSDI hearing contractor or, if not eligible for those services, with the CBEST Agencies’ contracted hearing provider.  The contractor meets with the participant, completes all required forms, requests the hearing with the SSA, and represents the participant at the hearing.  There is no charge to the participant for these services. CBEST Advocates will refer all CAPI denials to their agencies’ contracted hearing provider within 2 weeks of receiving the denial.

Non-Compliance

Individuals are tracked through each step of CBEST.  Individuals with physical health disabilities who fail to comply with any required activity (e.g., CBEST Advocate appointments), lose eligibility for GR and will be discontinued. No negative action is taken against individuals with mental health disabilities who do not comply with SSIMAP requirements.

Housing and Disability Advocacy Program (HDAP)

By accessing the Coordinated Entry System (CES) system, CBEST clients are eligible for housing subsidies for interim/bridge/recuperative, shared and permanent supportive housing options, coupled with intensive case management services, which are provided through DHS. HDAP funds will also allow DHS to supplement the GR Housing Subsidy Case Management Program with navigation and housing location services.

Interim Assistance Reimbursement and the Authorization for Reimbursement of Interim Assistance Initial Claim or Post-eligibility Case

The Interim Assistance Reimbursement (IAR) is an agreement between California Department of Social Services (CDSS), SSA, and Los Angeles County to reimburse the County for interim assistance provided to a GR participant while the SSI application is being processed.  To ensure the IAR is collected, each GR participant who applies for SSI must complete and sign the Authorization for Reimbursement of Interim Assistance Initial Claim or Post-Eligibility Case, SSP 14 form.