Eligibility for Food Stamps in California


CalFresh eligibility depends upon a number of factors. To qualify for CalFresh in California, applicants must meet personal and financial requirements specified by the program. CalFresh income guidelines allow the state to identify and offer benefits to households in need. Eligibility for food stamps in CA is reserved for individuals and families who are struggling to purchase nutrition food. Learning who is eligible for CalFresh benefits in California is the first step in the application process for food stamps.

Who is eligible for CalFresh benefits in California?

Typically, to meet California’s CalFresh eligibility for food stamps, you must be a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident who has lived in the country for at least five years. However, you may qualify for CalFresh even though you are a non-citizen, if you have been admitted to the country for humanitarian reasons. Children younger than 18 years of age are eligible for CalFresh benefits if they were admitted into the country legally under the Immigration and Nationalization Act, even if their parents or guardians do not meet the immigration requirements. You are not CalFresh eligible if you are a tourist, temporary student or an undocumented individual. You may also be eligible for CalFresh benefits if you are in receipt of benefits or assistance because you have a disability, regardless of the date you entered the country. If you are a legal immigrant who has not lived in country for five years, then the state has a special program for which you may qualify. This assistance program is called the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

To apply for food stamps in California, you must be a resident of the county where you submit an application. There is no minimum residential requirement for the duration you have lived in the county, only that you must live in the jurisdiction currently. It is important to furnish an application to the correct county since Los Angeles, for example, uses a different platform than its neighboring locations of Santa Barbara and Orange.

To learn more about how to become eligible for CalFresh benefits and submit an application successfully, download our comprehensive guide.

CalFresh Income Guidelines for California Residents

Your eligibility for food stamps in California will also depend on your household income. To qualify for CalFresh, all households, except those with inhabitants who are disabled or 60 years of age and older, are required to have gross and net income eligibility tests. To meet CalFresh eligibility, the maximum gross income (all earnings from any source) must be lower than the threshold. California income guidelines for CalFresh are relative to the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which consider the number of household members. If your household surpasses the gross income determination test, then the net income is calculated by deducting certain allowances such as utility, dependents, telephone and medical expenses.

According to the CalFresh income guidelines , your household may also be subject to a resource limit. For the purposes of CalFresh, a resource is defined as an item that you could draw upon or sell to help you financially. Your household will have a resource limit if a household member was disqualified from CalFresh previously due to an intentional program violation, the head of your household does not meet the work requirements or a member of your household has been convicted of certain types of drug felonies. CalFresh income guidelines stipulate three types of resources, which may affect eligibility and amount of benefits received. These include:

  • Liquid resources, or all readily available funds, such as cash, money in savings and checking accounts, savings certificates or bonds, stock, trust deeds and funds in retirement accounts.
  • Non-liquid resources like personal property, land, buildings and recreational properties.
  • Excluded resources that are not in the above categories but have certain value limits such as property essential for work.

Work Requirements for CalFresh Eligibility in California

There are additional CalFresh eligibility requirements if food assistance is the only benefit you are receiving. To qualify for CalFresh, you must meet certain work requirements of the state. For example, to be eligible for food stamps, you may need to participate in certain employment and training activities with CalWORKS such as job hunting, performing community service or participating in training programs. If the state requires you to work, your local county welfare office will explain when and how to participate in mandatory activities after applying to the food stamp program.

Reporting Changes to CalFresh in California Households

As a qualified CalFresh benefits recipient, you must report any changes in your household. Changes that may affect your eligibility for CalFresh benefits include loss or additions to the number of household members, changes of address, changes in shelter costs, if additional resources become available and changes in child support payments to a non-household member. If this applies to your household, then CalFresh requires your household to report in writing, verbally or in person within 10 days of a change taking place.

Discover all the eligibility requirements to receive food stamps in California in our detailed guide here.

What Kind of Assistance Does the Department of Social Services Offer?

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) provides various types of assistance benefits to residents of the state. Through the CDSS, individuals and families can obtain temporary cash assistance, food assistance and more. Furthermore, applicants who are eligible for the benefits of one CDSS program will often qualify for the assistance benefits of another. Find out everything you need to know about the services and benefits provided by the Department of Social Services by downloading our helpful CDSS guide.

Who Can Benefit From California’s Department of Social Services?

To receive benefits from the CDSS, you and your family will need to meet certain eligibility criteria. The criteria used to determine an applicant’s eligibility typically include income, age, resources and citizenship, among other factors. Find out if you qualify for California DSS assistance benefits here.