Eligibility for Cash Assistance in California


CalWORKs program requirements assist California officials with providing cash compensation to the residents who are in true need assistance. Those who are eligible for CalWORKs enrollment will also receive additional program benefits to help them become independent from California welfare. CalWORKs eligibility requirements depend on your family’s living situation, their citizenship status, the household income and combined resources. In addition to the initial eligibility for cash assistance, claimants must continue to meet the requirements of the program to remain enrolled. Since the intention of the program is to help enrollees become self-sufficient, some may need to participate in welfare-to-work activities. Find out more about CalWORKs program requirements for California residents by continuing to read this page.


California CalWORKs Program Requirements for Income and Resources

A California family is only eligible for cash assistance if it has a household income and resources below the maximum limit designated by CALWORKs. For the purpose of calculating eligibility for CalWORKs, resources and assets refers to cash, property and anything you own and could be used to support yourself such as bonds, stocks or savings accounts. However, CalWORKs eligibility requirements do not count the following as resources:

  • Your home
  • Household goods
  • Your car if its value is less than a certain amount
  • Some types of trust fund

To qualify for CALWORKs, your income must be less than a certain limit. The CALWORKseligibility limit is based on the size of your family and the county where you reside. The more family members in a household, the higher the income limits are. Yet, when applying for cash assistance, CalWORKs may not consider all members of the household. For example, CalWORKs program requirements detail that foster children and people who received Supplemental Security Income will not be counted. Other individuals considered not eligible for cash assistance such as convicted felons and non-legal residents will also not be factored into the household size.

You will not be able to figure out if you qualify for CA welfare simply by adding up your family members’ earned and unearned income since CALWORKs does not count all earnings as income. The exceptions include loans and grants, SSI, Earned Income Tax Credit and Federal Relocation/Disaster benefits. You will be eligible for CALWORKS if your countable income for eligibility is a lower amount than the limit for your family size.

If you and your family do qualify for CALWORKs, then you will receive a monthly cash benefit payment that will continue to be paid for a maximum of 48 months, as long as you remain eligible and you meet the welfare-to-work requirements. In some circumstances, you may request a CA benefit extension to continue to receive compensation.

Find out how to apply to the California welfare program successfully by reviewing the information in our free guide.

California Residency Eligibility for Cash Assistance

The CalWORKs program is only available for California residents who are in the country legally. To qualify for CalWORKs, the petitioner must be a United States citizen or a qualified alien. Eligible noncitizens can include those who are admitted for permanent residence lawfully, granted asylum, legal Cuban or Haitian entrant and other refugees legally admitted to the country under the Immigration and Naturalization Act. All U.S. citizens and noncitizens will need to furnish proof of their state residency and legal status in the country.

CalWORKs Eligibility Requirements for California Children and Adults

For California families to qualify for CalWORKs, they must have at least on child who is younger than 18 years of age or 19 years of age if he or she will graduate high school before his or her 19th birthday. CalWORKs program requirements stipulate that the children meet certain requirements. To be eligible for cash assistance, children must be suffering deprivation, which means that they have minimal or no parental support because one or both parents are disabled, unemployed, in jail, continuously absent or deceased. Children younger than six years of age must have all their standard immunizations. Children between school age and 16 years of age must attend school on a regular basis. Households are not eligible for cash assistance if they do not have any minor children living in your household who meet certain other requirements.

In addition to the residency requirements, parents and caretakers must not be a convicted drug felon or a fleeing felon. CalWORKs program requirements are detail that certain adults will need to be employed fulltime or participate in welfare-to-work activities. Enrollees will need to complete a fixed number of work hours based on their personal situation. The hours you will be required to participate in depends upon whether you have a disability and the age of your children. If you are employed but you are not working for the required weekly hours, then you will be required to participate in other welfare-to-work activities to maintain eligibility for cash assistance. Welfare-to-work can include a number of different mandatory and voluntary activities such as job preparation, community service and on-the-job training.

Download our in-depth guide for comprehensive information on the requirements to collect California welfare benefits.

If you are not exempt from the CalWORKs program requirements for welfare-to-work you must attend all of the appointments and activities made by officials. Furthermore, you must make satisfactory progress in any given assignments and show proof of your participation whenever requested. You may also have your CalWORKs program benefits suspended if you voluntarily leave your job or voluntarily lower your earnings.

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.