WIC California Eligibility Requirements: What You Need to Know

The information in this article is current as of November 8, 2021.

If you’re one of the many people who live in California, and you or your family are currently not making enough money to live comfortably, you might be wondering about the WIC California eligibility requirements.

If you don’t know these, you might feel stressed about getting the nutrition your family needs.

Fortunately, we’ll cover what you need to know about California WIC eligibility requirements.

Once you’ve finished reviewing this article, you’ll know what you need to do so your family can get access to the WIC program in California, ensuring you’re able to stay healthy when it comes to your nutritional needs. Read on to learn more.

WIC California Eligibility Requirements

When it comes to California eligibility for the WIC program, there are several requirements you need to meet. To be eligible, you need to meet all of these, not just one or two of them. By reviewing each of these in detail, you’ll be able to determine whether you’re eligible for WIC in California.

The Categorical Requirement

The absolute requirement is related to whether you fit in a specific category of the type of people the WIC program is meant to assist. There are four different types women can meet, and infants and children fit into their own too.

Pregnant Women

If you’re pregnant, you meet one of the absolute requirements for WIC eligibility in CA. However, if you’re going to give birth soon, you might be worried that you might not be able to meet this requirement soon.

Fortunately, after you’ve given birth, you’ll still be able to meet it, at least for a little bit.

In addition to being available to you if you’re pregnant, this requirement also covers six weeks after you’ve given birth.

Women After Birth

Even after the six weeks above have passed, you can meet the absolute requirement for women who have given birth (or postpartum). Therefore, during the six months after you have given birth to your child, you meet this requirement for WIC in California.

Breastfeeding Women

Additionally, you can meet the absolute requirement for receiving WIC California benefits if you’re a breastfeeding woman. Note, however, that you will only count as being in this category until your infant has had their first birthday.

This means that even if you’re breastfeeding after your child has turned one, you won’t be able to meet this requirement anymore.

Women After Pregnancy Termination or Loss

If you’ve experienced pregnancy termination or loss, you can still be eligible for WIC in California if you meet this requirement. This is so that you have support after your pregnancy that has resulted in termination or loss.


Infants also meet the absolute requirement for the WIC program. So if you have any children who are infants, they can be covered. However, be aware that they can only meet this requirement until their first birthday.


Finally, children are also eligible for the WIC program if they meet the additional requirements we’ll cover in this article. Note, however, that this is only the case until their fifth birthday. After this, they will no longer be eligible for the WIC program.

The Residential Requirement

Another requirement you have to meet to be eligible for WIC in California is the residential requirement. However, as long as you live in California and meet the other requirements we’re covering in this article, you should be able to receive WIC benefits in California.

Note that this is the case, whatever your immigration status. If you’re an undocumented immigrant, you can still receive WIC as long as you live in California.

The Income Requirement

The WIC income eligibility requirement is also essential to consider. There are two different types that you might be able to meet it. One is the Income Standard, and the other is the Automatic Income Eligibility.

The Income Standard

The Income Standard for WIC California eligibility in California, set by the state’s agency, has to be somewhere between 100 percent of the poverty guidelines set by the federal government and 185 percent of these same poverty guidelines.

These poverty guidelines come out every year. The Department of Health and Human Services issues them.

As a result, the Income Standard changes every year. To see what they look like this year, take a look at the current WIC Income guidelines.

Note that, when you’re figuring out whether you meet these guidelines, the number of persons in your family will include both your current family members and any unborn children.

So if you’re currently pregnant, you should add that number to the total.

Suppose you aren’t sure how to get started. In that case, you can always use the WIC eligibility assessment calculator to determine whether you meet the income standard requirement for receiving WIC benefits in California.

Automatic Income Eligibility

If you’re already participating in specific programs, you might automatically meet the income requirement. When this occurs, you’re eligible because of the Automatic Income Eligibility. Individuals who will be eligible in this way include those who are eligible to receive:

  • Medicaid
  • SNAP benefits
  • TANF (formerly known as AFDC)

Additionally, if someone in your family is eligible to receive one of these, you can also be eligible through the Automatic Income Eligibility. You can also be eligible through Automatic Income Eligibility if you’re receiving CalFresh (Food Stamps), Medi-Cal, FDPIR, and Medi-Cal.

Often, state programs such as the above demonstrate that you meet the income requirement through Automatic Income Eligibility. To find out whether a program you’re already eligible for counts, check with the state of California.

The Nutrition Risk Requirement

Finally, there’s the nutrition risk requirement. To meet this, you need to meet with a health professional, such as a nutritionist, nurse, or physician—and when they meet with you, they’ll have to determine that you are at nutrition risk.

Often, you can meet with a health professional for free at the WIC clinic.

However, if you prefer to meet with another health professional, your physician’s assessment will also be valid.

At this point, you might be wondering: “What does ‘nutrition risk’ mean?” This means that you have either dietary-based or medical-based conditions. Medical-based examples include:

  • Being underweight
  • Having a poor pregnancy outcomes history
  • Having anemia (in other words, low blood levels)

As for dietary-based conditions, one example is that you have a poor diet. Regarding minimum requirements for the nutrition risk assessment, the health professional must measure your weight and height and run bloodwork to check whether you have anemia.

Once the assessment has been completed, the outcome must state that you have one or more dietary or medical conditions on California’s WIC nutrition risk criteria list.

The WIC Prescreening Tool

In addition to reviewing all this information, it can be helpful to use the WIC Prescreening Tool. This web-based application was designed to assist potential WIC applicants in figuring out if they’re likely to meet the eligibility requirements for WIC benefits.

If, when you use this tool, it looks like you’re probably eligible, it will provide you with the contact information you need to contact your local California WIC office.

This way, you can schedule a certification appointment with the WIC office that’s closest to you.

Additionally, the tool will provide you with a summary of your responses that’s printable. You’ll also be provided with a list of the documentation you have to bring to your appointment.

The Importance of Understanding the WIC California Eligibility Requirements

Now that you’ve learned what you need to know about WIC California eligibility requirements, you have the information you need to determine whether you’re eligible. We’ve reviewed those, including the categorical, residential, income, and nutrition risks.

By going through each of these in detail, you should have a good idea of whether you might be able to receive WIC benefits in California. These benefits can help you and your family get the nutritional assistance you need.

Save Money on Your Wireless Phone Service

If you qualify for WIC benefits, you also qualify for Lifeline service. Lifeline is a federal benefit program that allows low-income consumers to receive free or heavily discounted communication services. Click here to find out more and apply for this valuable benefit.

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