CalFresh Program Eligibility and Application Process

2020-09-03 12:00:00

Are you a California resident who is struggling? Perhaps you’re not sure about the best program for you. 

Consider the CalFresh Program to purchase healthy foods.


What Is the CalFresh Program?

The CalFresh program provides financial aid on a monthly basis to qualifying low-income residents of California to buy nutritious food. You can buy foods that include fruits, vegetables, beans, milk, cheese, etc. It restricts non-food items such as cigarettes, tobacco, and vitamins. 

The amount you receive depends on such factors as your income and household size. The average household receives $300 a month in aid.

This article is a comprehensive CalFresh program guide. Let’s explore. 


Who Is Eligible for CalFresh? 

Overall, all California residents in a low-income bracket are eligible for the CalFresh Snap program. CalFresh is also more expansive than other assistance programs. For example, people on Social Security Income (SSI) or State Supplemental Program (SSP) may qualify.

The program also doesn’t discriminate against the homeless. You don’t need a physical place to live, and you don’t need an official address. You also don’t need a central place to cook your food. 

Further, people who don’t have a job can apply and receive approval. Plus, homeowners are free to apply. Moreover, members of the military can receive aid as long as they meet the eligibility requirements. 

If you think you may qualify for the CalFresh program, you may also qualify for free wireless service from StandUp Wireless. You can check your eligibility now by clicking here.

Immigration Eligibility

Non-citizens are eligible if they enter the country for humanitarian reasons. Undocumented persons, including people in the United States temporarily, are not eligible.

The program is available to immigrants who lawfully lived in the nation for five years or more. 

  • Note: If you’ve been in the United States for less than five years, you can apply through the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP). To qualify for CFAP, you must have legal immigration status.   

Also, permanent residents can apply and receive benefits. Immigrants can still receive assistance if other members of the household don’t qualify.

The program also covers children under 18. They must qualify for the program, and they must have permanent residency


Income Levels

In terms of gross income, it cannot exceed the federal government’s 200% federal poverty threshold. For example, the gross maximum income poverty level breaks down as follows:

  • One-Person Household: $1,354 per month
  • Two-Person Household: $1,832 per month
  • Three-Person Household: $2,311 per month
  • Four-Person Household: $2,790 per month
  • Five-Person Household: $3,269 per month
  • Six-Person Household: $3,748 per month

Additionally, you cannot have a bank account (checking or savings) of over $2,001. You also cannot have a bank account of over $3,001 if you live with someone who is over 60.

The same rule applies to a household member with a disability. The bank account must be in current standing as well. 

California exempts certain forms of income. For example, student loans don’t count as income, including scholarships and grants.

Further, sporadic income (i.e. receiving $30 or less in three months) doesn’t count as legitimate income. Authorities also don’t factor cash donations. Officials will typically exempt donations that are less than $300 in a quarter.  


Work Requirements 

The CalFresh food stamp program is more flexible than others because you don’t need a family to qualify. Individuals are free to apply for the program. Regardless of familial status, you must adhere to various work requirements. The work mandates may include the following:

  • Training programs
  • Job searches
  • Community service
  • School

The work duties depend on county guidelines. In some cases, county officials may waive the work requirements. For recipients without families, they may have to meet additional work impositions.

Individuals may also receive exceptions. The county will usually waive the mandate if you’re under 18. Moreover, exemptions for singles apply if they’re over 49. Counties may also issue a waiver if you’re pregnant, or if you live in a household with minors. 


How to Apply for CalFresh

The online method is the fastest way to receive a response. You can also apply via phone, fax, or in-person. If you choose to apply in person, find a Social Service Regional Center near you.

If you choose the phone method, you can request an application. Call 1-800-281-9799.

The online application process should take 10 minutes. You can also request a callback from a rep if you have questions or concerns. 

You’ll know instantly if you qualify for benefits online. After submission, your application will go to a representative. 

To expedite the online application process, gather the following docs:

  • Proof of Address
  • SSN of all household members (except for those who don’t have an SSN)
  • Valid ID (i.e. driver’s license) 
  • Immigration paperwork (i.e. birth certificates of children or green card)
  • Disability records 

Collect any form of documentation noting your income status. Use paystubs from the last 30 days.

You can also include benefit checks. In addition to income statements, include all of your expenses. Expenses include rent, utility bills, child support, etc. 

You may also have to attend an interview session and bring the paperwork to the interview. 

The application steps may differ depending on county guidelines. In most cases, you can submit documents online or over the phone. 

If you qualify for the expedited program, you only need to show identification. Then, you’ll show the remaining paperwork to the caseworker.

You can receive benefits in as little as three days under the expedited program. The expedited process may also allow same-day issuance. 


The CalFresh Program: Is It Worth It?

The CalFresh Program allows more people to receive benefits. The program is for low-income residents in California, and it applies to the homeless. 

Under the emergency program, you can start using benefits in three days or less. To hasten the process, ensure that you have all documentation. The most important docs include a proof of residence, income statements, and immigration paperwork (if applicable). 

Interested in reading more? Read more on our blog to gain insight into other topics.