Households that want to participate in CalFresh benefits will need to provide some specific information about their income limits. This is required so that officials can verify eligibility and confirm that the applicant meets the program’s criteria. The necessary information can be separated into the following categories:
- Citizenship/Immigration Status
- Reporting Changes
- Work Requirements
- Work Rule for Able-Bodied Adults Not Receiving Cash Aid
- Transitional CalFresh
What is the Resource limit for those households?
Households who fit one of the three descriptions above have a resource limit of $2,500. If they also have a member who has a disability or is 60 years of age or older, their resource limit is $3,750. When making an eligibility determination, any countable resource will be added to the household’s resource limit.
Non-citizens who have been admitted to the country for humanitarian reasons or permanent residence may be eligible for CalFresh benefits. Eligible household members can still receive CalFresh benefits even if other members of the household are not eligible.
In general, CalFresh eligibility is available to most lawfully-present immigrants who:
- Have lived in the country for five years or more, OR
- Be receiving disability-related assistance or benefits, OR
- Be a child under 18 years of age who is qualified for and lawfully admitted to permanent residence under the Immigration and Nationalization Act.
The state of California has a program for immigrants who have not been living in the state for five years but who have a lawful permanent resident status or “qualified” immigration status and meet all other program eligibility criteria. This CalFresh Program is known as the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
Non-citizens who are in the U.S. temporarily, such as students or tourists, are not eligible for the same benefits as undocumented individuals.
What are the Income Limits for CalFresh for 2023?
The CalFresh program has income requirements that all households must meet to be eligible for benefits, with a few exceptions. Households that contain an aged or disabled member, or those in which all members receive cash assistance, are not subject to the gross and net income determination tests.
For all other households, gross income – which is all non-excludable income from any source, including earned and unearned income – is taken into account. The maximum gross allowed is 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. If the household passes the gross income test, then the net income test is computed.
Net income is determined by deducting certain expenses from gross income, if applicable. The resultant amount cannot exceed 100% of the Federal Poverty Level.
Eighty percent of what you earn is counted towards your benefit levels; this is called an allowable deduction. Examples of earned income are things like wages, salaries, and striker’s benefits.
- The standard deduction is a deduction that is applied per household each month. The amount of the deduction varies based on the number of people in the household. For example, as of October 1, 2018, the deduction for a household of 1-3 people is $177, while the deduction for a household of 4 or more people is $246. This deduction can help to reduce the amount of taxes that a household owes each year.
- Excess Shelter is a problem for many families. A monthly shelter cost that exceeds 50% of the household’s income after deductions can put a family in a difficult position. The excess shelter deduction must not exceed the current maximum of $597 (effective 10/1/21).
- Because the homeless shelter allowance includes a utility component, separate utility costs are not allowed if the homeless shelter allowance is used. The allowance is currently $159.73 (effective 10/1/21).
- The Standard Utility Allowance (SUA) is a set amount of money that helps cover a household’s utility costs. This is in addition to the household’s rent or mortgage payment. The SUA is currently $487, and this amount took effect on October 1, 2021.
- If your household has expenses for two or more utilities, you may be eligible for a Limited Utility Allowance (LUA). The LUA allowance is $144 (effective 10/1/21).
- A household that is not eligible for the SUA or LUA but has a telephone expense or equivalent is eligible for a $19 deduction (effective 10/1/21).
- Dependent care can be a deduction for families with children or other dependents. This type of care allows a household member to work or attend school or train for employment. The care must be necessary for the household member to maintain employment, and the deduction can cover the actual costs of payments for dependent care.
- The amount of medical expenses that can be deducted from taxes each year is capped at $35 per household per month (for any household member who is elderly or disabled). This deduction is in addition to any other deductions that may be available for medical expenses.
What is exempt income for CalFresh?
These are any benefits that you receive from the employer that isn’t given to you in the form of money. This could be things like meals, clothing, or housing.
This is when you pay a third party, such as a vendor, for a household expense. An example of this would be if you paid your rent to a landlord through a company instead of directly to the landlord.
Deferred Educational Loans
These are loans that you have put off paying until later.
Grants and Scholarships
These are funds that are given to you to help pay for education-related expenses.
Cash donations from a charitable organization
This is when a charitable organization gives you money, but not more than $300 in a calendar quarter.
Income received too infrequently/irregularly to be reasonably anticipated
This is income that you don’t receive regularly but not more than $30 in a quarter.
200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)
Households that participate in CalFresh are required to pass a test that measures their gross income. Gross income is any kind of income that can’t be excluded, such as earned income or unearned income. The maximum gross monthly income allowed is 200% of the Federal poverty level (FPL). The chart below shows the gross monthly income for 200% of the Federal poverty level by household size effective 10/1/2022.
Household Size Gross Income
CalFresh Maximum Monthly Allotment
|Each Additional Member:||+$758|
Reporting Changes for CalFresh Recipients
CalFresh recipients have to let their local County Welfare Department know about any changes in their income or other circumstances. That way, we can see if it affects their eligibility for benefits. There are two types of reporting: Change and Semi-Annual.
Change reporting households are those in which members may leave and return at different times throughout the year due to their jobs or because they are elderly, disabled, or homeless. These households are required to report any changes within 10 days by writing, calling, or going in person to the office.
All changes must be reported, including:
- An increase or decrease in the gross income of more than $25
- The addition or loss of a household member
- Changes to address, shelter costs, or cash on hand.
- Any changes to stocks, bonds, money in savings, or bank accounts that reach a total of $2,000 ($3,000 for elderly or disabled households)
- A change in child support payments made to someone outside of the household
Semi-Annual Reporting for CalFresh Recipients
Every six months, households that receive benefits from the Supplemental Assistance Reporting (SAR) program must submit a SAR 7 form to update their income, medical, and dependent care expenses. The form also asks households to report any other changes that they expect to occur during their certification period.
SAR 7 households are required to report any changes in their household income that exceed their Income Reporting Threshold (200% of the Federal Poverty Level in most cases).
This includes job loss or increased shelter expenses. During the certification period, households may report any changes that could increase benefits.
Which households are subject to the Resource Limit?
According to CalFresh guidelines, resources are only counted for those households that:
- Have members who have been disqualified from program participation due to an Intentional Program Violation
- The head of the household does not comply with work requirements.
- Any member of the household has been convicted of certain categories of drug felonies.
What types of resources are counted?
Households have different types of liquid resources. These include cash, money in checking or savings accounts, savings certificates, trust deeds, stocks, bonds, and non-recurring lump sum payments. Liquid resources also include funds held in an individual retirement account (IRA) or an accessible Keogh plan.
Non-liquid resources include everything from personal property to buildings and land. The value of non-exempt resources is determined by its equity value or the fair market value minus any encumbrances.
Resources that are not counted towards an individual’s total are things like their home and property, vehicles, household goods, personal effects, and resources with an equity value of $1500 or less. Other excluded resources include those with a cash value that is not accessible to the household, such as irrevocable trust funds or security deposits on rental property.
Does CalFresh have a Resource limit?
A resource is something that a household can use to get financial help. Most households don’t have to worry about a resource limit. But there are some types of households that have to meet certain requirements to get resources, and there are limits to the resources that these households can get.
The list below has more information about these types of households, the resource limits, and the types of resources that are considered.
Calfresh Work Requirements
If you get CalFresh, there might be some work rules you’ll need to meet, such as looking for work, doing community service, or going to school or training. Your county will tell you if you need to participate in any of these activities or if you are excused.
You might be able to volunteer to participate in helping you prepare to find work or go to school. There are some exceptions, so contact your local County Welfare Department to find out if you are eligible.
Work Rule for Able-Bodied Adults Not Receiving Cash Aid
If you are an adult who only receives CalFresh, you may need to meet a work rule to continue receiving benefits. You may be excused from this work rule if you are under 18, over age 49, pregnant, living in a CalFresh household with a minor child, or for other reasons your county can explain. Contact your local County Welfare Department to find out if you are eligible.
Transitional CalFresh Benefits
If you’re no longer participating in the CalWORKs Program, you may still be eligible for transitional benefits for up to 5 months. Transitional benefits can help ease your transition out of the program and help you with things like food and housing. If you’re still eligible for CalWORKs benefits, you may not be eligible for transitional benefits.
Calfresh income limits will increase in 2023 to help more families access healthy food. The new limits will make it easier for low-income families to qualify for the program and will help them stretch their food budgets further. This is good news for families struggling to make ends meet and will help to improve their overall health and wellbeing.