Elderly or Disabled
There are special rules for households with a member aged 60 years or older and/or has a disability that make it easier for these households to obtain CalFresh.
If any member of the household is elderly or disabled, there is no gross income test. The household must only pass a net income test (income after all allowable deductions). The gross income test is only needed to determine whether resources/assets will be considered.
In addition to all expenses allowed for regular CalFresh households, a household with at least one elderly or disabled household member can also deduct $120 for a standard medical deduction as long as medical expenses exceed $35 monthly. The household may also deduct actual medical expenses if more than $155 monthly.
If an aged or disabled household fails the gross income test, but passes the net income test, the household may still be eligible for CalFresh as long as their resources do not exceed $3,250.
Examples of countable resources/assets:
- Cash on hand
- Checking/savings accounts
- Stocks and bonds
Examples of exempt resources/assets:
- Retirement or life insurance plans (IRAs, pension plans, etc.)
- The home you live in and household property
- The household’s personal things and household goods (clothes, furniture, appliances, etc.)
- Burial plots
- All cars, trucks, vans, and motorcycles
NOTE: You can own your car, home, and retirement plan and still qualify for CalFresh.
Elderly or disabled individuals residing with others can apply as a separate household even if the elderly or disabled individuals purchase and prepare meals with whom they live. The income of those with whom they reside must be no more than 165% of the Federal Poverty income guideline.
Elderly or disabled households have to complete a recertification every 2 years, as opposed to every year for a regular CalFresh household. A renewal packet and interview will be required. Households in which all adults are elderly or disabled and who have no earned income are not required to have recertification interviews, and must only complete a renewal packet every 3 years.
For more information on recertification and SAR-7, or to download the forms, please visit our MAINTAINING CALFRESH page.
Legal permanent residents, victims of trafficking, U visa applicants and holders, and other qualified immigrants may be eligible for CalFresh.
Some sponsored noncitizens must report their sponsor’s income to qualify for benefits for themselves. Qualified Immigrants who do not want to get benefits for themselves may decide to “opt out.” They will still be part of any household in which they purchase and prepare food, but they will not get benefits. A prorated portion of their income is counted against the rest of the household.
Do not be afraid to apply for CalFresh. CalFresh will not share your immigration status. Applicants will NOT be denied U.S. citizenship for applying for or receiving CalFresh benefits.
FAQs About CalFresh and Immigration
If I am undocumented, can I apply for my US born children? Yes. If you are undocumented but have U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident children, you may apply for your children, but only the children would qualify for CalFresh.
Will my children or I have to pay back the CalFresh benefits I receive? No. You and your children will never have to pay back CalFresh benefits you were eligible to receive. CalFresh is NOT a loan.
Will I be deported if I apply for CalFresh for my children? No. CalFresh does not share your information with immigration authorities.
Will my children be drafted into the military if I receive CalFresh? No. Applying for CalFresh is a good way to make sure your children’s nutrition needs are met.
Will I be considered a “public charge” if I use CalFresh? No. The United States Citizen and Immigration Service (USCIS) does not consider people receiving CalFresh to be a public charge.
Students can only qualify for CalFresh if they meet certain criteria.
You are considered a student if you are:
Between ages 18-52
Physically and mentally “fit” for employment (if the person has a disability, they are not considered a student)
Enrolled at least half-time* in regular curriculum at an “institution of higher education”** in which the regular curriculum meets the standard requirements for graduation or certification in a particular field of study.
*Half-time is defined by the institution in which you are enrolled
**An institution of higher education is a business, trade, technical or vocational school that requires a high school diploma or GED; or a junior, community, two-year or four-year college or university, or graduate school
If you are considered a student, you can get CalFresh if you:
- Are employed at least 20 hours per week on average, OR
- Are self-employed at least 20 hours per week on average with gross weekly earnings equal to $7.25 hourly, OR
- Are approved for state or federal work-study and anticipate working during the term, OR
- Are receiving CalWORKs, OR
- Are a full-time student with a child under age 12, OR
- Are a part-time student with a child under age 6, OR
- Are a part-time student with a child age 6-11 without adequate child care, OR
- Are enrolled in CalFresh employment and training or another local or state job training program that is accepted by CalFresh, OR
- Do not plan to register for the next normal school term, OR
- Are receiving Cal Grant A at a junior or community college and meet the TANF requirements (currently unmarried, 25 years or younger, and has parental/student income of $50,000 yearly or less), OR
- Are receiving Cal Grant A or Cal Grant B at a CSU or UC and meet the TANF requirements
ABAWD (Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents)
An ABAWD is an adult between the ages of 18-49 without dependents. An ABAWD must work a minimum of 20 hours per week or an average of 80 hours per month to receive CalFresh benefits.
The following individuals are exempt from ABAWD rules:
- Under age 18 or over age 52
- Residing in a CalFresh household that includes a child under 18 years of age, even if the child is ineligible for CalFresh
- Physically or mentally unfit for employment
- Applied for or receiving temporary or permanent public, or private disability benefits
- Foster Youth
- Domestic violence survivor
- Caring for a dependent child under 6 years of age or an incapacitated individual
- CalWORKS recipient
- Applied for or receiving unemployment benefits
- Unable to work due to alcohol or drug addiction (based on county's discretion)
- Regular participant in a drug and/or alcohol treatment program
- Attending school, training program, or institution of higher education at least half-time
- Working 30 hours or more per week receiving weekly earnings at least equal to the federal minimum wage
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