Categorical eligibility in the CalFresh program

And then there are the basic rules about “categorical eligibility” for Calfresh benefits:

households receiving cash welfare assistance — e.g., CalWORKs (TANF) and General Assistance (GA) — non-assistance households, and households eligible for Medi-Cal (Medicaid), provided the household’s gross income is at or below 200% of the FPL.

  • If everyone in the household is getting cash welfare assistance — e.g., CalWORKs (the name of the TANF program in California), General Assistance (GA), or SSI [ACL 18-90; ACL 19-44] — the household is “categorically eligible,” i.e., automatically qualified for CalFresh benefits.
  • “Categorical eligibility” in the CalFresh program has been expanded to include any household getting or eligible to get Medi-Cal (California’s name for Medicaid). [See ACL 13-108.] Medi-Cal beneficiaries eligible for CalFresh include (but are not limited to) beneficiaries with Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) income less than or equal to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), non-MAGI income less than or equal to 200% of the FPL, and non-MAGI Aged, Blind, and Disabled (ABD) FPL less than or equal to 138%.  [ACL 21-52.]
  • To get benefits, the value of the household’s property — the program calls them “resources” — must be under the SNAP resource limit. However, all CalFresh households are now considered to be modified categorically eligible.” [See ACL 11-11.] Modified categorical eligibility means resources are not considered; therefore, the value of the household’s resources can be above the CalFresh program’s so-called “resource limit” and the household will still be eligible for benefits. (All other CalFresh rules still apply.)
  • For non-elderly/non-disabled households, “countable income” cannot exceed 130% of the FPL, i.e., 130% is the upper limit of income that qualifies for modified categorical eligibility for these households.
  • For households with an elderly or disabled member, the modified categorical eligibility limit is 200%. Households with an elderly or disabled member with income over 200% of FPL may still be eligible because there is no gross income test. But these households will not be modified categorically eligible and must have resources below $3,000. [See ACL 13-32.]

For more details about categorical eligibility see People on SSI, CalWORKs, General Assistance or Medi-Cal, with a prior felony drug conviction, or fleeing felons