Summary of basic eligibility

The following is a concise summary of basic eligibility in the CalFresh program:

  • Households” get CalFresh (SNAP) benefits.
  • In general, to get CalFresh benefits, the household’s gross income must be less than the gross-income eligibility standard — 130% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). However, under California’s modified categorical eligibility standard, eligibility can go up to 200% of FPL.  [CDSS CalFresh Eligibility and Issuance Requirements.] If the household includes an elderly or disabled person, the gross income limit is 165% of the FPL but the family does not need to meet the net income test.  [Id.] If all members of the household are elderly and/or disabled, then the household does not have to meet any gross income limit.  [Id.]
  • To qualify, the household’s net income must be less than the net-income eligibility standard — 100% of the FPL. To determine net income, there are various deductions and credits used to reduce the household’s overall earned or other income.
  • After all deductions and credits are applied, and it has been determined the household’s net income is below the net-income eligibility standard, these various deductions and credits are also used to calculate the amount of benefits the household will receive.
  • Most CalFresh households qualify for benefits regardless of what property resources they own. In most other states, to qualify for SNAP benefits the household cannot own property whose value exceeds the SNAP program’s resource limit. But, as a practical matter in California, the SNAP resource limits do not affect CalFresh eligibility because the definition of “categorical eligibility” has been expanded to include pretty much any household that would otherwise qualify for benefits.
  • All adults in the household must comply with the CalFresh program’s work requirements unless they are exempt. In California, that is registering for work, but, except in counties that no longer have a waiver from the Able Bodied Adults Without Dependants requirements, participation is voluntary.
  • In California, all qualified immigrants are eligible for CalFresh benefits or the California Food Assistance Program for certain legal immigrants who are ineligible for CalFresh.