50+ things that are NOT income

The following is a list of 50+ things that are “excluded” — i.e., not counted — as income in the CalFresh program:

  1. “In-kind” income (benefits received other than cash, such as free housing, public housing, child care, Woman, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits or food). [7 U.S.C. § 2014(d)(1); 7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(1); MPP § 63-502.2(a).] This includes housing payments made directly to third parties under the Transitional Housing Program – Plus (THP-PLUS) for former foster youth [ACIN I-54-09];
  2. Some vendor payments. [7 U.S.C. § 2014(d)(1); 7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(1); MPP § 63-502.2(b).] Vendor payments are when someone outside of the CalFresh household (such as a public housing authority or an ex-spouse) pays directly to someone to whom the household owes money — for example, a landlord, a utility company, or a doctor — for expenses such as rent, gas or medical bills. This rule does not apply to all vendor payments. (For more details, see the section about when money can be counted that the household does not get as income.
  3. Earned income of a child under age 18 if the child is a student at least half-time. [Section 7 U.S.C. § 2014(d)(7); MPP § 63-502.2(i); ACL 07-31.] The child’s income during school breaks is also exempt so long as the child will go back to school after the breaks. [MPP § 63-502.2(i).] This exclusion also applies to a student attending GED classes. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(7).]
  4. Income of a student who turns 19 during the certification period is exempt during his or her birthday month and the following month. [MPP § 63-502.2(i).]
  5. The first $100 ($200 for households with two or more children) of child support payments passed through to a CalWORKs (TANF) household. [MPP § 63-502..2(q)(1)(B).].  NOTE — CDSS’ current position is that this regulation is wrong and the child support disregard payment counts as income.  [ACL 07-31 at p.2; ACL 20-115 at p.7.]  However, the child support disregard only counts as income if it is reasonably anticipated to be received.
  6. Income that the household does not receive regularly. For example, money from odd jobs, baby-sitting, or a one-time “gift” if it is not more than $30 in three months [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(2); MPP § 63-502.2(d)]; or severance pay (unless paid out in regular installments) or vacation pay at termination of job, which should be treated as a lump sum. [ACIN I-84-09E, at page 2.]
  1. Money that the household gets from private charities if it is less than $300 in any three months. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(12); MPP § 63-502.2(c).]
  2. All loans that the household has to pay back, EXCEPT some student loans (i.e., loans that the student does not have to pay back until he or she finishes school). [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(4); MPP § 63-502.2(f).]
  3. Financial aid, including grants and loans, funded under Title IV of the federal Higher Education Act, the Bureau of Indian Affairs student assistance programs, or Title XIII of the Indian Higher Education Programs — for example, Pell grants, Perkins loans, Guaranteed Student Loans, Stafford loans; and some parts of other student grants, loans, scholarships, or fellowships [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(3); MPP § 63-502.2(e), 63-507(a)(6).] (See the section about how student aid is counted for more information.)
  4. Federal and state work study income, including CalWORKs work study. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(b)(1)(vi); MPP § 63-502.2(q)(1)(A) (exempting income listed in MPP § 44-111 of the CalWORKs rules); ACL 06-31 at page 2.]
  1. Reimbursements for past or future expenses (i.e., money to pay the household back for expenses such as special work clothes, using the household member’s car in his or her work, travel to and from a job or training program, medical or dependent care costs). These reimbursements must be for things other than normal living expenses. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(5); MPP § 63-502.2(g).]
  2. Tax credits and tax refunds. [ACL 13-46, 26 U.S.C. § 6409]  This includes the COVID-19 individual stimulus because the stimulus payments are indivudual tax rebates.  [ACWDL, December 31, 2020, ACWDL, April 15, 2020.]  This also includes individual rebates under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and child tax credits.  [ACIN I-24-21; ACL 21-37.] Note that the individual stimulus payments count as a resource after 12 months if they have not been spent and the household has a resource limit.  [Id.]
  3. Money the household receives only once (a so-called “non-recurring lump sum”), such as a diversion payment to keep the household from going on the CalWORKS program, CalWORKs’ homeless assistance program payments, income tax refunds, insurance settlements, security deposit refunds, litigation awards or settlements, and inheritance. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(8); MPP §§ 63-502.2(j), ACIN I-12-19 (See also ACL 11-13 on the treatment of tax refunds in CalFresh).]
  1. Lump sum funds are treated as a resource in the month received, not income, unless they regularly recur. [7 C.F.R. § 273.8(c)(1); MPP § 63-501.111, ACIN I-12-19.]
  1. Federal government payments to help pay the household’s fuel or energy bills, such as money from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). [7 U.S.C. § 2014(d)(11)(A); 42 U.S.C.§ 8624(f); 7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(11); MPP § 63-502.2(b)(2), MPP § 63-507(a)(5).]
  2. Self-employment business expense, such as the cost of things the household member sells in their own business or the cost of delivering the goods. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(9); MPP § 63-502.2(k).]
  1. Certain income received through the Senior Community Service Employment Program authorized under the Older American Act of 1965. [42 U.S.C. § 3056g; MPP § 63-507(a)(15).] Work programs under Title V usually are run by the AARP, the National Council of Senior Citizens (NCSC), the National Farmers’ Union (“Green Thumb”) or the National Coalition and Caucus on the Black Aged (NCCBA). [MPP § 63-507(a)(15)(A).] Under these programs, participants may receive an hourly tax-free wage, reimbursement for transportation expenses, an end-of-service stipend, or an education award.
  2. Relocation benefits paid by a public agency to the household that has been relocated as a result of public development, demolition or condemnation of existing housing. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(10)(i); MPP § 63-502.2(q)(1)(F).]
  3. Payments to volunteers under Title II of the Domestic Volunteer Services Act of 1973, 42 U.S.C. § 4950 et seq., including payments from the Retired and Senior Volunteer Programs (RSVP), Foster Grandparent Program, and Senior Companion Program. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(10)(iii); MPP § 63-507(a)(13).] However, payments to AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers will be excluded only if the households were on CalFresh benefits or public assistance when they joined VISTA. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(10)(iii); MPP § 63-507(a)(14).]
  4. AmeriCorps National and Community Service Education Award payments (after completing the AmeriCorps service requirements), whether issued in cash or in-kind. [42 U.S.C. § 1382a(b)(25).]
  5. Any income excluded under any other federal law. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(10); MPP § 63-502.2(l); MPP § 63-507(a).] This includes the recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, “World War II Filipino Veterans” one-time payments. [Public Law 111-5, Section X; SNAP- Administrative Notice 09-57.]
  6. Money taken out of the household’s income from any source, including CalWORKs (TANF), SSI, or other public benefits programs and work, because the household was overpaid under that program before, unless the household intentionally violated that other program’s rules to get more benefits. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(b)(5)(i); MPP § 63-502.121, ACIN I-22-11.]
  7. Child support paid directly to the household if the household has to give it to the welfare office in order to keep getting CalWORKS (TANF). [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(b)(5)(ii); MPP § 63-502.1.]
  8. Child support payments that a household member is legally obligated to pay to an individual living outside the household. This exclusion includes payments made to a third party (for example, a landlord) on behalf of the non-household member, per a court support order. [MPP § 63-502.2(p); ACL 06-31; ACIN I-69-06.] (See the section about child support payments to someone not in the household for more details.)
  9. Federal and State Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) payments. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(13); MPP § 63-502.2(j); ACL 17-120.]
  10. Foster care payments received for foster child who are boarders, and not household members. [7 C.F.R. § 273.1(b)(4); MPP § 63-402.3; MPP § 63-502.2(o).]
  11. Certain veteran’s income payments, such as a clothing maintenance allowance, dislocation allowance, lump sum re-enlistment bonus.
  12. Military Combat-Related Pay which is payments for deployed members of the armed forces during the member’s deployment, provided the payments are (1) received in addition to the service member’s basic pay; (2) received as a result of deployment to or while serving in a combat zone, and (3) not received immediately before serving in the combat zone.  [7 CFR 273.9(c)(20); ACL 17-98.]
  13. Certain income not counted under CalWORKs, i.e., all payments excluded or exempt from consideration as income in MPP § 44-111, with the exception of §§ 44-111.23 and 44-111.43. [See MPP § 63-502.2(q); ACL 06-31; ACIN I-69-06.]. Examples of excluded income under this particular rule include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Federal and state work study programs.
    • Child or spousal support disregard. The first $50 per month of current child or spousal support paid to or on behalf of an assistance unit no longer can be disregarded when determining both eligibility and grant amount. [7 U.S.C. § 2014(d)(18); ACL 07-31.]
    • Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA). All payments to and earnings of a child which are derived from participation in JTPA programs. All payments to an adult which are derived from participation in JTPA programs.
    • Voluntary contributions from nongovernmental persons or organizations having no liability for the support of the recipient. [ACIN I-01-24.]
  14. Independent Living Program (ILP). Income and incentive payments earned by a child 16 years of age or older who is participating in the ILP.
  15. Payments received under the California Victims of Crimes Program.
  16. Allowance for training expenses paid to recipients participating in California Department of Rehabilitation training programs.
  17. Any award or scholarship provided to or on behalf of a dependent child based on the child’s academic or extracurricular activity.
  18. Contribution from persons or organizations that the household must spend for things specified by the donor. (For example, if an uncle gives $200 to the household to purchase new tires, the $200 are exempt when the household can verify spending the money for the intended purpose.)
  19. Payments specified by a court order or other legally binding agreement to go directly to a third party rather than the household. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(1)(vii)(C).]
  20. Money to spend on and care for someone who is not in the household. [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(6); MPP § 63-502.2(h).]

37.  For CalWORKs categorically eligible households only, Veterans Administration benefits for education, training, vocation or rehabilitation. [ACL 17-125.]

38.  For the period August 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020, income received directly from the Census Bureau for temporary employment related to the 2020 census. [ACL 19-79.]

39.  Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits (the additional $300 of unemployment benefits because of COVID-19) issued between January 1, 2021 and September 6, 2021.  [ACWDL, January 19, 2021; ACIN I-24-21.]

40.  The Golden State Stimulus is considered a tax refund and is therefore not counted as income.  [ACL 21-23.]

41.  The $600 Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund payment issued on June 11, 2021.  [ACL 21-65.]

42.  COVID-19 financial support for families with children at risk of foster care.  [ACL 21-83.]

43. Effective December 1, 2021, student loans and grants excluded for CalWORKs must also be excluded for CalFresh.  The CalWORKs exclusion is all needs-based education grants for undergraduate students, all awards and scholarships for dependent children, any grants when it is verified that the proceeds are not available to meet current needs, and any loans not otherwise excluded that have a written agreement specifying obligation to repay and a repayment plan.  [ACL 21-137.]

44. Effective July 5, 2023, Guaranteed Income payments that contain any non-government funds are excluded for CalFresh. [ACL 23-60.]

Between December 1, 2021 and July 4, 2023, payments from CalWORKs approved Guaranteed Income projects and pilots that have any amount of private funding are excluded for CalFresh.  CDSS will identify these projects.  [ACL 21-137; ACL 21-137E; ACIN I-35-22; see also ACIN I-82-22 (requests for approval of multi-county Guaranteed Income projects).]

45.  Retroactive lump sum Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments.  [7 C.F.R. § 273.9(c)(8); ACIN I-11-22.]

46.  Any payment made to an FSET Program participant, for costs that are reasonably necessary and directly related to participation in the FSET Program.  [MPP § 63-502.2(n).]

47.  Establishment specific gift cards.  [FNS Revised Treatment of Gift Cards in Determining SNAP.]

48.  Any funds contributed to CalKIDS college accounts.  [ACL 22-79.]

49.  Better for Families Tax Refund, and the Young Child and Foster Youth Tax Credits.  [ACL 22-91.]

50.  Payments issued under the California Arrearages Payment Program.  [ACL 22-83.]