The easiest way to apply for CalFresh food stamps is online. In this post, we will walk you through the CalFresh application process, including how much you can make and still qualify, what to expect during the application process, and how much in CalFresh you are likely to receive if approved.
Table of Contents:
The CalFresh Food Stamps Program, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is a federally funded program that provides monthly monetary benefits to low-income households and individuals.
It is an entitlement program, which means that all who are eligible and apply will receive benefits.
Anyone who lives in California may apply for food stamp benefits in the state.
If you would like to apply for food stamp benefits in California, continue reading below.
The SNAP program is administered at the federal level by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) but is run by the states.
In California, the CalFresh program is under the California Department of Social Services (CDSS).
Each month, CalFresh benefits are electronically distributed to eligible recipients on a plastic debit-like card, also known as an Electronic Transfer Benefit (EBT) card.
In California, the CalFresh EBT Card is also known as the Golden State Advantage Card, as shown below.
EBT cards can be used at a variety of stores throughout California to purchase eligible food items.
For a complete list of the items you can purchase with your CalFresh EBT Card, check out our post here.
Furthermore, certain categories of CalFresh recipients can use their EBT benefits to purchase food at approved restaurants and fast food places.
This is under the CalFresh Restaurant Meals program, which is currently available in about 18 California counties.
See our detailed post about the CalFresh Restaurant Meals program and how to qualify.
Before you apply for CalFresh, it’s important to determine your eligibility for SNAP benefits in California.
To be approved for benefits, your household must meet certain income requirements.
Other factors such as household size and expenses are also considered when applying for food stamp benefits.
The amount of benefits you receive is dependent on these factors.
The income limit for CalFresh is approximately 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL).
To find out whether your income qualifies for CalFresh SNAP benefits, please refer to the chart below:
The chart shows the maximum income you can gross and net income (after deductions) you can earn to qualify for CalFresh by household size.
For example, a family of 4 can earn a gross income of $4,368 or less in order to qualify for SNAP.
In addition, their net income after deductions cannot exceed $2,184.
|Gross Income Limit – 200% FPL||Net Income Limit – 100% FPL|
For each additional
To arrive at your net income for CalFresh, you have to take out allowable deductions.
The table below provides a detailed list of all the deductions that are allowed.
Once you subtract the deductions from your gross income amount, you arrive at your net income for CalFresh eligibility.
|Deductions and Allowances||Amount|
|Standard Deductions by Household Size||$167 for households of 1 to 3 persons|
|$181 for households of 4 persons|
|$212 for households of 5 persons|
|$243 for households of 6 or more persons|
|Dependent Care||No Dependent Care Maximum Limit|
|Maximum Shelter Deduction||$586|
|Standard Utility Allowance||$438|
|Limited Utility Allowance||$139|
|Telephone Utility Allowance||$18|
|Homeless Household Shelter Deduction||$157|
|Medical (elderly 60+/disabled only):|
|$35 and under a month||Not eligible for medical deduction|
|$35.01 to $155 a month||Eligible for $120 deduction|
|$155.01 a month and over||Eligible to deduct actual medical expenses in excess of $35|
A resource is something the household can draw upon or sell for financial assistance.
Most households are not subject to the resource limit.
Resources are counted only for those households that:
|Household Type|| |
|Households with at least one member who is age 60 or older or is disabled||$3,500|
|All other households||$2,250|
How much in CalFresh you receive per month depends on the size of your household.
The maximum CalFresh allotment for one person is $204 per month. The maximum allotment for a four-person family is $680.
Additionally, the average amount of benefits per person is approximately $150 per month, and the average amount of benefits per household is $330.
As part of the stimulus package passed by Congress to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, the maximum allotment for CalFresh was increased by 15% temporarily.
This temporary increase is from January 1, 2021, to September 30, 2021.
The chart below shows the maximum monthly CalFresh allotment amounts based on household size.
|Household Size||Maximum Monthly Benefit For Fiscal Year 2021||Temporary 15% increase 1/1/21-9/30/21|
|Each additional person||$153||176|
You can apply for CalFresh online. Additionally, you can also apply for benefits by phone, mail, fax, or in-person at a CDSS office.
You can apply for CalFresh online using the following online portals, depending on your county of residence:
Depending on your county of residence, you can use one of the following online portals to apply for CalFresh online!
If you are new to the online system, create a user ID and password to get started!
If you have a MyBenefitsCalwin.org account, you can apply for CalFresh online!
To sign in, visit www.mybenefitscalwin.org.
If you need help login into your MyBenefitsCalwin.org account, see our post on MyBenefitsCalwin.org account login help.
If you are new to the MyBenefitsCalwin.org online system, you will be required to create a user ID and password to get started!
For help in creating your MyBenefitsCalwin.org, see our post on how to create a MyBenefitsCalwin.org account.
If you have a YourBenefitsNow account, you can apply for CalFresh online!
To sign in, visit yourbenefits.laclrs.org.
If you need help login into your YourBenefitsNow account, see our post on YourBenefitsNow account login help.
If you are new to the YourBenefitsNow online system, you will be required to create a user ID and password to get started!
For help in creating your YourBenefitsNow, see our post on how to create a YourBenefitsNow account.
If you have a C4yourself.com account, you can apply for CalFresh online!
To sign in, visit c4yourself.com.
If you need help login into your C4yourself.com account, see our post on C4yourself.com account login help.
If you are new to the C4yourself.com online system, you will be required to create a user ID and password to get started!
For help in creating your C4yourself.com, see our post on how to create a C4yourself.com account.
Additionally, you can apply for CalFresh by Mail or Phone, and also in Person. Here’s how:
You can call your county Department of Social Services (CDSS) Office to apply by phone or have an application mailed to you.
To locate a CDSS office near you, click here.
You can complete the paper application and return it to your county CDSS office for processing.
Apply at your county Department of Social Services (CDSS) office.
To locate a CDSS office near you, click here.
After you submit an application, you will be contacted by an eligibility worker to complete the application process.
If you need additional help with your California food stamps online account, assistance applying, or have a question about your benefits, please contact the California CDSS Customer Call Center.
You can call the CDSS at 1-877-847-3663.
Once you submit a complete application, your caseworker will schedule an interview with you.
The purpose of the interview is to review your application information and ask any questions they may have about the information you submitted.
Generally, a decision will be made on your food stamps application within 30 days of the day you submitted a COMPLETE application.
Here are the most frequently asked questions about CalFresh benefits from our readers:
See the income limits table above for the maximum income you can earn based on your household size.
Additionally, you can fall into one of the categories below and still get CalFresh:
CalFresh households must “recertify” their eligibility in order to keep continuously receiving CalFresh benefits.
To do this, they must complete a new application before the 15th of the month when their certification period will end.
In California, most households have a 12-month certification period.
Some households with elderly or disabled members have a 24 month certification period.
Households that only have elderly and/or disabled members and no earned income are certified for 36 months.
It can take up to 30 days to receive CalFresh benefits. Some households may be eligible for expedited/emergency SNAP, which are available within seven calendar days.
For details about expedited CalFresh benefits, continue reading below.
If you need food assistance now, here’s what you need to know:
Immediate food assistance is available on the third business day following your CalFresh application date.
However, to qualify, you must provide identification and meet all other CalFresh requirements in addition to one of the following:
You may receive emergency food boxes at local food banks and food pantries in your county. Click here to locate the nearest food bank.
Here is the list of documents you may be asked to provide when you apply for CalFresh:
Only U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens may get CalFresh.
No. Employment is not an eligibility requirement for CalFresh and there is no minimum income requirement.
Additionally, you may receive CalFresh if you:
Yes. Once a decision has been made on your CalFresh application, you will be notified of the decision by mail.
If your application is denied, you will be notified in writing of your denial.
If you have any questions about the decision, you may call your caseworker.
However, if you think there is a mistake, ask to speak to a supervisor.
Also, if you do not agree with the explanation from the supervisor, you may request a “State Hearing.”
State Hearings are free but you must ask for one within 90 days of the date you were denied.
Here’s the bottom line about How to apply for CalFresh:
CalFresh is an entitlement program, which means that all who are eligible and apply will receive benefits.
To be approved for benefits, your household must meet certain income and other eligibility requirements.
You can apply for CalFresh online but when portal you use depends on your county of residence.
It can take up to 30 days to receive CalFresh benefits.
However, you may be eligible for expedited benefits if you meet the eligibility criteria.
We hope this post on How to apply for CalFresh was helpful.
If you have further questions about CalFresh or California EBT Card, please let us know in the comments section below.
Be sure to check out our other articles about CalFresh and CalFresh EBT, including:
Restaurants that Take CalFresh in California
How to Apply for California P-EBT
California P-EBT Extension for 2020/2021
CalFresh for San Diego County
How much will I get in CalFresh in 2021?
How to Complete CalFresh SAR 7 Form
Get Printable CalFresh SAR 7 Form
Restaurants that Accept Calfresh in Alameda County