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FAQs about CalFresh Benefits for SSI

This post will cover FAQs about CalFresh Benefits for SSI beneficiaries. Prior to June 1, 2019, SSI/SSP recipients were ineligible for CalFresh. However, that has changed with a new law passed by the California Assembly and signed into law. For the first time ever in California, older adults and people with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income and/or California State Supplemental Payment (SSI/SSP) benefits may also receive food stamps. There is no change or reduction to SSI/SSP benefits. We know SSI/SSP recipients have questions about what this means for their benefits.

In this post, we will answer the most frequently asked questions about CalFresh for SSI Recipients, including what happens if you are on SSI and live in a household that already gets SNAP benefits.

Additionally, we will cover whether SSI income will count towards CalFresh and how much in food stamps you are likely to receive if approved.

What is SSI?

Supplemental Security Income, or ‘SSI,’ is a federally funded program that provides a modest monthly benefit to low-income people who are 65 or older, blind, or disabled.

In California, the SSI payment is augmented by a State Supplementary Payment, or ‘SSP”.

Until June 2019, California remained to be the only state in the country that barred SSI recipients from CalFresh eligibility.

This exacerbated hunger and poverty among the state’s SSI recipients, leading many to rely on local food banks, pantries, and hot meal sites for their daily nutrition.

Are SSI/SSP Recipients Eligible for CalFresh?

Yes. Starting June 1, 2019, seniors and people with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI)/State Supplementary Payment (SSP) will be allowed to receive CalFresh benefits.

As a result, SSI and SSP benefits are no longer reduced or eliminated.

How CalFresh for SSI Recipients Works

Most SSI recipients, individuals, and SSI couples will be eligible for CalFresh – starting in the summer of 2019.

Most SSI recipients will need to apply for CalFresh – either on the phone, online, or in person at their county social services office.

If approved, they will get an EBT card and the CalFresh benefit will be loaded onto it each month.

The California EBT card can be used to purchase eligible food items at approved grocery stores and farmers’ markets – including online for delivery.

Additionally, SSI recipients living in a household where other members are already receiving CalFresh are also eligible under the new criteria.

However, during their next reporting deadline, these households will be asked to provide information about any SSI recipients.

Once the requested information is provided, then their CalFresh amount should be automatically recalculated.

FAQs about CalFresh for SSI Recipients

Here are the most frequently asked questions about CalFresh for SSI Recipients:

Can someone on Social Security get Food Stamps in California?

Yes. Starting June 1, 2019, SSI recipients living in California will be eligible for food stamps, provided all other eligibility SNAP eligibility criteria are met.

Additionally, if you are approved for CalFresh, your SSP benefit amount will not be reduced because of this change in the law.

What qualifies for disability CalFresh?

To be considered “disabled” for CalFresh purposes, you must receive disability benefits.

Your local CalFresh office cannot make a decision about your disability status.

Rather, you must currently be a recipient of any of the following disability benefits to be considered as “disabled” in the CalFresh Program:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
  • Social Security disability or blindness benefits;
  • Disability-related Medi-Cal or Medicaid;
  • Disability-related General Assistance (GA);
  • Interim assistance pending receipt of SSI;
  • Public disability retirement pensions, if it is for a kind of disability that Social Security says cannot get better;
  • Railroad Retirement disability annuity payments;
  • Veterans’ disability compensation;

What are Calfresh SSI income limits?

If your household includes someone who is elderly (age 60 or older) and/or disabled, the net monthly income limit will be used to determine eligibility for CalFresh instead of the gross income limit.

Below is the gross and net income limit for CalFresh for 2021/2022.

CalFresh Income Eligibility Standards for Fiscal Year 2022
Effective October 1, 2021 – September 30, 2022
Household Size Gross Monthly Income (200% of FPL) Gross Monthly Income (130% of FPL) Net Monthly Income (100% of FPL)
1 $2,148 $1,396 $1,074
2 $2,904 $1,888 $1,452
3 $3,660 $2,379 $1,830
4 $4,418 $2,871 $2,209
5 $5,174 $3,363 $2,587
6 $5,930 $3,855 $2,965
7 $6,688 $4,347 $3,344
8 $7,444 $4,839 $3,722
​9 $8,202 ​$5,331 $4,101
​10 $8,960 ​$5,823 $4,480
Each additional member +$758 +$492 +$379

Does SSI Count as Income for Calfresh?

Yes. SSI income is counted when deciding whether a person or household qualifies for CalFresh or not.

For some households, adding the SSI recipient and their income may increase the CalFresh benefit.

However, for other households, adding the SSI recipient and their income will lead to a partial or total loss of their CalFresh benefit.

If adding the SSI recipient reduces a household’s CalFresh food benefits, they will be eligible to receive a state-funded nutrition benefit called the Supplemental Nutrition Benefit (SNB) on their existing EBT card.

Also, If adding the SSI recipient leads to a total loss of CalFresh food benefits, they will be eligible to receive a state-funded nutrition benefit called the Transitional Nutrition Benefit (TNB) on their existing EBT card.

What is Supplemental Nutritional Benefits?

Supplemental Nutrition Benefit (SNB) is part of the end of SSI cash-out.

As a result of the eligibility of previously excluded SSI/SSP recipients from SNAP, some households will have their CalFresh reduced.

SNB will provide state-funded nutrition benefits for households that include at least one SSI/SSP recipient and will have their CalFresh benefits reduced when the SSI/SSP recipient is added to the household to compensate for this CalFresh benefit reduction.

What is Transitional Nutritional Benefits?

The Transitional Nutrition Benefit (TNB) is a food benefit for persons who had their CalFresh benefits terminated when an SSI recipient in their household became eligible for CalFresh and was added to the household in July, 2019.

TNB replaces some of those benefits that were lost.

How much in CalFresh do SSI recipients get in California?

The amount of CalFresh Food benefits a household receives is based on household size, income, and monthly expenses, such as housing, utilities, and medical costs.

Benefits amounts range from $20 – $250 per month.

See the table below for how much you are likely to get in CalFresh based on your household size.

To calculate the exact amount you are likely to get based on your household income, see our post on California SNAP Calculator.

Household Size Maximum SNAP Allotment
1 $250
2 $459
3 $658
4 $835
5 $992
6 $1,190
7 $1,316
8 $1,504
For each additional member over 8 +$188

CalFresh Benefits for SSI FAQs Summary

Here’s the bottom line about CalFresh for SSI Recipients:

Most SSI recipients in California are now eligible for CalFresh – starting in the summer of 2019.

However, most will need to apply for CalFresh – either on the phone, online, or in person at their county social services office.

Questions?

We hope this post on CalFresh Benefits for SSI FAQs was helpful.

If you have further questions about California SNAP or EBT Card, please let us know in the comments section below.

Also, be sure to check out our other articles about California SNAP and EBT, including:

$3,000 Child Tax Credit from 2021 Stimulus
California P-EBT Extension
How much will I get in CalFresh
Does Costco Take EBT in California?
Extra Food Stamps for California

Kwame Kuadey

Kwame Kuadey writes about personal finance and the social safety net. His career started in banking but he caught the entrepreneurial bug and has spent the last decade building successful businesses, including an Inc. 500 Company. Kwame believes everyone has the power to improve their quality of life by seeking knowledge and taking action. In 2012, Kwame founded Empower Media to help low-income households improve their financial situation. His expertise is in topics relevant to low-income households, including government benefits and assistance, banking products, access to credit, plus tools & resources to help reduce income volatility and build wealth. Kwame has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc. Magazine, Washington Post, ABC, and NPR.

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