CalFresh Income Limits – 2021
(Last updated on 1/5/21)
Are you trying to apply for California food stamps (CalFresh) and want to know if your income qualifies? In this post, we will review the CalFresh income limits, and show you how to use the income calculator to determine if you qualify for benefits and how much you will receive if approved.
Most families and individuals who meet the income guidelines for the CalFresh Program are eligible to apply. How much you will get in benefits depends on your household income and certain expenses.
When determining eligibility for food stamp benefits, the most important factor is the income limit. To be eligible for SNAP benefits, you must meet both the gross and net income limits for your household size.
We will help you calculate your gross and net income to see if you meet the criteria for food assistance.
In this article, we will provide you with:
- CalFresh Income Limits for 2021
- How to Calculate Your Household Gross Income
- Help with How to Calculate Your Household Net Income
- How much you will get in Food Stamps
- Exemptions to the CalFresh Income Limits
- CalFresh FAQs
CalFresh Income Limits for 2021
The CalFresh Income Limits for 2021 is based on your household’s total income and size. To find out if your income meets the eligibility requirements you must first calculate the gross monthly income for your household. For instructions on how to calculate your gross monthly income, follow the steps below.
How to Calculate Your Gross Income
The gross income for your household is the total income earned before taxes have been taken out. If you are applying for California food stamp benefits, you must determine your gross monthly income to see if you qualify.
Determine your Household Size
A household is a group of people who regularly buy and eat food together. The people in a household do not have to be related to each other.
- Households can be as small as one person
- The same address can have more than one household
- You don’t need to have a home to receive food stamps
Gather your Monthly Earned Income
Earned income is any countable income you have earned within a given one-month period before taxes. For the California food stamps income limit, earned income includes any of the following:
- Wages or salaries earned from a job
- Earnings from self-employment (after allowable business expenses)
- Income made from renters, roommates, or boarders (after operational costs)
- Any income from rental property (minus business expenses)
- Social Security payments
Add your Earned Income to Calculate Gross Monthly Income
Once you have determined all your sources of earned income, add them all together. This will give you your total gross monthly income for your household.
Determine if your Gross Monthly Income is Eligible
Now that you have your gross monthly income, you can see if your income is eligible for California food stamp benefits. Use the chart and follow the steps below to determine your eligibility.
- Start by finding your household size on the chart.
- Once you have located your household size, look in the next column at the maximum gross income for your household size.
- If the maximum allowable gross income is higher than your total gross income, you may be eligible for California food stamp benefits.
- When the maximum allowable gross income is lower than your total gross income, you may not be eligible for California food stamp benefits.
|Household size||Gross monthly Income Limit*||Net monthly Income Limit|
Each additional member
|➕ $737||➕ $360|
* If your household includes an elderly (60+) or disabled person, a higher gross income might still qualifyStep 5
Calculate your Net Monthly Income
Once you have successfully found your gross monthly income, you will need to calculate your net monthly income. For help on how to calculate your net monthly income for the California food stamps income limit, keep reading below.
How to Calculate Your Net Income
Net income for the CalFresh Income Limits is your household’s total gross monthly income minus any allowable expenses.
All allowable expenses should be subtracted from your gross monthly income. To find out what all of the allowable deductions are, continue reading below.
Deductions Allowed for Net Income in 2021
To calculate your net monthly income, you must deduct approved household expenses. Here are the expenses that can be deducted from your household’s gross income:
- 20% deduction from earned income.
- A standard deduction of $167 for households with 1 to 3 people and $178 for households with 4 or more people.
- Dependent care deduction when needed for work, training, or education.
- A deduction for elderly or disabled members medical expenses that exceed $35 a month (if not paid by insurance or someone else).
- Deduct any legally owed child support payments.
- Homeless Household’s shelter costs deduction of $152.06.
- A deduction for excess shelter costs that exceed more than half of the household’s income (after the other deductions listed above). This deduction cannot exceed $569 unless one of your household members is elderly or disabled. Allowable excess shelter costs include:
- Mortgage or rent payments
- Property taxes
- Household utilities including electricity, water, fuel for heat, and a basic phone line
Calculating Net Income with Allowable Deductions
Subtract any Allowable Deductions
After you have determined which allowable deductions apply to your household, subtract those (in order) from your total gross monthly income. Doing this will give you the total net monthly income for your household.
If you need additional help doing this, use the example below:
|Net Income Calculation||Example for a 4-person household|
|Subtract 20% earned income deduction…||$2,050 gross income
$1,500 earned income x 20% = $300. $2,050 – $300 = $1,750
|Subtract standard deduction…||$1,750 – $178 standard deduction for a 4-person household = $1,572|
|Subtract dependent care deduction…||$1,572 – $362 dependent care = $1,210|
|Subtract child support deduction…||$0|
|Subtract medical costs over $35 for elderly and disabled…||$0|
|Excess shelter deduction…||See below|
|Determine half of adjusted income…||$1,210 adjusted income/2 = $605|
|Determine if shelter costs are more than half of adjusted income…||$700 total shelter – $605 (half of income) = $95 excess shelter cost|
|Subtract excess amount, but not more than the limit, from adjusted income…||$1,210 – $95 = $1,115 net monthly income|
|Apply the net income test…||Since $1,115 is less than $2,146 allowed for 4-person household, this household has met the income test.|
Determine if your Net Monthly Income is Eligible
Now that you have your net monthly income, you can see if your income is eligible for California food stamp benefits. Use the chart and follow the steps below to determine your eligibility.
- Start by finding your household size on the chart.
- Once you have located your household size, look in the last column at the maximum net income for your household size.
- If the allowable net income is higher than your total net income, you may be eligible for California food stamp benefits.
- If the allowable net income is lower than your total net income, you may not be eligible for California food stamp benefits.
|Household size||Net monthly Income Limit|
Each additional member
If you have determined that your gross and net income are eligible for food assistance benefits and would like to know how much you can expect to receive, continue below.
How Much in Food Stamps will I get?
Once you determine you qualify for food stamps, you probably want to know how much in benefits your household will get on a monthly basis. See the chart below for details. You will find that the maximum benefits you can get is based on the number of people in your household.
|People in Household||Maximum Monthly Allotment|
|Each additional person||+$146|
Note: The allotments described here are for households in California
Check out the example for a SNAP benefit calculation below:
|Multiply net income by 30%… (Round up)||$1,115 net monthly income x 0.3 = 334.5 (round up to $335)|
|Subtract 30% of net income from the maximum allotment for the household size…||$646 maximum allotment for 4-person household – $335 (30% of net income) = $311, SNAP Allotment for a full month|
Exemptions to CalFresh Income Limits
If all members of your household are receiving TANF, SSI, or in some places general assistance, you do not have to meet the food stamps income test.
In addition, while most households must meet both the gross and net income tests, if you live in a household where there is an elderly person or a person who is receiving certain types of disability payments, then that household will only have to meet the net income test to qualify for California food stamps (SNAP Benefits).
How to Apply for CalFresh
There are 3 ways you can apply for food stamps in California.
Option 1 – Apply online
You can apply online through the California getcalfresh.org account (as shown in the image below). If you have an account, you can login or create your getcalfresh.org account. Click here to be taken to the website.
Option 2 – Apply at CDSS Office Near You
You can apply in person at the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) office near you. Click here to locate a CDSS office.
Option 3 – Download California Food Stamps Application
You can download an application, complete it, and mail it to your county CDSS office or submit it in person.
CalFresh Customer Service
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.
How long to get Approved for CalFresh?
Once you submit a complete application, your caseworker will schedule an interview with you 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.
What is the CalFresh EBT Card?
The California EBT Card, also called the Golden State Advantage card is used to administer your monthly benefits.
If you are approved for food stamps, your monthly food stamps allocation will be given to you each month on a California EBT Card, which works like a debit card.
What time is CalFresh EBT deposited in California?
Generally, your EBT payment is available at midnight on your payment date.
In the state of California, Food Stamps Benefits are deposited on EBT Cards over the first 10 days of every month. When your food stamps benefit is deposited on your EBT Card depends on the last digit of your case number. Here is the schedule of payment based on the last digit of your case number:
|If your Case Number ends in||Benefits are deposited on the|
|1||1st of the month|
|2||2nd of the month|
|3||3rd of the month|
|4||4th of the month|
|5||5th of the month|
|6||6th of the month|
|7||7th of the month|
|8||8th of the month|
|9||9th of the month|
|0||10th of the month|
CalFresh Food Stamps FAQs
Here are the most frequently asked California Food Stamps questions.
Who can receive CalFresh benefits?
You may be eligible to receive CalFresh benefits, whether or not you work, if you have a low income. See the income limit above for gross and net income requirements.
What can you purchase with CalFresh?
CalFresh can be used to buy any food or food product that is produced for human consumption. The exception to this is hot foods or lunch counter items prepared or heated in the store.
In addition, CalFresh benefits cannot be used to buy non-food items like soap, toilet paper, shampoo, alcoholic beverages and tobacco, vitamins or medicines, and pet food.
However, you can use your California SNAP EBT Card to purchase seeds and plants for use in home gardens to produce food.
Can SSI/SSP recipients get CalFresh?
As of June 1st, 2019, SSI/SSP recipients may be eligible to receive CalFresh in addition to receiving a monthly Social Security Disability benefit.
Can I get CalFresh just for myself if I live with my family or with others?
People who live together and purchase food and prepare meals together are grouped as a “household”. Husbands and wives and their children under age 22 must be one household.
Can I get CalFresh if I am not a United States citizen?
You may be eligible if you are a “qualified” noncitizen. This includes Permanent Legal Residents (holders of a green card), refugees, asylees (an individual who has been granted asylum), and individuals granted withholding of deportation or removal.
In addition, Cuban/Haitian entrants, individuals paroled into the U.S. for a least one year by immigration authorities, conditional entrants (temporary green card).
Furthermore, certain victims of domestic violence, victims of human trafficking (T visa), and applicants for U visa/interim relief are also eligible for CalFresh.
Can I get CalFresh if I am a college student?
Students, ages 18 through 49 enrolled in college or other institutions of higher education at least half time, students may be able to get CalFresh if they are:
- Physically or mentally unfit, or
- Working at least 20 hours per week, or
- Participating in a state or federally financed work-study program, or
- Participating in an on-the-job training program, or
- Receiving CalWORKs benefits, or
- Taking care of a dependent household member under the age of 6, or
- Taking care of a dependent household member over the age of 6 but under 12 and do not have adequate child care to be able to attend school and work a minimum of 20 hours, or take part in a state or federally financed work-study program, or
- Single parent enrolled full time in college and taking care of a dependent household member under the age of 12, or
- Enrolled in college as a result of participation in the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA), or the Job Opportunities and Basic Skill (JOBS) program under Title IV of the Social Security Act.
- Voluntarily participating in The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) or The Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS).
- Voluntarily participating in EOP, JOBS, DSPS, CARE, MESA, Puente, McNAIR, Former Foster Youth Programs, Cal Grant A&B that meet TANF requirements.
CalFresh Income Limits Summary
We hope this post on CalFresh Income Limits was helpful to you.
If you have additional questions or need help applying for CalFresh, leave those in the comments section below.
Be sure to check out our other articles about EBT, including California Food Stamps Card Replacement.