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What Income is Excluded for CalFresh Eligibility?

What Income is Excluded for CalFresh Eligibility? Is there a maximum income for California SNAP benefits? What deductions are allowed? What income do I have to report to CalFresh? If you are applying for CalFresh and have these questions and more, we can help. In this post, we will provide a list of income that is not counted for CalFresh eligibility.

In addition, we will answer the most frequently asked questions about the CalFresh application process and the three ways you can apply for benefits.

Table of Contents:

  • What is CalFresh?
  • Is there a Maximum Income for CalFresh
  • What Income is Excluded for CalFresh?
  • CalFresh Application FAQs

What is CalFresh?

CalFresh is a nutrition program that can help low-income individuals and families purchase healthy foods.

CalFresh provides monthly financial assistance on a debit-like card known as an EBT card. If approved, your benefits will automatically be added to your account each month.

The amount of benefits you can receive is dependent on your family size, countable income, and monthly expenses such as housing & utilities.

The EBT card can be used at most grocery stores, discount chains, farmer’s markets, and neighborhood stores.

Is there a Maximum Income for CalFresh?

Yes. the maximum gross income allowed for CalFresh is 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

Additionally, the maximum net income allowed for CalFresh is 100% of the FPL.

For 2021/2022, the CalFresh maximum gross income limit starts with a monthly income of $2,148 per month for a household of 1 and increases from there.

Also, the CalFresh maximum net income limit starts with a monthly income of $1,074 per month for a household of 1 and increases from there.

CalFresh eligibility is based on gross and net income determination tests for most households.

Gross income is all non‐excludable income from any source including both earned and unearned income.

Net income is what you are left with after deductions are applied to your gross income. Income deductions are described in question 5.

The table below provides the complete CalFresh eligibility income limits by household size 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

What income is excluded from CalFresh?

The following are excluded (not counted) as income when deciding eligibility for CalFresh benefits:

  • “In-kind” income – which is benefits received other than cash – such as free housing, public housing, child care, Woman, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits, or food).
  • Earned income of a child under age 18 if the child is a student at least half-time. This exclusion also applies to a student attending GED classes.
  • Income of a student who turns 19 during the certification period is exempt during his or her birthday month and the following month.
  • The first $100 ($200 for households with two or more children) of child support payments passed through to a CalWORKs (TANF) household.
  • 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; or severance pay (unless paid out in regular installments) or vacation pay at termination of job, which should be treated as a lump sum.
  • Money that the household gets from private charities if it is less than $300 in any three months.
  • 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).
  • 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, and Stafford loans.
  • Federal and state work study income, including CalWORKs work study.
  • Tax credits and tax refunds. This includes the COVID-19 individual stimulus because the stimulus payments are indivudual tax rebates.
  • Lump sum funds are treated as a resource in the month received, not income, unless they regularly recur.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Child support payments that a household member is legally obligated to pay to an individual living outside the household.
  • Federal and State Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) payments.
  • Foster care payments received for foster child who are boarders, and not household members.
  • Certain veteran’s income payments, such as a clothing maintenance allowance, dislocation allowance, lump sum re-enlistment bonus.
  • 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.
    Independent Living Program (ILP). Income and incentive payments earned by a child 16 years of age or older who is participating in the ILP.
  • Payments received under the California Victims of Crimes Program.
  • Allowance for training expenses paid to recipients participating in California Department of Rehabilitation training programs.
  • Any award or scholarship provided to or on behalf of a dependent child based on the child’s academic or extracurricular activity.
  • 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.)
  • Money to spend on and care for someone who is not in the household.
  • 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.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits (the additional $300 of unemployment benefits because of COVID-19) issued between January 1, 2021 and September 6, 2021.
  • The Golden State Stimulus is considered a tax refund and is therefore not counted as income.
  • The $600 Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund payment issued on June 11, 2021.
  • COVID-19 financial support for families with children at risk of foster care.
  • Effective December 1, 2021, student loans and grants excluded for CalWORKs must also be excluded for CalFresh.
  • Effective December 1, 2021, payments from CalWORKs approved Guaranteed Income projects and pilots that are privately funded must also be excluded for CalFresh. CDSS will identify these projects.
  • Retroactive lump sum Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments.
  • Monies received and used for the care and maintenance of a third-party beneficiary who is not a household member.

CalFresh Application FAQs

Here are the most frequently asked questions about the CalFresh application process, including income eligibility.

What is the definition of a Household for CalFresh Eligibility?

For CalFresh eligibility, a household may be any one of the following:

  • An individual living alone.
  • An individual living with others but who buys food and cooks meals separately.
  • A group of individuals living together who buy food and cook meals together.
  • Parents living with their children 21 years old or younger (married or unmarried, with their own children or not).
  • Adult children (22 years or older) living with their parents can have a separate household if they buy and cook their meals apart from the parents.
  • A woman or a woman with children living temporarily in a battered woman’s shelter.

What are the CalFresh allowable deductions?

Deductions are allowable expenses that can be subtracted from the household’s monthly gross income to arrive at the net monthly income.

The net monthly income is used to determine eligibility and the amount of CalFresh benefits that will be received monthly.

CalFresh deductions include:

  • 20% deduction from earned income,
  • A standard deduction of $177 for households with 1-3 members,
  • Standard deduction of $184 for a household with 4 members,
  • A standard deduction of $215 for a household with 5 members,
  • Standard deduction of $246 for a household with 6 or more members,
  • Cost of child care when needed to work, seek work or attend training for work,
  • Medical expenses exceeding $35 for elderly or disabled household members,
  • Court-ordered child support payments paid to non-household members, and
  • A portion of shelter (rent or mortgage) and utility costs

How do I 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 benefitscal.com website.

Depending on your county of residence, you will be redirected to one of the following websites to apply:

MyBenefits CalWIN
YourBenefitsNow

Click here to get started with your online application for CalFresh.

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 the California Food Stamps Application

You can download an application, complete it, and mail it to your county CDSS office or submit it in person.

What Income is Excluded for CalFresh? Summary

We hope this post on answering the question – “What Income is Excluded for CalFresh?” was helpful.

If you have further questions about California SNAP or 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:
Emergency Allotment for CalFresh
Restaurants that Take CalFresh in San Diego County
CalFresh San Diego (2022 Guide)
Restaurants that Accept EBT in Los Angeles County
Does Trader Joe’s accept SNAP in California?
CalFresh for SSI/SSP Beneficiaries

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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