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What is Counted as Income for CalFresh?

What is Counted as Income for CalFresh and how what are the gross and net income limits for SNAP in California? What deductions are allowed? If you are applying for CalFresh and have these questions and more, we can help. In this post, we will explain what is considered income for CalFresh eligibility and answer questions regarding CalFresh eligibility income requirements.

Table of Contents:

  • What is CalFresh?
  • Is there a maximum Income for CalFresh?
  • What is Counted as Income 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 is Counted as Income for CalFresh?

The following will be counted as income when applying for CalFresh:

Earned income – which includes wages, self-employment (for example, driving for Lyft, delivering for Postmates, or owning your own business)

Unearned income: Social security (SSA, SSDI, SSI, SSP), military or veteran’s benefits, State Disability Insurance (SDI), spousal or child support, some stipends for former or current Foster Youth, unemployment insurance benefits.

CalFresh Application FAQs

Here are the most frequently asked questions about the CalFresh application process, including income eligibility and what is not counted as income.

Are there any types of income that aren’t counted for CalFresh eligibility?

Yes, there are certain types of income that are not counted when calculating gross or net
income. They are listed below:

  • In‐kind benefits (any gain or benefit that is not in the form of money – i.e. meals, clothing, housing provided by an employer, etc.)
  • Vendor payments (money paid to third party for a household expense by a person or organization outside of the household)
  • Deferred educational loans
  • Grants and scholarships
  • Cash donations from a charitable organization of not more than $300 in a calendar quarter
  • Income received too infrequently/irregularly to be reasonably anticipated but not more than $30 in a quarter.

Does CalFresh go by Gross or Net income?

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

Most CalFresh households, except those containing an aged (60 or older) or disabled member or where all members receive cash assistance, are subject to gross and net income determination tests.

Gross Income – all non-excludable income from any source including all earned income and all unearned income.

The maximum gross allowed is 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

Net income is computed by deducting the following, if applicable, from gross income.

The maximum net income allowable cannot exceed 100% of the FPL.

What Deductions Are Allowed under CalFresh for Net Income?

Deductions are expenses allowed under CalFresh that can be subtracted from the household’s monthly gross income to determine eligibility and the amount of CalFresh benefits.

CalFresh deductions include:

  • A portion of shelter (rent or mortgage) and utility/phone costs
  • Childcare expenses when needed to work, seek work, or attend training for work
  • Court-ordered child support payments paid to non-household members
  • Medical expenses exceeding $35 for elderly or disabled household members

Are you Eligible for CalFresh if you get other Public Assistance Benefits?

Yes. In California, 60 percent of CalFresh households also receive cash aid from other public assistance programs, like Medicaid and TANF.

However, there is a restriction that a household cannot participate simultaneously in the CalFresh Program and the Emergency Food Assistance Program.

Can those on SSI get CalFresh?

Yes. Older adults and adults with disabilities receiving SSI can apply for CalFresh. A new California law now allows SSI/SSP recipients to apply for CalFresh.

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

Older adults and people with disabilities receiving SSI may be eligible for CalFresh Food benefits beginning June 1st, 2019, and any time thereafter.

Also, there is NO CHANGE to the SSI/SSP monthly benefit.

See our guide on CalFresh for SSI recipients.

Are students in California Eligible for CalFresh?

Yes. Students can apply for CalFresh benefits if they meet eligibility requirements, including:

  • Working at least 20 hours per week and getting paid for it
  • Approved for some kinds of work-study programs
  • Participating in an on-the-job training program
  • Exerting parental control over a child under age 6
  • Exerting parental control over a child between age 6 and 12, and no childcare services are available
  • Receiving CalWORKS benefits
  • Exerting parental control over a child under age 12 and are a single parent attending school full time
  • Participating in the Educational Opportunity Program, College Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS), Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education (CARE) Program, UC McNair, Puente Project, or Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Program

See our guide on CalFresh for college students.

What is Counted as Income for CalFresh? Summary

We hope this post on answering the question – “What is Counted as Income for CalFresh?” 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
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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