CalFresh FAQs

Immigration

Will CalFresh affect my immigration status?


The federal government will no longer consider CalFresh as part of the public charge decision. If you get CalFresh, it does not hurt your chances of getting a green card or becoming a US Citizen. Applying for or getting CalFresh does not affect immigration status for you or your family. You cannot not lose your green card because you get CalFresh. Access additional information on public charge here.

The most recent version of the CalFresh public charge informational flyer can be downloaded by clicking here.




As a legal permanent resident, will my sponsor be affected? If I am approved, will they be responsible for paying back the amount of benefits I receive?


Some portion of a sponsor’s income and resources may be considered, or “deemed” to be available to the sponsored immigrant when he or she applies for certain public benefits, such as SNAP/CalFresh Food. You can find additional information about sponsors here.

A sponsor may be held responsible for paying back the use of certain “federal means-tested public benefits, include SNAP/CalFresh Food. However, sponsored immigrants rarely participate in those programs because most are not eligible to receive these federally-funded benefits for at least five years after becoming a lawful permanent resident (LPR). In addition, the government has not made enforcing sponsor liability a priority because it is a burdensome process and applies to only a small percentage of their cases. Find additional information about sponsor liability here.




If a grandparent without immigration status is the guardian of a grandchild that is a resident, can they apply on behalf of the children?


You have the right to apply for any eligible household members, including U.S. citizen children and spouses. If you or other household members do not have legal status, or do not wish to receive SNAP, you can exclude yourself from the SNAP application.





P-EBT

Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) FAQs Can Be Found Here


Please refer to the FAQs on the P-EBT website (scroll to the bottom of the page).





Emergency Allotments

When will I receive my emergency allotment?


Refer to the policy updates posted on the support website for current emergency allotment

release dates.




When will emergency allotments no longer be available?


These allotments are authorized on a month by month basis. We cannot say how long they will be available as they are subject to approval by the USDA.





CalFresh Eligibility

What is considered a CalFresh Household? Can each individual in a home sign up for CalFresh benefits?


For CalFresh purposes, a household is defined as an individual, couple, or family that purchases and prepares food together, meets certain income guidelines, and has U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency. If each roommate purchases and prepares food separately, each will be a household of one.




How do counties notify the client of their case status?


The county social services/human services agencies shall provide eligible households that complete the initial application process an opportunity to participate as soon as possible, but not later than 30 calendar days following the date the application was filed. However, in emergency situations a person/household may receive Expedited CalFresh benefits no later than the 3rd calendar day following the date the application is filed (Saturday and Sunday are considered 1 day). If you have not heard from your county on the status of your application, contact your county office.





Use of EBT Card

Can a spouse or other household member use the EBT card if it is not their name on the card?


No, but ask your county worker about setting up an Authorized Representative (AR), who will have access to your EBT food benefit and/or cash aid benefit account. They will have a separate card with his or her own account number and PIN. The EBT system is able to track which card is used to access your account.




Where can I use my EBT card?


Please refer to the retail locator here.

For resources about the online use of EBT, and a list of online retailers accepting EBT in California, go here.




What can be purchased with the EBT card?


Households CAN use CalFresh benefits to buy foods for the household to eat, such as:

  • Bread and cereals

  • Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.

  • Dairy products

  • Meat, fish and poultry; and

  • Fruit and vegetables

Households CANNOT use CalFresh benefits to buy:

  • Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco

  • Hot foods*

  • Food that will be eaten in the store

  • Any non-food items, such as: Vitamins and medicines, Household supplies, Soaps, paper products; and Pet foods.

*The exception is with the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP). The RMP is a program that gives certain people that are at a high risk for chronic hunger the option to use their CalFresh Food benefits to buy prepared meals at approved participating restaurant vendors. The RMP is available to older adults aged 60 or older, people with disabilities, and homeless persons, and their spouses. Find a map and list of participating Restaurant Meal Program vendors by county here.




What is the minimum benefit?


The current minimum benefit amount is $20.




How can I check if and when money is deposited?


Under the CalFresh Program, benefits are available on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card based on the last digit of the individual’s county case number. For example, if a case number ends in the number “5,” the day the benefits are available on the EBT card is the 5th day of each month. You can also refer to the CalFresh benefits deposit schedule here. You can set up an account with the CalFresh cardholder portal where you can log in and see your benefits deposits and account balance.





Misc.

Will CalFresh benefits be accepted outside of California?


The EBT card will work at any store or ATM that displays the Quest® symbol in California and the other 49 states in the United States, as well as the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. If you do not see the Quest® symbol, look for a sign that displays EBT, SNAP or Food Stamps. If you are unsure, ask the store manager. Currently, California EBT cardholders cannot use their EBT cards in Puerto Rico.




Are CalFresh benefits reported on taxes?


You do not need to report CalFresh on your tax return




If I am approved for CalFresh and my circumstances change, will I be required to pay back the benefits I received?


You must report mandatory changes (Questions 1 - 6) within 10 days of the time you learn of the change using the CalFresh Household Change Report. Changes that are mandatory to report include: Income, Household Composition, ABAWD information, Resource Changes, Address and Shelter Cost Changes, and Child Support Paid by Household. Other changes that can be reported using the Change Report include: Dependent Care Expense Changes, Medical Expenses, and Other Temporary Changes.




If I am mistakenly approved for CalFresh when I am actually not eligible, and benefits are used, am I required to pay that amount of money back?


An overissuance occurs when a household gets more CalFresh benefits than it should. When the CalFresh office finds the mistake it will re-calculate the correct amount. Then it will send the household a notice demanding it to pay back what was overpaid. The notice must include a budget that shows how the overissuance was calculated. The CalFresh office can recoup the overissuance by reducing benefits, by “offsets” (collecting the overissuance from benefits owed to the household), through installment payments, and by intercepting money owed to the family. More information can be found here.




Do CalFresh benefits affect SSI benefits?


No, CalFresh benefits do not affect SSI benefits.




Where can I locate a Release of Information Form (ROI)? Is the form available in multiple languages?


A CDSS generic template in English is available to download from our program support website on the Resources page under the "General Information/Resources" section. This template is only available in English. Each county may have preferred forms to use in multiple languages. Please contact your county to inquire about their preferred forms.





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