Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What Is CalFresh?
CalFresh is California's version of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that provides assistance for households to purchase nutritious food. The program uses Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) to allow recipients to buy food (including seeds and seedlings to grow food) at retail stores and farmers markets using a plastic debit card. Visit the Official California CalFresh Site.
- What is Expedited Service (Expedited CalFresh / Emergency CalFresh)?
- Your household’s monthly gross income (income before deductions) is less than $150 and your cash on hand or in checking or savings accounts is $100 or less or
- Your household’s housing costs (rent/mortgage and utilities) are more than your monthly gross income and cash on hand or in checking or savings accounts or
- You are a migrant or seasonal farmworker household with less than $100 in checking or savings and 1) your income stopped, or 2) your income has started but you do not expect to get more than $25 in the next 10 days or
- You are a resident of a domestic violence shelter or are on the waiting list for a domestic violence shelter
Emergency Food Resources – click here for a list of emergency food resources.
- What if I disagree with the County’s decision about expedited CalFresh?
If the County decides that you do not meet the expedited services criteria and you disagree, you can ask for request a face-to-face meeting with an eligibility supervisor to talk about whether your household meets expedited services criteria. We will schedule the meeting within two working days unless you need a later appointment or we cannot contact you to schedule the meeting. If we can’t reach you, we will keep processing your application.
- What are the income requirements for CalFresh?
CalFresh looks at gross income (before taxes), program deductions, and certain household expenses. An eligibility specialist will talk to you about your income and help you identify allowable expenses.
CalFresh Income Eligibility Standards for Federal Fiscal Year 2023
Effective October 1, 2022 – September 30, 2023
HOUSEHOLD SIZEGross Monthly Income (200% of FPL)Gross Monthly Income (130% of FPL)Net Monthly Income (100% of FPL)1 $2,148 $1,396 $1,1332 $2,904 $1,888 $1,5263 $3,660 $2,379 $1,9204 $4,418 $2,871 $2,3135 $5,174 $3,363 $2,7066 $5,930 $3,855 $3,1007 $6,688 $4,347 $3,4938 $7,444 $4,839 $3,886Each additional member +$758 +$492 +$394
- Do I have to be on Public Assistance to be eligible to receive CalFresh?
No. Many recipients of CalFresh are employed, elderly or disabled who need assistance purchasing nutritional food.
- How long does it take to receive CalFresh benefits?
The county will process your application as fast as it can. You may be eligible to receive CalFresh within 3 days if you meet the expedited services criteria. Otherwise, you will have benefits no later than 30 days from the date the office received your application.
A household qualifies for expedited service if it:
- Has less than $150 in monthly income and less than $100 in liquid resources (cash, savings, or checking); or
- Has housing costs that are more than its monthly income and liquid resources; or
- Is a migrant or seasonal farm worker who is destitute.
- What foods can I buy with CalFresh?
Households can use CalFresh to buy any food or food product for human consumption as well as seeds and plants for use in home gardens to produce food. Households cannot buy:
- Alcoholic beverages and tobacco
- Lunch counter items or food to be eaten in the store
- Vitamins and medicines
- Pet food
- Any non-food items such as soaps, paper products, and household supplies.
- I am a single adult without dependents; can I apply for CalFresh benefits?
- What if I have a bank account, own a home or have a car?
Most resources including cars, cash, and bank accounts are not counted in the CalFresh Program. An eligibility worker can answer any other question you have.
- What if I’m not a US Citizen?
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) guidelines permit immigrants and their children to use certain non-cash benefits and special purpose cash benefits without affecting their immigration status including:
- Medi-Cal (Unless you use these services to pay for long-term care i.e. long-term nursing home care)
- Healthy Families
- Emergency Medical Assistance
- WIC (Women, Infants and Children)
- Job Training Programs
- Foster Care and Adoption Assistance
- Non-Cash benefits funded under CalWORKs
- Emergency Disaster Relief
- Testing & Treatment of Communicable Diseases
- One time emergency payments under CalWORKs
- Prenatal Care
- County Health Programs
- Nutrition Programs
- Housing Assistance
- Energy Assistance
- Educational Assistance
- Child Care Services
- Transportation Vouchers
Some of the above programs may provide cash benefits. The purpose of such benefits is not for income maintenance but rather to avoid the need for on-going cash assistance for income maintenance; therefore, they are not subject to public charge consideration. Important Notice to Immigrants
- What does the application process look like?
The Application Process
Step 1: Complete and turn in an application. You can apply online at BenefitsCal.com, mail it, fax it or drop it off in person at any office.
Mailing address for all offices:
Self Sufficiency Services
2751 Napa Valley Corporate Drive
Napa CA 94558
- Napa – 2751 Napa Valley Corporate Drive, Building A
- Napa (Comprehensive Services for Older Adults) – 650 Imperial Way
- American Canyon - 4381 Broadway, Suites 100 and 101
- Calistoga - 1705 Washington Street
Step 2: Have an interview (usually on the phone but it can be in person if you want).
Step 3: Turn in any proof we need. You can upload it to BenefitsCal, mail it, fax it, or drop it off in person at any office (see Step 1 for addresses).
Step 4: The Eligibility Specialist sees if you are eligible for benefits. If you are, benefits are added to your EBT card. You can get a new card in the office or by mail if you need one.
- What happens if I have a lottery or gambling win?
Once you are receiving CalFresh, you have to report substantial winnings within 10 calendar days of receiving the winnings. This mid-period reporting requirement is in addition to existing mid-period reporting requirements. Your household will lose CalFresh benefits if the winnings are considered substantial. You can reapply any time after being discontinued.
Substantial lottery winnings are a cash prize won in a single game, purchase of a ticket, hand, or similar bet, which is at least $3,750 before taxes or other withholding.
- Do I have to have children to be eligible to CalWORKs?
Yes. In order to qualify for CalWORKs you must be the parent and/or caretaker relative of:
- A child under the age of 18 years old
- A child aged 18 who will graduate high school by their 19th birthday
- An 18 year old disabled child or a child with an IEP who will not graduate by their 19th birthday
- An unborn child and you are in your second trimester of pregnancy and you are 19 years old or older
- An unborn child and you have proof you are pregnant, at any point in your pregnancy, and you are under age 19.
- Do I have to be a US citizen to be eligible?
No, CalWORKs recipients must either be U.S citizens or have legal alien status.
- What if I have a cash emergency?
If you have a cash emergency, you may apply for an Immediate Need payment when you apply for CalWORKs. Tell your Eligibility Specialist if you have an emergency.
Immediate Need payments may be available to families in emergency situations while the CalWORKs application is being processed. The maximum immediate need payment is $200. If you are apparently eligible for the CalWORKs program, you may be eligible for an Immediate Need Payment, within 24 hours, based on an emergency situation that may include, but is not limited to the following:
- Lack of housing
- Pending eviction
- Lack of food
- Utility shutoff notice
- Clothing needs
- Other immediate health and safety issues
For more information, contact your worker or call 707-253-4511.
- Do I have to have children to be eligible for the Welfare to Work program?
Yes, you must be in receipt of CalWORKs / TANF benefits to be eligible for the program. See CalWORKs to find out more information about eligibility requirements. For more information, contact your worker or call 707-253-4511.
- What if I am told I have to participate but I am unable to?
You may qualify from an exemption from the program. There are many reasons someone could be exempt. Some of those reasons include:
- Mental or physical disability that will last longer than 30 days
- Caring for an Ill or Incapacitated Member of the household
- Being pregnant and the pregnancy impairs your ability to participate
- Victim of domestic violence
- Having a child aged 0 to 23 months old (once in a lifetime exemption)
If you feel that you have one of the above reasons or would like to discuss a reason not listed with your worker, contact your Employment Services Worker to request an exemption or turn in an Exemption Request form. Your Employment Services Worker will discuss the issues with you and may require additional verification of your claim. For more information, contact your worker or call 707-253-4511.
- If I get a job, how will what I earn affect my benefits?
CalWORKs can still help you, even if you become employed. Working families receive certain deductions from their earnings, so they may still qualify for cash aid. Some people choose to stop their case if they make enough to reduce their grant substantially, so they can save their “Once-in-a-lifetime” 48 months Time Limits for future emergencies. Even if you are no longer eligible to CalWORKs, or choose to stop your case, you may still receive CalFresh and Medi-Cal for your family. You may also qualify for Job Retention Services. Ask your Employment Services Worker for more information.
Now that you have earnings, you may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. View more information.
Learn more about how Work Pays!
- What happens if I do not participate?
If for any reason, you do not do what Welfare to Work (WTW) requires, the following steps will be taken.
You have the chance to explain why you did not meet your WTW requirements. Your Employment Services Worker will then decide if you had a good reason.
Your family’s cash aid will be lowered if:
- You fail or refuse to meet WTW requirements without a good reason
- You do not resolve the problem by signing and completing a plan to do what is required
For more information, contact your worker or call 707-253-4511.
- How do I cure my sanction?
You need to request to cure your sanction from your Employment Services Worker either verbally or in writing by completing and turning in the Welfare to Work (WTW) 31 - Request to Stop a WTW Sanction. Your Employment Services Worker will then meet with you to discuss your plan and required activities to lift your financial sanction.
- What will I do with my children while I am participating?
When you are enrolled in WTW, you are eligible for assistance with child care, transportation, and other expenses. You have the freedom to choose your own child care provider. Our child care referral agency is Community Resources for Children (CRC). This agency can provide you with a list of licensed child centers and family day care homes. This is a referral service only. You will need to discuss your child care needs with your Employment Services Worker. If you have a unlicensed friend or family member in mind to provide child care, this may be possible. Please review the TrustLine brochure to obtain more information and work with your case manager and CRC to ensure this is an allowable and good fit. For more information, contact your worker or call 707-253-4511.
- I need help with mileage or transportation to participate in my activity; can I get help with this?
Bus tokens or passes are available to any participant who needs help getting around. Mileage may also be available if you own or have use of a vehicle. Contact your Employment Services Worker to discuss your transportation needs.
For more information, contact your worker or call 707-253-4511.
- I have recently moved to Napa County. How can I get my case transferred to Napa County so I can continue to receive benefits?
When you move to Napa County from a different county it is important that you contact a case worker in your prior county or Napa County within 10 days to report your address change and request an Inter-County Transfer (ICT).
If you have moved to Napa County from another state, you will need to begin the application process. You may do this by applying online at www.benefitscal.com, calling our contact center at 707-253-4511, or coming into our office at 2751 Napa Valley Corporate Drive, Building A, Napa CA.
- Will I still be eligible for an Inter-County Transfer if my case was closed before I moved to Napa?
Your case must be active in your prior county to be considered for an Inter-County Transfer of your case.
If your case is not active in the prior county, you will need to begin the application process. You may do this by applying online at www.benefitscal.com, calling our contact center at 707-253-4511, or coming into our office at 2751 Napa Valley Corporate Drive, Building A, Napa CA.
- I have moved out of Napa County; how do I transfer my case to my new County?
You need to inform your worker in Napa County or a worker in your new county within 10 days to report your address change. You can do this online at www.benefitscal.com or by calling 707-253-4511.
Once you have reported that you have moved to your new County, your worker will initiate an Inter-County transfer to your new county. Please watch for information from your new county and submit any verifications that they need. You will receive a notice once you start receiving benefits in the new county.
- What should I do if I have a renewal or a semi-annual report due?
If you are receiving CalWORKs or CalFresh and have a Semi-Annual Report (SAR7) or an Annual Renewal due in your prior county, you must turn in the documents to your prior county to be considered for an Inter-County Transfer to Napa County. If you have any questions, contact your worker in your prior county.
If you are receiving Medi-Cal only and your renewal is due at the time of your move, you should return it to the county that sent it to you.