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101. Gross and net monthly income eligibility standards

In California the TANF program is called CalWORKs. Also, in California only, SSI recipients do not qualify for food stamps because they receive a so-called “cash out” of the value of food stamps as part of their monthly SSI benefits.  People who lost their SSI/SSP because of state budget cuts or the federal lifetime limit on refugees, who are in “suspend” status with Social Security, are not cashed out for CalFresh purposes, and are eligible, pursuant to a federal waiver.  ACL 11-46.  The waiver is valid from June 23, 2011 to June 22, 2012.

To establish threshold eligibility, food stamp “households” in general must meet both the gross and net income limits, set forth below. But application of these gross and net income eligibility thresholds differs, depending on whether members of the “household” are receiving welfare payments, or are “elderly” or “disabled.”

— If all members of the “household” are receiving some type of welfare cash assistance — e.g., Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), or cash general assistance or general relief — then the household is “categorically” eligible, regardless of its gross or net income.

— If the CalFresh household has any members who are elderly or disabled, no gross income test applies. MPP §63-409.112; 7 C.F.R. § 273.10(e)(ii)(2)(A) (compare to (2)(B), which also applies a gross income standard to non-aged/disabled households). Only the “100% of poverty” net income limits apply.

— If the household contains someone over 60, who meets a permanent disability standard, and cannot buy/prepare food separately because of the disability, that person (and his or her spouse) may still be a separate food stamps household. In this case, the income of the remaining household members (.e. excluding the aged/disabled individual/couple) must meet the “165% of poverty” gross income limit. MPP §63-402.17; 7 C.F.R. § 273.1(b)(2). The rules about applying the higher gross income limit are confusing, so be sure to read the section about the gross monthly income standards for households where an “elderly” or “disabled” member is a separate household. (Then take two aspirin and call us in the morning.)

— For everyone else, the gross income limit is 130% of the federal poverty level.

Once a household has cleared any relevant gross income test, the county will apply various deductions to determine net income. For all households, the total countable income must be less than the net income test. That test is based on 100% of the federal poverty level.

Still confused about when the gross and net income tests apply? Take a look at the gross-net income checklist that walks through, step-by-step, the various household combinations. Feel better?

For California-specific rules applicable to food stamp allotments, deductions and income limits, see the most recent All County Letter detailing current “cost-of-living” (COLA) adjustments in the California program, usually published each year in August or September.

The gross income limits in the chart below represent 130% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. They are for Nov. 1, 2013- Sept. 1 2014. ACIN I-52-13 (also setting out the limits for the month of Oct. 2013). The net income limits represent 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (loosely but incorrectly referred to as the “federal poverty level”) published each year in the Federal Register.

Household Size Gross Monthly Income Limit Net Monthly Income Limit
1 $1,245 $   958
2 $1,681 $1,293
3 $2,116 $1,628
4 $2,552 $1,963
5 $2,987 $2,298
6 $3,423 $2,633
7 $3,858 $2,968
8 $4,294 $3,303
Each additional person + $436 + $335
ACIN I-61-13 lists the latest 165% FPL chart for Households with an elderly or disabled member who would normally be a separate households but for the fact that they cannot buy and prepare their own food.  The household that helps them out must have income (excluding the income of the elderly or disabled member) below 165% of FPL.  (For October 2013, see ACIN I-52-13.)

There are separate income limits set annually for Disaster CalFresh (“D-SNAP”), listed in the table below.  For Nov. 1, 2013 – Sept. 30, 2014, see ACIN-I-63-13.

Household Size DISASTER GrossMonthly Income Limit
1 $1588
2 $1923
3 $2258
4 $2604
5 $2967
6 $3330
7 $3665
8 $4000
Each additional person +$335