Eligibility Requirements

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You may be eligible for CalFresh if your income falls within certain limits.  See below for information on how income is calculated along with benefit amounts, requirements for applying, and how benefits are issued via an EBT Card.

Individuals who purchase and prepare food together are one household for CalFresh purposes and must have their eligibility determined as a group/household. There are situations where some individuals must be included in the same household regardless of how they buy and cook their food. Examples include parents and children under age 22, spouses, and adults exercising parental control over minors in the home.

Below are some of the basic CalFresh rules:

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  • Residency

    Must be a resident of San Diego County. Persons without a permanent residence or a fixed mailing address can get CalFresh as long as they are San Diego County residents.

  • Identity

    The identity of the person applying must be verified. Identity may be verified through a variety of documents, including but not limited to, Department of Motor Vehicles ID or driver’s license, work or school ID, voter registration card or birth certificate.

  • Citizenship Status

    U.S. citizens and many noncitizens are eligible for CalFresh. Even if some members of the household are not eligible, those who are may be able to get CalFresh benefits.

  • Social Security Numbers

    Individuals, including children, applying for CalFresh benefits, must either provide a Social Security Number or proof they have applied for a Social Security Number. Household members that are not eligible for CalFresh do not have to provide or apply for a Social Security Number.

  • Asset Limits

    Effective February 1, 2011, assets for most CalFresh applicants and recipients will not be considered or verified to determine eligibility to CalFresh.

  • Income

    CalFresh counts most types of income to determine if a household is eligible.

    Most households must have a total gross monthly income less than or equal to 200% of the federal poverty level, to be potentially eligible for CalFresh.

    • Gross monthly income means a household’s total income before excluding deductions allowed under the program.
    • Deductions are expenses that are subtracted from the household’s monthly gross income when determining eligibility and the amount of CalFresh benefits that will be received monthly.

    See the CalFresh Income Limits chart.

  • Deductions

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

    • 20% deduction from earned income,
    • Standard deduction of $198 for a household with 1-3 members,
    • Standard deduction of $208 for a household with 4 members,
    • Standard deduction of $244 for a household with 5 members,
    • Standard deduction of $279 for a household with 6 or more members,
    • Cost of childcare 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


  • Work Rules

    Most able-bodied adults without dependent children, between the ages of 18 and 50 must register for work or be working at least 20 hours per week or an average of 80 hours per month to receive CalFresh benefits.

    NOTE: Due to a federal waiver for the State of California, CalFresh recipients (except those receiving General Relief) are not required to meet the Work Rules stated above.


If you have any questions, call Access toll-free at 866-262-9881.