Beginning in summer of 2019, seniors in California who receive Social Security Income (SSI)/State Supplemental Payment (SSP) benefits will also be able to apply for CalFresh food benefits. California had been the only state in the nation to exclude SSI/SSP recipients from receiving food stamps. This new law will help reduce hunger and poverty among California’s seniors.
The CalFresh food program is California’s largest social service program to help relieve hunger and malnutrition in the state. Over 4 million California residents receive an average of $130 per month to purchase food. With this change in the law, eligible seniors will be able to receive a monthly CalFresh food benefit to help meet their basic needs. Importantly, the receipt of CalFresh benefits will not count as income or resources for the purposes of calculating SSI/SSP benefits.
There are two kinds of households who will be affected by the change in the law:
- New CalFresh Household: These are SSI/SSP recipients who either live alone or live in a household where no one currently receives CalFresh benefits. These individuals must apply to receive CalFresh benefits. The vast majority of those affected by this new law live in these households.
- Existing CalFresh Households: These are SSI/SSP recipients who live with others who already receive CalFresh benefits. The SSI/SSP recipient’s income will be counted when calculating how much the household receives. If adding the new SSI/SSP recipient to the household’s calculation for CalFresh benefits leads to a reduction or loss of the household’s CalFresh benefits, the household may receive new state funded Supplemental Nutrition Benefits or Transitional Nutrition Benefits to make up for the loss.
For questions regarding the new law, contact CalFreshSSI@dss.ca.gov.
Note that every county administers the program a little differently, so you need to check with your local CalFresh office. Not sure how to apply in your county? You can dial 211 and ask how to apply for CalFresh in every county.