CalFresh Benefits Available to Seniors & People with Disabilities on SSI as of June 1

CalFresh Benefits Available to Seniors & People with Disabilities on SSI as of June 1

Starting June 1, 2019, older adults and people with disabilities who receive Supplement Security Income (SSI)/State Supplementary Payment (SSP) will be able to receive CalFresh benefits. This expansion of benefits will significantly help put fresh, healthy foods on the table for our state’s most vulnerable populations, low-income seniors and people with disabilities receiving the federal monthly cash benefit SSI/SSP. The current average cash benefit is $130/person, though the exact amount varies depending on one’s individual situation.

 

This expansion of benefits means approximately 1.3 million additional people will qualify for CalFresh across the state. Some key points from our partner’s, Justice in Aging’s recent fact sheet on CalFresh include:

  • SSI/SSP benefits will NOT be reduced as a result of this change. The change simply means that someone is allowed to receive both SSI and CalFresh at the same time.
  • Many SSI recipients will need to affirmatively apply for CalFresh.
  • Households where some members already receive CalFresh may qualify for a new state-funded nutrition benefit in addition to or instead of the CalFresh benefit.

 

People who qualify for CalFresh can obtain a CalFresh electronic benefit card, which works similar to a credit or debit card. Each month, funds are added to purchase foods that the program considers healthy, such as: fruits, vegetables, beans, fish, poultry, meat, rice, bread, tortilla, cereals, milk, cheese and seed and plants for growing food. Funds cannot be used on alcohol, tobacco, pet food and prepared or hot foods, except in a handful of counties that offer restaurant benefits.

 

Also, CalFresh households with only seniors or people with disabilities and no earned income qualify for rules that make it easier to stay on CalFresh. These households are re-certified for CalFresh every 36 months (instead of every 12 or 24 months) and do not need to do a recertification interview.

 

All California residents can check their eligibility and apply for benefits at www.getcalfresh.org. You can also get application assistance at calfresh.dss.ca.gov/food/.

 

For more information, see:

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.