Getting food stamps for the first time:
In general, in order to get CalFresh food stamps (SNAP) in California, you must meet the general Federal eligibility requirements, which include:
- You must have a Social Security Number or apply for one.
- You must be a U.S citizen, U.S. national, or have qualified alien status.
- You must register for work if between the ages of 18 and 60, which may include an employment training program. (Some college students may be eligible as well.)
Some people may qualify that don’t meet all these requirements, so you are not immediately disqualified if you don’t.
Those are just the basics, of course. Food stamps are meant for those with low income. So, even if you meet the requirements above, the biggest requirement is that your household’s income be below certain levels, namely less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Level based on the number of people in your home. See this chart for exact income numbers.
Like everything else in life, there are many exceptions to the general rules, such as differences for older Americans and people with disabilities.
So, if you believe you may qualify for food stamps, don’t just make that determination on your own — apply for the program and have someone from the state make an official decision. You can apply:
- Online at http://www.benefitscal.org/
- By downloading this application online, printing it and filling it out, and bringing it to your local County Welfare office.
Already part of the SNAP food stamps program?
- See California EBT Card Balance for information on checking your EBT balance and reaching EBT customer service by phone.