California Food Assistance Program expansion

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued policy regarding expansion of the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to cover persons age 55 or older regardless of their immigration status beginning October 1, 2025.

CFAP provides food benefits to some persons who would be eligible for CalFresh except for their immigration status. Examples of persons eligible for CFAP are Lawful Permanent Residents who have not resided in the United States for 5 years or worked at least 40 quarters, Parolees, Conditional Entrants, and Abused/Battered Noncitizens.

Examples of persons age 55 or over who will be eligible for CFAP after the expansion are undocumented persons, Temporary Protected Status holders, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) (when they reach age 55), Immigrant and non-immigrant Visa holders, Non-immigrants who are out of status, and Parolees who are ineligible for CalFresh.

CFAP policies align with CalFresh unless otherwise stated.

Currently, noncitizens can opt out of applying for CalFresh.  That process will remain the same, and household members who opt out are excluded from both CalFresh and CFAP.

CFAP recipients are eligible for five months of transitional benefits in the same way as CalFresh recipients are eligible for Transitional CalFresh.  For CFAP, that benefit is called Transitional CFAP.

For purposes of eligibility for Disaster CalFresh, CFAP recipients are treated the same way as any other persons who are not eligible for CalFresh.  CFAP recipients must apply for Disaster CalFresh.

CFAP recipients are eligible for replacement benefits under the same criteria as CalFresh households.

Student eligibility rules are the same for CalFresh and CFAP.

CalFresh sponsor deeming rules apply to CFAP except that for CFAP sponsor deeming applies only for 3 years following the date of signing of the sponsor’s affidavit of support.  Immigrants who are victims of abuse by their sponsor or sponsor’s spouse are exempt from sponsor deeming.

Waivers and/or demonstration projects from the federal government about CalFresh also apply to CFAP.

CFAP households can appoint authorized representatives to apply for benefits, complete required reporting, and/or use the EBT card to buy food.

CFAP applicants are not required to have a Social Security Number.  Noncitizens who do not answer whether or not they have Social Security Number are considered excluded household members.

Counties must request verification of immigration status for CFAP applicants from the federal SAVE system.  If the applicant does not have a verifiable immigration status in SAVE, or has an immigration status that is ineligible for CalFresh, the county evaluates the case for CFAP eligibility.

Effective October 1, 2025, work registration and Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents rules do not apply to CFAP.

Effective October 1, 2025, CFAP recipients who do not comply with CalWORKs Welfare to Work will no longer evaluated for a corresponding CFAP sanction.

When a household applies for CalFresh, any household members who are ineligible solely because of immigration status must be evaluated for CFAP.

The rules for verification are the same for CFAP as for CalFresh. Counties must use electronic verification methods to the greatest extent possible.

Receipt of CalFresh or CFAP is not considered when determining whether someone is a public charge.

Noncitizens must be residents of California to be eligible for CFAP.

All CalFresh rules regarding residents of shelters and institutions apply to CFAP.

For households that have both CalFresh and CFAP recipients, the CFAP amount is calculated by 1) calculating what the household would receive if all included members were eligible for CalFresh, 2) calculate the CalFresh allotment with the CFAP recipients treated as nonhousehold members or excluded household members, and 3) subtracting 1 and 2 to determine the CFAP amount.

When determining the amount of CalFresh benefits, count resources but not income or deductible for: Lawful Permanent Residents, Asylees; Parolees; people under withholding of deportation or removal; people who are aged, blind, or disabled and are admitted for temporary or permanent residence; and special agricultural workers admitted for temporary residence.  For these populations, any payment made by the excluded noncitizen to any member of the CalFresh household is counted as income.

For all other persons who are ineligible for CalFresh because of immigration status, count all but a prorated share of income and deductible expenses for the CalFresh household.

Applicants can apply for benefits under the CFAP expansion beginning September 1, 2025.  An informing notice will be sent to CalFresh and CFAP household with previously excluded household members age 55 or older at least 30 days prior to implementation of the CFAP expansion.  Counties must offer to add any newly eligible noncitizen household members at recertifications due in September, 2025.  Households may begin to request to add a previously excluded household member in September, 2025.  A new application is not required to add a newly eligible noncitizen to an existing CalFresh of CFAP household.

Beginning in September, 2025, if the county has contact with a household that contains excluded noncitizens, the county may offer to add any newly eligible noncitizens effective October 1, 2025. Counties must add newly eligible noncitizens mid-period on request.  Counties must add a previously excluded household member at semi-annual report.

Ongoing households may have changes in immigration status that impact eligibility for CalFresh or CFAP.  Change in immigration status is not a mandatory midperiod report.  Changes in immigration status that are reported mid-period are evaluated in the same way as any other mid-period report, that is, they are processed only if they will increase benefits.

For households that are receiving Transitional Nutrition Benefits or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance benefits, a new CalFresh application for recertification is required when there is a change in household composition.  However, adding a new CFAP eligible member to the household mid-period or at semi-annual report does not change the household’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance benefit.  A household’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance benefit does not change when a household members changes from CalFresh to CFAP.  (ACL 23-57, June 29, 2023.)

California Food Assistance Program overissuances

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance about new policies for overissuances in the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP).  CFAP provides state funded food benefits for certain non-citizens who are ineligible for CalFresh because of their immigration status.  Effective October 1, 2025, CFAP will expand to cover persons age 55 or older regardless of their immigration status.

Beginning October 1, 2025, for mixed households, that is, households with some members who receive CalFresh and other who receive CFAP, CalFresh and CFAP overissuances must be calculated, established, and collected separately from each other.  Counties must create separate recovery accounts, and must send separate overissuance notices for each program.  Counties must apply the current overissuance collection threshold to each claim.  Collection will be at the appropriate rate (5% or $10 for administrative errors, 10% for inadvertent household errors) for the CalFresh and CFAP claims individually.

Effective October 1, 2025, benefit reduction to collect an overissuance must correspond to the program.  CalFresh benefits will not be used to recoup a CFAP overissuance and visa versa.  If a household that has collection by benefit reduction changes from CalFresh to CFAP or visa versa, the household must sign a new repayment agreement to change the source of recoupment.

Effective October 1, 2025, counties must submit CFAP overissuances to the Franchise Tax Board for collection.  However, if the current or former CFAP household member does not have a Social Security Number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), counties do not submit the overissuance to the Franchise Tax Board.  (ACL 23-73, September 6, 2023.)

Changes to CalFresh Notices of Action

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued changes to three CalFresh Notices of Action: the Notice of Approval (CF 377.1), the Notice of Denial or Pending Status (CF 377.1A), and the Notice of Change for Semi-Annual Reporting Households (CF 377.4 SAR).

All three forms have been revised to 1) add a budget, 2) an explanation of both CalFresh and the California Food Assistance Program (food benefits for certain non-citizens who are lawfully in the United States but are ineligible for CalFresh because of immigration status), 3) a non-discrimination statement, and 4) a new denial reason that the applicant is ineligible for both CalFresh and the California Food Assistance Program.  Applicants who are found to be ineligible for CalFresh must be evaluated for California Food Assistance Program eligibility before being denied.

The CF 377.1 and CF 377.4 SAR have been revised to add a statement of the amount of the household’s Income Reporting Threshold, that is, the income level above which income changes must be reported in between semi-annual report or annual recertification.

The CF 377.1 has been revised to include a list of eligible persons, a list of individuals found to be ineligible, and the reasons for their ineligibility.

Automation is expected within 12 months of the release of this letter, but no later than October 1, 2025.  Counties must begin using the new revised notices when automation is completed. (ACL 23-79, September 29, 2023.)