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Higher Gross Income Limit Provides Growing Opportunity to Increase CalFresh Participation

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9.07.2016 According to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Local Assistance Estimates for the FY 2016-17 state budget, the number of low-income households in California who are likely to enroll in CalFresh due to the state's adoption of Modified Categorical Eligibility (MCE) is predicted to rise substantially in FY 2016-17. CDSS estimates that the projected average monthly caseload enrolled in CalFresh through MCE will grow from 26,032 in FY 2015-16 to 36,752 for FY 2016-17, an increase of 41.2%.1

This means that households with gross incomes between 130% and 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), potentially eligible for CalFresh per the state's adoption of MCE, represent a growing opportunity to increase CalFresh participation, which at 66% continues to lag far behind the national average of 85%.2

Background: MCE Raises the Gross Income Limit for CalFresh

The 2014-15 State Budget included a provision to increase the gross income limit to 200% of the FPL for the TANF-funded service that confers categorical eligibility for all CalFresh households. Practically speaking, this change raised the CalFresh gross income limit from 130% FPL to 200% FPL. The net income limit of 100% still applies, except for households containing a senior or disabled member.

California can more effectively leverage this opportunity by:

  • Maximizing the use of allowable deductions;
  • Increasing dual enrollment among households eligible for both Medi-Cal and CalFresh.
  • Read the full analysis. PDF

    Access CFPA's CalFresh State Administrative Agenda. PDF

    Have questions? Please contact Jared Call at jared@cfpa.net or 213.482.8200 ext 201.


    1. [Local Assistance Estimates for the 2016-17 Governor's Budget, available at: http://www.dss.cahwnet.gov/cdssweb/entres/localassistanceest/Jan2016/EstimateMethodologies.pdf ]1

    2. [Cunnyngham, Karen. United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service, Reaching Those in Need: State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Participation Rates in 2013, available at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/ops/Reaching2013.pdf ]↩