We are a statewide policy and advocacy organization dedicated to improving the health and well being of low income Californians by increasing their access to nutritious, affordable food.

New Report: Seniors and the CalFresh Medical Expense Deduction

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11.21.2016 Today, CFPA released a report that examines the current uptake of the excess medical deduction among senior and/or disabled CalFresh participants. The report estimates the impact that a higher rate of uptake would have on a typical household's average monthly benefit and on total benefits statewide.

Deductions Pie Chart


Applying allowable deductions often results in a lower net income for a household – which increases the likely benefit amount. In general, for every three dollars less in net income, there is roughly a one dollar increase in benefits, up to the maximum benefit allowed per household. Put simply, maximizing the use of medical expense deductions can increase CalFresh benefits and put more food on the table for low-income seniors and people with disabilities.

Unfortunately, the most recently available data (FFY 2014) show that only 12 percent of those eligible received the medical expense deduction (the vast majority of households with a senior or disabled member, more than 232,000 statewide, did not receive the medical expense deduction).

To increase CalFresh benefits and reduce food insecurity among low-income seniors and people with disabilities, state and county administrators should employ the following strategies to increase uptake of the medical deduction:

  • Optimize the use of a Standard Medical Deduction to reduce the burden of verifying all allowable expenses;
  • Utilize data-sharing with other means-tested programs like Medi-Cal and Social Security to simplify the application process;
  • Improve eligibility worker training on what types of expenses are allowed and what level of verification is required;
  • Tailor outreach activities specifically to seniors to overcome the stigma and misinformation sometimes associated with CalFresh.

  • Access the full report, Seniors and the CalFresh Medical Expense Deduction. PDF

    Read our two page summary of state strategies to increase CalFresh participation and benefits for seniors. PDF

    Learn more about efforts to improve CalFresh at CFPA's CalFresh page.

    Questions? Contact Jared Call at 213.482.8200 ext. 201