Medi-Cal

What kind of benefit is Medi-Cal?

The federal Medicaid program in California is known as Medi-Cal. This program pays for a variety of medical services for qualifying recipients at no or very low cost to those recipients. Services are usually managed through a private insurer contracted by the state; these insurers deliver services through approved providers in each county.

How is eligibility for Medi-Cal determined?

Seniors, adults, and children can qualify for Medi-Cal when their modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) income does not exceed 138% of the federal poverty level for that household size. MAGI is the total income from all income sources minus any MAGI-related deductions, which are determined by the IRS.

Significant vision impairment and disability, as well as pregnancy or refugee status, are contributing factors when determining eligibility. Legal U.S. citizenship or residency as well as residency in the state of California are also prerequisites. 

Children receiving Kin-GAP benefits are eligible for Medi-Cal while they reside in California. Caregivers who are already enrolled and receiving benefits from other public assistance programs will be categorically eligible for Medi-Cal. Children in foster care and receiving Medi-Cal at the time they turn 18 remain eligible until the age of 26. Children in foster or kinship care may receive specialized Medi-Cal services based on their specific needs or disabilities.

How do I apply for Medi-Cal?

California’s Medicaid application can be completed online via the Covered California Website and in person at any county social services office. Applicants who prefer a printable version can access the mail-in streamlined application.

WIC

What kind of benefit is WIC?

Like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as CalFresh in California), the Women, Infant and Children Program (WIC) provides qualifying households food benefits and other nutritional services.

How is eligibility for WIC determined?

Eligibility for WIC depends on a combination of income, age, and the pregnancy or post-natal status of a parent. The pregnant or nursing parent and any children under the age of 5 can all receive benefits if their income falls below the established threshold for that household size. 

Certain exemptions may reduce a household’s countable income so that they can fall below this threshold, but these exemptions are conditional and may be subject to frequent changes. Households whose gross income may be near or just above the threshold can still apply and speak to representatives of their local WIC office to discuss potential eligibility exemptions.

Children in foster care are considered an income household of one when applying for benefits for a foster child under the age of 5; likewise, income from a foster child is not counted if the foster family applies for WIC benefits of their own. 

Children under legal guardianship with a relative or non-relative caregiver may be counted as a member of the caregiver’s household, instead, and any income that child receives may also impact the eligibility of the rest of the household.

How do I apply for WIC?

Applicants interested in WIC need to apply in person at their local WIC office. You can search for the nearest office on the WIC Clinic Search site.

CalWORKs

What kind of benefit is CalWORKs?

Known federally as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), California’s state version of this program, Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs), supplements the needs of qualifying families and children with monthly cash assistance and provides other supportive or essential services. Because it is temporary, there is both a maximum monthly amount and a lifetime maximum amount of benefits an applicant can receive.

How is eligibility for CalWORKs determined?

Eligibility for CalWORKs generally depends on the applicant’s relationship to the child(ren) in their home. In homes where one or both parents provide support and care, the principal earner’s unemployment status is a major determining factor.

Other program requirements can also include the applicant’s Tribal eligibility or citizenship status and either their age or the age of the child(ren) in their home. The household or child(ren)’s available earned and unearned income, assets, and other resources may also be included in measuring eligibility and benefit payment. 

When a parent’s support or care cannot be provided due to absence, disability, or death, then families who provide that support and care may be eligible for assistance payments for the child(ren). However, this eligibility may be reevaluated based on the biological or legally established relationship of those caregivers to the child(ren). Eligibility standards and benefit rates can differ between counties. 

Kinship children in the care of relative legal guardians who do not qualify for transition into the Kin-GAP program may still be eligible to receive “child-only TANF” CalWORKs benefits. In foster care or kinship households with needy legal guardians, whether they are related or not, those adults can still apply for CalWORKs for themselves. They are also exempt from self-sufficiency activities when that time is necessary for the care of kinship children, instead.

How do I apply for CalWORKs?

CalWORKs operates in all counties of California; your county’s welfare department is in charge of processing applications and answering questions.You can apply online through the state’s e-benefits website or check California’s Department of Social Services list of county offices for your closest location to apply in person.

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