CalFresh Food Debit Card Now Available to Seniors Receiving SSI/SSP Benefits


Last updated 8/11/2019 at 3:57pm | View PDF

On June 1, the CalFresh food program in Tulare County and statewide expanded to serve qualifying individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP) benefits. Participation does not change or reduce SSI/SSP benefits.

"A tremendous change in legislation means we can now provide CalFresh benefits to SSI recipients for the first time," said Vienna Barnes, deputy director of Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency (HHSA), TulareWORKs. "The change helps individuals and families to stretch their budgets to buy nutritious food."

People who receive SSI/SSP may apply online at or in person at a local county office. A list of local county offices can be found at or

CalFresh expects to serve an estimated 7,400 newly eligible SSI recipients in Tulare County, and HHSA has supports in place to help older adults and individuals with disabilities who receive SSI navigate applying for CalFresh benefits.

The CalFresh application process includes:

1. Complete an application online or in person.

2. Complete an interview by phone or in person (when requested by household).

3. Provide proof of income and expenses, if necessary.

4. County determines eligibility within 30 days or less (three days if very low resources).

5. If eligible, CalFresh benefits are issued through an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card.

Households that already receive CalFresh and currently have an excluded member receiving SSI do not need to re-apply or contact the county; those households can expect to be contacted by the county at their next report date.

Additional state-funded nutrition benefits may be available to those currently in CalFresh households who experience a drop in CalFresh benefits due to counting the SSI income in the CalFresh case. Clients may contact county offices to ask questions or report changes at any time.

CalFresh food benefits enable individuals and families to afford nutritious food via an EBT debit card that can be used at grocery stores and farmers markets that accept EBT. Food benefits for one person range from $15 to $192 per month, for older adults and people with disabilities. Tulare County currently serves about 47,900 families through CalFresh.

SSI is a needs-based program that provides a monthly benefit to individuals who are blind, elderly or have a disability. For disabled people who have never worked or those who haven't worked enough in recent years to qualify for Social Security disability insurance, SSI may be the only program available to them.

For more information, call 1-800-540-6880.


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