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CalWORKs

California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids, also known as CalWORKs, provides temporary financial assistance and employment-focused services to families with minor children whose income and property are below State maximum limits for their family size. In California, cash aid is restricted to a four-year lifetime limit for most aided adults, which includes aid received in other States; however, aid continues for the eligible children. CalWORKs customers who become employed and whose income from earnings exceeds the amount allowed to continue receiving cash assistance may continue to receive ongoing CalFresh benefits, Medi-Cal coverage, and child care and transportation services.

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Initial Qualifications
Famiy of four eating at a table.

Basic Eligibility Requirements

You may qualify for CalWORKs if you:

  • Live in California and plan to stay;
  • Are a United States citizen or immigrant who has been given permission to live in the United States;
  • Have an eligible child(ren) and/or you are pregnant and;   
    • One or both parents do not live in the home, are no longer living, or are disabled; or
    • Both parents are living in your home, but the person who makes the most money is either not working less than 100 hours per month at the time your family applied for CalWORKs.
    • Have a Social Security Number or have applied for one;
    • Show that the money from your job that you take home each month is less than the maximum aid payment for your family size.  (See the CalWORKs Fact Sheet within the Additional Resources tab.)

Note:  The maximum aid payment is the amount of money that a CalWORKs customer can get for his/her family size.  (See the CalWORKs Fact Sheet within the Additional Resources tab.)

  • Have less than $10,000 in cash, bank, accounts and other resources ($15,000 if disabled or 60 years or older);
  • Give proof of immunizations for all children under the age of six;
  • Follow child support rules, unless you have a reason that is okay to not do this;
  • Participate in Welfare-to-Work activities; and
  • Complete:
    • 20 hours each week of Welfare-to-Work activities for adults who are not married with children under six years old;
    • 30 hours per week for single adults with no children under six years old; and
    • 35 hours each week for two-parent families (hours may be added together for both parents). 

Note:  Effective June 1, 2020, the CalWORKs Earned Income Disregard changed from $225 to $500.  $500 of the  family's earnings or disability-based income will not be used to determine the CalWORKs grant. 

Property and Resources
 Happy family posing for the camera together outside of their home.

If you have cash, bank accounts, a home or vehicles, here’s what you must know.

There are limits to the amount of cash that you can have.  As a CalWORKs applicant or customer, you will have a property limit of $10,000 (cash on hand, savings, stocks, etc.) or $15,000 if someone in the household is disabled or is age 60 years or older. 

You may keep vehicles that have an equity value of $25,000 or less.  Equity is the amount of the Fair Market Value of the vehicle less the amount owed on the vehicle, if any.  Any equity value more than the $25,000 limit will be counted towards the property/resource limit.

If the County agrees, you may also save money in a restricted bank account in which money can be used to buy a home, start a business or pay for college or job training for a household member.  Some resources that do not count include: 

  • A home, if your family lives in it;
  • Personal and household items such as furniture, appliances, computers, etc.;
  • Tools needed for employment (trade/profession); 
  • Vehicles in the home which ownership has been given to you as a gift/donation or family transfer;
  • A special restricted saving account(s) to be used for education/training, business or to buy a home;
  • Federal relocation and disaster relief benefits; and
  • Property, if you own it with someone else.  Only your share counts.  
Apply On-Line with Your Benefits Now

The easiest and quickest way is to apply for CalWORKs online at Your Benefits Now.


Apply By Phone
You can apply by phone. Call the Customer Service Center (CSC) (866) 613-3777 to have an application mailed to you.

Apply In Person
You can apply In person at any Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) District Office or outreach site.

Due to COVID-19:

  • Applying by phone is temporary; and
  • Applying in person is temporarily suspended
Immunizations
Doctor holding stethoscope

If you have children who are not in school and are under the age of six, here’s what you must know.

You must show proof that all children not in school and under the age of six have all immunizations within 30 days from the date your application is approved.  You will receive a smaller amount of cash aid if you do not show proof of immunizations.

Child Support
Adult holding child's hand while walking down the street.

You must follow Child Support Services Department (CDSS) rules to get child support for the children and from any parent who is not in the home, unless the rules show that the parent who is not in the home does not have to follow the rules.  Families getting cash aid will get to keep $50 of the monthly child support money for each month the parent who is not in the home pays on time. If you do not fully follow the CSSD’s rules, you may have a 25 percent reduction in aid, unless there is a reason it is okay to not do so.  You must also give child support rights to the County or give the County the right to collect support from the other parent who does not live in the home. If you do not give support rights, you will get a smaller amount of cash aid each month.