A: It depends on your circumstances and if you think might be and you need food assistance you should apply.
As I am going to talk about CalFresh eligibility and I am an eligibility worker I need to stress that these are my opinions based on work experience and information available online. Any individual worker’s knowledge and information is limited and not necessarily correct or current so please take this into consideration while reading this piece.
The main determinate for eligibility to CalFresh for citizens is a concept known as “reasonably anticipated income“. In the case of furloughed workers, I’d argue that until the shutdown is over, furloughed workers no longer have a reasonably anticipated income.
Assuming this is true, if you apply today you could zero out the government worker’s income and only the other household income of other adults over 18 years old that you purchase and prepare food with would count in the CalFresh budget.
Once granted, you would remain eligible until your household goes over what is known as the Income Reporting Threshold which varies based on the number of people in your household as shown in the second column below. (source) These numbers are from 2016/17 and are slightly low but remain in the ballpark. For example today’s IRT for a HH of 1 is $1,316.
This means that you don’t have a reporting requirement until that day when your income within a calendar month goes above your household’s IRT. You then have 10 days to report the change to the County. This rather generous reporting rule means you might be eligible to a month or two of additional CalFresh benefits.
(BTW, the first column in the table above are monthly CalFresh benefits by household size if there is no income. Again these are from 2016 so they may not be exact to the dollar.)
Now, of course there is a huge problem with all of this. CalFresh benefits themselves may be running out as the shutdown continues. When this is going to happen is uncertain and I’d guess that once eligible to benefits, even if they could not be paid timely, you’d eventually receive these benefits. That additional influx of cash, even if not immediate, might be a welcome relief when Washington* gets its act together.
If you feel you may be eligible to CalFresh and you live in Humboldt County, the number to call is 1-877-410-8809 (weekdays 7:30 am to 5:30 pm) or you can apply online at c4yourself.com. You no longer have to come into the office during the application process but you will have to complete an interview over the phone (these generally require appointments) and the interviews usually will last less than an hour.
Notes: CalFresh benefits will begin as of the day you applied no matter when the granting process is completed. If the shutdown ends before CalFresh is granted, it is possible that your income would again be considered reasonably anticipated so make sure to be proactive in providing any verifications that might be required – these are generally (but not always) limited to income verification for CalFresh.
*Let’s be honest, it’s not Washington, it’s once Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and/or President Trump get their act together and stop playing the worst kind of politics based on decades of trumped-up fear immigration and immigrants from, revealingly, only one of our borders.