Do CalFresh benefits roll over? Here’s what you need to know to avoid problems with your CalFresh and SNAP benefits account.
What Are CalFresh Benefits?
CalFresh is a problem that ensures that low-income individuals and families in California have access to healthy food. It’s part of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), but it’s managed at the state and county levels.
CalFresh is the state’s most extensive food program. The program’s goal is to help state residents buy nutritious food. It’s not intended to provide an entire budget to those in need. Instead, the goal is to help them stretch their food budgets and afford healthy foods they might not otherwise have access to, which includes fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods.
Benefits are based on household income, monthly expenses, and other factors. Benefits are transferred to an EBT card every month and roll over monthly if unused. Recipients of CalFresh can use their benefits at grocery stores and farmers’ markets that accept EBT cards.
The CalFresh program includes:
- CalFresh Food
- CalFresh Healthy Living (SNAP-Ed)
- CalFresh Employment and Training (E&T)
- CalFresh Disaster Response
- CalFresh Restaurant Meals Program (RMP)
- California Food Assistance Program (CFAP)
- Emergency Food Programs Section (EFPS)
Who Is Eligible for CalFresh Benefits?
To qualify for CalFresh benefits, you must meet the following eligibility rules:
- Be a resident of California
- Have a current bank balance of less than $2001 or
- A current bank balance of less than $3,001 if you or someone in your household are 60 or over or a person with a disability
There are also household income requirements. You can calculate your eligibility for benefits based on your household income on the federal benefits page.
As of 2019, recipients of SSI/SSP are eligible to receive CalFresh benefits provided they meet other eligibility requirements.
Do CalFresh Benefits Roll Over?
If you don’t use all your benefits in one month, they roll over to the next month. However, this doesn’t mean they never expire. Benefits expire after 12 months.
If you fail to use your card for 135 consecutive days, California can block your access to benefits. If you have 180 days or more of inactivity, you must request reinstatement of your benefits. After a full year of inactivity, your benefits permanently expire.
What You Need to Know about CalFresh and the State’s Food Stamp Laws
CalFresh is California’s version of the federal SNAP benefits program. SNAP distributes money to each state, and then the state decides how to pass on the support to the state’s low-income residents.
California residents who qualify for SNAP/CalFresh benefits receive a Golden State Advantage EBT card. It can be used in any of the 50 states, but California funds it.
Remember that although CalFresh falls under the federal SNAP benefit program, there are differences. For example, SNAP benefits expire after nine months, but CalFresh benefits expire after approximately four and a half months.
If you’re searching for information about your benefits, refer to the CalFresh page, not the federal benefits page.
Benefits Roll Over for Up to 12 Months
Most individuals and families that use CalFresh EBT benefits to shop for groceries use up their benefits each month. In some cases, benefits are used before the end of the month, and recipients seek support from other sources
However, if you have benefits left over at the end of a month, you don’t lose them. They roll over to the next month, so you’ll have additional benefits the following month.
Here’s an example of how this might occur:
Your card is loaded with $200 for July. You only spend $150 on groceries for July, so you’ll have $250 to spend in August.
Rollover benefits are used before the new month’s benefits. This means you are unlikely to lose any benefits if you continue to use your card because the rollover benefits are used first.
Can CalFresh Benefits Be Suspended?
Yes, your CalFresh benefits can be suspended temporarily or permanently. Benefits are suspended when you stop using your EBT card for an extended period. The terms of suspension for inactivity in California are as follows:
- 135 days of no use becomes an inactive account
- 180 days of no use becomes a dormant account
- 365 days of no use becomes an expunged account
Recipients of CalFresh benefits receive 10-days’ notice before their accounts are marked inactive, dormant, or expunged as long as there is a balance on the card.
Reinstating CalFresh Benefits
If you receive a notice that your CalFresh account has been marked inactive, all you need to do is make a purchase with your EBT card to reactivate your benefits.
If your account is marked dormant, you’ll need to contact your county worker. They’ll be able to reactivate your food benefits. You won’t be able to use your EBT card until your worker reactivates your account.
If your account is marked expunged, you won’t be able to reinstate your benefits. All expunged benefits are removed from your account. You might be able to reapply for food benefits, but you’ll start from scratch.
You can request a hearing if your account is expunged, and you believe it was done in error. Hearings allow you to discuss your case and ask that the decision to expunge your account be reversed. Hearings must be requested within 90 days. Your account remains expunged until the hearing date.
The best way to avoid problems with your benefits is to make sure you use your EBT card to make a purchase at least once a month. This should be easy for low-income individuals, but extenuating circumstances interfere with grocery shopping habits.
Keep an eye out for a notification that your account has been marked inactive so you can use your benefits before your account reaches the dormant stage. Or just try to use your benefits as soon as possible if it’s been a while since your last purchase.
CalFresh benefits are a great resource to ensure California citizens have access to healthy food. If you have questions or need assistance with your CalFresh account, apply here to begin a discussion about your situation.