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CalFresh, Food Stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

CalFresh is the California’s government entitlement program that provides monetary assistance to low-income families for purchasing nutritional food. Federally known as the ‘Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’ or SNAP, the monthly food benefits are federally mandated and are supervised by states, while being operated by the counties.

The benefits a household can receive depends on the size of the family and its countable income. Also taken into account are the monthly expenses such as utilities, housing, etc. The family can receive the benefits through an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which looks like any other credit card, and is issued by the authorized state departments. The benefits, however, cannot be used for items such as alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, or paper products.

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Medicaid "Medi-Cal" (not Medicare)

The Medicaid program in California is also known as Medi-Cal. Financed equally by the State and federal government, this medical assistance service is a public health insurance program that offers low-cost or free health coverage to eligible Californian residents with limited income. Medi-Cal covers healthcare services to seniors, children in foster care, pregnant women, persons with disabilities, and low-income people with specific diseases such as tuberculosis, breast cancer or HIV/AIDS. It also supports individuals with incomes below 138% of federal poverty level.

Health plans available through Medi-Cal offer essential health benefits that include ambulatory patient services, emergency services, maternity and newborn care, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder treatment, dental (Denti-Cal), vision, and long-term care and support.

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Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Designed to help aged, visually and physically challenged people, who have little or no income, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues. The government program provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. It also provides stipends to low-income people who are either aged 65 or older, blind, or disabled.

Also, children under the age of 18 can qualify for SSI if they are suffering from a medically determinable impairment or severe functional limitation(s) for one year.

SSI was created to replace federal-state adult assistance programs that served the same purpose. The restructuring of these programs was intended to standardize the eligibility requirements and level of benefits.

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Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)

Under Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937, the Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), popularly known as the housing choice voucher program, provides assistance to very low-income families to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing. The housing can include single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects.

Housing choice vouchers are administered locally by Public Housing Agencies (PHAs). A family that is issued a housing voucher is responsible for finding a suitable housing unit of the family's choice where the owner agrees to rent under the program. The subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the PHA on behalf of the participating family, which then pays the difference between the actual rent and the subsidized amount.

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Tribal TANF

The Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF) program was previously known as the Aid to Families with Dependent Children. The program provides a variety of benefits and services to Federally-recognized tribes, American Indian, and Alaska Native families. Benefits may include work assistance, childcare assistance, and job preparation.

To qualify, the applicant must be a Native American/American Indian who is unemployed or about to become unemployed. The applicant or one of his or her family member must be enrolled in a federally recognized American Indian tribe or Alaska Native village. Also, the individuals must live on or near an Indian reservation and must characterize their financial situation as low income or very low income.

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Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Financial Assistance and Social Services (FASS) program provide assistance to federally recognized American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) tribal members in various ways.

The eligible individuals get cash assistance to meet essential needs of food, clothing, shelter, and utilities. Additionally, each General Assistance recipient must work with a social services worker to develop and sign an Individual Self-Sufficiency Plan (ISP) to meet the goal of employment.

Apart from being an enrolled member of a federally recognized AI/AN tribe, the individuals should reside in an approved service area or near designated service area to be eligible, which can be determined by contacting the nearest BIA regional office. Also, they should not be receiving any comparable public assistance.

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Veterans and Survivor Pension Benefits

The Veterans Pension is a needs-based benefit paid to eligible wartime veterans who meet certain age or non-service connected disability requirements. Veterans may be eligible if they were discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions, and served 90 days or more of active duty with at least 1 day during a period of wartime or if you entered service after September 7, 1980 at least 24 months or the full period for which you were called or ordered to active duty with at least 1 day during a period of wartime, and has countable family income that is below the amount set by Congress, and net worth is not excessive, and are age 65 or older, or has a permanent and total non-service connected disability, or is a patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care, or is receiving Social Security disability benefits.

The Survivors Pension benefit is a tax-free monetary benefit payable to a low-income, un-remarried surviving spouse and/or unmarried child(ren) of a deceased Veteran with wartime service. Survivors Pension is based on yearly family income. An un-remarried spouse is eligible at any age and a child of a deceased wartime Veteran must be under 18, under age 23 if attending a VA-approved school or permanently incapable of self-support due to a disability before age 18.