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Frequently Asked Questions About CalWORKs

The California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program is the State implementation of the Federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. It provides time-limited cash assistance to families with children. CalWORKs recipients are automatically eligible for Medi-Cal, and may qualify for Food Stamp benefits. Adults in the program are required to participate in a work activity unless determined exempt.

Cash benefits for the care of needy children may be available when:

  • When one or both parents is deceased
  • When one or both parents is physically or mentally incapacitated
  • When the principal wage earner parent is unemployed
  • When one or both parents is continually absent from the home in which the child is living

On the day you apply for CalWORKs assistance, you will be asked to complete some forms and to listen to an explanation of your rights and responsibilities. You will be given an appointment to return within one working day to see a Social Worker and complete the application process. To expedite the process, you are advised to bring the following items with you if applicable:

  • Identification (Drivers License or California Identification Card)
  • Social Security Card or verification that they have applied for all family members
  • Verification of rent and utilities
  • Statements of Bank Accounts and any other resources
  • Proof from US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly INS) of permanent resident alien status.
  • Immunization
  • Verification of income, wages and Social Security Benefits
  • A copy of vehicle registration

The amount of cash assistance a family receives varies by the number of family members and income.

Adults under the CalWORKs program are limited to receiving cash benefits for a lifetime cumulative period of 60 months.

  • Recipients must inform their worker about specific changes that might affect their benefits within 10 days. The worker will explain the Rights and Responsibilities on what must be reported. Correct and timely reporting is important because the recipient must pay back benefits if too much is issued.
  • Recipients are required to submit a semi-annual report once a year to ensure they continue to meet program eligibility. This report is called Eligibility Status Report, or SAR7. The report captures income and eligibility information.
  • The Welfare-To-Work program can help get the skills needed to get a job. Recipients will be asked to attend an Orientation that will give information of the responsibilities in finding a job.

  • Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, is a benefit issuance system, using a debit-type card, which is run by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). 
  • "Golden State Advantage Card” is the name of the EBT card that the client will use. Each client will have their own card and will use it via their own Personal Identification Number (PIN).
  • The EBT card can be used just like a debit card at ATMs and Point-of-Sale (POS) devices.
  • The client has separate accounts for Food Stamps and for cash and they are both on the same card.
  • If a client does not use all of their benefits in a given month, the balances will "roll over" to the next month. The EBT card can be used outside of Orange County. All Food Stamp cases are included.

For additional EBT FAQs click here.

You may be eligible to CalWORKs if you are a qualified noncitizen. This includes lawful permanent residents, those with refugee or asylum status, conditional entrants, people granted withholding of deportation or removal, Cuban/Haitian entrants, victims of human trafficking, certain victims of domestic violence with applicant for and holder of “U” visa.