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November 1st

Taking Advantage of California Food Stamps and EBT

Taking Advantage of California Food Stamps and EBT

When trying to reduce daily expenses the most important thing you can do is be aware of and fully utilize all of the benefits available to you. And an essential resource at your disposal is EBT, through which you can easily access the state’s welfare benefits. California also has programs to help with other issues besides food. Programs like:

While you can find all relevant information directly at the California’s EBT website EBT.ca.gov we’ve taken the liberty of breaking it down for you.

What is EBT? And How Can I Take Advantage of It?

Up until a few years ago, people in the United States used paper food stamps to cash in on the benefits they received from the government.

These food stamps allowed low income, particularly POC and single-parent households, to afford basic monthly food expenses. The amount of food stamps per household was calculated keeping in mind the number of people in a family and the sum of their incomes.

Recently, these paper stamps have been replaced on a federal level by an EBC or Electronic Benefits Transfer system.

Converting the food stamp system into digital form has centralized information, increased organization and facilitated a complete overhaul of the previous faulty system that relied greatly on workers’ contributions.

What is the EBT system in California?

The new system is called SNAP or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. And its California version is called ‘CalFresh’. This new system allows coupon holders to simply use a debit card for their shopping, instead of having to count out coupons. Additionally, there are other benefits for CalFresh users. They can log into their accounts at EBT.ca.gov login using their ca EBT login and California food stamps number. If you’re confused about how to check food stamp balance you can call the EBT number California for instructions or check the EBT ca gov website.

What Is California’s EBT Card? And How Do You Get One?

So the EBT cards and their corresponding benefits vary from state to state. California’s EBT card is called the Golden State Advantage Card. Remember this, it’ll make things easier to understand.

The golden state advantage EBT can be used at all your local stores that accept electronic benefits transfer or EBT. These stores will make this information obvious and you can get a list of your nearest stores by searching for “stores that accept food stamps near me” or at EBT.ca.gov. Using your ca EBT you can trade in food stamps or cash benefits the same way you’d normally use a credit or debit card.

For customer service, you can call the California EBT number at 877 328 9677

The Inside Scoop on the EBT System—And How You Can Benefit

Since it is, in essence, a debit card system you are issued a card called the Golden State Advantage Card. You swipe the card at checkout at authorized grocery stores. These are stores that accept fresh EBT cards (more on this later).

The machine you swipe your card through at checkout is not an ordinary machine but a POS machine. POS stands for point of sale. At this point, you will also need a PIN which is your calfresh case number. The automated system will deduct the price of your purchased food from your total funds for the month and print a receipt with your remaining calfresh EBT balance.

If you do not know how to use these machines then there is no need to worry. The county is obligated, by law, to provide instruction and physical demonstration to the recipients to make the process understandable for them.

And the EBT system itself is so user-friendly that you quickly get the hang of it. You should also be provided with written instructions on how to use the POS machine. And in case of a language barrier be given a translated notice in your language. These notices are distributed by the Calfresh offices.

There are no restrictions as to the maximum of minimum amount of funds you may spend at a time. You will receive a receipt showing you your California food stamps balance every time you make a purchase.

But you can also check your EBT ca gov balance online using your California EBT login. In case you want a history of your expenses you can get a complete record going back two months. All you need to do is call the golden state advantage phone number.

Which Stores Have POS Machines?

By law, a state must provide POS machines to all stores and outlets that ask for them. Additionally, stores with Calfresh purchases as more than 15% of overall sales must have a POS machine at every checkout lane. There are other considerations for the number of machines per store. If overall sales are below 15% there must be one EBT terminal per $11,000 in Calfresh purchases per month. Also, at least one EBT terminal must function on a 24-hour schedule.

Protections Afforded to Recipients—Don’t Get Taken Advantage Of!

There are certain protections, rights, and facilities afforded to Golden State Advantage Cardholders according to SNAP related sections of the California Electronic Benefit Act. Examples of these include:

  • EBT systems across the state that are easily accessible
  • Special facilities for those with physical and mental disabilities
  • Translation facilities for those with language barriers
  • Ability to select your PIN or EBT case number
  • Option for households to get multiple Advantage Cards depending on how many adult members they have
  • 24/7 EBT California phone number for information or help
  • 24/7 California food stamps phone number to report stolen or lost calfresh card
  • Immediate cancellation of lost EBT card California and reissuing of replacement with same food stamps ca balance

Do EBT Funds Rollover? This Is Important!

There are several cases in which EBT foods can rollover. If the benefits given in a certain month are not used within that month they roll over into the next month.

Hence, unused benefits are not lost. Similarly, when transferring food stamps to another state you will have to get a new California food stamps card since EBT cards differ in various states. However, you can get any unused benefits transferred from your old card to your new card.

What Happens When an EBT Account Isn’t Used?

After 180 days of not being used your EBT account will be declared dormant. This means you will not be able to access your EBT card balance California, your account or the funds in it. And after 365 days the account will be deleted. If your account is made dormant you will have to go EBT customer service or contact a food stamp worker for EBT renewal or card reactivation.

How to Get EBT CA? It’s Way Easier Than You Think!

Getting California EBT is easier than ever. So, there are two ways you can do this. Apply to get your California food stamps online at calfresh EBT.  Contact the EBT hotline number 1-877-847-3663 and get instructions on how to submit a food stamps application California in person

When to Renew Your Food Stamps CA—Don’t Delay

An important task on your to-do list should be renewing your food stamps. How often you need to do this depends on a variety of factors. Food stamps California edition:

  • You must put in a request before your certification period ends, not after
  • The certification period for cal food stamps balance varies
  • In households with members above the age of 60, you get food stamps for 24 months
  • However, if all members are under the age of 60 you get food stamps for 12 months
  • Additionally, with members who are physically disabled, you get food stamps for 24 months

According to general practice, letters are sent out informing people when their certification period is about to end. But, it is better if you keep important dates like when you need to reapply carefully noted in your personal calendar.

How to Renew Your California Food Stamp Balance Fast

Renewing your EBT California balance is a slightly different process than applying for cal EBT the first time. Whether or not you can submit an application online depends on which county you live in. You can collect details on the options available to you by calling the California EBT customer service number at 1-877-847-3663 or contacting your local caseworker. In most cases, you can renew your EBT balance ca by simply filling out a form online.

When Do You Receive Your Cal Fresh Balance?

You will receive your California EBT card balance before the tenth of the month depending upon the final digit of your card number. If your card number ends in a one you will receive your stamps on the first of the month and so on. And if your card’s final digit is a zero you will have to wait till the tenth of the month.

Checking Your CalFresh Balance Online Is Super Easy

How do I check my EBT card balance online is often a popular query among readers. Well, one way to make your lives easier is to simply download the Fresh EBT app. This is a free app available on Google Play. So go download it now and save money.

When do you have to update your information? (Don’t Skip This Section!)

So, there are certain situations under which you are required to update your personal information. You do this so the state knows exactly what your ca EBT balance should be. All California EBT cardholders are required to report major changes in household information twice a year. The process of reapplication requires you to declare this information.

  • Major changes you should immediately report within less than two weeks include.
  • Changes in the number of people living in your house
  • Major changes in income, expenses or rent
  • If you have crossed the net monthly income limit. Changes in the overall income of a house alter the amount of your food stamps ca balance and must be reported immediately
  • Recent unemployment or changes in working hours for adults without children or disability
  • Changes in residence
  • All these changes can be updated on the online portal using My Benefits Calvin.

What if you lose your CAEBT card?!

In the situation where you lose your EBT card or have it stolen from you, you must contact the California EBT customer service hotline at 1 877 328 9677 immediately. Until you call EBT the person in possession of your card may use your EBT benefits at cost to yourself.

The 24-hour hotline will cancel your card on the spot. And prevent any serious damage. You will be able to collect a new card, with your previous balance, two to three days after an official report is launched.

What can I buy with EBT? (BIG Surprises Below)

Many people dismiss the idea of the California benefits card because they do not think it will allow them to purchase anything of value. This is a huge misconception. You can purchase groceries, snacks or other food items using your ca food stamps.

Things you can buy with EBT

  • Cereal
  • Juice
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Bread
  • Canned Beans
  • Baby Food

Things you can not buy with EBT

  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes
  • Vitamins
  • Livestock
  • Prepackaged foods

Who takes an EBT card?

A number of reputable stores and restaurants accept the California EBT card. Most stores and markets accept the EBT card but you can use the map on Fresh EBT to confirm.

Can food stamps be used at restaurants?

Some restaurants allow the use of food stamps. However, they often have restrictions and only allow senior citizens above the age of 60, disabled and homeless people to order food using their California EBT balance.

Where can I use my California EBT card?

There are also other places that will give you discounts or free entry based on your California EBT card. Some of these places include recreational centers like museums, parks, zoos, and aquariums.

“What can I buy with my EBT card?” is a popular question often asked by pregnant women and new parents?

Rightly so. There is a reason this is the most popular California EBT faq. New mothers in low-income families often work multiple jobs and still have trouble making ends meet. But, there are a number of facilities that cater specifically to low-income households with infants or young children. And a lot of benefits you can get from having an EBT golden state advantage if you’re expecting a child.

With the addition of an infant the number of people in the household increases which shifts you to a higher benefits bracket

Pregnant women do not receive more food stamps. However, they become eligible to apply for WIC benefits.
These women, infants, and children or WIC benefits are part of a separate program which allocates food stamps and other resources especially to expecting mothers, children under the age of five and new parents

What are WIC benefits and how can they help you? (Must-Read for New Moms)

WIC or women, infants, and children benefits are responsible for providing food resources specifically to those falling under these categories. For example, expecting mothers, new parents, infants and children under the age of five.

WIC packages provide a number of food items such as cereals, juices, eggs, milk, peanut butter, canned beans, tofu, fruits and vegetables, and whole wheat bread. Additionally, there are cheese and pacķaged fish available for breastfeeding mothers. Also, baby food for toddlers.

Keeping children and their mothers well-fed is not the only purpose of the WIC initiative. There are also other facilities that fall under the umbrella of WIC benefits. For example, health coaching, health insurance, and immunizations. Moreover, WIC packages help you find good doctors in case the baby falls sick or the mother begins to experience complications after giving birth.

And the only way to avail the benefits of the WIC is by having a golden state advantage login. It is in your best interest to stay up to date on all the benefits you can receive from your state. So, fill up your paperwork and get the help you need. For more information, you can call the EBT customer service number ca 1 877 328 9677.

Who qualifies for WIC benefits? More people than you think!

In order to qualify for women, infants and children’s benefits there are certain standards of eligibility. Essentially you must know whether you fall into one of four categories. You must meet all these standards to get WIC benefits.

Those categories being:

Categorical

  • This is when you either have a biological child or have acquired custody of one. Also, applies to children under the age of six who can get WIC benefits on this basis. These benefits are revoked past the child’s sixth birthday.
  • Additionally, expecting mothers or new mothers may also fall under this category. In that case, women must either be pregnant, have given birth less than six months prior or still be breastfeeding a child under the age of one.
  • Others who fall under this category are custody holding single fathers, foster parents or guardians.

Residential

  • Different states have different standards and EBT systems. So, you can only apply for a WIC in the state you’re living in. You will need to show proof of resistance.

Nutritional

  • Before you can be cleared you will receive a proper check-up from a health professional who will ensure you do not have other medical conditions. This is labeled as ‘nutrition risk’ and refers to all those people who suffer from anemia, thyroid issues or other such illnesses. These checkups are free of cost. And you can avail of these medical facilities at any WIC clinic in your area.

Financial

  • Finally, in order to qualify for a WIC package, you must fall beneath the minimum required income limit. Since these benefits are targeted towards low-income families who may otherwise not be able to feed the children in their households or be able to ensure their health independently these limits are strictly maintained.

When counting the number of people in your household a pregnant woman receives two slots. Similarly, a woman pregnant with twins counts as three household members and so on. All people who otherwise receive ca food stamps are automatically financially eligible to receive WIC benefits. Hence, it is in your best interest to get your call EBT card if you live in California. Being processed and approved once automatically opens up more facilities and benefits you can apply for.

Other Programs to Take Advantage of NOW

An example of this is the TANF program. This is a program separate from the California EBT or the WIC benefits. Otherwise known as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, TANF allows you to request assistance if your family is unable to afford basic needs other than food and also has a child under the age of 18 within the household.

If you meet the TANF requirements and get approved you can apply for cash assistance. These reserves are allocated specifically to households that may not fall under the purview of WIC but still have a minor living in the household and are having trouble making ends meet. TANF does this by providing monthly cash bundles.

Integration with other programs and the EBT system

Since California uses the EBT system to provide ca EBT benefits for all these various programs, i.e TANF, WIC and GA (General Assistance) there are some differences in how payments for each are made. The California EBT card quest can occasionally get a bit complicated for this exact reason. While other programs have no charges the cash welfare systems do. The first four withdrawals of the month are free of charge, but all transactions after that have a small fee attached. These are of course decided by the state.

Are Immigrants Eligible for Food Stamps in California?

Under the restrictions for distribution of the California State Food Stamps, immigrants are eligible to receive EBT resources provided they meet certain requirements.

Firstly, it is important to know that the state of California does not use the duration of immigrants’ stay in the United States as a measuring yard for whether or not they qualify for the EBT card ca.

So it does not matter whether an immigrant has lived in the United States for two years or 20 when it comes to receiving snap food stamps ca. That said there are certain requirements that an immigrant must meet to qualify for California snap benefits.

What EBT requirements ca must immigrants meet to qualify?

  1. Must have a green card
  2. Have refugee or asylum status
  3. Be of Cuban or Haitian entrant
  4. Parole under immigration law for one year or more
  5. Battered immigrant status i.e. have a child or parent to whom extreme physical violence was done in the United States by an American
  6. citizen or green card holder
  7. Be applying for cancellation of removal on the basis of the Violence Against Women Act

Are special benefits available to domestic violence survivors?

In some cases, women who are victims of domestic violence but do not meet the requirements of immigrant eligibility may still receive California food stamps.

What other immigrant groups can benefit from EBT in California?

  1. Victims of human trafficking
  2. Victims of sex trading
  3. Children or spouses of adult victims of human trafficking
  4. Parents, siblings or children of child victims of human trafficking
  5. Members of the Laotian or Hmong tribe
  6. Children, spouses, and widows of members of the Laotian or Hmong tribe
  7. Temporary residents under the Amnesty Act of 1986
  8. Native Americans born in Canada
  9. Native American tribe members born outside the United States

I’m a refugee. Can refugees get food stamps?

All refugees are automatically eligible to receive food stamps. And continue to receive food stamps even after changing their status to that of permanent resident.

How is the cal EBT card balance calculated for newly arriving green card holders?

While a lot of people enter the United States as refugees some people arrive already holding green cards. The process of getting an EBT card California is is different for permanent residents.

One main reason is that they have a ‘sponsor’ who facilitated their visa application and is typically a parent, child or spouse. So their EBT ca balance is calculated by adding their sponsor’s income to theirs. This is especially true if the sponsor has previously signed the affidavit of support or form I-864.

Often this proves to be detrimental, particularly if the total sum is higher than the required income standard. In such cases, the sponsee becomes ineligible for the California state food stamps. However, if the sum of both incomes is below the required minimum then they may still qualify for benefits.

How long does this system of counting the sponsor’s income last?

This system of adding a sponsor’s income to the applicant’s income when approving their EBT package is known as ‘deeming’. Moreover, it depends on several factors. And most decisions with this regard are treated on a case by case basis.

For recent arrivals where the sponsor has signed the affidavit of support or form I-864 the sponsor’s income may be counted for up to three years.

However, in cases where the resident has held a green card for more than five years the sponsor’s income may be counted until citizenship is attained.

How to check EBT balance online?

In order to check calfresh balance, you only need to follow a few simple steps. You go to the EBT login ca at www.EBT.ca.gov. Then you use your card number to open your calfresh online account. And voila your EBT card balance ca is at your fingertips. You can contact the California EBT phone number for more details.

Who is exempted from this process of deeming, and do I qualify?

Not all people must go through this process of deeming. That would be unfair as different people have different limitations. And they cannot be treated according to the same standard practices.

For example, minors below the age of 18, victims of domestic violence, and immigrants who cannot afford basic food or housing without help are not required to go through the process of deeming when applying for food stamps.

Moreover, if they live in the same household as their sponsor then the sponsor’s income has already been considered. Additionally, those immigrants who have been working in the United States for over ten years are also not required to combine their income with their spouse’s. This policy extends to work done by the permanent resident’s spouse, or by their parents when they were a minor.

One category of people exempt from ‘deeming’ are those unable to afford housing or food. Can I benefit?

In theory, this may seem like an odd distinction to make. Especially with regards to state-provided food stamps that already cater specifically to low-income families. However, there are standards using which people are deemed fitting of the ‘hungry or homeless’ exception.

Firstly, your total household income must be less than 130% of the poverty level for a household with that many people. Federal poverty level statistics vary according to changes in the number of people living in the household.

These statistics are easily available. Also, this income takes note of all previously received government benefits with regard to housing or food. In case, you meet the requirements for this specific distinction you can get it renewed every year.

Additionally, if you qualify for increased aid according to these standards but are not receiving it you should contact a nearby legal aid center, the Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN), the California EBT client website, or the EBT call number.

My sponsor is abusing me! What can I do?

As we have established even immigrants who have green cards are extremely reliant on their sponsors for a lot of things. In most cases, the sponsors are well settled and employed with a working knowledge of the local systems and state-provided benefits.

Alternatively, the sponsored immigrant is unemployed and uninformed. This creates a power dynamic with the possibility of abuse. Cases of this are often seen when permanent residents born outside of the United States marry and then sponsor their wives who are citizens of their birth countries.

The state of California has provisions and systems to protect the rights of these sponsored immigrants. They can get food stamps, along with other resources. But, they will be required to present proof as is the case in all reported cases of abuse.

This proof may be photographic or include police reports or medical reports. Additionally, witness testimony or statements from caseworkers, social workers or colleagues are all acceptable.

What is the process of food stamps for families of undocumented immigrants?

So, an undocumented immigrant cannot get food stamps. However, an undocumented immigrant could get food stamps for their children, provided the children are US citizens. That said, there might be other considerations if you are following this route.

Keep in mind, the food stamp office or the other helplines related to the California EBT program are not required to report undocumented immigrants to the deportation authorities unless they have concrete evidence of unlawful activity.

Moreover, if you’re going to get food stamps for your children you are under no obligation to inform anyone whether you or other members of your family are undocumented. In fact, it is recommended that you not share that information with anyone.

Can unreported immigrants getting food stamps for their children be deported? Don’t get scammed!

To recap, if you are getting food stamps for your documented children you are under no obligation to declare your own status to any officials.

Additionally, under no circumstances should you present a fake Social Security Number. That is a punishable crime. Also, in this case, an unnecessary one. Information that you will be required to provide includes your income, savings, property, or major assets like a car.

If asked about your immigration status, you should inform the caseworker, categorically, that you are not seeking food stamps or other state benefits for yourself. And that you do not meet the necessary qualifications to get a golden state advantage EBT card.

They might insist that you provide some personal details in an effort to help you. You can refuse, saying that you are aware of all the available facilities and that you are not eligible. This is all you need to do. The caseworker has no further authority to question or detain you.

For queries contact the helpline and have all the information on hand before you go to any local offices. Remember, government officials are not authorized to treat you with suspicion because you refuse to share your personal information with them. That is your right.

Finally, even if you do not qualify for food stamps or any of the other numerous services detailed there are still benefits you can take advantage of. For example, school lunches, soup kitchens, meals on wheels and other meal programs that are privately or publicly run.

I have a green card—can food stamps negatively impact my status?

If you are applying for citizenship or a green card using food stamps will not impact your application process. The two things are completely separate from one another. Some people are under the impression that receiving food stamps gives an impression of neediness.

They feel as though the state will consider them a burden and refuse their application on these grounds. There is no truth in this line of thinking. The process for green card application is detailed and complex. It has absolutely nothing to do with your usage of food stamps.

The only case in which using food stamps can stop your green card application from going through is if you committed fraud in your EBT applications. For example, if you lied about your income or the number of people living in your household. And resultantly received benefits you did not honestly qualify for. In cases where you did not commit fraud, but still, believe you might be receiving undue state benefits you should contact a lawyer before applying for citizenship.

Are EBT cardholders considered a ‘public charge’? (This one might surprise you).

Public charge is a term used to identify individuals who are primarily or completely dependent on government aid for all of their basic needs. Being an EBT cardholder does not automatically make you a public charge. Moreover, immigration laws do not list ‘public charge’ as a valid legal reason for dismissal of citizenship application.

Can you argue your food stamp worker’s decision?

Yes, if you believe your food stamp worker was wrong in their decision regarding your eligibility for receiving food stamps you can question their decision and file for a hearing.

During this meeting, you will deal with officials who were not previously involved in your case. And your application for food stamps in California will be reviewed impartially to ascertain your fair allocation of food stamps.

How to handle the food stamp application process if you are not a fluent English speaker?

The process of applying for a California EBT card is obviously all in English. If you have problems filling out forms or receiving correct information regarding the process you do not need to worry.

Legally, there should be interpretorial services available to you. And you can ask for a food stamp worker who speaks your native language. If your appointed food stamp worker does not speak your native language ask for an interpreter. These services are your legal right and free of cost.

So, in short, can you check your food stamps balance online? Yes. Can food stamps be used at restaurants? Occasionally. Where is EBT accepted? All stores with POS machines. How to get EBT? Through their website or 24-hour helpline.

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