California Welfare Requirements

California's Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids, CalWORKs, formerly known as welfare, provides financial aid to low-income California residents. The program also offers job services and education to promote financial independence in welfare recipients. Eligibility and benefits depend on household size, income, residency and employment status. With few exceptions, cash assistance is limited to 60 months throughout a person's lifetime.


Basic Eligibility

CalWORKs applicants must have at least one dependent child in need of financial support. The child is determined needy if at least one parent is deceased, absent, underemployed, unemployed or physically or mentally unable to support the child. Children are eligible until they turn 18. Individuals attending school full time may receive benefits during their 18th year. Additionally, CalWORKs recipients must be California residents and United States citizens or legal residents.


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Income Limits

Income limits are based on California's Minimum Basic Standard of Adequate Care (MBSAC) criteria. Financial eligibility is calculated by subtracting $90 from your monthly earned income. If you are employed or receiving disability benefits, an additional $225 is deducted from your earned income plus 50 percent of your earnings. As of 2010, a family of three may be eligible for cash welfare assistance if their monthly gross income after deductions does not exceed $1,097.



CalWORKs recipients must have assets or personal property valued at less than $2,000. Families with a household member age 60 or older may have up to $3,000 in assets. Clothing, furniture, appliances, your house and a vehicle valued at $4,650 or less are exempt from asset limits.


Required Documents

Cash aid recipients must provide documentation for all members of the household as part of the application process. Required documents may include identification, birth certificates, immigration papers, immunization records, car and home ownership records, proof of income and paperwork for assets such as life insurance, stocks or bonds. A Social Security card is required for all members of the household requesting aid. If you do not have a Social Security number, you must apply for one as part of the application process.



Excluding exemptions, unemployed welfare recipients must enroll in the Welfare to Work program. The program offers vocational training, job resources, childcare assistance and counseling. You may be exempt from the program if you are in school full time, a caretaker for a CalWORKs recipient but not receiving benefits, caring for a disabled household member, age 60 or older, pregnant, a single parent of an infant less than 12 months old or have a medical excuse.