How Does CalWorks Calculate Income?

CalWorks is a program that temporarily provides cash assistance and job search assistance to families that have minor children and can meet the eligibility requirements. Eligibility for CalWorks is based on both income and property, both of which must fall below the state threshold for maximum limits, which varies based on family size. If you are accepted in the CalWorks program, you cannot receive more than 60 months of benefits in your lifetime.


CalWorks provides temporary cash assistance to families and their children. Income requirements must be met for eligibility in the program. CalWorks requires that some participants seek employment and meet the work component of the program or face a loss of some benefits. Income limits for CalWorks are calculated based on your salary -- if you are working, this includes bank accounts, property, tools of your trade, federal disaster or relief benefits and property you own with someone else. Your car is included in the definition of property.

Income Eligiblility Requirements

Income requirements are only one aspect of the requirements for CalWorks eligibility. You must be a California resident who intends to stay in-state; be a U.S. citizen or legal immigrant; be pregnant or have children who were deprived of parental support or care and the parent is absent, disabled or deceased; or both of the child's parents are present, but the principal wage earner works less than 100 hours per month or is unemployed. Children must go to school and be immunized and you must have a net monthly income of less than the maximum aid payment available for your family size.

Property and Resources

Since CalWorks is designed to provide short-term help for families with housing needs, food, medical care, utilities or clothing, you may keep up to $2,000 in cash, bank accounts and other resources. If you are over 60 years old, you can have $3,000 in cash and resources. If you have a car that is valued less than $4,650 it will be excluded from the resources calculation.If you own your home and live in it, it is exempt. Also exempt from the income calculation are household items, such as furniture, computers and appliances; federal relocation and disaster relief funds; and tools that you need for your employment. If you own property with another person, only your share is considered.

Child Support

Child support payments are considered income if you are receiving them. If you are not receiving child support, you must cooperate with the Child Support Services Department to collect child support from absent parents. While you are on aid, you will receive $50 each month the absent parent pays on time. You do not have to cooperate if you can prove good cause, like if you were a victim of domestic abuse, but if your reason is not accepted, your benefits will be reduced by 25 percent.