Can People on SSI in California Get Food Stamps?

Supplemental Security Income assists individuals who need financial help, but do not qualify for Social Security disability or significant retirement benefits. SSI recipients must have few resources and low income as well as qualifying as blind, disabled or over age 65. Qualifying for SSI benefits often allows the recipient to qualify for other benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. States regulate the Medicaid and SNAP programs in compliance with the federal government guidelines, and most states allow SNAP benefits for SSI recipients. California pays a supplemental cash benefit to individuals qualifying for SSI in lieu of SNAP benefits.

California SSI Supplement

The California Supplemental Security Income -- State Supplementary Payment has been one of the highest in the nation at $845 total monthly federal and state benefit for aging or disabled individuals in 2011. The federal part of SSI is $674 in 2011. The California legislature cut the state supplementary payment by $15 effective July 1, 2011 for SSI beneficiaries, so the disabled or aging individual receiving a full check receives $830 a month.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

California provides Cal-Fresh, or food stamps, to eligible individuals waiting for a decision on an SSI application. If Social Security denies SSI benefits, the individual can continue to receive nutrition assistance under the program. An SSI recipient in California cannot receive both SSI and Cal-Fresh benefits concurrently. California is the only state that does not provide SNAP benefits for SSI recipients under most circumstances.

Other Assistance in California

California provides Medi-Cal assistance for medical care for individuals qualifying for SSI benefits. It also provides a special allowance for assistance dogs for blind or disabled SSI recipients. California provides personal care services if the SSI recipient needs help to remain in the home, and in some cases, provides protective services. The SSI recipient who does not have cooking facilities can receive an additional allowance.


Five states offer no state supplemental benefits for SSI -- Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and West Virginia. Fifteen states offer some supplemental benefits administered by Social Security and the remainder of states have some form of supplement that the state administers. As an example, Texas adds a $60 supplement to individuals in a Medicaid facility. This benefit is state-administered and covered fewer than 10,000 individuals in statistics reported for January 2010. Texas offers no additional state supplement to the federal benefit of $674 in 2011, but permits SSI recipients to collect SNAP benefits.