Social Security and CalWORKS, Food Stamps Etc. Part 1

By: Trying_To_Make_IT

As a Social Security Disability recipient, I also received the SSI supplement for food. My supplement amount was only $43 per month and that was not enough for food. So when I had my SSI re-certification appointment I inquired about my eligibility for food stamps and an additional food resource. At that time I was told (once again) about food banks, but I also found out that I could not receive the SSI supplement and food stamps simultaneously. This was very disturbing to me; it would seem that the level of need would be the way to assess eligibility but all that matters is that you are receiving aid from one program and that automatically disqualifies you for help from another.

enough food - no money

I’m informed that there is a procedure, so I fill out the required paperwork to request that I no longer receive SSI so that I can apply to get a more sufficient amount of food assistance via the food stamp program. After turning the application in, I was told that I would have to wait for a letter in the mail to verify the changes had been made before I could apply for any other help. This forced me to go through a period of time with absolutely no help getting food at 6 months pregnant. To make matters worse, the letter never came and I ended up having to go to the Social Security office to obtain a copy verifying that I no longer received the supplement.

I went to obtain verification that I was no longer receiving SSI, and at that point and time the representative who was helping me highlighted the portion of the letter that indicated I no longer received aid via their administration. Immediately after obtaining that paperwork, I headed down to the welfare office and turned in my application for CalWORKS. After hours of waiting, I was seen by a worker who informed me that I did not qualify regardless of need and regardless of the documentation verifying that I no longer received any other assistance aside from Disability.

Needless to say, I protested passionately. I found it absolutely ridiculous that I was about to walk out of the welfare office without any assistance and that my documents weren’t being read and taken into consideration prior to any decision being made about my eligibility for food stamps. The worker reluctantly approved me for temporary, emergency food stamps and warned me that she would be looking more closely at my case and that I might end up owing the county for anything I received in the meantime.

What I found out is that SSI disqualifies you for food stamps, but somehow if you receive SSI your Social Security Disability payment no longer counts as income. I have yet to figure out what happens when applying for CalWORKs as a SSI recipient yet because I had to relinquish my claim to those benefits to get food stamps. Talk about confusing and a run around. How exactly is one supposed to believe for a second that any aid from the state/county is enough to live on alone and that this complicated system is meant to actually help low income families achieve self sufficiency?

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