General Questions

How do I apply for public assistance benefits?

Applications for public assistance programs are processed by the county social services office. You may apply online at BenefitsCal or request an application for public assistance benefits from your local county social services office by phone, in person, by fax or by mail.

It is possible to download and complete an application for public assistance from the California Department of Social Services website. However, you must return the application either in person or by mail to the appropriate county office.

How do I check the status of my public assistance application/case?

If you would like to check the status of your case, please contact us at 1-877-410-8823 for further assistance. For new applications please call 1-866-323-1953.

How do I contact my county worker or reschedule my appointment?

If you would like to speak with your county worker and/or need assistance with scheduling or rescheduling an appointment with your county worker, you must contact your local county social services office. You may locate the address and telephone number for the nearest county social services office through this website under the Contact Us option.

When will I receive my public assistance benefits?

Under the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) Program, benefits are paid between the first and third calendar day of the month.

Under the CalFresh Program, benefits are available on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card based on the last digit of the individual’s county case number. For example, if a case number ends in the number “5,” the day the benefits are available on the EBT card is the 5th day of each month.

For further information regarding the status of your benefits, please contact us at 1-877-410-8823.

I am having trouble logging onto the BenefitsCal website to apply for/check the status of my benefits.

Websites used to apply and/or check the status of public assistance benefits such as BenefitsCal are not administered or maintained by Monterey County or the California Department of Social Services. Each of these websites has specific instructions on topics such as creating an account, retrieving your password or difficulty logging in. If you continue to have difficulty with these sites, please contact MC-CHOICE for assistance at 1-866-361-0477.

My Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card was lost or stolen. How do I get a new one?

If the EBT card is lost or stolen, it is the cardholder’s responsibility to call the EBT Customer Service Center at (877) 328-9677 to report the problem as soon as possible. A person’s account can only be used with a valid EBT card and Personal Identification Number (PIN). Any transaction conducted with a valid card and PIN is the client’s responsibility, even if the transaction was done without the client’s permission or knowledge. That is why it is very important to protect the secrecy of the PIN.

Once the matter is reported, the EBT card will be deactivated so the benefits cannot be used by anyone else.

You will also have to contact your county worker to have your EBT card replaced.

What other options are available to help me protect my CalFresh and CalWORKs benefits from electronic theft?

ebtEDGE is a new mobile and web-based application available to help protect CalFresh and CalWORKs benefits from electronic theft.

ebtEDGE allows you to enhance security by offering the following features:

1. Manage PIN:
Ability to change EBT card PIN whenever and as often as needed.

2. Card Freeze/Unfreeze:
Ability to lock or “Freeze” access to benefits on your EBT card and unlock or
“Unfreeze” access to your EBT card, in real-time.

3. Transaction Blocking (Out-of-State or Internet Purchases):
Ability to block transactions from occurring Out-of-State and/or Internet Purchases, and the
EBT Cardholders can turn these features on and off using a computer or mobile device.

4. Request a Replacement Card:
Ability to request a replacement card if the card is compromised, damaged, lost, or stolen.

5. Biometrics Access:
EBT Cardholders are encouraged to use biometric access such as Touch ID or Facial
Recognition enabled on your mobile device to securely log in.

To learn more visit:



Can I have someone else help me shop using my EBT account?

Ask your county worker about setting up an Authorized Representative (AR), who will have access to your EBT food benefit and/or cash aid benefit account. They will have a separate card with his or her own account number and PIN. The EBT system is able to track which card is used to access your account.

Can I use my Electronic Benefit Transfer Card in another state?

The EBT card will work at any store or ATM that displays the Quest® symbol in California and the other 49 states in the United States, as well as the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. If you do not see the Quest® symbol, look for a sign that displays EBT, SNAP or Food Stamps. If you are unsure, ask the store manager. Currently, California EBT cardholders cannot use their EBT cards in Puerto Rico. Please note is your responsibility to report to your eligibility worker that you will be traveling to another state.

How can I report welfare fraud?

Each of California’s 58 counties has a Special Investigative Unit (SIU) which is responsible for investigating reports of suspected abuse of public assistance programs in their county. You may report your concerns by doing one of the following:

  • You may contact the SIU in the County in which the alleged fraud occurred. Monterey County SIU can be reached at 831-755-3224.
  • If you prefer, you may call the California Department of Social Services Fraud Hotline at (800) 344-8477 and your information will be recorded and forwarded to the correct county.
  • You may also contact the CDSS Fraud Hotline by email at:

Can my CalFresh and CalWORKs benefits be replaced if they are electronically stolen?

Yes, you must report the theft within 90 days and completed the EBT Replacement Form EBT 2259


Is there an income limit?

Yes, the income limit is based on the number of people you are applying. The questions in the application will help the county figure out if you are eligible.

If I am on SSI/SSP, can I also get CalFresh?

People who receive SSI/SSP are not eligible for CalWORKs but the other members of your family who are not getting SSI/SSP may be eligible for CalWORKs .

Beginning June 01, 2019 SSI recipients may be eligible for CalFresh Food benefits.


Is my property, money in the bank or the car I use going to be counted when figuring out if I can get CalFresh?

Depending on your household situation resources may be counted when determining eligibility for CalFresh.

Sample resources include:

  • Bank Accounts
  • Cash
  • Stocks and Bonds
  • Real Estate

Am I eligible to receive CalFresh if I own a car or house?

Yes, you can own a car and/or house and still receive CalFresh if otherwise eligible.

I have a criminal record. Am I still eligible for CalFresh?

If you have been convicted of any misdemeanor offense or convicted for any felony offense, including serious or violent offenses, your criminal record does not affect your eligibility for CalFresh.

I have a drug-related felony conviction on my record. Am I still eligible for CalFresh?

Effective April 2015, drug related felonies will no longer cause a person to be ineligible to CalFresh.

I am on probation or parole. Am I still able to get CalFresh?

Yes, being on probation and/or parole does not impact your eligibility for CalFresh.

What kind of food can I purchase with my CalFresh benefits?

Households CAN use CalFresh benefits to buy:

  • Foods for the household to eat, such as:
    • Bread and cereals
    • Fruit and vegetables
    • Meat, fish and poultry; and
    • Dairy products
  • Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.

Households CANNOT use CalFresh benefits to buy:

  • Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco
  • Any nonfood items, such as
    • Pet foods;
    • Soaps, paper products; and
    • Household supplies
  • Vitamins and medicines
  • Food that will be eaten in the store
  • Hot foods

Energy Drinks

When considering the eligibility of energy drinks and other branded products, the primary determinant is the type of product label chosen by the manufacturer to conform to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines:

  • Energy drinks that have a nutrition facts label are eligible foods
  • Energy drinks that have a supplement facts label are classified by the FDA as supplements and are, therefore, not eligible

If you need further assistance, you may access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) website.

How long will it take for my application for CalFresh benefits to be approved?

The county social services/human services agencies shall provide eligible households that complete the initial application process an opportunity to participate as soon as possible, but not later than 30 calendar days following the date the application was filed.

However, in emergency situations a person/household may receive Expedited CalFresh benefits no later than the 3rd calendar day following the date the application is filed (Saturday and Sunday are considered 1 day).

If you would like to discuss the CalFresh Program in more detail with program staff and/or to find out how to apply for benefits, please contact MC-CHOICE at 1-866-361-0477.

Can bottle deposits (CRV) be paid with EBT food benefits?

EBT food benefits can cover the entire cost of items such as eligible drinks in returnable bottles, where the price includes a specific bottle deposit. This is true even if the deposit is not included in the shelf price. CRV is payable with EBT food benefits.


How do I use my Medi-Cal benefits?

Questions pertaining to your Medi-Cal benefits such as how to locate a doctor, where to fill prescriptions and what is covered under your Medi-Cal benefits should be directed to your county social services eligibility worker or you may contact Medi-Cal directly at (916) 636-1980. Further information on the Medi-Cal program is available through the California Department of Health Care Services website.

How or where can I apply for Covered California?

Californians in need of health insurance can visit Covered California website or call (800) 300-1506 to enroll in coverage. If you need assistance in person, you may locate a Certified Enrollment Counselor, Certified Insurance Agent or contact the nearest social services office

I have recently been approved for Medi-Cal. How can I choose a doctor?

If you are in regular Medi-Cal, you must see providers who accept regular Medi-Cal. If you already have a primary care doctor you would like to see, you may ask if he/she accepts regular Medi-Cal or if they can assist you in locating a provider who accepts regular Medi-Cal. Unfortunately, there is no provider directory for recipients of regular Medi-Cal.

If you are in a Medi-Cal Managed Care Plan, you must see providers in your plan. You can get a provider directory for your plan by contacting your plan directly or call Health Care Options at (800) 430-4263.

I have not received my Medi-Cal Benefits Identification Card (BIC) or my BIC card has been lost, stolen or damaged. What do I do?

If you have not received your BIC card, it has been lost, stolen, damaged or has the wrong information on it, you must contact us at 1-877-410-8823 to request a new card.

Am I eligible for Denti-Cal as an adult?

Due to a recent law change, some adult dental services have returned to the Denti-Cal program. Benefits for children will not change.

Services include:

  • Exams and x-rays
  • Cleanings
  • Fluoride treatments
  • Fillings
  • Anterior root canals (front teeth)
  • Prefabricated crowns
  • Full dentures

Other medically necessary dental services

For additional information you may contact Denti-Cal at (800) 322-6384.


What money that I receive should I report?

All income must be reported to the County. Money includes all income, cash or in kind support (i.e., free rent or utilities). Below are examples of monies received that must be reported:

  • Work, job or employment
  • Household bills paid by someone else
  • Self-employed business activities
  • real or personal property(such as a house or bank accounts)
  • a contribution from persons, organizations or assistance agencies.
  • Monies received from collecting recyclable trash
  • In-kind Income (Free Rent or utilities where someone else is paying for you)

Are there income or property restrictions?

Yes. All members of your family can have no more than $10,888 in resources (cash, bank account, etc.) unless there is a family member over age 60. Then the limit increases to $16,333.

If you live in your own home, it is exempt from the property limit.

Cars are eligible for certain exemptions depending on whether they are registered or used to go to work or training. The county will explain how your cars are valued during your face-to-face interview.

What are the CalWORKs school rules?

All children ages 6-17 must be attending school. 16 and 17 year olds must be in school full-time or participating in the Welfare-to-Work program. 18 year olds must be in high school or vocational-technical school full-time and expect to complete school before age 19.

State Hearings / Complaints

How do I request a state hearing?

There are several ways to request a state hearing:

  1. Complete the backside of the Notice of Action (NOA) and mail it to the county appeals office address listed on the back of the NOA. The NOA is the form the County mailed you to notify you of the action that was taken on your case.
  2. Complete the backside of the NOA and mail or fax the NOA to:
    California Department of Social Services
    State Hearings Division
    744 P Street, MS 9-17-37
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Fax number: (916) 651-2789
  3. Mail or fax a written request (letter) identifying your issue(s) to the address identified above.
  4. Call CDSS’ Public Inquiry and Response Unit at the toll-free telephone number at (800) 952-5253 or (800) 952-8349 (TDD).

The State Hearings Division notifies applicants/recipients of the date, time and location of the scheduled state hearing by mail.

I requested a state hearing. Will my public assistance benefits stay the same?

If you are requesting a hearing because you received a Notice of Action (NOA) saying your benefits will be reduced or stopped, you may continue receiving your existing benefit amount until the hearing date if you filed your hearing request before the effective date of action shown on the NOA. This is called aid pending. Requests for aid pending are approved or denied by your county social service/human service’s appeals office.

Exception: If the county wants to reduce or stop your CalFresh benefits and you request a hearing before the effective date, you will only continue to receive the existing amount of your CalFresh benefits until the end of your current certification period. This may be sooner than your hearing date.

If you receive aid pending and the hearing decision is not in your favor, you will be asked to repay the amount of cash aid and CalFresh benefits you received as aid pending.

If you request a hearing after the effective date shown on the NOA, the county may reduce or stop your aid even though you requested a hearing.

I had a state hearing and I do not agree with the decision. How can I request a rehearing?

If you are not happy with your state hearing decision and you want another Administrative Law Judge to review it, you may request a rehearing and/or seek judicial review within 30 days after you receive your decision.

In your rehearing request, state the date you received your decision and why a rehearing should be granted. If you want to present additional evidence, describe the additional evidence and explain why it was not introduced before and how it would change the decision. To request a rehearing, mail a written request (a letter) to:

California Department of Social Services
Rehearing Unit
744 P Street, Mail Station 9-17-37
Sacramento, CA 95814

To ask for judicial review, you must file a petition in Superior Court (under Code of Civil Procedure §1094.5) within one year after receiving your decision. File your petition in the Superior Court of the county named in your decision. You may file this petition without asking for a rehearing. No filing fees are required. You may be entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees and costs if the Court issues a final decision in your favor.

If a rehearing was heard and you are unhappy with the decision from the rehearing, you may seek judicial review but you cannot request another rehearing.

I agreed to sign a conditional withdrawal but 30 days have passed and the matter is not resolved. How can I reopen the hearing?

Claimants who have signed a conditional withdrawal may reopen their state hearing if they have not received information from their social/human services agency indicating the conditions have been acted upon.

If you would like to re-open your hearing, please have your hearing case number available and contact the State Hearings Division at toll free telephone number (800) 743-8525.


I am not a United States citizen. Can I get CalFresh?

Yes, you may be eligible if you are a “qualified” immigrant. This includes Permanent Legal Residents (holders of green cards), refugees, asylees (an individual who has been granted asylum), people granted withholding of deportation or removal, Cuban/Haitian entrants, individuals paroled into the U.S. for a least one year by immigration authorities, conditional entrants (temporary green card), and certain victims of domestic violence. Victims of human trafficking (T visa) and applicants for U visa/interim relief are also eligible for CalFresh.

Will my immigration status be reported to immigration authorities?

No. your immigration status information will only be used to check whether you are eligible for CalFresh. Immigration authorities cannot use this information to deport you unless there is a criminal violation involved.

Can my kids get CalFresh even if I don't have U.S. immigration documents?

Yes, your children may be eligible even if you aren’t. You may apply for CalFresh for your kids (under age 22) who were born in the United States, are permanent residents or qualify for special immigration status. You will have to show proof of your income and resources to determine the amount of their CalFresh.

Will receiving CalFresh on behalf of my children make it harder to get a green card or become a citizen?

No, unlike receiving other cash assistance, receiving CalFresh does not make an immigrant a “public charge.” The immigrant will not be denied entry to the country, or denied lawful permanent residence or a “green card” because he or she receives CalFresh benefits. An immigrant’s use of CalFresh is not relevant in deciding whether he/she can become a U.S. citizen. The exception is where the CalFresh benefits were received or used fraudulently, (for example, if the immigrant did not tell the truth about where he/she lived or his/her income, etc.).

Can immigrant children who don't have U.S. immigration documentation get CalFresh?

No, only children born in the United States are permanent residents or qualify for special immigration status can get CalFresh.

Is information about sponsorship required when applying for CalFresh?

Yes, but only for certain adults. You can apply on behalf of children under 18 years of age without supplying ANY information about sponsors. Immigrants with sponsors can still get CalFresh if their sponsor’s income is very low, or if they would go hungry or homeless without assistance (taking into account any money the family actually receives) or if they are victims of domestic violence, or if they have credit for ten years of work history in the U.S.

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to get health benefits?

Depending on the health program, there is a range of services available depending on certain eligibility criteria, from low cost insurance premiums to a variety of Medi-Cal coverage programs.

Do I have to answer questions regarding my immigration status on my Medi-Cal application?

You may be asked for your immigration status in order to determine the level of benefits you qualify for. For example, some persons may receive pregnancy related and emergency services only; others are eligible for full Medi-Cal benefits depending on their non-citizen status.