CalWORKs and CalFresh Income Exemption Requests for Guaranteed Income Demonstration Projects


The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has implemented a process for reviewing demonstration project income exemption requests from California counties in partnership with cities and other local municipalities seeking to reduce poverty by administering Guaranteed Income (GI) pilots and projects in their jurisdictions. Under the CalWORKs income exemption request process for GI demonstration projects, participants in GI pilots and projects may be eligible to have their GI income exempted for purposes of CalWORKs and/or CalFresh eligibility. Counties seeking a GI income exemption must make a request to CDSS and comply with statutorily mandated criteria. If an income exemption request is granted, recipients of GI who are also receiving CalWORKs benefits can avoid any negative impacts that GI components of demonstration projects might otherwise have on CalWORKs participation, eligibility, and benefits.

In order for GI payments to be excluded for CalFresh purposes, the payments themselves must be at least partially funded by private dollars regardless of the amount or the source of the private funds. The determination of GI payment excludability for CalFresh will be made by the CDSS and communicated directly through order of the CDSS Director.

County income exemption requests approved by the CDSS are valid statewide. Pilot participants who move to another county are to have their GI direct payments exempted in their new county. As part of the Inter-County Transfer (ITC) process, County Welfare Departments (CWDs) are to inform the receiving county about a recipient’s participation in a GI project with an income exemption approval so that their GI direct payments continue to be exempted for eligibility determinations.

Guaranteed Income Exemption Request Process

The CDSS will review all county income exemption requests on a rolling basis. Complete GI income exemption requests must include, but are not limited to:

  • A completed Income Exemption Request Coversheet;
  • A Comprehensive Plan;
    • The comprehensive plan must include a description of the demonstration project, its goal(s), funding, duration, targeted population and how they will be selected, and the research and evaluation components of the project, and anything else the county deems relevant.
  • A Research Plan; and
    • May be detailed in the comprehensive plan and/or described separately

Please Note: An Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval is no longer needed to receive an income exemption for guaranteed income projects.

Multi-County Guaranteed Income Exemption Request Process

In addition to the required documentation for single-county income exemptions listed above, the organization operating the GI project and the multiple counties involved will need to select one county to take the lead and submit the documents listed below and as detailed in ACIN I-82-22:

  • Letter from the organization operating the GI project describing the need for a multi-county exemption
  • Letter of support from lead county
  • Letter of support from additional counties
  • Or, any combination of letters is also appropriate

The CDSS accepts income exemption requests directly from county Health and Human Service Agencies. Non-governmental entities interested in requesting an income exemption should first coordinate with their local Health and Human Service Agency.

If you have any questions or would like to submit an income exemption request, please contact:

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