Eligibility Requirements

Families eligible to receive CalWORKs Temporary Assistance must have minor children in the home who lack the necessary support because of the absence, disability, death or unemployment of one or both parents. In addition to parents, other relatives (such as grandparents) who are caring for minor children may also be eligible. A pregnant woman with no other children might also qualify for CalWORKs benefits.

Buying or owning a home in which the family is living does not make a family ineligible. The value of the home is not considered in the eligibility determination. Families who own a car or several cars may also be eligible depending on their value. Some legal immigrants may be eligible if they meet certain immigration requirements.

Because of the complexity of the CalWORKs program, an application must be completed and reviewed by the county before a decision of eligibility can be made. More detailed information about the eligibility requirement for CalWORKs is found at: Rights, Responsibilities and Other Important Information.

Applying for Assistance

Applying for CalWORKs requires a visit to a local Department of Public Social Services office (DPSS Office Locations) or complete an application online at www.C4Yourself.com. Applicants are required to attend a three-hour workshop and participate in a face-to-face interview with an eligibility technician (ET) who will review completed documents and explain program requirements.

The application process can be lengthy, requiring several hours over several days. However, if there is an urgent situation, such as an eviction, utility shut-off, medical emergency or lack of food, the process may be faster. Be sure to tell the ET if any of these emergencies are affecting the family. Proof of these situations may be required, so be sure and bring any documents that show an emergency (such as an eviction notice) to the first visit to prevent delays.

The county will ask for proof of:


  • Income
  • Value of real and personal property
  • Citizenship status
  • Age of children
  • Social Security Number
  • Residence in California
  • Work
  • School attendance status (including school age children)
  • Immunizations for children under the age of six

This information may be requested for all people in the home. Also, adult family members will be fingerprinted and photographed.

To speed the application process, bring the following items when making application:

  • Identification such as a driver’s license or identification card for each parent or caretaker in the home
  • Social Security cards for every family member for whom aid is requested
  • Birth certificates for every family member in the home
  • Immunization records for every child under the age of six years for whom aid is requested
  • Registrations for each car owned, co-owned or being bought or leased
  • Ownership papers for land and/or buildings owned, co-owned or being bought
  • Receipts or bills of sale for any recreational vehicles such as boats, trailers, motor homes, etc.
  • Proof of the value of mutual funds, stocks, bonds, trust funds or cash surrender value of life insurance policies
  • Proof of citizenship or immigrant status such as a birth certificate or document from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) showing legal resident status.
  • Proof of earned and unearned income such as pay stubs and award letters for unemployment benefits, Social Security income, Veteran’s payments, and school grants or loans