How are gift cards counted when applying for CalFresh?

Q: I understand that when applying for CalFresh, youth in my THP+FC program are to indicate the monthly stipend we provide them as their ‘unearned income’ on the application. What if we provide them gift cards in lieu of cash, such as gift cards for the grocery store or gas cards? Should they be counting the gift cards as unearned income?

A: No, gift cards that are specific to the grocery store or gas station would not be counted as income. A gift card is only counted as income when determining a household’s eligibility or benefit level if it is a credit card company prepaid gift card (i.e. American Express, MasterCard, Visa, etc.), and the gift card can be reasonably anticipated by the youth. Establishment-specific gift cards (i.e. Target, Walmart, Safeway, Chevron, etc.) are always excluded as income when determining a household’s eligibility or benefit level.

Citation: U.S. Department of Agriculture. Memorandum: Revised Treatment of Gift Cards in Determining SNAP. https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/snap/Revised_Gift_Card_Policy_Memo.pdf. California Department of Social Services. All County Information Notice I-68-17 (October 2, 2017). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACIN/2017/I-68-17.pdf?ver=2017-10-02-151226-987

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