Obtaining social assistance (benefits)
Ukrainians who have received or are eligible to receive humanitarian parole in the USA (also participants of the Uniting for Ukraine – U4U program) between February 24, 2022, and September 30, 2023, are entitled to receive certain federal assistance during the period of validity of their humanitarian parole. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the following benefits are available to Ukrainians in California: Medi-Cal health insurance, CalWorks financial assistance, and CalFresh food assistance.
Where can I apply for benefits?
The application process for benefits in California is handled by the Department of Human Assistance. This department provides all of its services free of charge and usually has an interpreter on staff to help you get information and submit your application. In California, you can call 211. Each county has its own office.
By calling 211, you can get information about social services, available food and housing programs, free English language classes, and other types of social services.
What types of social assistance are available?
Standard programs offered by the Department of Human Assistance to Ukrainians in California are:
- Medi-Cal (medical insurance);
- CalWorks (financial aid);
- CalFresh ( food assistance).
If you have the status of Humanitarian Parole (not Asylum), regardless of whether you entered under the Uniting for Ukraine program or crossed the border with Mexico (through the pedestrian corridor) - you and your family members can claim all of the above programs For those who received Temporary Protected Status, only the Medi-Cal program is available.
Health Insurance (Medi-Cal)
Medi-Cal offers free and affordable health insurance to eligible California residents. You may be eligible for coverage if your annual earnings are below the declared amount (to check eligibility, go to https://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/medi-cal/Pages/DoYouQualifyForMedi-Cal.aspx ).
You can also apply for Medi-Cal if you:
- Have reached 65 years of age or older;
- Have not yet reached the age of 21;
- You are in a qualified home for the elderly;
- Have refugee status for a limited time, depending on how long you have been in the United States;
- Parents or relatives who take care of an adult child;
- Have been screened for breast and/or cervical cancer.
To apply, go to the link https://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/medi-cal/pages/applyformedi-cal.aspx and choose the method that is convenient for you (physical letter, make an appointment in person, fill out the form online).
For more detailed information: https://www.medi-cal.ca.gov/ or by phone at +1-800-430-4263.
Financial Aid ( CalWorks)
The CalWorks program provides cash assistance and services to low-income families with dependent children (information is valid for all of California). To familiarize yourself with the necessary requirements, read the following document:
To register a new application and check whether you meet the requirements for participation in the program, go to the link: https://www.cdss.ca.gov/calworks .
Food Assistance (CalFresh)
The CalFresh program (SNAP Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) will help you improve your health and reduce the cost of buying the necessary groceries. After submitting an application for participation in the program, you receive a debit card, which receives money every month, and you can use this card only to buy food.
You can receive a maximum of $250 for a single person, $459 for a family of two, and $658 for a family of three. For larger families, see the chart: https://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/a-quick-guide-to-snap-eligibility-and-benefits.
If you receive certain income or resources, the amount of assistance provided may be lower.
For more information about the program, visit the CalFresh website at https://www.cdss.ca.gov/food-nutrition/calfresh or call (916) 874-3100 and (209) 744-0499.
Special program of additional nutrition for women, infants and children
If you have children under five years old, you can apply for WIC ( Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children).
To apply, make an appointment at (916)875-2120. The WIC program has several locations, so check and choose the one closest to you before you call and schedule an interview.
You can find out more information on the official website: https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic.
Who can apply for assistance?
- Anyone who has received a Humanitarian Parole (not an Asylum) can apply for social assistance, regardless of whether you entered under the Uniting for Ukraine program or crossed the border with Mexico (through a pedestrian corridor) .
- For those who received Temporary Protected Status, only the Medi-Cal program is available.
- For all other statuses (such as a work visa, guest visa, student visa, and others), look for information on the official website www.benefits.gov .
Eligibility for other federal assistance is determined on a case-by-case basis and depends on immigration status and length of stay in the United States.
To learn more about the services that may be available, visit www.benefits.gov , a single portal for all US states.
How long does it take to receive benefits?
It may take up to 45 days to process your application for participation in the program. If you are applying for Medi-Cal based on a disability, it may take up to 90 days to be processed. Your local county office will send you a letter concluding your eligibility for the program. Such a letter is called a "Notice of Action."
Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) Program
RCA is a cash assistance program for refugees without children who are not eligible for any other cash assistance. RCA also includes employment (if a person is already eligible for work) and other social services to help refugees.