Not thinking about the 48-month time limit

Any month you get a cash payment from CalWORKs counts toward the 48-month lifelime limit on benefits, even if you are only getting a small amount. The months do not have to be in a row, and after a total of 48 months you cannot get any more TANF cash benefits for the rest of your life. This 48-month limit does not apply to children or if you are exempt. You may be able to "stop the clock" on the 48-month limit if you have an approved "good cause" why you can't participate in Welfare-to-Work activities.

Enrolling in CalWORKs just to access Medi-Cal or Food Stamps for your family

Your family may be able to get Medi-Cal or CalFresh (formerly Food Stamps) through other programs. When you use CalWORKs just to get these other benefits, those months count against your 48-month liftetime limit on CalWORKs benefits. If you only qualify for a small CalWORKs benefit each month, it might be better to find another way to get Medi-Cal or CalFresh in case you need CalWORKs later on.

Learn more about Medi-Cal eligibility in DB101's Medi-Cal article.

Confusing the cash aid benefits and Welfare-to-Work benefits

CalWORKs is a large program that provides both cash aid and help preparing for and getting a job. If you get CalWORKs monthly cash benefits you must be in the Welfare-to-Work Program, unless you are exempt. However, even if you aren’t getting CalWORKs cash benefits, you may still be able to get Welfare-to-Work services to help you find a job.