Eligibility

CAPI gives a monthly cash payment to legal immigrants in California who can't get federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits only because of their immigration status.

To get CAPI, you must:

  • Be a California resident
  • Be 65 or older, blind, or have a disability
  • Have limited income and resources, and
  • Not be able to get federal SSI benefits because of your immigration status (and for no other reason).

Note: You need to have applied for SSI in the six months before applying for CAPI and have proof of being turned down for SSI because of your immigration status. If you have not yet applied for SSI, you must apply for SSI before your CAPI application can be approved. (You can apply for SSI and CAPI at the same time.)

If you do get CAPI benefits and your income, resources, immigration status,marital status, living situation, or sponsorship changes, you must notify CAPI. And at least every 12 months CAPI will ask you to fill out a redtermination form showing that you continue to qualify to get CAPI.

People Not Eligible For CAPI Benefits

You cannot get CAPI benefits if you:

  • Are a U.S. citizen
  • Get SSI
  • Live in a public hospital, jail, or other public institution for a calendar month
  • Do not live in California
  • Do not follow the program rules
  • Do not apply to get other benefit programs that might help you
  • Are a fleeing felon, or
  • Violate your probation or parole.

Sponsor Deeming

If you have a sponsor who signed an affidavit of support when you entered the U.S. as a permanent resident, it might make it harder for you to get CAPI. When CAPI looks at your income and resources to see if you qualify, your sponsor’s income and resources may be added to yours in a process called deeming.

For example, if you have $500 in countable resources and your sponsor has $1,000 in countable resources, CAPI adds the two together and says you have $1,500 in countable resources, even if your sponsor does not give you any of the money.

The CAPI deeming rules are complex. Your sponsor's income and resources are deemed to you whether or not your sponsor actually gives them to you. How much of your sponsor’s income and resources are deemed to you and for how long depends on:

  • When you entered the country
  • What type of affidavit of support your sponsor signed, and
  • Whether or not your sponsor is dead, disabled, or abusive.

If you can’t afford food, clothing, or shelter, you may be able to avoid sponsor deeming through the indigence exception.

Your sponsor's income and resources won’t be deemed to you if your sponsor abused you or your child. How long you are exempt from sponsor deeming depends on which petition was filed with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

If your sponsor is married, their income and resources are also deemed to you. If you have a husband or wife who cannot get CAPI, their income and resources are deemed to you. And if you are applying for CAPI benefits for a child under 18, your income is deemed to the child.

For more details, Legal Services of Northern California offers an overview of sponsor deeming for CAPI, CalFresh (formerly Food Stamps), and other benefits programs.