Carlos is 47 years old and has been living in the United States since 1997. He recently became paralyzed in a car accident and could no longer work full time. Carlos could not support himself, so a friend suggested that he apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Carlos applied, but he received a letter saying that although he was disabled, he didn’t meet Social Security’s immigration requirements. He told the news to his friend, who then remembered that there was a program in California, called CAPI, for people in Carlos’ situation. He told Carlos to go to his local County Welfare Department and apply.

When he arrived at the Welfare Department, he was assigned a caseworker named Sylvia who was going to help him with his application. Once in her office, Sylvia pulled out a large stack of forms. She noticed Carlos looking nervous, and told him that she would help him through the process.

Sylvia said, “The first question when you’re applying for CAPI is whether you have been denied SSI because of your immigration.”

Carlos pulled out the letter he had received from the Social Security Administration and handed it to Sylvia.

“Okay, great. The next step is finding out about your immigration status. Are you a Qualified Alien or PRUCOL?”

Carlos stared at her blankly. He had no idea what she was talking about. Sylvia realized how confusing the question was, and told Carlos to tell her about when he came to the country and what he knew about his immigration status.

Carlos looked relieved and explained, “I came to the United States in 1997, and I got my green card in 2002. I have a sponsor, but I haven’t talked to him for the past few years.”

Sylvia said, “Okay, having a green card means that you are a Qualified Alien, and Qualified Aliens are one of the groups eligible for CAPI. Based on your disability, date of entry into the country, and immigration status, you might be eligible for CAPI, but we first have to look at your income, resources, and living arrangements. Do you have a family?”

“No,” Carlos replied.

Sylvia pulled out a chart and said, “That means that you can have up to $943.72 in countable income. The resource limit is $2,000 for individuals.”

Carlos smiled and explained that he would definitely be under those amounts.

“Not so fast,” Sylvia said. “Even though you haven’t seen your sponsor for years, we are going to add part of his income and resources to yours. The same goes for his wife, if he has one. It’s a process called ‘deeming’. We’ll see if you’re still under the limit after we deem your sponsor’s income and resources.” Sylvia helped Carlos fill out the rest of the CAPI forms. She also helped him with the Medi-Cal application, and explained that everyone who applies for CAPI has to apply for Medi-Cal as well.

A month later, Sylvia called Carlos and told him to come back to the office.

“Good news,” Sylvia said, “You’re eligible for CAPI and you’ll receive $643.72 a month. Here’s how we figured it out. Each month, you had $100 in unearned income from a community service prize you won and $365 of earned income from your job. We used the Countable Income Calculation to figure out how much of that CAPI would count.”

“What’s the Countable Income Calculation?” Carlos asked.

Sylvia replied, “First we took your monthly unearned income and subtract $20. The figure we get, in your case $80, is your Countable Unearned Income."

Countable Unearned Income
$100 Monthly Unearned Income
- $20 General Income Exclusion

$80 Countable Unearned Income

"Next, we took your monthly earned income, subtracted $65, and divided the remainder by two. This figure, in your case $150, is your Countable Earned Income."

Countable Earned Income
$365 Monthly Earned Income
- $65 Earned Income Exclusion

÷ 2 Remainder divided by 2

$150 Countable Earned Income

"We added your Countable Earned and Unearned Income to find your Total Countable Income of $230."

Total Countable Income
$80 Countable Unearned Income
+ $150 Countable Earned Income

$230 Total Countable Income

"Your sponsor and his wife had $70 of monthly earned income, so CAPI adds that to your Countable Income to get a final figure of $300."

Income Counted by CAPI
$230 Total Countable Income
+ $70 Deemed Sponsor Income

$300 Income Counted by CAPI

"Then we subtract that amount from the appropriate payment standard, and that’s your benefit.”

Income Counted by CAPI
$943.72 2020 Payment Standard for Disabled Individuals
- $300 Income Counted by CAPI

$643.72 CAPI Benefit Amount

“And what about my resources? Did I meet the limit?” Carlos asked.

“Easily,” Sylvia answered. “CAPI does not count your house or car, so you had no resources. Your sponsor had $500 in resources, but that’s still well below the $2,000 limit for individuals.”