Carlos is 47 years old and has lived in the United States since 1997. He was recently paralyzed in a car accident and can no longer work full time. Carlos can't support himself, so a friend suggests that he apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Carlos applies, but gets a letter saying that although he does have a disability, he doesn't meet Social Security’s immigration requirements.

He tells the news to his friend, who remembers hearing about a program in California, called CAPI, for people in Carlos’ situation. The friend tells Carlos to go to his local county social services agency and apply.

At the agency, Carlos is assigned a caseworker named Sylvia. Once in her office, Sylvia pulls out a large stack of forms. She notices Carlos looking nervous, and explains that she will help him through the application process.

“The first question when you’re applying for CAPI is whether you were turned down by SSI because of your immigration status,” Sylvia explains.

Carlos pulls out his letter from the Social Security Administration and hands it to Sylvia.

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

Carlos stares at her blankly. He has no idea what she is talking about. Sylvia realizes how confusing the question is, so she asks Carlos when he came to the country and what he knows about his immigration status.

Carlos looks relieved and explains, “I came to the United States in 1997, and I got my green card in 2002."

“Okay, having a green card means that you are a Qualified Alien, and Qualified Aliens are one of the groups eligible for CAPI," Sylvia says. "Based on your disability, the date you entered the country, and your immigration status, you might be eligible for CAPI, but we first have to look at your income, resources, and living arrangements. We also need to figure out if you will be subject to a process called deeming, where we have to look at your sponsor's resources and income as well as your own. When you came to this country, did you have a sponsor who signed an Affidavit of Support?"

"Yes, but he died a few years ago," Carlos explains.

"Okay, that means we definitely don't have to count his income and resources," Sylvia says. "Do you live alone or with anyone else?”

“I live alone in a small apartment,” Carlos replies.

Sylvia pulls out a chart and runs her finger down one of the columns. “That means that you can have up to $943.72 in countable income. The resource limit is $2,000 for individuals.”

Carlos smiles and explains that he definitely is under those amounts. Sylvia nods her head, and helps Carlos fill out all the CAPI forms.

"Have you already applied for Medi-Cal?" Sylvia asks. "To get CAPI, you have to apply for Medi-Cal and any other cash benefits you might qualify for."

"No, I haven't tried for Medi-Cal yet, and I'm not sure what else to try for," Carlos replies.

Sylvia helps him fill out a Medi-Cal application, and together they go over other possible benefits programs that Carlos might be able to get, and how to apply for them.

A month later, Sylvia calls Carlos and tells him to come back to the office.

“Good news,” Sylvia says, “You’re eligible for CAPI and you’ll get $643.72 a month. Here’s how we figured it out. Each month, you get $100 in unearned income from a cousin who is helping you out, and $505 of earned income from your part-time job. We used the Countable Income Calculation to figure out how much of that CAPI would count.”

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

Sylvia replies, “First we take 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 take your monthly earned income, subtract $65, and divide the remainder by two. This figure, in your case $220, is your Countable Earned Income."

Countable Earned Income
$505 Monthly Earned Income
- $65 Earned Income Exclusion

$440
÷ 2 Remainder divided by 2

$220 Countable Earned Income

"We added your Countable Earned and Unearned Income to find your Total Countable Income of $300."

Total Countable Income
$80 Countable Unearned Income
+ $220 Countable Earned 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? Am I under the limit?” Carlos asks.

“Easily,” Sylvia answered. “CAPI does not count your car, you don't own a house, and you only have $900 in the bank, so you're under the resource limit of $2,000 for an individual."