The Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI) is a California program that gives money to certain legal immigrants. Legal immigrants used to be able to get this kind of help from the federal government through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. In the 1990’s, the SSI rules changed, and some legal immigrants no longer qualified for an SSI benefit. California created CAPI to help people who can’t get SSI because of their immigration status.

To get cash assistance from CAPI, you have to meet certain requirements. Most importantly, you have to be an aged, blind, or disabled California resident who has been denied SSI because of your immigration status. You also have to meet other requirements about your income, assets, and living arrangements. Once you qualify, CAPI generally pays about the same benefit that you would receive if you could get SSI.

Resources and Income

Besides the immigration status requirements, there are also resource and income limits that you have to meet to be eligible for CAPI. These requirements are generally the same as they are in the SSI program. Like SSI, CAPI does not count all of your income and resources when figuring out if you are eligible for the program. If the amount that they count towards the program is less than the limits, then you are eligible.

CAPI's countable resource limit is $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples. CAPI does not count certain things, like your house, when figuring out if you meet the resource requirements. Click here for a list of resource exclusions.

The income limits are used to determine your eligibility for the program and your benefit amount. This process is very similar to SSI’s countable income calculation, and includes earned, unearned, and deemed (see below) income. CAPI compares your countable income to the maximum CAPI benefit amount a person in your situation could get. If your countable income is greater than that amount, then you can’t get a benefit. For example, if you’re single and you have $990 in countable income, you aren’t eligible for CAPI because $990 is more than the maximum CAPI benefit ($879.40 for individuals). If your countable income is less than $879.40, then you are eligible, and the difference between the two amounts is your benefit. For example, if you’re eligible to receive $879.40, and you have $300 of countable income, you’ll get a $579.40 benefit. The amount you’re eligible for is called a payment standard and is based on your living arrangements and disability. CAPI uses the same categories as SSI, but the benefit amount is $10 less for individuals and $20 less for couples.

Sponsor Deeming

Having a sponsor may affect your eligibility for CAPI. When figuring out your income and resource amounts, CAPI adds your sponsor’s income and resources to yours. They will also add your sponsor’s spouse’s income and resources. This is a process called deeming. For example, if you have $500 in countable resources and your sponsor has $1000 in countable resources, CAPI will add the two figures together and say that you have $1500 in countable resources. Income and resources are deemed regardless of whether or not the sponsor is actually giving them to you. Deeming also applies if you have a spouse who is ineligible for CAPI, and if you have a minor child applying for CAPI benefits, your income will be deemed to the child.

The CAPI deeming rules are complex. The period of time and amount of your sponsor’s income and resources that are deemed to you depend on when you entered the county, which type of affidavit of support your sponsor signed, and whether or not your sponsor is dead, disabled, or abusive. For example, income and resources won’t be deemed to you if your sponsor has abused you or your child. This deeming exception lasts for either one year from the date you receive your first CAPI, or indefinitely, depending on what petition was filed with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). If you can’t afford food, clothing, or shelter, you may also be able to avoid deeming through the indigence exception.