General Assistance (GA) Program
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California law requires that each county have a program to assist its low-income residents who are not eligible for cash assistance from other State and/or Federal programs. Santa Clara County’s program is called “General Assistance” or “GA.” The GA Program provides monthly payments (considered a loan) to eligible persons legally residing in the County who have no other means of support.
Whether or not a person is eligible to receive GA benefits depends on a number of things, including employment status, income, residency, property value, and citizenship status. The eligibility information listed below will give you an idea of whether or not you may be eligible to receive GA benefits. However, GA regulations are complex and eligibility for the program can only be fully evaluated by an Eligibility Worker (EW) at the General Assistance office located at 1919 Senter Road, San Jose, 95112.
Basic Eligibility Requirements
- Individuals generally must be at least 18 years of age to receive GA. Unmarried minors (under 18 years of age) are not eligible for GA. Persons under 18 who are married, divorced, or legally separated are not considered minors and may be eligible. If 65 or older to be GA eligible, the applicant must be pending SSI or ineligible for SSI and must apply for Social Security benefits (RSDI) and be ineligible for these benefits.
- You must be unemployed, employed with income less than the grant level, or unable to work because of a physical, mental, or functional disability.
- Anyone who receives GA money must pay it back to the County; it is considered a loan.
- Unemployed persons who are able to work are assigned to work at GA work projects. They receive credit at the State minimum wage for the number of hours worked. This is subtracted from the amount of GA to be repaid.
- All applicants/recipients of GA must sign a reimbursement agreement which is recorded and places a lien against any current or future real property holdings. Real property includes land, houses, and other buildings.
- Personal property is limited to $500. Personal property includes bank accounts (checking or savings), stocks, bonds, cash on hand, and so on.
- One motor vehicle, five years old or older with a gross market value of not more than $4,650, may be exempt.
- There is no limit on the value of real property if it is used as your home. If it is NOT used as your home then 6% of the value is counted as income.
All income received from any source must be reported and is subtracted from the monthly GA loan. All GA applicants and recipients must apply for other type(s) of income which they may be eligible to receive. Persons who are entitled to other public assistance programs (like CalWORKs or SSI) are NOT eligible for GA.
Persons who are able to work must be available for, and actively seek, full-time employment. The Vocational Services Division (VSD) will assign employable persons to work projects.
Persons who claim that they are unable to work must provide medical verification and are required to cooperate in planning for rehabilitation as appropriate.
Not all persons eligible for GA receive the maximum loan amounts. The loan amount may be lowered if you have other money coming in. Your Eligibility Worker can provide you with the most accurate information. The following chart shows the loan amounts an eligible person may receive per month:
Maximum Monthly Benefit Level (Effective 02/01/05)
||GA Loan Amount|
|One person living alone
|One person living with others
(Rate based on number of persons sharing)
|$ 253 - $ 287|
|Husband and wife living alone
|Husband and wife living with others
(Rate based on number of persons sharing)
|$ 339 - $ 385|
|One person residing in State-licensed Board and Care home
(Payment to the home is $901 and Payment to the client is $28)
Vendor Payment for Rent
Verification of housing costs must be provided. The GA rent amount is paid directly to the landlord. This payment is called a “vendor payment” and is reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the State Franchise Tax Board (FTB) as income to the landlord.
Applying for General Assistance
All applicants for GA must apply at the:
General Assistance Office
1919 Senter Road
San Jose, CA 95112
For more information, call (408) 758-3100 and ask for the supervisor of the day. The Supervisor will give you more information and answer any questions you may have about the GA Program.
Documents You Will Need To Bring When You Apply
Your Eligibility Worker will tell you exactly which documents you need to bring in to see if you are eligible for GA. The documents will also be needed for the worker to figure out how much you’ll be receiving per month. Couples applying for GA must provide a marriage certificate. The following list contains examples of other kinds of documents you may need to give your Eligibility Worker.
Proof of Identity
- Picture Identification Card or Driver’s License from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or two pieces of identification which have a signature and/or physical description of yourself.
Proof of Residence
- Rent receipts
- Utility bills
- DMV Identification Card or Drivers License
Social Security Number (SSN) for Each Household Member
- Social Security Card
- Proof of application for Social Security number at time of GA application.
Proof of Citizenship, Noncitizen Status, or Immigrant Status
- Birth Certificate
- Alien Registration Card
Social Security Number
- Social Security Card(s)
- Proof of Application for Social Security Card (For each person you’re applying for).
NOTE: If you do not have a Social Security Card, when you come in for your interview, the EW will give you a form to take to the local Social Security Office.
Proof of Immigrant Status
- Green Card or Alien Registration Card
Proof of Property
- Bank statements (checking and/or savings accounts)
- Car registration(s)
- Papers that show the value of property
Proof of Income
- Pay stubs
- Award Letters
- Papers that show where the money came from
Proof of Shelter Costs/Expenses
- Housing bills, rent receipts
- Utility bills
- Shared Housing Forms
NOTE: Your landlord must complete a housing verification form and a W-9 form which will be part of your application packet when you come in to apply for GA.