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Financial Assistance for Refugees

Published on: 7/1/2019 4:18 PM
Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) Program

​24-Hr Automated InfoLine:
1-877-96-BENEFITS or 1-877-962-3633
Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) is part of the federal Refugee Resettlement Program (RRP). It provides financial assistance to people admitted to the United States (U.S.) as refugees. Adult refugees without minor children and refugee families that do not qualify for CalWORKs may be eligible to receive RCA benefits during the first 8 months of residency in the United States.
Refugee families with minor children who do not meet RCA requirements, but who meet the income and property limits of CalWORKs, may be eligible to receive CalWORKs cash assistance. Both CalWORKs- and RCA-eligible refugees may also meet the requirements for Medi-Cal, Food Stamps, and other benefits.
The eligibility information listed below will give you an idea of whether or not you may be eligible to receive Refugee Cash Assistance. However, eligibility for RCA can only be fully evaluated by an Eligibility Worker at the Assistance Application Center, 1867 Senter Road, San Jose, California.
Basic California Eligibility Requirements
  • To be eligible for RCA benefits, refugee families and adult refugees without children must fit into at least one of the following categories:
    • Individuals and couples with no minor children
    • Families that are not CalWORKs eligible (i.e., unemployed less than 30 days and have resided in the U.S. less than 8 months)
    • Pregnant women in the first two trimesters of their pregnancy (i.e., six months or less)
    • Trafficking victims
    • Persons granted asylum
  • Eligible refugees may only receive RCA for 8 months. The 8 months start with the refugee’s date of entry into the United States.
  • Refugees must be ineligible for CalWORKs before RCA can be considered.
  • Applicants for RCA must provide documentation of refugee status from the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration (BCIS), formerly Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
  • The refugee’s Resettlement Agency and/or Sponsor must be contacted prior to issuing aid to determine what assistance is being provided.
  • There are employment and training requirements that must be met and full cooperation is expected. Nonexempt refugees are referred by Social Services Agency to Central Intake Unit (CIU).  The CIU will place the refugee in special federally-funded projects providing English language training, vocational training, or job placement services. There are certain refugees, such as those who are ill, aged, or employed who may be excused from this requirement.
  • Full-time college students of any age are NOT eligible for RCA unless they are placed in a college program as part of an employability plan approved by CIU.
  • The income limits for the RCA Program are the same as those for the CalWORKs Program. The “Applicant Gross Income Eligibility” is based on the number of eligible persons living in the same home and the amount of their combined income.
An individual’s (or couple’s) gross non-exempt income, minus $90 for each person, must fall below the amount shown on the Minimum Basic Standard of Adequate Care (MBSAC) Chart below. (For example, the MBSAC Chart shows that for a refugee couple, MBSAC is $1,172. This means that, in order to qualify for RCA, this couple’s gross [before taxes] non-exempt income, minus $90 for each employed individual, must be under $1,172.)
Once eligibility is established, clients are allowed certain work expense deductions from their gross income before computing the amount of cash aid they will receive.
The chart below shows income limits as well as the most money a person eligible for RCA can get each month. Actual payment amounts will be decided by your Eligibility Worker, based on chart amounts and relevant income-related information.
Maximum Aid Payments (MAP) Effective April 2019 and
Minimum Basic Standards for Adequate Care (MBSAC) Charts
Effective July 2019
Number of Eligible Family Members in the Same Home Maximum Amount of Aid Payable to the Unemployable Maximum Amount of Aid Payable to the Employable MBSAC (adjusted income must fall below the applicable amount listed)
1 $431.00 $391.00 $714.00
2 $710.00 $635.00 $1,172.00
  • The property limits for the RCA Program are the same as the CalWORKs Program: The applicant may have up to $2,250 in real and/or personal property. Real property includes land, houses, and other buildings. Examples of personal property include checking and savings accounts.

If the Assistance Unit (i.e., eligible persons in the home) has a person 60 years of age or older, the property limit is increased to $3,500.  If you own and live in your home, it is not counted as property.

Direct Deposit and Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT)
RCA benefits are provided to eligible persons using one of the following two methods:
• Persons eligible for RCA cash benefits have the option to have benefits “directly deposited” into their checking or savings account.
• If Direct Deposit is NOT selected, cash benefits are received through a plastic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card at automated teller (ATM) and point-of-sale (POS) machines.
Applying for RCA
If you would like to apply for Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA), you may apply at the following address:
Assistance Application Center
Social Services Agency
1867 Senter Rd.
San Jose, CA 95112
For more information, you may call (408) 758-3800.
Documents You Will Need to Bring When You Apply
Your Eligibility Worker will tell you exactly what documents you need to provide. The documents will be used to see if you are eligible for RCA and to figure out how much money you will receive. The following list contains examples of the kind of documents you may need to give or show your Eligibility Worker.

   Proof of Identity
  • Driver’s license or Identification (ID) Card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
  • Birth Certificate
  • Passport

   Proof of Age

  • Birth Certificate
  • DMV Driver’s License or ID card

   Social Security Number

  • Social Security Card
  • Proof of Application for Social Security Card

   Proof of Immigrant Status

  • Green Card or Alien Registration Card

   Proof of Property

  • Bank Statements
  • Vehicle Registrations
  • Papers that show value of property

   Proof of Income

  • Pay stubs
  • Papers that show where the money came from

   Proof of Shelter Costs/Expenses 

  •  Housing bill or rent receipts
  • Utility costs
  • Shared housing forms

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