Skip to content

What is a Benefits Cliff? (UMass Boston, 2018)

People face a benefits cliff when they receive public benefits from the government, earn a raise, and then discover that they make too much money to receive the benefits. But they are not making enough money to sustain themselves and their household.

Below is a categorized menu of benefits and information on benefits cliffs and employment.

  • Benefit Finder: a questionnaire that can help you find benefits you may be eligible to receive and direct you to the agency to apply
  • MIT Living Wage Calculator: a living wage calculator to estimate the cost of living in your community or region based on typical expenses
  • Social Benefit Calculator: a social benefit calculator to help families understand how much earned income will reduce their benefits over what period so they can build a financial plan, ultimately leading to greater economic mobility
  • Medi-Cal/Covered California
    • Free service that connects Californians with brand-name health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. To be eligible, a household must have an earned income that is less than or equal to 138% of the Federal Poverty Line. Children (0- 18 years) can receive Medi-Cal up to 266% of the Federal Poverty Line.
  • SCHIP – State Children’s Health Insurance Program
    • Expanded Medi-Cal insurance for children who do not qualify for Medi-Cal under adult eligibility rules.
  • My Health LA
    • No-cost healthcare program for low-income residents in Los Angeles County. Participants must not be eligible for Medi-Cal or any other form of full-scope health coverage. Undocumented adults are eligible.
  • California State Subsidy
    • For eligible families with incomes between 400 and 600% of the Federal Poverty Level
  • Find additional resources on our health page
  • CalWorks/TANF – Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
    • Check Eligibility 
    • CalWORKs is a welfare program that gives cash aid and services to eligible needy California families
    • Stage 1 Eligibility: Families are eligible if they are currently receiving cash aid, or if they have been cash aid recipients in the past. Care is provided for children from birth through 12 years old (21 if a child has exceptional needs or a severe disability) until the family exceeds the income eligibility. For a family of three, Stage 1 childcare ends once the family makes more than $33,900 annually.
    • Stage 2-3 Eligibility: Childcare subsidy vouchers similar to Stage 1, with higher income eligibilities. Families in Stages 2 and 3 pay a premium as their income increases. For a family of three, they begin to pay the premium for childcare once annual earnings exceed $33,900 and will be eligible for childcare assistance up to annual earnings of $65,604.
  • Single Mother Grants
    • Grants available for single mothers in need of financial assistance
  • Childcare Alliance Los Angeles
    • Search function available for finding childcare
  • Find additional resources on our children and family page