What Are the Requirements to Qualify for Food Stamps?
This information is current as of April 27, 2022.
If you’re having difficulty providing food for yourself and your family, you may have heard about SNAP. But, with so much information out there, you may be asking, what are the requirements to qualify for food stamps?
To receive food stamps, you’ll need to make less money monthly and have fewer resources than the limits determined by your state. The income limit depends on how many people are in your household. To receive food stamps for more than three months at a time, you’ll also need to meet specific work requirements depending on your situation.
Keep reading to find out if you are eligible for food stamps.
How Much Money Can I Make and Still Get Food Stamps?
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) gives out food stamps on a debit card called an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. Low-income individuals and families can use their EBT cards every month to buy foods from stores like WinCo, Aldi, Target, and more.
To get food stamps from SNAP, you’ll need to be considered “low-income.” After you apply, SNAP office employees will consider your gross income. This is all your household’s money monthly, including any cash, benefits, checks, or direct deposits. Then, they’ll subtract some deductions from your gross income to get your net income.
Remember that SNAP will consider the total income for your household. Your household includes anyone you live with and share meals with.
Federal Income Limits
Below are the federal income limits (both gross and net) for SNAP through September 2022. You must make below these amounts to qualify for food stamps. If you have a disabled or elderly person in your household, your income limits may be slightly different.
Note that individual limits by the state may vary, so check with your state’s program before applying.
|Number of People in Household||Maximum Monthly Income (Gross)||Maximum Monthly Income (net)|
|6+||See chart under “What are the SNAP income limits?”||See chart under “What are the SNAP income limits?”|
Calculating Your Income
Now that you know the federal income limits for SNAP, it’s time to find out if you are under these limits.
First, you’ll calculate your gross income. This math is simple – add up all your household’s money in one month.
Next, you’ll have to calculate your deductions. Below are the standard SNAP deductions with some examples.
- 20% general deduction: You can deduct 20% of your gross income. If you make $1,000 a month, you can multiply by .2 to find 20%. $1000 x 0.2 = $200 deduction
- Standard deduction: This is $177 for households of 1-3 people and $184 for households of 4+ people. Some states may even give a higher deduction for larger families.
- Dependent care deduction: This deduction is used when you must hire care for your child or dependent family member. At the same time, you work, train, or study.
- Medical expense deduction: Certain medicines for the elderly or the disabled that cost more than $35 and aren’t covered by insurance can be deducted.
- State-dependent deductions: Some, but not all, states will deduct legally owed child support payments or a homeless household deduction.
Subtract that number from your gross income once you’ve totaled all your deductions.
Gross income – deductions = net income
You are then left with your net income. If your net income is less than the limit in the chart above and the limit set by your state so far, you qualify for food stamps.
How Much Money Can I Have Saved and Qualify for Food Stamps?
To qualify for SNAP, you must also have:
- Less than $2,500 in countable resources (cash, savings, etc.), or
- Less than $3,750 in countable resources if you have a disabled or elderly member in your household
Resources are generally any money you have saved. SNAP does not count homes, resources of those who get SSI, TANF, or retirement plans. Your car may count as a resource, depending on your state.
Work Requirements to Qualify for Food Stamps
SNAP was created to help families going through difficult financial times. SNAP’s goal is that its beneficiaries eventually secure employment to be more financially stable. To help pursue this goal, SNAP has specific work requirements you must follow to qualify for food stamps.
There are two sets of requirements. One is the general work requirements, and the other is for those without dependents. Dependents are any children or dependent adults you claim on your taxes.
You meet all SNAP work requirements if you already work at least 30 hours a week. There are also other ways to meet the criteria listed below.
If you do not meet the work requirements, you will only be able to get SNAP benefits for three months total every three years.
General Work Requirements
Suppose you’re between 16 and 59 years old and able to work. In that case, you’ll need to register for work and participate in either the SNAP Employment Training program (E&T) or the workfare program in your state.
If a suitable job is offered to you, you must take it. You can’t quit a job or reduce your hours to less than 30 a week without a good reason.
Work Requirements for People Without Dependents
If you are 18-49 years old with no dependents, you must do ONE of the following things:
- Work 80 hours a month
- Participate in a work program 80 hours a month
- Participate in a combination of work and a work program, totaling 80 hours a month
- Participate in workfare for the number of hours assigned to you monthly
Exceptions for the SNAP Work Requirements
Of course, not everyone can work. Physical circumstances could prevent you from doing so. That’s why SNAP also has some exceptions to its work requirements.
You do not have to complete the work requirements if you meet ONE of the following:
- You already meet the work requirements for TANF or unemployment compensation
- You take care of a child under 6 years old or an incapacitated person
- You can’t work due to a physical or mental limitation
- You are participating in an alcohol or drug treatment program
- You are studying or training at least half-time – college students do not count for this exception
- You are pregnant
- You have someone under 18 in your household
How Much Money Will I Get from SNAP?
SNAP has some federal benefit limits depending on household size, like the income limits. But, again, this could change slightly depending on your state, so always check your state’s SNAP website.
Below are the maximum monthly benefits, called “allotments,” for SNAP. These allotments depend on household size. Not everyone will receive the full allotment, so that you might get less than these, depending on your situation.
|Number of People in Household||Maximum Monthly Benefit|
|6+||See chart under “How much could I receive in SNAP benefits?”|
Once you apply for and are approved for SNAP, you’ll be notified of your monthly benefits. Many states will give you benefits starting from the month you applied, even if processing your application takes a few weeks.
Your benefits will be loaded automatically every month onto your EBT card. Most benefits roll over for at least a few months at a time. If you don’t use your EBT card for a few months, it may freeze or cancel, depending on your state. Make at least one purchase every month and follow these guidelines to avoid this.
You’ll need to make sure your household income is below the SNAP limits to receive food stamps. You can use the federal chart in this article to give you a general idea of the limits but double-check your state program’s limits.
In addition to your income, you’ll have to have less than $2,500 in countable resources (cash, savings, etc.) or less than $3,750 if you have a disabled or elderly household member.
Finally, you have to be actively working or searching for work if you want to receive food stamps for more than three months. There are a few exceptions to the work rules listed above.
As long as you meet the income, resources, and work requirements, you can be approved for SNAP. Find your nearest office today and get your application in quickly as possible.
Save Money on Your Wireless Phone Service
Want to save money on your wireless phone service? When you qualify for government benefit programs like SNAP, you may also be eligible for Lifeline or the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Both Lifeline and ACP are government-run programs that help low-income consumers receive free or heavily discounted communication services.
Click here to find out more and apply for this valuable benefit.